Starbright Northwest Passages

Voyages on the Salish Sea of the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia

20 August 2017 | Catching Up - San Juan Islands to a Visit Home
08 August 2017 | Cabbage and Tumbo Islands
05 August 2017 | Cabbage Island
04 August 2017 | Nanaimo to Cabbage Island.
01 August 2017 | Nanaimo/Newcastle_Island
27 July 2017 | Newcastle Harbor
26 July 2017 | Grace Harbor and Pender Harbor
20 July 2017 | Heriot Bay
16 July 2017 | Von Donop Inlet - Cortes Island, BC
09 July 2017 | Alert Bay - Port Harvey
05 July 2017 | Port McNeill
29 June 2017 | Port Mcneill
24 June 2017 | Pierre's at Echo Bay
23 June 2017 | Shoal Harbor / Proctor Bay
22 June 2017 | Simoom Sound
21 June 2017 | Kwatsi Bay
19 June 2017 | Mound Island, then Waddington Bay
14 June 2017 | Lagoon Cove Marina - E Cracoft Island
13 June 2017 | Forward Harbor
12 June 2017 | Shoal Bay

Catch-Up Post and a Trip Home

20 August 2017 | Catching Up - San Juan Islands to a Visit Home
This is a catch-up post to bring us up to date as I had been getting pretty sloppy at keeping the blog current. As always, the position reports have been accurate within a day or two and you can continue to see those every time we move using the link below the "contents". I have also added a few posts "after the fact" below to help with catching up. You may remember that, for the first three weeks of August, Starbright has been making her way Southward to prepare for some medical events at home that were to be scheduled. After leaving BC, we crossed back into the USA on the 8th of August and spent the next 10 days in the San Juan Islands. We re-joined sv Alli Rose (after they completed their VanIsle circumnavigation) who introduced us to some new friends on mv Fanny and we made our way to Stuart Island, Shaw Island, and even to Friday Harbor to visit the San Juan County Fair. The weather was beautiful, the anchorages were crowded with summer vacationers, and we hiked and swam to our heart's content. Unfortunately, Barb took one more swim than she wanted when she had a kayak roll on her - at least we know the inflatable PFD's work!
Last week, the medical scheduling finally came together and so we speedily made our way across the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Port Townsend, and then on to home slip at Bremerton Yacht Club on August 19 and 20. We had a glorious spinnaker run into the sun coming up through Port Orchard to mark our last day out for a little while. So.... for the moment, Starbright is cleaned up and partially provisioned at her home slip at Bremerton. If our activities back in Portland go as planned, we'll resume our journey in a couple of weeks, so... stay tuned.

Cabbage Island Explorations

08 August 2017 | Cabbage and Tumbo Islands
Steve / Building NW winds.
With the restricted views across the strait, we were content to spend our time further exploring the varied landforms and history of Cabbage and Tumbo Islands. One of the unusual "structures" we noted (see the picture) was revealed by the very low tides in the bay at Tumbo Island. We can't quite figure out the long rock "piles" that are aligned from the beach toward the sea in long radials. Canoe launching aids? Clam garden boundaries? Don't know, and would really welcome some input from anyone who does.
By the morning of the 8th, we had been lucky enough to have another few days in this unique location, but the wind was once again starting to build, so amid some rollers starting in from the Georgia Strait, we set sail for the USA.

Cabbage Island

05 August 2017 | Cabbage Island
Steve / Hot, sunny with thick smoke
With the dying winds, the smoke settled back in to the Georgia Basin and produced some interesting red sunrises and sunsets as shown in the picture. Cabbage and Tumbo Islands have a unique variety of landforms and history, but part of the experience there is the long views out over the Strait toward Vancouver, the mountains above Whistler, etc. Needless to say, with smoke creating a fog-like condition, those views were different this trip.
The location on the strait dictates that one chooses their time carefully to stay at Cabbage Island as the usual strong winds would be pretty uncomfortable in the anchorage. This trip, though, we had light breezes, warm sunshine, and, with this being BC Day weekend, lot's of company out anchoring and camping.

Southward Bound Again

04 August 2017 | Nanaimo to Cabbage Island.
Steve / Windy, warm, and sunny
Picked up Barb yesterday from the Vancouver Ferry in Nanaimo. We made preparations to move Southward again while enjoying one last great sunset in Newcastle Anchorage with the smoke lifting a little to accommodate our view. Winds haven't abated, though, and the dinghy ride up Newcastle Channel to the Ferry terminal was a real roller coaster into 20-25 kt North wind. Equally l lumpy was our journey this morning to Dodd Narrows to re-enter the Gulf Islands, but the NW wind did make for a speedy transit under jib. We made such good time, and the forecasts for conditions for the next few days were so calm and nice, that we decided to make for one of our favorite spots - Cabbage/Tumbo Islands out on the Strait of Georgia. So, after a night layover in Clam Bay, we sped out Active Pass and ran down to Cabbage Island and picked up a ball in the dying NW winds.

Hustle and Bustle

01 August 2017 | Nanaimo/Newcastle_Island
Steve / Hot, sunny, and smokey
Biscuit and I have been doing daily walks and swims on Newcastle Island and generally enjoying pretty high temperatures for this area. Daily highs are in the high 80's with plenty of sun with strong NW winds bringing in some serious smoke from the 800 or so wildfires burning in the BC interior. Evenings cool off nicely, though, and there is always some activity to watch from Starbright's cockpit at anchor. The Dinghy Dock Pub sponsors a weekly sailing race and it is fun watching the racers thread their way through this crowded anchorage as shown in the picture! I am not sure what the turning marks are, they may be anchored vessels.
A pleasant week has unfolded here in Nanaimo with a few nights at anchor and a couple of nights at the Nanaimo Yacht club so that we could explore some more of Vancouver Island. Even rented a car and had a day excursion to the VanIsle West Coast at Uclulet. That area is definitely on the list for future journeys. The latter half of our stay here has seen the arrival of the pretty strong NW winds mentioned above. This results in a number of cruisers piling up in the anchorage to await better conditions to cross the Strait of Georgia, straining an already full anchorage and causing some questionable anchoring choices from the late arrivals. I got a little uncomfortable not being able let out enough scope for the higher winds with a couple of these yahoos so took a couple of nights in the mooring field for safety.

Nanaimo and Newcastle Island

27 July 2017 | Newcastle Harbor
Steve / Hot and Sunny
Well, Biscuit and I had a great sail just off a West 10-15kt wind that was made possible by being able to transit area WG (the torpedo test range) which was closed on Wednesday. This gave us an angle on the wind that made no tacking necessary. The moderate winds held up well, but, for some unknown reason, churned up the sea state more than expected. Thus we had a bit of a lumpy ride across but we each did our jobs to endure it. I steered, Biscuit slept. He's a heck of a deckhand.
With all that speed, we put into Newcastle Harbor (part of Nanaimo Harbor) early in the afternoon. We were greeted with more evidence of July boating numbers being much higher than May/June! This is one of our favorite anchorages because Newcastle Island has miles of great trails and meadows for us and the Biscuit. The anchoring situation, however, has been made a little more challenging by the local jurisdiction and their decision to pepper Mark Bay (foreground and to the right in the picture) with mooring balls, thus relegating most of the anchoring room to the main harbor a bit more out in the wind. Fit we did, though (Starbright is by the arrow in the pic) and it turned out the wind provided some welcome relief from the high temperatures in the area. We'll stay here for the next week until our crew is made complete again by Barb's return and do some hiking and perhaps even run over to Nanaimo and pick up some more permanent patching materials for StarLite (the dinghy, AKA Biscuit's ride).

Grace Harbor Redux and Pender Harbor

26 July 2017 | Grace Harbor and Pender Harbor
Our second night in Grace Harbor this trip proved to be a bit more problematic than the first. Upon entering the harbor, we discovered that July brings many, many, many boats and so we had to search out a little corner in the harbor and stern tie close to the beach. Thus, the next morning we only had the expected 4 feet to spare under the keel and so it was time to get an early start Southward. Oops.... Not so fast, the one side of the inflatable dinghy had deflated overnight from what proved to be a 2" tear on a rock the night before during the evening Biscuit run. So, the laborious task of deflating the dinghy and hoisting onto the foredeck ensued, make our departure a little later than planned. The trip down Malspina Strait was to be a long run of 46 miles that day into a building SE wind on the nose, so the delay only served to let the wind and seas build a little more than planned and so we had a bit of a lumpy ride. Uncomfortable though it was, we arrived in Pender Harbor none the worse for wear and dropped anchor in Whiskey Slough with just enough daylight left to effect temporary repairs to the dinghy and re-launch it to get Biscuit to the beach - pronto!
We spent a great 3 days in Pender Harbor, visiting new friends from sv Carousel and local ham net friends who live in the area. Weather good - company good - food good - all good! On Wednesday, Barb got on a bus to Vancouver to fly home for a week, so Biscuit and I made our way out of the harbor to tackle the Georgia Strait once again.

Preparing to Move South

20 July 2017 | Heriot Bay
We left the peace and tranquility of Von Donop Inlet to make our way back to Quadra Island and the marina at Heriot Bay. This was purely a provisioning stop to tank up on groceries, propane, and fresh water, but the added benefit was the NW 10kt wind that gave us a great beam reach all the way there. The Heriot Bay Inn marina runs a campground, Inn, and marina and, like so many of the small marinas from Desolation Sound Northward, it has limitations in services - one example... no cell service. One can walk the streets of Portland many times without seeing that old staple of communication, the phone booth, but some of these locations rely on a land line phone booth to serve their customers needs. Here is one that actually had all the glass intact, and didn't have the handset ripped from the cord!
Though many of these stops are limited in what they can provide, they have learned to provide what is needed by the cruiser nonetheless. Heriot Bay Inn pumped fuel, propane, and water and had a fairly well stocked grocery just up the hill that set us up nicely. So, after a night back in the "big city" we proceeded to next morning to seek out a quiet anchorage from which we could stage a long run Southward.

Warm and Peaceful

16 July 2017 | Von Donop Inlet - Cortes Island, BC
Steve / 80 degrees and sunny
A lot has transpired since we started our way Southward again. Our wish to get back into the Discovery Islands and Desolation Sound was based on the desire to have a little more reliability with cell service (to take care of some home responsibilities) and also to stop moving for awhile and enjoy the sun and warmth at anchor for some extended periods. Well, we’d have to wait just a little longer. Our stay in Port Harvey stretched out to 3 days in total while waiting for the Johnstone Strait gales to settle down. Finally, we were able to set out in pretty calm conditions on Tuesday the 11th. We had a nice run down Johnstone Strait, made good transits at Whirlpool and Green Point Rapids, and pulled into Shoal Bay for a night to wait for the Yacultas (a set of three rapids in all within 3-4 miles of each other - Dent, Gillard, and Yaculta). Biscuit had another great evening in Shoal Bay with his buddy, Tulip, and we set out Wednesday to tackle the Yacultas. These were the last of the sets of tidal rapids that we had no experience with yet so we carefully calculated the proper slack times, made the transits without incident, and made the run down Calm Channel into the Discovery Islands. As of this writing, we have been at anchor at the head of Von Donop Inlet on Cortes Island for 4 days and will probably remain for another few days as well.
We have had occasion to visit a few of our Great Northern Boater’s Net acquaintances here as this is a popular spot with that crowd as well as for others. The Discovery/Desolation Sound area in July is definitely more crowded than the areas further North but we have staked out a beautiful spot in 80 degree sunshine and are hiking and swimming with the Biscuit every day. Starbright is the boat on the far left in the picture and, as you can see, there is plenty of room for everyone to spread out (including Biscuit!) and relax. In a few days, we’ll make our way to our next provision spot and start down the Sunshine Coast. We’re trying to stay true to the Cruiser’s process and not plan too much, so, no ideas how that will go! Generally, though, we should be somewhere between the San Juan Islands and the Canadian Gulf Islands for the month of August – we’ll see how the winds drive us!

Alert Bay

09 July 2017 | Alert Bay - Port Harvey
Steve / Gales, some showers, but warm.
We spent 2 great days in Alert Bay. The community, occupying the whole of Cormorant Island, is comprised mainly of members of the 'Namgis tribe of Kwakwaka'wakw. On Thursday, we were able to witness a presentation of traditional potlatch and peace dances and songs in the tribal Big House - most impressive. We followed this Friday with an extended visit to U'mista - the sister museum that we saw some years ago on Quadra Island. The collections of repatriated masks, blankets, woven goods, and other paraphernalia seized during the potlatch bands early last century are well preserved and displayed and easily consume some hours to absorb.

We also found some respite from our recent careful practices around bear and cougar management by taking advantage of 20-ish miles of predator-free trails that are beautifully maintained across multiple environments on the island. As Barb said after these two days, our dogs are tired (including the Biscuit!).

Our visit to Alert Bay was all we had anticipated and is a must see in the North Island area. Our departure on Saturday morning was somewhat of a false start as we awoke to thick fog in the Queen Charlotte Strait and switched on the recently repaired radar to find it not working. Argggh. After a few minutes of circling, we located a bad connection, got it working, and set off to begin heading back Southward. As I write this, we had made our way up Knight Inlet, spotting dolphins and a massive lone Humpback whale, around the Southern Broughton Islands, and are in Port Harvey waiting for yet another gale to abate. We got up today at 5:00 AM to make the first rapid's slack, saw that the buoy report in the Johnstone Strait was building early, as predicted, and went back to bed. Later on, a 50 foot trawler docked in front of us, and reported they had passed the Grand Banks that left here at 5:00 and they were both getting beat up pretty bad with 25 knot winds blowing against the ebb current. Turns out we made a good judgement call to wait. We should be good to go tomorrow or Tuesday to make our way back through the tidal rapids.
Vessel Name: Starbright
Vessel Make/Model: Hunter 340
Hailing Port: Portland, OR
Crew: Steve and Barb
About: Our home is our hailing port of Portland, OR and Starbright is slipped in Bremerton, WA. Roxy, the chocolate lab/boxer mix, has passed on so Biscuit, the big yellow guy, is now ship's dog and has taken over duties searching off the fantail for dinghy destinations.
Extra: Amateur Radio Station W7XV is in operation on Starbright and checks into the Great Northern Boater's Net on 3.870MHz at 0800 PT, the West Coast Boater's Net on 3.860MHz at 1800 PT, and the Northwest Boater's Net on 3.865MHz at 0830 PT.
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Starbright's Photos -