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.
0830 hrs June 23, 2015 at Port Harvey N 50º34.164′ W126º16.411′
After a pleasant evening of dinner with Irene and a cruising couple from Portland, I was up at 0600 hrs this morning to make coffee, take a shower and be ready for our 0830 departure to Port McNeill some 35nm west of Port Harvey.
We slipped our lines and motored down past the Havannah Channel past the Broken Islands into Johnstone Strait and came to a west heading below Escape reef. Calm winds and sea state this morning. We continued to motor towards the west.
1000 hrs as we are approach Robson Bight we see about 50 dolphins, feeding in groups off both sides of the boat. Later, about an hour, two Minke whales can be seen off the port side. An amazing day. Everyones on the deck enjoying spotting.
1400 hrs we’re in the channel between Cormorant Island and Vancouver Island. We come in close to the shore of Alert Bay to recon tomorrows visit.
At 1700 hrs we have passed the nav aid on the south west tip of Cormorant Island. We are about one hour before reaching Port McNeill as we motor past the Alert Bay ferry heading towards Port McNeill.
We are now within sight of Port McNeill at 1800 hrs.
First stop is the fuel dock. We fuel up and then go to the water/pump out dock. Some crew remain on the boat to go to our slip and tie up while others head to the grocery store to restock the boat. The grocery store, restaurants, etc. are just up the hill from the port. Easy access. Tomorrow we will visit Alert Bay.
It was hard to leave the anchorages and views of Desolation Sound to find other vistas of the inside passage. However, our transit to Big Bay of Stuart Island today from Toba Inlet is part of the plan when you need crew for forty five days of cruising. Members of the crew on Ken Snows boat will come & go over time. Tomorrow Teri W., the ships veterinarian , will be arriving via float plane at Big Bay.
Our layover in Big Bay really helps us address two issues. They have a seaplane dock and it will be nice to have Teri on board. Second, the timing to transit the Yuculta, Gillard, and Dent Rapids from SE to NW is more problematic since tidal changes occur first at the Dent Rapids and last at Yuculta. Yuculta and Gillard are within 0.75nm of each other but Dent is another 4-5nm away from Gillard. With a name on the charts of “Devils Hole” for the main rapids/whirlpool at Dent Island I did not want to arrive late so the layover was good. There is a lovely deck at Big Bay where you can sit, enjoy a coffee from the small grocery store, and watch the rapids go from slack water to rapids and back. It was instructional! Better from the deck on land then on the boat’s deck.
0800 hrs June 21, 2015 at Big Bay, Stuart Island N 50º23.535′ W125º08.145′
Today will be an easy day with plenty of time for us to simply enjoy Big Bay. Teri arrives at noon. 1400 hrs is slack tide for the Gillard passage and the Dent Rapids. I have bail out points for both places if we miss slack tide. If we succeed we will be at the Cordero Lodge this afternoon.
1210 hours Terri’s plane lands and we depart at 1225 hours for the Gillard Passage on the other side of Big Bay.
Small whirlpools and no white caps or large vigorous whirlpools are visible. Gillard is in the last part of the ebb.
1250 hours we are 4nm further at the Dent Rapids. A red/white navaid pillar marks the beginning of the Dent Rapids on the north shore. Still ebbing, towards the end, and the Devils Hole is quiet. 1305 hours and we are well past the rapids and heading to the Cordero Lodge for the night.
1600 hours find us approaching the dock at Cordero Lodge. Lorrie Tanguay and Wayne greeted us at the dock and helped us tie up. From that moment and over the next six hours a lovely evening of hosting unfolded. I went to the bar for a drink to celebrate transiting the major rapids without drama and sat with the crew, Lorrie, and Wayne while we exchanged stories. The lodge is on a floating concrete slab with huge steel cables attached to the land. In the past it had been a timber camp. Now its a lodge for fishing and passing mariners. A well stocked little grocery store and green house are there for dinner greens in the restaurant/bar along with evening meals prepared by the cook and bar tender.
After a few drinks and stories the entire crew retired to the bar for an evening meal. The meal was presented family style on a large table with generous quantities and variety! Roast beef, it looked like prime rib, chicken wings, crab salad, caesar salad, broccoli, twice backed potatoes, and cupcakes. It was a feast! Followed by fishing at one of there spots and then a campfire on the concrete slab in the front of the lodge. Finally, I fell asleep with a full tummy from such a evening of generosity on Lorrie & Wayne’s part.
0825 hrs June 22, 2015 at Cordero Lodge N 50º26.860′ W125º27.013′
Today we have 41 nautical miles ahead of us before we reach Port Harvey off of Johnstone Straits. The route is the Cordero Channel to Green Point rapids to Chancellor Channel to Wellborn Channel and Whirlpool rapids then down Sunderland Channel into Johnstone Straits for 13.5 nm before turning into Havanah Channel for Port Harvey. The weather forecast is for 25 knot NW winds in Johnstone Straits. The plan is we will stick our nose into Johnstone straits after the ebb tide and see how it looks. If we don’t like it we can go back up Sunderland to anchor. We will need to hit both rapids during before or during the ebb to reach Johnstone Straits at slack tide.
0845 hrs we slip our dock lines and motor into the channel. 0920 transit thru Green rapids was quiet.
1045 hrs its Whirlpool rapids and again nice and quiet. Riding on the ebb current we turn to 238ºM for a fast 7 nm down Sunderland Channel.
At noon we pass Yorke Island and turn west into a 25 knot wind on the nose with 3′ to 4′ seas. The decision is reached to press on as we head to Port Harvey. 1500 hours and we are turning into the Havanah Channel and within 20 minutes we are at the dock of the Port Harvey marina.
They offer dinner at Port Harvey in the restaurant. We needed to order when we tied up. A pleasant evening with other voyagers exchanging tips about where we had each cruised and future destination. We gathered beta about the Broughtons, Alert Bay, and Port McNeil.
0830 hours 6/18/2015 @ Masons Landing N 50º04.509′ W124º58.958′
After a great evening of dinner, discussion of tomorrows destination, sleep, I was up at 0600 hours to quietly make the coffee with Jon and Wendy being quietly awake and rising about 30 minutes later. Our route for the day would be Refuge Cove to fuel up and take on water. Then we would head for Tenedos Bay.
We pulled the hook and pointed the boat south as we motored down the western edge of Cortes Island to Sutil Point. Turning towards the Baker Passage and passing north of Hernando Island we turned north toward Kinghorn Island and beyond is the Lewis Channel of Desolation Sound. This was my first time to approach and enter Desolation Sound. The raw stark beauty……The feeling of this place was stark & intimate. With apologies to all poets I offer the following below.
Mountains slicing thru the sky
Cathedral walls of evergreens
Glacier clad peaks releasing waterfalls
A carpet of blue green water
The essence of Gaia
Abeam of Hope Point we came to 31º magnetic and motored the half mile into Refuge Cove. Here we had the opportunity to fill up with diesel, take on potable water, fill our propane cylinders and have ice cream & chips. This is your last opportunity for these items and garbage disposal , for a fee at the barge, until you leave Desolation Sound.
By 1400 hours we headed back out to Hope Point and pointed the boat on a 133º magnetic course past Martin Island across the sound towards the southern tip of Mink Island. Then onto a northerly course for the last 4 miles to Tenedos Bay.
There are two bays, a NW bay and a SE bay, for anchoring. Above is our approach to the SE bay. Finding a spot to drop the hook and do a stern tie was not a trivial matter for us. When all was completed it was 1 to 2 hours later! We spent a wonderful evening with food, good wine, star gazing and quiet. Tomorrow we will head to the Wildernest at Toba Inlet.
0830 hours 6/19/2015 @ Tenedos Bay N 50º07.394′ W124º41.460′
A relaxed morning for all. There is the sense of we’re here lets be less driven. We have approximately 15nm to the Toba Wildernest up the Homfray Channel. Ken fixes breakfast for the entire crew. Pancakes, blueberries, maple syrup, butter. A feast for breakfast. With seal heads popping up to see the visitors we lounge with food & coffee while watching seals.
1000 hours we pull the anchor, Jon & Geoff, with Ken at the helm. We motor out on a reciprocal of our entry course until we are past Ray Rock and then turn to 310º M to pass the southern tip of Otter Island into the Homfray Channel.
As we head up the channel we pass two bays that have potential anchorages. Forbes Bay, the lower, and Atwood Bay the more northerly bay.
As we approach Channel Island directly off the bow we are at the confluence of the Homfray, Price, Toba Inlet. Our destination for the night.
This place is a true gem. Showers, bathrooms and a dock and stunning views. We were welcomed by Ranger Kyle. He shared his knowledge about shell fish with Irene and Geoff. Kyle, his wife & nine year old daughter have homesteaded this place for seven years. The off season solitude must be both wonderful and immense.
0600 hours 6/20/2015 at Toba Wilderness Marina N50º19.440′ W124º47.742′
My iPhone alarm sounds and I’m up to make coffee and start the day. Sunrise is 0430 hours and sunset is 2200 hours this far north. Its 52ºF, little ripples on the water fairly still. By 0815 hours everyone is up and stowing gear in the nooks and crannies of the boat. Today, we need to be disciplined in our departure time, 0900 hours, since we will transit the Yuculta Rapids on the west side of Stuart Island before we reach Big Bay for the evening. Our estimated arrival at the south end of Stuart Island is 1300 hours and slack water at Yuculta Rapids is 1400 hours. Starting today we will be leaving Desolation Sound and going to the Broughtons which are north east of Queen Charlotte Sound. There are three passages to go from the north end of the Georgia Straits to Queen Charlotte Sound. The most direct, the Discovery Passage, has significant tidal currents and fewer places to pull off if things are bad. The passage using the Calm, Cordero, Chancellor, Welborne, and Sunderland Channels decreases our exposure to the Johnstone Straits. This is our choice for the transit to the Broughtons. There is a middle passage but it offers more exposure to Johnstone Straits.
We slip out of the Wilderness and head SSE between the mainland and Double Island. We change our heading to 265ºM to follow the Pryce Channel to the north tip of Raza Island and into the Raza Passage.
We enter Calm Channel and turn to 308ºM as we head toward the southern tip of Stuart Island. 1215 hours we are off the southern tip of Stuart Island with another boat right at the southern tip.
Jon & I discuss our strategy for Yuculta Rapids. We agree on the following. We will go close to slack water time and follow the other sailboat. Jon will be at the helm and I’ll be on the deck with binocs. I’ll be looking for whirlpools, boats yawing, and turbulent water. Everyone is killing time in their own way until 1330 hours. 1330 hours we pass harbor point nav light and follow the other boat at a respectful distance as we reach the Whirlpool point nav aid.
No yawing, frothing just slack water. We hit it dead on and our goal was “no drama” with that we pulled into the Big Bay Marina at 1500 hours. We have a layover until 1200 hours when Teri arrives on a float plane.