Another wonderful FishWrapper from Wade
11 November 2015 | Shearwater - Bella Bella, BC
November 9, 2015
We left Prince Rupert in the dark the day before yesterday, having set our alarms for 04:30. The visit there was relaxing and a pleasant break, as related in the previous Wrapper, and even the weather cooperated with two beautiful clear sunny days. There was time for dinner at The Breakers, long a favorite of mine during PR stops. It's a sports pub right on the water and although the day was clear, this late in the year the air was too cold to enjoy their open deck seating, so we sat behind glass instead and admired the same view from inside. A new restaurant has opened around the corner from The Breakers and what it lacks in views it makes up for with great seafood. The last time I was there it was just a fish market; since then they've added seating and a kitchen. John and I had lunch there, fish and chips and chowder, and it was so good all four of us went back for dinner the next day. The display case with fresh fish on ice is still there, as is the large salt water tank full of live crabs, but the restaurant is a welcome addition.
The early departure enabled us to arrive at the next anchorage and get settled in before dark. It's a favorite of ours from many stops there: Lowe Inlet, a mini-fjord indenting the east side of Grenville Channel about 70 miles south of Prince Rupert. Lowe Inlet is a Provincial Marine Park and very scenic, with a waterfall at the far end of the inner basin. Although it's a park there's nothing man-made there; it's still wild and isolated. Popular in the summertime with overnighting boats, we had it to ourselves this trip. Usually on a summer night three or four other boats may be there too, and although the anchorage is large, perhaps half a mile across, the good anchoring spots are few. This evening we had an easy time of it. With nobody else in the way we eased directly toward the waterfall. The silt carried over the falls for centuries had filled in the bottom of the inlet near the rocks at the bottom of the waterfall, and as we crept closer the bottom started coming up, easily seen on the depth finder. 70 feet, 60, 50; at about 40 feet on the sounder the anchor was let go and 150 feet of chain was let out. With the engine in neutral the current from the falls started pushing us backward, twisting us sideways a little as we drifted in the swirling water. Then the slack came out of the rode and the bow swung abruptly back to point at the falls and our rearward motion ceased. The anchor dug in and we were set for the night. We were happy to be there, too. It had been a long day starting well before daylight. The next day will be more of the same as the distance to the next anchorage is 80 miles, or eleven and a half hours. But tonight we sleep with the sound of falling water nearby.
Leaving well before dawn we made the long trip to Bottleneck Inlet. As beautiful as Lowe is, Bottleneck is its equal, although a lot smaller. The entrance is tight, too, as you might guess from the name, and the surrounding mountains make it a perfect storm shelter. I have fond memories of SILVER GIRL and me sheltering here one night as the low clouds scudded overhead, moonlight occasionally flashing through breaks in the overcast. The 35 knot southerly outside in the channel wasn't even making a ripple on the water inside the entrance, and the anchor chain hung straight down and SILVER GIRL sat perfectly motionless.
Some fog developed this night, not very thick but lending a quiet beauty to our surroundings.
R2D2 returning from the morning "dog walk".
By the time we left it was thinning a little, no impediment to navigation at all. The day's run to Bella Bella is only fifty miles; no pre-dawn departure is required and we left in the early morning light
An hour later the air was crystal clear and the rising sun shone brightly on waterfalls and snow-capped peaks
The main route to Bella Bella exits the channel into Milbank Sound a couple of hours after leaving Bottleneck Inlet, but an alternate route avoids the Sound altogether, weaving instead through small rocky passages that stay in the inside. In recent years both David and I have routinely chosen the inside route for a couple of reasons, the obvious one being there's no exposure to the open ocean, but another being the scenery. That route is designated a Provincial Park, just as Lowe Inlet is. The passage is narrow and winding but not at all difficult to navigate, and the scenery is beautiful in a relaxing, peaceful sort of way. But this morning Milbank Sound was unusually placid in the bright sun, offering an invitation to visit that we couldn't refuse. It was a chance to visit an old friend, so to speak, and I was hoping to get some photos of a picturesque Canadian Lighthouse guarding the point that I hadn't seen in years
Two hours after taking that picture we docked at Shearwater, the marina associated with Bella Bella, and enjoyed dinner at their restaurant. Later that evening as we were watching an installment of The West Wing aboard for our usual movie night the wind began to pick up. That wasn't unexpected since we've been watching the weather very closely. By 2am the wind was blowing 60 knots through the marina, and continued to do so for the next 10 hours. We were secure at the dock, although bouncing around some for a while. Just before light I had gone out on deck to check the lines and was startled by David and Dorothy doing the same thing. Great minds and all that...
We knew that storm was coming. In fact, we expect to stay in Shearwater for several days until the next big one blows through, which is what we're waiting for right now. Today, Wednesday, is the calm before storm. It's as fine a morning as you can imagine: clear, crisp, with a few puffy clouds and little wind, and bright sunshine. But look what's on the horizon:
This monster fills the entire Gulf of Alaska from the Aleutian Islands all the way down the coast to Oregon. In the center, the dark red splotch represents wave heights of 40 feet, and that's where we are now, behind the island on the mainland. It should start making itself felt later today and be in its glory tomorrow and Friday. Fortunately, although we're just east of the center, the Queen Charlotte Islands will take the brunt of the waves. But I'm sure we're in for another round of 60-knot winds fairly soon.
In the meantime we're comfortable here, with access to a small grocery store and a restaurant. I must get this Wrapper off now if at all possible - internet access here is very poor - and I don't know if the photos will send at all. When the weather improves in a couple of days we will spend one day getting to the top of the Queen Sharlotte Sound and probably spend the night in a nearby cove. That will position us to make the 35-mile dash across the Sound and into the relative shelter of Vancouver Island when the weather permits. There won't be any more contact after we leave Shearwater until we arrive at Port Hardy on the island. But I'll be here and accessible by email and phone for another day or two if anyone's interested. As always, PLEASE- don't use the "Reply" function to respond to this email. It WILL foul up my internet access. Just start a new email to if you'd like to write.