Rounding Cape Caution. June 8, 2019
16 June 2019 | Posted at Prince Rupert
Photo: A calm day on the BC coast south of Cape Caution
Queen Charlotte Strait stretched out ahead, a windless undulating gray sea, reflecting the clouds above. The engine put out a steady hum, pushing us forward.
We had left Port McNeill at 7 am to catch the ebb out the Strait. We planned to spend the night in Skull Cove to position ourselves for rounding Cape Caution the next day.
"We'll be there by noon," said Steve, glancing at the chart plotter that showed our speed and location. "Why not keep going? We could reach Smith Sound or even Fitz Hugh Sound this evening."
It was certainly tempting to keep going and to put Cape Caution behind us. But I needed more information. How long would these calms last? And if we chose to go into Skull Cove, what weather would we encounter rounding Cape Caution tomorrow?
I got out my cell phone to review the weather forecast -one bar, just enough to get the weather. Queen Charlotte Strait, where we were now, had Strong Wind Warnings for NW winds 15-25 knots this afternoon. The Central Coast, McInnis Island to Pine Island, where we were going, had no warnings. SW winds of 5-15 knots were forecast to turn light this evening then to SE late overnight. Queen Charlotte Sound, farther out toward the Pacific, was posted for gale warnings for SE winds 25-35. If the weather forecast was right, we would have "strong winds" inshore of us, gales offshore but light winds in the middle.
The gales might not come inshore but swells from the offshore gales surely would. Sure enough, the wave forecasts were for seas on the Central Coast of 1 m today, rising to 2-3 m tomorrow. Better to go now than to wait.
Two hours later I was hanging on to the cockpit combing while
Osprey pitched and rolled in the windless sea. Even 1 meter seas can be uncomfortable.
"We've never had a bad passage around Cape Caution," I tell first-timers worried about the passage. This is true if by a bad passage I mean strong winds and "nail-biting sailing." We've never experienced the type of strong northwesterlies here that we've experienced on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. Swells, however, are common.
Forty minutes later when we passed Egg Island, ripples were just beginning to form. We ducked behind Table Island to avoid the seas and kept on going. Finally, at 4:30, the wind had increased enough that we were able to roll out the jib and sail under that alone.
We sailed through the entrance to Frigate Bay on Penrose Island and turned the corner into quiet waters. A nine-hour trip and another "gate" to another cruising area safely crossed.
Search for Cape Caution on Google maps or click here https://www.google.com/maps/place/Cape+Cautionemail@example.com,-128.2845354,8.25z/data=!4m5!3m4!1s0x5464fb41919fb6cf:0xba1b710fa8371a37!8m2!3d51.1666667!4d-127.7833334?hl=en
You can also search for Penrose Island British Columbia, north of Cape Caution