Sailing with Destination

29 June 2022 | Cape Caution and Fury Cove
26 June 2022 | Port McNeill
25 June 2022 | Shoal Bay
22 June 2022 | Prideaux Haven BC
18 June 2022
02 June 2022 | Squalicum Harbor, Bellingham, WA

Hakai Beach Institute and Codville Lagoon Marine Park

01 July 2022
Donald Rushmer
We left Fury Cove on the incoming tide and headed north on Fitzhugh Sound along the east side of Calvert Island, stopping to fish along the way (protein provisions). The weather was cloudy with a SE breeze and we flew our jib for a while to carry us along. Today, we are headed for the Hakai Beach Institute, located on Pruth Bay on the northwest corner of Calvert Island. This stop is important for us, because daughter Julia spent several years as an Institute Fellow doing her thesis research there. Her presence there provided an excuse for buying Destination over a decade ago. Clearly, we needed a boat to visit her – something that sadly never happened because our work lives got in the way.

We motored along the east side of Calvert Island and at its northeast corner, turned west down the Kwahshua Channel, between Calvert and Hecate Islands. This channel is quite wide and deep on its eastern end and as we motored down the center of it, we noticed humpback whales swimming along the southern shore. We slowed to watch them and it quickly became clear that they were “bubble fishing” - diving deep, while releasing a curtain of bubbles to surround a herring ball, then swimming up through the ball to the surface, eating a substantial portion of it. It was a spectacular sight and went on for quite a while as we slowly motored up the channel, several hundred yards away. As we moved along and the depth of the channel decreased, the whales disappeared then reappeared headed straight for our boat, blew then swam under us, then came up on the other side blowing again. A little “howdy” from a couple of locomotive-sized friends as they swam to the north side of the channel and headed back out.

Shortly after our whale interaction, we arrived at Pruth Bay, dropped anchor, and went ashore at the Institute. Visitors are welcome there to learn more about the work they are doing and Julia had contacted Christina Munck, co-founder of the Institute to let her know we were coming. We explored the beautiful gardens there and walked though lush forest to West Beach, one of several stunning ocean beaches near the Institute. We enjoyed a brief conversation with Christina and spent the night anchored in the bay.

Thursday morning we left Pruth Bay and traveled north in calm, partly cloudy weather, rejoining Fitzhugh Sound, which became Fisher Channel, and arrived on a sunny afternoon at Codville Lagoon Marine Park, a beautiful quiet anchorage on King Island. The birding here was wonderful – several families of Harlequin Ducks, at least one loon, a pair of Common Mergansers with 8 very young little ones, and a pair of Sandhill Cranes visited by Janet on her paddle board. Of course, the ever-present bald eagles, crows and ravens. Quiet night after fish curry dinner with Steve and Joannie, fresh from a swim in a nearby lake. Onward today to Shearwater and Bella Bella for fuel, water and provisions.

Cape Caution Going North

29 June 2022 | Cape Caution and Fury Cove
Donald Rushmer
Well, we did get up at 4:10, made some coffee and tea and hot cereal, and were underway at 5:00 AM. Sky was clear and wind was calm in the harbor, but upon leaving we entered more fog, navigating with GPS, AIS and radar as we entered the southern portion of Queen Charlotte Strait. Our destination is Fury Cove, a protected anchorage on Penrose Island on the northern entrance of Rivers Inlet, most importantly north of Cape Caution and about 70 miles away. Doesn't seem like far, but it is an all day jaunt when you averaging 5-6 MPH.

Cape Caution is considered the unofficial demarcation between the southern mainland BC coast and the northern one, mostly because it is the first area that is fully exposed to open ocean for about 40 miles. When crossing it, caution is indeed advised. We had monitored the weather forecast for a window of calm weather and today was the one - the forecast calling for windy and rainy weather later. Interestingly, the presence of fog is a good thing as it is most often present in calmer, less windy seas.

It was a beautiful day, weather remained calm and as we motored along, we passed several sea otters laying on their backs eating their morning meals. The highlight of the first portion of our trip came later when we were joined by a group of 8-10 Dalls Porpoises swimming along with and under our boat for 20 minutes of so. Strikingly beautiful and playful animals, ruffly 6-8 feet long with black and white markings reminiscent of mini killer whales, clearly enjoying life as we enjoyed them!

By around noon and as we approached Cape Caution, the fog dissipated and we enjoyed bright sunshine. We began to encounter ocean swells from the northwest with wave heights we estimated to be 2-3 meters. By about 3:00, and well past the Cape, we entered calmer waters of Fitzhugh Sound in the lee of Calvert Island but experienced increasing winds from the northwest. We raised our sails, only to find that our mainsail had suffered even more damage from the gale a few days ago than we thought. We were delighted that the fix we did at Shoal Bay held marvelously, but the guide at the top of the sail had cracked. As important, it was clear that a baton on the trailing edge of the sail was broken in half and a second one was missing altogether. The sail worked but with an excess of flapping, which was discouraging.

We arrived in Fury Cove at about 6:00 PM after 13 hours underway. There were a number of boats anchored there, all either just in from the south or preparing for the journey there. We were very tired, but were in great spirits, having accomplished the crossing in perfect weather and seas and arriving safely at our destination. Needless to say, sleep came early after we anchored.

Fury Cove is delightful and we elected to take a rest day there. Protected from wind and seas, with white shell beaches on the west shore - clearly middens created by First Nation inhabitants centuries or even millennia ago and of course deer walking along the beach. We need to ask daughter Julia if she knows of them.
We awoke around midnight to a brilliant display of lightning, thunder and pelting rain. The next day was cool and rainy. We spent time doing sail repairs, fixing the broken baton and finding the perfect replacement during a walk on the beach to replace the missing one. Once again, optimism abounds about the possibilities for our repaired sail! We had a wonderful chat with Steve and Joannie about plans for travel north (to be mentioned later) and life on a sailboat. Steve gave words to thoughts we had been having as well - sailing is a series of problems needing creative solutions. Frankly, that is part of what makes it so great!

Heading Further North Fog or Not

26 June 2022 | Port McNeill
Donald Rushmer | Sunny, NW wind at 5-10
Our trip from Blind Bay led to Johnstone Strait, the major channel between the mainland and the east side of Vancouver Island. After traveling for a while, we decided to stop for the night at Port Harvey, an inlet from the Strait protected from weather. We spent the afternoon enjoying the sun and watching workmen on the shore construct a barge for carrying cargo along the coast. Birds were plentiful with various gulls, auklets, and Bald Eagles, but we were especially surprised when a pair of Trumpeter Swans appeared, taking a stately circumnavigation of the bay (see photo). They made the rounds several times while we were anchored there, going ashore between trips.

On our way to Port Harvey, Steve stopped several times near rock outcroppings and reefs to fish. He had done so over the past few days and caught a couple very nice Ling Cod, which he generously shared with us. Why did he need to share? As we prepared for this adventure, Janet was quite clear that fishing would be a major activity designed to provide us with much of the protein for the trip. Prior to departing, we spent time with Dean, a professional guide familiar with this part of the world and an employee of Fisherman’s Supply in Oregon City, purchasing equipment and lures for the trip. What Steve taught us is that equipment is not enough. Rather, one must sense where the fish are and then enter a zen state of communion with them. Much to learn and Janet is on it. Caught her first bottom fish after three days of trying. Hope springs eternal and we have optimism that there will be more fish waiting for us the further north we go.

We woke this morning at 5:00AM to a sunny day, greeted the swans and headed out to Johnstone Strait to take advantage of the tide as we progressed northwest – destination Port McNeill, a bustling town on the north end of Vancouver Island. As we entered the Strait, we were enveloped in fog – thin at times and pea soup others, with visibility down to 100 feet or so. This is less scary that it used to be, primarily because our GPS chart plotter quite accurately tells us where we are in the world, fog or not. The challenge comes from determining where everyone else is in relation to you. For this radar works reasonably well, as does AIS, the international system for boat identification that has become ubiquitous over the last decade or two. What remains is identifying boats without either and obstacles such as rather large logs and other flotsam that can do serious damage in a collision. So, slow going and constant vigilance are key.

We arrived in Port McNeill in clearing skies, took on fuel and water and settled in for a restful afternoon. Janet provided protein in the form of a crab she caught while we were at anchor. Tomorrow, up at 4:00AM to sail with the tide and when winds are calm for our open ocean passage past Cape Caution to the northern portions of the Inside Passage. Wish us God speed!!

New Perspectives and Skills

25 June 2022 | Shoal Bay
Donald Rushmer
Yay! Some connectivity, so catching up on a couple of days: June 23 & 24.

We woke up in Prideaux Haven (6/23/22) to clearing skies and, while shrouded in clouds, the 4-5000ft mountain peaks, still with plenty of snow, began to show themselves. As we left on our way north, the winds came up again from the northwest, gusting to 25 and directly in front of us. This was a good thing, because we discovered that in the process of being beaten up the day before, the top of our mainsail had broken loose from its top two nylon guides. They were stuck about two feet from the top of the mast requiring some form of intervention before we attempted to raise the sail again. We used our trusty engine to travel north through Lewis and Calm Channels and Yuculta Rapids along Stuart Island, known for its wonderful fishing and strong currents, carrying tides to and from the Straits of Georgia to Queen Charlotte Sound.

The tide was with us for most of the trip, though we waited for the currents to drop at Stuart Island until we went through Dent Rapids to a beautiful anchorage at Shoal Bay. Our anchorage was protected from the winds and had a beautiful view of Phillips Arm to the north. There is a small community of residents there describing themselves as heathens in a sign on the government dock. Heathens or not, they have a beautiful garden and welcome travelers to partake of the produce there and/or help out by doing a little raking and hoeing in payment. Bird life was great too - Purple Martins in the rigging singing cheerfully as daylight approached at 3:30AM and a seafood eating Great Horned Owl devouring something on the beach, then sitting on a rock looking for dessert.

It was during the night at Shoal Bay, that Don decided that the only way to make the sail repairs would first involve someone going up the mast to retrieve the guides. Being the lightest of all of us, Janet was selected. So, on a calm, sunny Thursday morning, Steve joined us and we rigged the bosun's chair with two lines to two winches and introduced Janet to the view at the top of the mast. Steve did the majority of the cranking on one winch while Don manned the other. Sadly, because everyone was busy making sure the ascent was successful, there is no photographic evidence that Janet got to the top of the mast, but we assure you she did.

Once the guides were down, sail repairs commenced. Janet applied her skills as a seamstress to the task and with some extra sail canvas, some Gorilla Glue, a drill, and sail thread and very large needles and an aul from Steve's stock of parts, the sail was reattached to its guides and restored to functionality. Yea for us and thanks to Steve, another problem solved!

After repairs were finished, we left Shoal Bay and for a treat, went to the Blind Bay Resort for the night - a lovely full-service resort on West Thurlow Island. The four of us had a lovely dinner in their restaurant - and used their laundry facilities to deal with a week's worth of clothing. When we approached the dock at Blind Bay Resort, we were met by Erin, a very knowledgable woman, who guided us through the currents to our slip. It turns out that Erin is a woman of many talents, one of which brought back memories decades back, when it was possible to call a woman named Edna Brown (call sign Atom) and place an order for a batch of fresh cinnamon rolls to be picked up the next day. Erin bakes them fresh at Blind Bay Resort - what a treat!!!

On Friday morning, it was clear that summer is approaching on the BC coast. Sky was clear, trees on the mountains radiated every shade of green imaginable, water falls from melting snow were cascading down the slopes and winds were calm. That was too bad, because we didn't get a chance to try out our sail repairs - that will happen soon enough.

When things change….

22 June 2022 | Prideaux Haven BC
Donald Rushmer
In our last post we said we were headed for Secret Cove from Silva Bay - a journey of about 28 miles across the Straits of George to Mainland BC. It was a slow meandering sail under clouds first and sun later. We got to Secret Cove just as our friends were leaving for Smugglers Cove, a BC provincial park a short distance away. Don remembered anchoring there many years ago after dark, taking care to miss the rock at the entrance. It was marvelous to have the opportunity to explore this small cove in the bright sunlight and with time to do it - Janet on her paddle board and me rowing the dingy.

We awoke in the morning to clouds, and wind from the southeast - in the PNW, that means wind and rain. As we left, there were bird sightings: a Common Merganser shepherding at least 8 young through the waves among the rocks, American Oyster Catchers, and of course Bald Eagles, some looking the worse for wear.

We went to Secret Cove, filled our water and diesel tanks and headed northwest along the coast of Texada Island with a goal of eventually reaching Rebecca's Spit on Quadra Island - a 67-mile journey across the northern Straits of Georgia to just near Campbell River. The wind was behind us and with full sail we were moving along nicely until later in the day the winds increased to just under 40 MPH over the course of 10-15 minutes. We were not excited about sailing in what was about to become a full gale, nor was our boat. We quickly furled our jib sail and continued to sail 10-11 knots (lots for a sailboat) on our mainsail, but Don quickly made and executive decision to head for a port that did not include sailing in the northern Straits in immense waves.

At 5:30 in the evening we entered Prideaux Haven at the entrance to Desolation Sound. Totally calm, rainy, drizzling and surrounded by mist-shrouded mountains - one of our favorite destinations when we head into the waters of BC. Quiet and calm after an eventful day that tested our boat's and our abilities. Happy to say both did well!

Through the BC Gulf Islands

19 June 2022
Donald Rushmer
Yesterday we left Sucia Island and headed west into Canada. Wind was blowing 15-20 and we had a wonderful sail across the Haro Strait into Plumber Sound. Anchored for the night at Montague Harbor on Gabriola Island in BC. Janet did the phone discussion with Canada immigration and customs (having Nexus cards is wonderful) - as always a friendly discussion with a really nice agent.

We went ashore at dinner time with Steve and Joanie to be met by Tom, the Hummingbird Pub musical and philosophical bus driver, who took us and other boaters in a dilapidated old school bus to a really great pub in the middle of the island. Good food and drink was had by all.

Woke up to a totally calm morning with fog and drizzle for a meandering journey up Trincomalie channel to anchorage this evening at Silva Bay, where the clouds parted and the sun came out. The bay is our jump off point for crossing of the Straits of Georgia to Secret Cove in the mainland side tomorrow.
Vessel Name: Destination
Vessel Make/Model: 1985 LaCoste 42 Sloop
Hailing Port: Bellingham, WA
Crew: Janet Plummer and Don Rushmer
About: We both live in Portland, OR and have enjoyed sailing for many years, mostly in the Pacific Northwest and the coast of British Columbia
Extra: The LaCoste 42 is a Sparkman and Stevens design built by Chantier in France. It was comissioned by LaCoste - the alligator brand sportswear company. Apparently 14 of them were built in the 1980's. They are all accounted for and loved by their owners as fine cruising sloops.
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