Leaving in the fog presents a variety of safety challenges to many mariners. I certainly am one of those persons that looks seriously at going out in reduced visibility! Fog is frequently experienced in Puget Sound since the dew point & ambient air temperature are frequently close. The hazards in our area are container ships, tankers, tugs with barges, ferries, recreational boats, kayakers. Yes, I’ve seen kayakers in the fog once & was amazed. I tend to think kayakers in the fog are darwinian selection candidates! There are several steps one can take as a skipper to promote a safe outcome. I’ll talk about these later.
We have had our new boat, Que Linda, for a year and have spent many hours in Possession Sound learning how she behaves in conditions. She is a 1980 Catalina 38 with a delightful background. Her predecessor was the Yankee 38 an IOR design for racing by Sparkman & Stephens.
The tumblehome shape is distinctive from this era and earlier. When Yankee Yachts went out of business, Catalina bought the molds for the hull, changed the rigging, sail plan, deck & cabin spaces. This then became a racer/cruiser. She remains to this day a fast boat as a cruiser and requires attention when the wind really pipes up (30 knots). Over the last year we’ve sailed her in Possession Sound in conditions up to 50 knots. Truly, in conditions starting at 20 knots and above we progressively reef both the main & the jib and over 30 knots I would like to have a third reef point in the main.
After a year of getting to know her, Judy & I decided it was time for a week long trip from Everett to Victoria, BC. I had seen pictures of the Victoria harbor with the floating docks on the waterfront & was charmed.
Our first leg was 35 nm from Everett to Port Townsend and then onto Victoria, San Juan Island & return home during mid August 2016. Due to fog we lost two days in Port Townsend & needed to change our plans. On the evening of the second day I decided we would leave on the third morning despite the fog. My safety concerns were the Port Townsend ferry & ships around Admiralty inlet since these are the shipping lanes from the Pacific down the sound to Seattle.
On the morning of our departure we got out the compressed air fog horns. Judy & I discussed her role as a lookout on the bow with the fog horns. She would vigorously point to starboard or port if a course change is needed and she would do a 5 second blast on the horn every 2 minutes. I fired up the radar and selected 1.5 mile range for close in objects and would use a longer range after Point Wilson. Finally, I plotted a route the that followed the shoal area out to Point Wilson. It is the red dotted line on the chart below.
As we approached the shipping lanes I called Seattle Control on channel five to inquire about ships in the area of Admiralty Inlet & state our vessel name, course, & speed & size. To my very pleasant surprise two different commercial vessels responded very professionally and inquired about our position, course, speed & fixed me on their radar. We headed NE & crossed the traffic lanes without incident before turning north toward Victoria. The final video is from that day.
To all friends who have helped me in our many adventures I hope this kindles fond memories for each of you.
Our destination this afternoon/evening is Pierre’s Echo Bay Marina. We have about 25nm to cover before reaching Pierre’s.
1330 hrs June 24, 2015 at Alert Bay N 50º35.456′ W126º56.204′
The crew slowly wandered back to the boat. Each of us with our own thoughts and images about this place. A half day visit is simply far to short for this island. Three days or more would honor the beauty of this place. But with so many places to visit we needed to have a schedule. With a full crew we cast of our lines and slipped out of Alert Bay.
We motored SE down the south west side of Cormorant Island and then north east for the Pearse Passage as Gordon’s Bluff slid past our port side. Up into the Cormorant Channel as the west winds picked up with growing seas. 55 degree temp with a dropping barometer and raining. As we approached Malcolm island we changed our heading to the east pointing the bow at Backfish Sound. Turning north off the tip of Swanson Island we motored to the opening between Midsummer Island, to the south, and Bonwick Island on the north. Motoring east we entered the Retreat Passage at 1715 hours. We opted to pass anchoring in Waddington Bay due to the west winds and continued on to Pierre’s Echo Bay.
1830 hours we have Echo Bay off our starboard beam. We swing to starboard and enter Echo Bay throw Pierre a line and tie up for the night.
Echo Bay is both a community and a marina. It is famous for Billy Proctor and his museum. The charm of this place is beyond your dreams. Unfortunately, as with all lovely things it can get crowded in July and August. Be certain to do a reservation.
After an evening of showers, dinner in the saloon we walked the docks in the long summer evening. With light to 2300 hours there is a lot of socializing, drinking and meeting new friends. Finally, with welcome darkness I went to bed after creating the nav plan for the next day. Our new destination will be Kwatsi Bay.
Dark ‘n’ Stormy
“They are so good, and they will so hurt you. Also, they are not sensitive to ingredient ratios. That makes them dangerous, as you can make a perfectly acceptable Dark ‘n’ Stormy while snookered.”
A tradition in the Pacific Northwest is to celebrate the winter soltice. What better way then an overnight cruise to Kingston for cards and drinks. The wind howled during the night. Probably at least 3o kts but we were now tied up, dry & celebrating. below is the video of the trip from Everett to Kingston on Que Linda a 38′ 1980 Catalina.
Avoiding Black Friday and being on the boat brings back a much simpler life & pleasures. We were out on our boat in Possession Sound off Everett, Wa on both Friday & Saturday. Not much wind each day, only about 2 hrs of wind >5kts. However, the big treat came on Saturday. We motored south to the bottom tip of Whidbey Island looking for wind. Around 1300 hrs we turned the boat north to work our way back to the marina. There was a 5 knot wind from the north so…..yep….pull up the main & pull out the genoa. It freshened to 9 knots and off we went tacking our way back towards the Mukilteo ferry. Out of the quiet there was a blow 5 yards off the starboard. Yow! A young a grey whale probably about 60% the size of a full adult. The she/he was right off of Mukilteo! She/he surfaced twice more by the boat. Such an immense treat. My apologies to an purists about photo documentation. The above photo is from last late March when Jonathan, Wayne, Scott and I enjoyed a serene day with the whales.
I am hesitant about blogging/publishing work that is not my own. However, we all uncover excellent work by others. The article on this link is from a British magazine “Practical Boat Owner”. This article is worth multiple reads. Recovering a tethered man overboard. Several years back I also read an article that suggested attaching and running the jack lines down the middle of the deck instead of the walk ways.
0830 hrs June 24, 2015 at Port McNeill N 50º34.164′ W126º16.411′
Our plans for the day are to visit Alert Bay on Cormorant Island and then proceed across Blackfish Sound to the Broughtons. In this blog post I will just deal with Alert Bay since it was such a rich experience.
Cormorant Island is about 6nm east of Port McNeill. Access can be by ferry, float plane, or land plane. About 1500 persons live on the island and two thirds are members of the ‘Namgis First Nation living both on two First Nation Reserves and in Alert Bay village. The ‘Namgis are part of the Kwakiutl peoples in that they share the Kwak’wala language. This area is a land of spirits and magic.
A chance to visit a living cultural center of a First Nations people known as the ‘Namgis who are part of the Kwakiutl. They lived in bands in the areas from the Campbell River, to the south, to Queen Charlotte Sound in the north. There language Kwak’wala is still spoken in Alert Bay by adults. They have struggled for well over 100 years to maintain there heritage. Contact with early trappers, explorers and then governments have been harsh until recent times. This is the land of totem polls, carvings and great legends of thunderbirds, ravens, whales, bears. Many oral histories of ancestors transforming from thunderbirds to human and back to the great magical bird. A place alive with people caring for their heritage.
The Raven Transformation mask represents both supernatural beings and also the Raven transforming to a man and then back to a raven. This is from the U’mista Museum on Echo Bay. There is an incredibly rich display of many masks used at the potlatch.
The Kwakiutl had a ceremony of dance, song, and gifts called “potlatch”. This was held in the long house of local chiefs and during the potlatch gifts were exchanged, hunting & fishing rights were granted. Until the late 1950s potlatches were banned both in Canada and the US. Gifts, masks, ceremonial costumes and masks were taken by the governments. Beginning in 1970 the Kwakiutl were able to regain their possessions and created the U’mista cultural museum on the island. After being mesmerized by the stunning collection at the museum I returned to the lobby.
Its about a one mile walk back to the marina that is filled with carvings and art that face out toward the water. Places to view, soak up & enjoy this stunning place.
As I walked along, it was a delight to soak up the spirit of this gem.
Continuing past far more art then I could soak into my brain and simply being overwhelmed by this place we all made our way back to the marina.
Sadly, we made the boat ready to head over to the Broughtons.