Friday, September 20, 2013

Back in Civilization/ Port McNeil to Sydney,BC

Ginny and I have been happily married for 50 years , have 2 sons and 6 grandchildren. We have been avid boaters since the mid 1970's. We have sailed in various parts of the world making 'bareboat' charter trips in the Washington and Canadian San Juans and Gulf Islands, Maine,the British Virgins, South Pacific's Moorea and Tuamoto's and New Zealand. We owned and raced a J-24, Laser, and cruised a Newport 30 before buying a long range trawler in 2003 and cruising the waters of the Pacific Northwest and the 'Inside Passage' of British Columbia to SE Alaska for the last 10 years. After first owning a 2000 Selene 47, and 2002 Selene 50 (both named 'Ina Marie', we now, in the 'bell lap' of our boating days, own, operate and thoroughly enjoy 'Ginny C' , our 2007 Selene 42.

September 8-21, Port Mc Neil to Sidney, BC, This is Fall cruising at its best!!

For the next 10 days we will be cruising south to reach Sidney BC to pick up Tucson friends, John and Dianne Kidd who will join us for the last week of this incredible trip back to Olympia via the BC ‘Gulf Islands’, Washington’s beautiful San Juan Islands and southern Puget Sound.

Sunday, September 8, 2013
After a full good days rest, laundry, refueling and a bit of provisioning we spent a delightful Saturday evening with Steve Jackman and his lovely fiance` Jessica.  
It is Sunday morning and the fog has burned off by late morning so we untie and head out for Booker Lagoon for a night in the Broughtons hoping to do some prawning.  We time the entrance rapids perfectly after our 23 nm run.  Unfortunately, no whales sighted as we crossed Queen Charlotte Strait.  We set the prawn and a crab traps after anchoring in one of this beautiful lagoon’s best protected coves.  Along the way we make phone contact with Chuck and Chris Quist on ‘Esprit d`Four’ at Echo Bay and plan to meet up with them at Mound Island in the Broughton’s ‘Indian Group’ on Monday.

To see our locations and routes click on this text

Monday, September 9, 2013

We will exit Booker at 10:40 slack tide and current through its narrow entrance.  We rise early enough to pull the prawn trap and crab trap. The fog is so dense I set a GPS waypoint at our anchor spot so I can find the boat to come back to.  I will find the trap floats based on using my depth finder as there is just one 300 foot deep hole where the prawn trap sits.  I know the general direction in the 1/8 mile visibility around the corner of our cove.  The crab trap is within 100 yards of the boat and its floats are barely visible so we pull it first, [empty again] and then creep along the shore line around the opening  to our cove and follow depth lines to the 300 feet line.  Within a few minutes we spot the prawn floats and pull the pot with about 170 nice prawns.  So I set a course back to the waypoint I had set and the boat comes into view about 1/4 mile away from it.  By the time we haul anchor fog is lifting to 1/2 mile visibility so our exit from the lagoon at slack water is a non event as is the rest of this short 18nm day on into safe Mound Island Cove.  Once there, we are hailed by Len and Barb Nielsen  from Pt McNeill who we met several years ago at Lagoon Cove and again last year at Jennis Bay . They come alongside and we have a nice visit. We put out the crab trap and this time get 4 nice ‘keepers’.  The Quists arrive mid afternoon and we spend the evening with them catching up and exchanging our summer cruise experiences over a nice potluck dinner and some good wine.  

Tuesday, September 10  and Wednesday September 11, 2013 Port Neville and Sidney Bay

To see our locations and routes click on this text


When the fog burns off late morning these days the skies are clear and the water ‘mirror calm’.  With these calm conditions it is time to head south through the 60-70 miles of the Johnstone Straits.  Quists are staying back a day to meet other friends but we will take the first 32 miles of them to Port Neville, about 1/2 way, and then after clearing through Current Passage, head out of the Straits up Chancellor Channel and then on into Sidney Bay about 7 nm up the beautiful fjord , Loughborough Sound.  We go by Robson Bight, a favorite spot for orca whales, but they aren’t “home”...or at least we can’t see them in the fog! But suddenly we are surrounded by a huge school of at least 50 porpoises and “play”  with them for quite a while.  We reach Port Neville mid afternoon.  

The first two hours are in fog and the rest of the way clear.  These sometimes treacherous waters are flat as a pancake all the way.  We enjoy a restful afternoon and evening reading and napping. ...and finish with a crab/prawn dinner. Too much breeze to kayak. “Figment”  who we met in Sitka also comes in and anchors. 

We make an early departure for our 28nm equally calm run on into Sidney Bay on Wednesday arriving about noon.  This pretty spot has about 100 feet of dock complete with a charming library and benches owned by a couple who have homesteaded up her for the last 35 plus years.  We have a nice visit with these friendly hosts.  They give us suggestions where to crab, prawn and fish.  Guess what? By the end of the day we have three more nice crab and a 17 pound Ling Cod in the boat which I caught with a light spinning rod with 10 pound test line.  Almost a ‘trifecta’ but the prawn pull was poor. (While I was busy “provisioning” , Ginny had another delightful kayak outing).

Thursday, September 12, 2013; Owen Bay and Friday September 13, Prideaux Haven Cove in the heart of Desolation Sound

To see our locations and routes click on this text

Thursday our goal is Owen Bay to stage and time our passage through Upper Rapids and Hole in the Wall Rapids tomorrow morning.  We awake to no fog and exit Sidney Bay at 8am and hit Green Point Rapids 8 miles south right at slack, pass Blind Channel, then head south east for the last 4-5 miles of Johnstone Straits, and on into Discovery Channel and then 8nm miles up Okosillo Channel into Owen Bay completing the 31 nm run just about 2:30 pm. We really get slammed sideways for about 300 yards in Upper Rapids with a 4 plus knot current right at the entrance to Owen Bay. Quists catch up with us for the last 12 miles.  We set our anchors and have them aboard for a dinner of fresh Ling Cod. (Chris and Ginny are a great potluck team).

It is Friday morning and slack current at Upper Rapids and Hole In the Wall is not until noon so we sleep in a bit, pull  3 more keepers out of the crab trap and hoist anchor at 10:30 clearing the rapids about 40 minutes before slack with 3.8 knots running with us. We have no real difficulty but do get tossed around a bit as we pass through.  The weather is clear and warm and the seas are calm.  This route which we have taken many times between Prideaux Haven and here is a spectacular 32nm along Calm Channel, Raza Passage and Waddington Channel.  We always look forward to the fabulous mountain views and today is no exception.

We arrive Prideaux Haven late afternoon because of the late morning slack current timing we had to wait for.  Quists are still with us.  After setting the prawn trap with fresh Ling Cod carcasses and guts we join them for “heavy” hors d’oeuvres and then it is off to bed after a bit of cracked crab.

Saturday, September 14, 2013 Oysters, Clams and Prawns Galore- off to Sturt Bay and Sunday, September 15, Pender Harbor.

To see our locations and routes click on this text

It is up at 7am so we can clam and pick oysters before the 8:30 low tide.  We run in the tender to our clam/oyster beach about 2 miles away across Homfray Channel and within an hour plus a few minutes have more oysters and clams than we can begin to eat in three meals.  Not only that, we then pull over 300 prawns out of our prawn traps!!!! Jackpot, our best prawn pull ever!!
Weather predictions are good for the North Georgia Straits for the next couple of days so we hoist the tender, say ‘good bye’ to the Quists and head out for Sturt Bay on Texada Island 30 miles away.  Sturt Bay is a small mining community in the heart of a huge Limestone Quarry on the east side of Texada Island.  The locals are welcoming and very friendly and they have a limited amount of dock space in the bay for guest boats at their ‘Texada Boat Club’.  There is also good anchorage in the bay as long as SE winds are not blowing hard.  We arrive late afternoon sharing the docks with 4 other boats, relax, read, give away and eat some fresh oysters and crab and hit the sack early. Ginny picks the rest of the crab and vacuseals it along with the prawns. 

We have a leisurely departure Sunday morning for our 23 mile run into Pender Harbor, to stage the last part of our crossing of the Georgia Straits into the Gulf Islands.  We wait a bit for the fog to rise, leaving mid morning with 1/2 mile visibility. After just 1 hour in transit the fog lifts for the rest of the day. A pretty uneventful run. We dock as usual at the Madeira Harbor public docks and settle in for a quiet afternoon in the rain.

Monday, Sept 16, to Chemainus; Tuesday, Sept. 17 to Genoa Bay, to Wednesday, Sept. 18, Docked in Sidney, BC.

To see our locations and routes click on this text

Monday, September 16, is a long 49nm day crossing the Georgia Straits into the Gulf Islands.  Weather is for 10-15 SE winds changing to 10-15 NW during the day.  This would indicate fairly calm variable sea conditions.  We leave at 7:30 for the approx. 7 hour run.  Two hours into it just past Mary Island and Welcome Passage we hit 15-20 SE winds giving us 2-4 foot choppy seas of steep short waves on our nose.  This brings a lot of up and down, but little roll.  Lots of spray over the bow as it drives through this nasty chop which lasts about two hours and then finally calms and the seas flatten out.  We exit the GS and enter the Gulf Islands through Gabriola Passage 1.5 hours before slack with almost 4 knots of current on our nose.  There are big overfalls on both sides of us but we stay right in the center and pass through with little effort.  

Two hours later we dock in the tiny harbor of Chemainus.  We have not been here for about 4 years but really like the spirit of this Vancouver Island lumber town with it clean fenced houses, flower gardens and the incredible historical murals painted on the walls of many of the village’s commercial buildings.

We feast on oysters and steamed clams and it is early to bed after our long day on the water.

Tuesday, Sept. 17. on to Genoa Bay
To see our locations and routes click on this text

We awake again to clear skies and walk into town for a yummy  breakfast at the Utopia Bakery.  We stock up on baked goods and their good bread before returning to the wharf and making our 17 mile run down beautiful Sansum Narrows into Cowichan Bay and then on into Genoa Bay, always a favorite stop in the Gulf Islands.  We run two plus hours on our auxiliary ‘get home’ engine just to give it some needed ‘run time’.
After a relaxing afternoon at Genoa Bay , we enjoy a delicious dinner at the marina’s good restaurant.

Wednesday, Sept. 18. at Sydney, BC

To see our locations and routes click on this text

Once again the predicted rain has not yet arrived as we awake to calm water and almost totally clear sky.  We have another short run of just 14 nm into Port Sidney, arriving late morning.  

“Blue C’s” cruising friends Carl and Carol Cederberg join us for coffee and a nice visit before their departure on a golf outing to central BC.  Carl’s previous meticulously prepared cruise plans for several former Alaska trips, generously offered and shared, coupled along with ‘Wild Blue’s/Alex Benson’s Alaska Cruise blogs, [along with a few other cruise blogs] have been invaluable planning tools for us in laying out this year’s trip of a lifetime.
We will spend the rest of today and tomorrow updating the blog, doing laundry, cleaning, provisioning and taking care of minor maintenance items as we await the Friday afternoon arrival of Tucson friends (previously mentioned) to share the last leg of our trip south back into the USA and on in to Olympia approximately a week from now. Unfortunately, weather predictions are not the greatest in terms of rain vs sun, altho no huge storms are predicted.

On Thursday afternoon Marlyn Copeland stops by for a visit. She and Husband Peter are early Selene cruising friends whom we met at the Second Annual Selene Rendevous in Port Ludlow.way back in 2004.  Although her passion for boating changed to reigning horses several years ago we always enjoy reconnecting and catching up when we cross paths, usually when passing through Sydney where they live between her active life competing [and often winning] with her horses all across North America.  Todays visit was no exception.  We are sorry Peter, home ill, could not join us.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

"Its a long way to Tiparary'--Prince Rupert to Port McNeil


 "Its a long way to Tiparary'--Prince Rupert to Port McNeil



Ginny and I have been happily married for 50 years , have 2 sons and 6 grandchildren. We have been avid boaters since the mid 1970's. We have sailed in various parts of the world making 'bareboat' charter trips in the Washington and Canadian San Juans and Gulf Islands, Maine,the British Virgins, South Pacific's Moorea and Tuamoto's and New Zealand. We owned and raced a J-24, Laser, and cruised a Newport 30 before buying a long range trawler in 2003 and cruising the waters of the Pacific Northwest and the 'Inside Passage' of British Columbia to SE Alaska for the last 10 years. After first owning a 2000 Selene 47, and 2002 Selene 50 (both named 'Ina Marie', we now, in the 'bell lap' of our boating days, own, operate and thoroughly enjoy 'Ginny C' , our 2007 Selene 42.
To see our locations and routes click on this text

 Saturday, August 31, 2013 Southbound from Prince Rupert to Porcher Island’s Gas Boat Cove.

With a good night’s rest and Dixon Entrance behind us, and a long term forecast for calm waters and light winds we left Prince Rupert about 9 am and headed south through Chatham Straights to spend the night in Gasboat Cove in Kitkatla Inlet on Porcher Island.  Our 39 mile run into this delightful small cove was uneventful.  The water was almost mirror calm most of the way. [This inlet is the home of large First Nations tribal village bearing the same name: Kitkatla which we will pass on Sunday as we leave Gasboat Cove via Beaver Passage].

For the next six to seven days we will be heading south down Ogden Channel, Estevan Sound, Laredo Sound, along the east side of huge Hecate Straights.  We have planned extra layover days for weather delays as seas can kick up in this area of the northern BC Coast.  We will be on the lookout for whales along the way and bears on the beaches of the coves we will be anchoring in at night, although that will be less likely this time of year because the berries are ripe for the taking ,so most of the time the bears stay in the woods feasting on berries, rather than fishing salmon and eating clams  at the stream outlets of the coves. We will also count on our daily greeting (very unique call)  from a resident eagle as we enter each cove. Once heard, Lizzie is put inside for the duration! 

This is pure wilderness and nobody and we mean nobody is around.

To see our locations and routes click on this text

Sunday, September 1, 2013. Moncton Inlet, Pitt Island

We spot a 10 count of whales on our 50 mile trip to beautiful and peaceful Moncton Inlet   with a hidden stream on Pitt Island today.  We look for but see not one other boat the entire trip.  The first 1.5 hours we run in fog with no targets on the radar and when it lifts we see no boats the rest of the day;

Monday, September 2, 2013, Anchored in Chapple Inlet, Princess Royal Island

To see our locations and routes click on this text

Once again a day of fog run until mid morning and mirror calm almost ripple free water under almost cloudless skies clear to our destination, a most tranquil spot at the head of this nearly 5km long inlet , reached by going through three narrow passes. Ginny has a great kayak outing, spotting several huge bald eagles and also a spawning salmon blanketing the water surface like dolphins.  Again, we spot one commercial fishing boat for the entire 43 miles.  We are backtracking our north bound route essentially this week but staying in new and different coves each night as there are many choices along the way.  We are not spending any time fishing as we want to take advantage of the fantastic weather window we have lucked upon.  Unfortunately the sea otters have been here so our daily crab trap drops are yielding us nothing but starfish. No Whales and No Bears. Darn!!

Tuesday, September 3, 2012 at Rescue Bay in Jackson Narrows.

Another calm day for our 55 mile run down Laredo Channel into Meyers Passage into Tolmie Channel where we have a big school of porpoises swim alongside and spot our almost “daily whale”.There is also a huge amount of log debris to skirt. Skies are high overcast but seas are super calm. We then pass the Klemtu Indian community and go down Jackson Passage and through tricky Jackson Narrows into this safe and pretty protected spot with great mountain views. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2012-- Another 48 mile run to Codville Lagoon in Fitch Hugh Sound.
To see our locations and routes click on this text

Todays, trip is a bit trickier as we transit Reid Passage.  The last few days we have been slowed a bit with morning tides against us but to day we are getting a push as we head east in Seaforth Channel.  We are thinking about a stop at Shearwater for the night on docks but) we arrive in the area early, the weather is calm, so we decide to run down Lama Passage (where we spot a few whales) another 18 miles into this huge cove and BC Marine park.  We arrive early enough to drop the tender and set both crab and prawn traps....and of course, Ginny kayaks. then dave tackles the challenging job of replacing our windlass solenoid which has been functioning erratically.  For the first time in almost 3 weeks [Portage Bay on August 18 en route to Petersburg from Tracy Arm’s Glaciers], we share the cove with another pleasure boat, a 34 foot sailboat out of Nanaimo. We also hear loud howls from either bears or wolves but see none.

Thursday, September 5, 2013. Kuakame Inlet in Fitch Hugh Sound
To see our locations and routes click on this text

Before leaving Codville we pull the traps and hoist the tender.  No luck again on crabs- just 2 large females- tempted but let them go- but guess what ?? over 200 prawns and shrimp in the trap.

Leaving at noon we plan a short run into Fish Egg Inlet today but it ends up shorter yet.  Just south of Namu while watching a pod of whales way off along Calvert Island , the main engine unexpectedly dies.  Fortunately seas are very calm with almost no wind. A big concern because Port McNeill is nearly 100 miles away with Cape Caution in between.  We run on the ‘get home’ into this lovely protected Khakume Inlet about 7 miles short of our planned stop for the night.  I alert the BC Coast Guard of our situation.  We will spend the night here and try and diagnose the issue.  Another boat, Appa One from with Brian from Sechelt overhears our radio contact with the Coast Guard and escorts us into the inlet, anchors and comes over to see if he can help.  We can’t conclusively determine any specific issue but decide to change fuel filters suspecting this a plugged filter as a possible source of the problem. After the change the engine starts right up and runs smoothly for several minutes so we hope we have found and fixed the problem.  Too bad that it is too late to pull anchor and make a test run.  That will have to wait until morning. We once again are grateful to the brotherly Canadian boaters who are always willing to lend a helping hand. It is off to bed , anxious and worried.

Friday, September 6, 2013 83.3 km into Port McNeil

To see our locations and routes click on this text

 We pull the anchor about 6:45 and begin a run on the main engine. As we idle out of the cove the motor is running smoothly.  After she is warmed up and we are clear of the cove entrance I bring her up to full RPM and she runs fine.  It takes us about 3 hours to run across the mouth of Rivers Inlet and near Smith Sounds’  Millbrook Cove.  We are just 6 miles from rounding Cape Caution and it is not yet noon.  The engine is running fine so instead of stopping for the day we decide to go for it and get this section of 40 km of open exposure to ocean swells behind us even though we are running in fog with less than 1/2 mile visibility.  Ocean swells at Cape Caution are predicted at 1 meter, rising to 2 meters in the afternoon.  We can see that they are building but believe that we will have it behind us by shortly after noon and will be back in more calm water before mid to late afternoon.  We also suspect the fog will clear by noon as it has all week.

Guess What?? Neither happens.  Seas continue to build to a solid 2 meters plus on our starboard beam and the fog does not lift.  But what winds we have are light and are blowing out f the north to south in the same direction we are headed, current is pushing us to 8 plus knots and our engine is humming along fine and the stabilizers are working beautifully eliminating most of the roll.  

The swells are BIG but they are wide so we are not plowing into them but are rolling along with them for the most part, kind of like being on a roller coaster.  Problem is that with about 1/4 to 1/8 mile visibility we need to be on a sharp lookout for logs and we have little horizon to relate balance to so we both get a bit ‘queasy’ and are on the verge of being sea sick.  

This goes on until about 2:30 pm and the swells drop to a meter or less and all is well again.  If only the fog would raise.  Prince Rupert Traffic does a great job of contacting us whenever any big tugs and tows or other traffic is in the area.  We spot them easily on our radar to confirm relative location and have no issues. In each case we pass each other less than 1/4 mile away but never see them go by.  The fog is DENSE!  

I call Port Mcneill Fuel Dock and let them know we are coming with an ETA of about 5:30. The fog has raised there but might close back in because winds are so calm. 
We finally break out of the fog just two miles away and are safely tied to the dock at 5:40pm.  It has been a strenuous 10 1/2 hours, all but the first hour and last 20 minutes in dense fog, almost 4 hours in the biggest seas we have seen,  covering 83.6 miles, the longest one day distance we think we have covered.  Time to relax and have  nice big glass of wine or some cold beers!!

The good news is no lost travel days due to weather or mechanical issues--Yet.  And Dixon Entrance and Cape Caution are behind us.  No more open ocean exposure the rest of the way.  We are ‘ahead of schedule’  as a result so if the Johnstone or Georgia Straits kick up a bit we can easily wait it out while we continue south to have John and Dianne Kidd, Tucson friends, join us in Victoria an the 21st for the ‘Bell Lap” on into Olympia to bring this grate summer cruise to its finish line.

A few more days to fish and prawn here in the Broughtons and Desolation Sound Area before cruising on into the Gulf Islands and San Juans with the Kidds.

To see our locations and routes click on this text

I have updated our routes and locations on google maps to here.  Click on the links and zoom in on each cove if you have the interest.