Travels on the Inside Passage

A log of cruising adventures in coastal areas of British Columbia, Canada and in Southeast Alaska.

07 September 2014 | Ganges, B.C.
05 September 2014 | Quadra Island, B.C
25 August 2014 | Posted at Kwatsi Bay
19 August 2014 | Posted at Kwatsi Bay
15 August 2014 | Posted at Kwatsi Bay
15 August 2014 | Posted at Kwatsi Bay
14 August 2014 | Posted in Port McNeill
14 August 2014 | Posted in Port McNeill
14 August 2014 | Posted in Port McNeill
28 July 2014 | Posted in Port McNeill
26 July 2014 | Posted in Port McNeill
25 July 2014 | Posted in Port McNeill
22 July 2014 | Jennis Bay, Drury Inlet

Closer to Home

07 September 2014 | Ganges, B.C.
Weather never better.
Thursday, 04 September 2014

The weather has been so pleasant that we stayed two nights in this, our favorite anchorage in Desolation Sound. We had a visit from Byron and Sue (Eagle's Gig) yesterday. They are anchored in another cove here in Von Donop Inlet and were out riding around in their dinghy. We are both heading to Drew Harbour tomorrow and we plan to meet up for dinner at the Heriot Bay Inn.

Friday, 05 September 2014

We had a good dinner with Sue and Byron and treated them to a preview presentation of the photos and video of our dolphin/whale experience in Viner Sound. Today we depart to travel down the Georgia Strait to Comox, and then on to Nanaimo, B.C. The weather continues to be excellent for travel in the strait and we will take advantage of it.

Sunday, 07 September 2014

We have gained a lot of ground towards home in the last seven days and are now in Ganges, B.C. We are going to rest here for a day or two, then cross over into U.S. waters by Wednesday. Our club is holding the last outing of the year next weekend at Sucia Island State Marine Park. We plan to be there and help out with the annual work party. We maintain trails and camp sites, paint, fix and do other things that the ranger needs to have done. It is always a fun and productive weekend for the club.

Moving on to Desolation Sound

05 September 2014 | Quadra Island, B.C
Outstanding fall weather
Thursday, 28 August 2014

We spent the last few days of our Broughtons cruise visiting Shawl Bay for seafood chowder night and Echo Bay for fish and chips. We traveled today through the Indian Group, past New Vancouver and down Beware Passage to Potts Lagoon where we anchored for the night. There is logging activity all around the lagoon with a large camp set up on the peninsula in the outer bay. This turns out to be a busy, noisy place so we only stay one night.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Our exit strategy will be to visit Lagoon Cove for tonight and to stage at Port Harvey for an early morning run down Johnstone Strait. The tides and weather are shaping up to make that happen on Monday, Labor Day.

Monday, 01 September 2014

We depart Port Harvey at first light, 0615, and find a light southeast breeze in the strait. The current is running east on the flood so there is a light chop that is on our bow. There is a lot of traffic heading east today: recreational boats, fishing boats, and commercial tugs with barges. The visibility is good in light rain showers and we fall into the line of traffic along the south shore. There are gill netters and trawlers working this side of the strait, going after the salmon which are present in record numbers.

We reach Race Passage at 0900 and the flood carries us through to Tyee Point where the ebb has started. We are slowed a bit by the opposing current but are able to reach Blind Channel Resort on Mayne Passage in time to have lunch on their patio. We will spend the night here and take the flooding tide through Cordero Channel tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, 02 September 2014

Our travel today will take us through a set of three tidal rapids, so timing is critical. We have done this before so we are well prepared. We leave at 0845, shoot through the small pass at Shell Point and turn east into Cordero Channel. We pass Shoal Bay and Hall Point at our planned times and arrive at Dent Rapids 15 minutes before slack water. The passage is easy, no white water is evident. Gillard Passage is next, followed by the Yuculta Rapids. Both are running flat as the last of the flood carries us to Kellsey Point at the south end of Stuart Island. We are now in Desolation Sound and headed to an anchorage in Von Donop Inlet on Cortes Island.

We find a nice spot to drop the hook in the north end of the large basin at the southern terminus of Von Donop. The weather forecast is for strong northwesterlies tonight and tomorrow so we settle down in our snug cove to wait it out. There are seven boats total in the anchorage tonight.

Attack of the Killer Whales

25 August 2014 | Posted at Kwatsi Bay
It's not science fiction, folks!

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Bound for Viner Sound, we hear Whimsey calling in to Echo Bay for moorage. We decide to alter our plans and go to Pierre's Echo Bay Marina. Pierre's is packed with boats, the Echo Bay Yacht Club is having their annual salmon derby with the wrap-up ceremonies tonight after dinner. We tie up at the transient dock for a couple of hours and Pierre finds a spot for us to moor for the night. We get reservations for the BBQ prime rib dinner and meet up with Tom and Pat on Whimsey.

Dinner was fabulous, as it always is, and we had a good time getting caught up with old friends and making some new acquaintances.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

We linger at the dock until the morning fog lifts since we do not have far to go today. We travel five miles up to Viner Sound, just off Hornet Passage. Viner is a long finger of water that extends two miles into Gilford Island. It terminates at the mouth of a stream that leads down from an inland lake. There are two coves to anchor in and the B.C. Forest Service has installed mooring buoys. We tie to the inner buoy in the north cove, a spot we have stayed in before. The cove is very protected from all winds and the mountain to the north is very scenic, with high rock walls. There is a small stream that empties into the cove as well.

Soon two more boats enter and one takes the outer buoy while the sail boat anchors and ties a line to shore from her stern. We have a pleasant evening and a quiet night.

Friday, 22 August 2014

We had planned to move on to Wakana Bay today but are enjoying the cove and decide to stay one more night. Rob launches the Bullfrog tender and heads out to explore for the morning with camera in hand. We always have hand-held radios to keep in contact when off in the dinghy. Soon a call comes from Sharon on Sirena “Rob, there are dolphins in the channel!”.

They were after the salmon that are schooling at the mouth of the streams. The salmon are waiting for a chance to go upstream and spawn. This has been an incredibly dry summer in B.C., the stream levels a are very low. This, combined with a record run of returning salmon, make fishing conditions excellent for all of the predators in the area, humans included. When there is a good freshet of rain, the bears will get in on the harvest.

Rob spent the next hour recording the Pacific white-sided dolphins as they raced around the head of Viner Sound in a pod of about 50 or more. The dolphins continued to swim out in the main part of the sound, but did not enter our cove until late afternoon. Why? The answer was soon apparent when we spotted the large black fins of orcas, or killer whales, out in the sound. There were at least 7 orcas of all sizes and they were on the prowl for dolphins. The dolphin action became frenetic as they dashed in and out of the two coves, seeking the safe haven of shallow water. The orcas were relentless in their pursuit and came into our cove numerous times, swimming under Sirena with such speed that the wake caused us to rock violently from side to side. There was obviously some high drama going on under the surface as the orcas attacked the pod of dolphins. This went on for at least two hours and when things settled down there were three mortally wounded dolphins beached on the rocks at the head of our cove.

We had the “National Geographic Moment of a Lifetime” today. Watching all this unfold was mentally draining for both of us. Rob had recorded over a thousand digital images and about an hour of video. There is a lot of editing to be done and we will try to post some of the pics online when we get to a good internet connection.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

We departed Viner Sound to travel up Tribune Channel to another of our favorite stops, Kwatsi Bay. Enroute we travel through the Burdwood Group of islands and across the face of Deep Sea Bluff. Rob captures video footage of both while Sharon steers Sirena past the scenery. We get to Kwatsi Bay and tie up at the floats. Anca and Max greet us and welcome us back. We will have a happy hour gathering at five. There are six other boats at the dock tonight, three sail and three power.

Back in the Broughtons

19 August 2014 | Posted at Kwatsi Bay
Some fog, some sun.
Saturday, 16 August 2014

Our business having been taken care of, we depart Port McNeill and head back to the west end of the Broughtons to continue our cruise. We will work our way from west to east and then head down the coast towards home.

Our trip across the strait is again in dense fog starting about six miles north of Pultney Point. There is some traffic coming out of Wells Passage towards us on the opposite course. We track these recreational vessels and avoid them by altering course a bit to the east. After two hours we arrive at our waypoint off Boyles Point, at the entrance to Wells Passage. There is another vessel exiting the passage and we communicate with them, agreeing to a port-to-port passage. The fog persists until we reach the entrance to Drury Inlet. We are in time to catch the slack tide in Stuart Narrows and pass through into Drury.

Monday, 18 August 2014

We spent a couple of days at Jennis Bay visiting Kim and Kent, the proprietors. They have two wonderful dogs, Bravo and Koal, who enthusiastically greet every boat that arrives. They are well trained and behave like gentlemen around visiting dogs. Bravo is a 13+ year-old yellow Lab and gets gets around pretty good, despite his age. He has lived at Jennis Bay all his life and at one point survived being attacked by a wolf. Bravo lost an eye in the encounter, but gets on just fine. He is the alpha dog at Jennis Bay and has trained his understudy well. Koal is a 2 year-old black lab-mix with piercing blue eyes, must be part Eskimo. Kim rescued him from the reservation when he was a pup. He is full of youthful energy and loves treats from boaters. We always have a bag of dog treats on board and love making new dog-friends.

Jennis Bay Marina has great happy hour events. There is a small crowd tonight, only four boats tied up, but we have plenty to go around. These events are found nightly throughout the Broughtons in the summer and everyone looks forward to them. Kim usually whips up some fabulous appetizer dishes to go along with what the boaters bring. Kim always invites the women to join her in the cook-house when she is working in there, she refers to the galley as her "woman cave". No men allowed.

Today we wait until afternoon to ride the outgoing tide down Drury Inlet, through Stuart Narrows at slack and then catch the flood going up Grappler Sound. We anchor for the night in Turnbull Cove.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

We head over to Sullivan Bay to pick up some groceries and decide to stay overnight. They, like all the marinas in the Broughtons, have a happy hour at 5. We attend with our appetizer contribution and chat with the other boater. It is a good way to connect and gather information about places and events.

Our Time in Belize

15 August 2014 | Posted at Kwatsi Bay
Partlly cloudy mornings, sunny afternoons
Saturday, 09 August 2014

We departed Westerman Bay and traveled 25 miles inland. We look for the waterfalls that cascade down from the high mountains. The summer of 2014 has been very dry and the waterfalls are running at just a trickle. We do find the first of two native pictographs that are described in the books, this one high on a cliff at the entrance to Alison Sound. The painting is done in ochre on a lichen-free south facing bluff. It may be the work of the Nakwaktok people who inhabited this area and is believed to date to 1868.

The entrance to the sound narrows to a channel less than 300 feet wide and mountains stand two and three thousand feet high on both sides. There is a bit of current running in the channel, which is split in two by a small islet. We transit west of the islet and are soon in the main arm, passing Summers Bay, through another narrows and then to the head of the sound.

Alison Sound is very pretty. It is surrounded by mountains that reach 4000 feet up from the water. There are two creeks that empty into the sound at its head forming a large delta. The anchorage here is in deep water and the bottom shoals steeply to the mud flats. We take pictures and return down inlet a few miles to Summer Bay where there is another native pictograph. We choose to anchor in Peet Bay, just across the sound. This is a very nice, small cove on the south shore of Alison Sound and we have a pleasant night. We deploy our stern anchor to keep the boat from swinging in this tight cove.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

We are anchored approximately 27 nautical miles due east of Cape Caution, which is on the ocean shore. There is little coastal fog or low clouds this far inland. It is a sunny day when we wake and the tide has changed to an ebb. We have breakfast and depart to head back down Belize Inlet with the tide. Typically, the up-inlet winds start by mid-day and build through the afternoon hours. An early departure means we will not have a head wind to buck through.

Our next anchorage will be in Strachan Bay, not far from Westerman Bay where we were on Saturday. The trip takes us close to an active logging operation on the south shore of Belize. There are several camp barges, a log booming area and log dump. The road goes up the hill to a cutting block where a swing-boom yarder is working. Rob starts having flash-backs to his days of working in the woods of Oregon. This will not be the last logging site that we will see on this trip.

We opt for an anchorage in Village Cove, just at the entrance to Mereworth Sound. It is very cozy, we are tucked behind some islands in the north end of the bay. The only other boat we see is a passing crew boat, headed into the main part of Strachan Bay.

Seymour Inlet

15 August 2014 | Posted at Kwatsi Bay
Pleasant summer weather.
Monday, 11 August 2014

Another sunny day awaits our explorations so we get going and check out Strachan Bay. There is a floating home, logging camp and booming area on the north shore; and another floating home at the outlet of Pack Lake. The anchorage in the south cove looks attractive, but the day is just starting so we continue on.

We travel down Belize Inlet to Mignon Point, where Belize joins Seymour Inlet. We head east to pass in front of the Nakwakto Rapids, which are running at full song on the flooding tide. The overfalls at Turret Island are impressive. We pass approximately one-half mile from Turret Island and experience a good bit of turbulence. We pass through the maelstrom of current quickly by throttling up the engine and are soon in quiet water. Seven miles past the rapids, Seymour Inlet turns sharply inland at Harriet Point. We explore Charlotte Bay, finding two logging camps and numerous crab pots. Moving on to Wawatle Bay, there is more evidence of logging and the wind is funneling in to the bay.

Anchorages are becoming harder to find and we have been under way for four hours so we make a strategic decision. We will back-track down Seymour, exit through the rapids at high-slack tide and make for Skull Cove. It is now 1500 and the slack is at 1715. We spend some time checking out Nugent Sound; another logging camp. Our timing is impeccable and we transit Nakwakto Rapids at slack tide.

The change to ebb helps us down the narrow Schooner Channel to Skull Cove. Sharon remarks "We're Home!" This is the fourth time that we have anchored here over the years. The coastal fog has set in and there are two other boats in the outer-most cove, we pass them and anchor in the inner part where we usually do. The fog persists through the night and is so heavy that there is condensation laying on the decks and rails, almost as if it had been raining. The seawater temperature dropped about 20 degrees from the inlet temperatures, hence the heavy fog.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

This morning finds more dense fog dripping out of the sky. We are in need of a few things and are going to spend some time back at Port McNeill. We listen as the weather forecast plays the same broken record "Fog patches dissipating late in the day. Northwest wind building to 15 by late afternoon." Fog is the lesser of two evils on Queen Charlotte Strait. The tide is flooding this morning and will help us move along. We choose a late departure, 1030, in hopes that the fog will lift. It does not. We head down Ripple Passage, pass Willoughby Rock with its guardian green buoy, and find the Echo Islands in the Deserter Group. From there it is an 18 nautical mile run on course 148° True to Pultney Point on Malcom Island.

There are a few boats heading down the mainland coast and we track them with radar and AIS. When we get on course for Malcom Island, there is no more traffic but we still keep a sharp lookout for debris in the water. As we are about to cross the Gordon Channel, a main shipping lane, we spot the "SS Volendam" on the AIS display. She is off our starboard bow, opposite the Gordon Islands, heading east for Blackfish Sound at 20 knots. Our plot shows that she will cross our track ahead of us by 500 yards (one-quarter of a nautical mile). This is safe enough but we still are uneasy being that close to a large passenger liner in dense fog. The bridge watch on the "Volendam" hails on the radio "to the vessel 4 miles east of the Gordon Islands heading southeast". That's us! Rob calls back and exchanges position and passing expectations. Sirena offers to change course to port to open up the closing distance (or CPA, closest point of approach). The "Volendam" concurs with our intentions and we both proceed without further incident. Shortly thereafter, the fog begins to lift and we spot Malcom Island in the distance. We also see the stern of the cruise ship heading away from us. The rest of the passage is routine and we are able to find a place to moor at the town dock. Marieke, the daughter of Max and Anca who own Kwatsi Bay Marina, helps us find a place and takes our lines. She has a wealth of local knowledge and tells us where to find our immediate needs.
Vessel Name: Sirena
Vessel Make/Model: Grand Banks 36 Europa
Hailing Port: Bellingham WA
Crew: Rob and Sharon
About: We are retired and cruise the waters of the Pacific Northwest.
Extra: "Sirena" is a 1989 Grand Banks trawler. She has a single engine and all the amenities to make life on board comfortable.


Who: Rob and Sharon
Port: Bellingham WA