Voyages North

18 June 2013 | posted at Wrangell
06 June 2013 | posted at Ketchikan
06 June 2013 | posted at Ketchikan
01 June 2013 | posted at Prince Rupert
01 June 2013 | Posted at Prince Rupert
01 June 2013 | Posted at Prince Rupert
01 June 2013 | posted at Prince Rupert
28 May 2013 | posted at Pruth
22 May 2013 | posted at Madeira Park, Pender Harbour
11 November 2012 | Shilshole Marina, Seattle
10 September 2012

Sea Otter Inlet to Shearwater (again). Osprey to the Rescue. August 21, 2019

31 August 2019 | Posted at Port McNeill
Elsie Hulsizer
Photo: The motorboat Sea Fever under tow.

We were listening to the weather after the third of three gales since leaving Prince Rupert, wondering if it was safe to leave, when the Coast Guard interrupted the forecast to announce a Request for Marine Assistance: A powerboat named Sea Fever in Sea Otter Cove was broken down and requesting a tow to Shearwater Marina. Our first reaction was, "Sea Otter Cove, that's on the west coast of Vancouver Island, why would anyone there request a tow to Shearwater?" Then we realized "Cove" must be a mistake, they must mean Sea Otter Inlet. Then, "Oh No! That's where we are and the powerboat must be the one just behind us."

A quick call to the Coast Guard confirmed our assumption: they meant Sea Otter Inlet. Steve called Sea Fever and learned their starter motor had failed and no other boaters had answered their call for help. Then, to my horror, I heard Steve say, "I don't have a spare starter motor that would work on your boat, but we could give a tow."

"No," I said to Steve, "We're going south. How can we give them a tow to Shearwater." (Shearwater was a day's travel north. We had just come from there two days before.)

But Steve was adamant, "Someday we'll need a tow ourselves." He also pointed out that once we got out into Fitz Hugh Sound, we might be able to flag down a northbound boat to take over. I could see I wasn't going to win that argument.

We pulled up our anchor and motored over to Sea Fever. Preparing for the tow, we set up a bridle on Osprey's stern while Sea Fever set up a 200 foot one inch diameter rope tow line over their bow roller and put a buoy on their anchor so they could leave it behind and recover it later (they couldn't lift the anchor without an engine to operate the anchor winch). Having the towline be theirs meant when we arrived, we could throw it off and let Sea Fever drift to the dock.

Our first attempts to start towing were frustrating. We had to first go south before turning north because it took a long distance to turn and we needed boat speed to let our rudder push our stern around. Then, Sea Fever's crew helped by steering as well. Our next problem was that our dinghy, which we were towing just a few feet off our stern, became wrapped in the tow line and we had to straighten that out. Finally, we were out in the open Sound. The wind still blew from the south, setting up a short chop but it was with us. Still, instead of our usual 6 knots, we were doing only 4.2. That's when we realized we could roll out the jib and give us another 0.3 knots.

I looked at the chart plotter, hoping to see AIS symbols for northbound boats. Instead, I saw a screen cluttered with southbound boats. Everybody heading home.

We settled in for a day of towing, rolling out the jib when the wind came up, rolling it back in when the wind died or changed direction. At about 4:00 pm, I called Shearwater Marina on the radio and informed them we were a 44 ft sailboat towing a powerboat. Did they have space for us that night?

The reply: they would make space and to call when we had the marina in sight.

As we turned the last corner, I called and asked where they wanted us to go. The harbour master told me that they had cleared the entire north side of the main dock for us so we could swing wide and let the powerboat drift in. I looked ahead through the mist and saw a long empty dock, more space than I'd ever seen there before.

As we neared the marina, someone shouted, "We've got a Zodiac coming to help." A gray Zodiac came around the corner and as we released the tow line, nudged Sea Fever into the dock. Two men on the dock reached out to take Sea Fever's lines, and two others reached out for Osprey's lines.

We sometimes complain about Shearwater. It has a monopoly on boating services on the Central Coast and its moorage rates are high. But I had to admit they'd come through for us this time and they'd done it in a very seamanlike and professional manner.

That evening as we shared a pizza with Sea Fever's owner and crew in Shearwater's Fishermens Pub, we learned they were from Wrangell, Alaska and were returning to Wrangell after a trip up the Columbia River. They still had a long trip ahead of them.

Later, Steve commented to me that it might be a week before Sea Fever could leave Shearwater because of the time to get parts delivered. And they had to return to Sea Otter Inlet to get their anchor

The next morning after the fog cleared we headed back out Lama Passage. We were only a day behind where we'd planned to be.
We'd made a 32 mile tow from Sea Otter Inlet to Shearwater and another 43 mile trip back to Green Island Anchorage.

To see the area I'm talking about, search for Shearwater Marina in Google Maps and expand south to Hakai Passage. Sea Otter Inlet is just north of Hakai Passage.

Klemtu to Shearwater via Rescue Bay and Oliver Cove. Waiting for the Storm. August 19-20, 2019

31 August 2019
Elsie Hulsizer
Photo: Islands in Rescue Bay

I had just returned from the Klemtu Band Store to the Klemtu fuel dock where Steve was filling the water tanks after taking on fuel. We hadn't yet decided whether we would anchor in Klemtu for the night or move on. So when Steve told me the fuel dock operator had told him a storm was on its way, the decision to move on to Rescue Bay was easy. Rescue Bay is only two hours away from Klemtu and is a better anchorage in a south wind. It's also a more attractive place to spend what could be two days at anchor.

By the time we arrived in Rescue Bay, rain was pelting the dodger and the wind was blowing. Two powerboats were anchored in the bay with room for several more boats. We picked a spot near the south shore where it was most sheltered and prepared for the next day to be a day of rest.

But when we awoke in the morning, the seas were glassy smooth and the skies only lightly overcast. One of the two powerboats, a green boat named Zucchini stopped by to tell us the storm had been delayed and they were going on.

Going on for us meant going through Perceval Narrows and we'd already missed the tide. And the storm could arrive any time. We decided to stay.

While Steve puttered in the boat, fixing plumbing, I rowed the dinghy out to a group of islands at the cove entrance. The tide was out and I saw purple starfish and, a real prize -- a live abalone just sitting atop a rock. From the islands I could look all the way up the inlet to see an unbroken sheet of flat glassy water. Were we wasting time waiting for the storm when we could be traveling?

Back at the boat, Steve was finishing up his plumbing. "What about the next tide? Could we catch that?" I asked. A quick check of the tide tables told us if we left right away, we could catch the next slack at Perceval Narrows. In minutes we had the anchor up and were underway, motoring down Mathiesen Channel to Perceval Narrows which was still ebbing, giving us a small push. As we crossed from the Narrows to Reid Passage, we could see out towards Seaforth Channel. Waves crashed on rocks sending up plumes of white spray. For the first time I believed there could really be a storm.

We entered protected and narrow Reid Passage as rain began to fall and gusts skitter across the water. Oliver Cove Marine Park, a small cove just big enough for two boats was just a short distance away. Another sailboat was anchored close to shore so we anchored farther out. We had traveled 17 miles in just under three hours and hadn't had to brave the storm.

Oliver Cove
Photo: Osprey anchored in Oliver Cove.

The next morning the rain had turned to mist and the wind slacked. We raised anchor and exited Reid Passage to enter Seaforth Channel where a brisk wind was going up channel, our direction. We rolled out the jib and sailed all the way to Shearwater Marina.

Note: This was not the first, or the last time, we have waited for a storm that arrived after the forecast time. Sometimes they have not been as severe as forecast. One possible reason for this is that we are sailing in the inland channels while the forecasts are done for the outer coast. This is particularly true for Queen Charlotte Sound and the Central Coast (where we were at this time). Some of the channels are separated from the coast by multiple mountain ranges.

To see the area I'm writing about search google maps for klemtu and expand out until you see Bella Bella near the bottom right which is near Shearwater. Google maps simply doesn't show all the places I talk about.

Tangent Island. Biscotti and Rock Fish. August 15, 2019

30 August 2019
Elsie Hulsizer
Photo: The anchorage at Tangent Island in the rain.

We left Petrel Passage on the Inside Passage's outer channel and turned into a maze of islands. Leaving Sine Island to starboard, we turned south and passed between Tangent Point and Logarithm Point to anchor in a small cove on the side of Tangent Island. Don Douglas, author of Exploring the North Coast of British Columbia, called this group of islands the Math Islands. Steve insists they should be called the Navigator Islands since the names are the functions that navigators use. I think of them as the Trigonometry Islands since Trigonometry is the high school class I learned them in.

We had come here from Captain's Cove, only 22 miles to the north and it was only 2:00 pm. On other trips here I had paddled around the anchorage in my kayak but no sooner had we entered the islands than a fine mist began to fall. Kayaking no longer appeared appealing. I shivered and thought of lighting the heater, then I had a better idea: baking biscotti in the oven. The oven would warm the boat up almost as much as the heater.

Anyone who has cruised with us on Osprey knows we always bring a supply of miniature biscotti from Trader Joe's to enjoy with our morning coffee. But by now we had run out - despite the extra contribution brought from Seattle by Mike and Cheryl, guests who had joined us from Petersburg to Juneau.

Baking biscotti is easy but tedious and lengthy; they have to be baked three times. First you shape the dough into rolls and bake them on a cookie sheet. Next, you cut the baked biscotti into slices, then you bake the slices. Then you turn them over and bake them a third time.

Photo: Rolls of biscotti out of the oven.
hile I mixed and baked, Steve fished off Osprey's stern and Jack watched Steve. By the time I finished the biscotti, he had three smallish rockfish -- enough for a dinner of blackened rockfish, rice and okra pickles. It's one of our favorite dinners and I always bring Cajun Power Garlic Sauce to top the rockfish.

Rockfish on the Line
Photo: a rockfish on the line.

The biscotti weren't perfect. The 375 degree oven must have been more than 375 degrees because they burned slightly on the bottom and when I cut them and baked the slices the outside of the slices browned but were a bit soft inside. Boat gas ovens are never perfect.

But the biscotti still tasted good.

To see a map showing the area from Prince Rupert to Tangent Island search for Tangent Island in Google Maps. You'll see the other Trigonometry Islands as well.

Vessel Name: Osprey
Vessel Make/Model: Annapolis 44 sloop
Hailing Port: Seattle
Crew: Steve and Elsie Hulsizer (author of Glaciers, Bears and Totems and Voyages to Windward)
Elsie and Steve Hulsizer have sailed northwest waters since arriving in Seattle via sailboat from Boston in 1979. [...]
2017: local cruising including South Puget Sound and San Juan Islands 2016:north up West Coast VI, across QC Sound to central BC coast 2015: trip to SE Alaska 2014: Seymour and Belize Inlets through Nakwakto Rapids 2013: SE Alaska and back. 2012: from Seattle up the west coast of Vancouver [...]
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