another Fishwrapper from Wade
07 November 2015
Fishwrapper & photo by Wade Biggs
Good morning Prince Rupert! What, no response? Maybe that's because it is 0400. The DE crew will be up in a flurry of activity in a few minutes to get the dogs and garbage to shore -- the dogs come back -- and get underway by 0500.
I'm going to cheat and post another of Wade's great Fishwrappers to tide you over until we have connectivity again, down the road. Til then:
November 4, 2015
Ketchikan was fun. Our mutual friend Mark stopped by the boat for an hour or so in the evening and we enjoyed catching up. He and his wife Leah are regulars at the Pegasus Coffee House on Bainbridge Island whenever they are there, living aboard their sailboat. Otherwise, they live on the water in Ketchikan. Mark, you will remember, joined SHEARWATER out of Honolulu for Seattle a couple of years ago, as did John, who is aboard now.
We left Ketchikan early yesterday morning, turning southeast down the last of Tongas Narrows, past the south entrance of Misty Fjords and joined Revillagigedo Channel. You can try to pronounce that if you want; I can't. The locals I ask about the name either shrug their shoulders with a deer-in-the-headlights stare, or reply that they just refer to it as "Revie". Whatever the name, it leads southward towards Dixon Entrance and six hours after leaving Ketchikan we were approaching open water and some swells. The last good anchorage before exiting into Dixon is on the east or mainland side, just north of the Canadian border, located midway between Ketchikan and Prince Rupert. When I first started cruising this route years ago I avoided stopping there, choosing instead to make the 12 or 13 hour passage in one go. Just the name "Foggy Bay" was intimidating enough to deter a first-time cruiser, but in addition to that, the descriptions in the cruising guides were less than encouraging. What I eventually discovered years later was a small harbor suitable for five or six vessels swinging at anchor, as snug and protected a place as I've found on the coast. Getting there does require good navigation and careful boat handling, as the guides pointed out. Foggy Bay itself is a semicircular divot carved out of a rocky coast, perhaps half a mile across at the entrance, and open to the west. In calm weather it looks harmless and exposed, but with any significant swell the rocks lurking just under the surface make themselves known by geysers of foam spraying skyward. Then, from seaward, it looks intimidating; dangerous even.
But get closer and a rock free path leading to the back of the bay becomes evident. If the sea is calm navigation becomes paramount because the rocks remain hidden just below the water. Nearing the back of the bay, a narrow fairway that had been invisible before begins to open through the trees to the right. A hard turn of ninety degrees around some wicked looking rocks reveals a narrow, strait channel a few hundred yards long running behind a slender island that hugs the coast. It opens into a beautiful, calm pond surrounded by tall evergreens, where we anchored in 30 feet of water. It's a perfect storm shelter, and we had it all to ourselves last night.
Stopping there was a tactical decision. Up to that point our plans were somewhat flexible but as we approached Foggy Bay the swells were building and the wind was picking up. The forecast for the remainder of the day wasn't too bad but continuing would have required us to navigate Venn Passage in the dark, as I've already discussed, and, as it turned out, in the rain. Instead, we enjoyed a hot fried chicken dinner and a leisurely movie night before bed.
Remember the small voice that said we'd pay for the good weather later? Today's the day. Today's forecast is the best for about a week, but it isn't great. We left Foggy Bay about 8:30 this morning in eight to ten foot swells generated by gale force winds further out to sea. Although our local winds are just 15 knots, the forty-knot storm to the west is sending some big waves our way, and we're taking them on the beam. Dixon Entrance is running true to form. Our stabilizers are in the water helping to reduce the roll and conditions really aren't too bad.
This is one of our "fish", a delta winged stabilizer towed about 12 feet underwater from poles extending from the sides of the boat. It greatly reduces the boat's rolling motion. It's pictured here nose down in it's stowed position on the railing, ready to be launched.
Dorothy and the two dogs aren't happy though. Rusty found a pile of boots and duffel bags containing survival suits stored in the back of the wheel house. He's burrowed into the center of the pile as a mole burrows into the earth, his face in a corner and his body completely covered by international orange fabric. Seriously, we didn't cover him up in this photo. He did this himself. I was lucky to get a shot when he had his head up. His head also is completely covered for hours at a time.
Rascal's curled in another corner, a comma shape wedged between two walls. Dorothy has retreated to the master stateroom in the stern, a place that provides the least motion. It started raining 15 minutes ago, and the boat's motion is increasing. I'm wondering what's for lunch.
Several hours later it's time to get the "fish" in. As we rounded Dundas Island the waves moved more to the stern and we're not rolling so badly. Bringing the stabilizers in will increase our speed almost a full knot. Dave and I went outside to start the recovery and there on the port quarter was a beautiful rainbow - a double rainbow, actually, faintly visible in the picture. There are rewards for putting up with this weather!
The fish is being towed from the end of the stabilizer pole. There's another one on the other side.
The remaining few hours to Prince Rupert should be uneventful. Venn Passage is narrow and winding but protected from wind and waves. Now that we're behind Dundas the waves are almost gone, and it's time to worry about something else. Moorage is a concern in Prince Rupert in the summer. Perhaps with other, more sensible pleasure boaters gone for the season we won't have the usual difficulties finding a place to tie up. On the other hand, most of the slips in PR are used by commercial fishermen, and with winter gales ravaging the coast they may be in port already. Having a slip simplifies the customs and immigration clearances we must obtain, to say nothing of easing the task of getting groceries aboard. We had no chance to shop in Ketchikan, and in any event fresh fruit and produce as well as some meats must be purchased here because of agricultural restrictions. By the way, shopping at the local Safeway in Canada has an unusual twist. Their shopping carts are in a corral and must be liberated by putting a "Loonie", a Canadian dollar coin, in a vending machine slot. The first time I encountered this I was offended that they would charge rent for a shopping cart, but I soon discovered my mistake; the coin is returned when the cart returns to the corral, and the system ensures there are few free-range shopping carts terrorizing Canadian parking lots.
Today was a busy one for the crew. While "resting" for a day in Prince Rupert the the engine's oil and filter was changed, the generator's too; the boat's name and hailing port was applied to the transom over the new paint, and looks great. Those are adhesive-backed vinyl letters a foot tall, by the way, and getting them positioned perfectly the first time (the only attempt you get with these things) was time consuming and nerve wracking. New lighting was installed behind the pilot house to illuminate the cockpit area and the swim step. Wiring had to be run for that too, of course, but now that it's done launching and retrieving the dogs in the tender at night will be much easier, and probably safer. Then we all went to Safeway and shopped for supplies for the next two weeks, coming home with $700 worth of groceries in 13 large cardboard boxes. The store was good enough to pack our purchases in boxes and arrange transport to the boat for us. I doubt this was the first time they had provisioned a boat. There were lots of other smaller jobs to do while in port, but in spite of all the work there was time for a couple of nice meals at the local restaurants. It made a pleasant change from having to cook and clean up for ourselves.
But we have to move on. By Saturday morning at 5am we'll be underway. That will be the usual pattern for much of the next couple of weeks. Daylight is in short supply and we have a certain distance to travel each day, and it's much easier to leave somewhere in the dark than it is to try to find a safe anchorage at night. Winter weather is setting in already, and it's not the cold or maybe some snow that's the problem, it's wind and waves. We will move when conditions are good and hole up somewhere when they are not. It's not that the boat can't take the pounding. People, however, get tired of that sort of thing very quickly; and then, there's poor Rusty.
It's after 10:30 Friday night. My alarm is set for 04:30, so I better send this off and get some sleep. We are going to be out of touch frequently from now on, and for days at a time. I will continue to write about the journey and will post it whenever I get a connection. But if we are forced to stop and shelter from a storm the delay could be lengthy, perhaps a week between contacts. Fortunately the inside passage has lots of places to hide from the elements.
And so to bed.