Travels – 2004
Monday, June 14, 2004, Whaler Bay to Prideaux Haven
We're swinging on the hook in Prideaux haven, gorgeous eve, after a sunny trip up from Lund and a passing thunderstorm. We hurried in as we saw clouds appearing and got the hook down and the covers on just as rain came sheeting down. We are going to sit here for a few days enjoy the reflections and peace. This is the most popular anchorage in B.C. The picture showing the views explains why (that is Galiander on the right hand side).
On June 3rd we slipped out of of Whaler Bay late in the day and zipped through Active Pass at slack water to spend a night in Montague Harbour (second most popular anchorage in BC). The next day we had a wonderful sail to Thetis Island for the Catalina Rendezvous. We managed to sail almost the entire distance. The rendezvous was a damper affair then last year, in fact so far the month of June has been considerably damper than last year. Bad for our cruising but very good for Galiano Island, where it has been a very dry winter.
After the rendezvous we enjoyed an excellent visit with friends near Ladysmith and then proceeded to the Port of Nanaimo to provision. From here our trip started to differ from last year. Our actual destination was two day's travel, a place called St. Vincents Bay on Jervis Inlet where our niece, Courtney, and her husband, Greg, have a small cottage. The area is not rich in anchorages. The inlets tend to be steep and mountainous and the waters very deep. We ended up anchoring behind Sykes Island about 1 nm (nautical mile) from their cottage. Finding this spot was eased by Eleanor's wonderful ability to meet people and her communications skills. She struck up a conversation with a couple of men at a picnic table near a pay phone in Egmont and one of them turned out to be the manager of an Oyster farm on Sykes Island. He sketched us a nice map showing us where to drop the hook (deep at 80 feet) and stern tie to a mooring buoy that was once used to anchor an oyster farm. It is sure nice to get some local knowledge.
At 300 feet the prawns are ample and delicious. We pulled up several batches of them in the rain, adding them to sauce from Granville Island, Eleanor created a wonderful bouillabaisse. After a wonderful meal on Galiander in the rain we bid a fond adieu to Court and Greg.
We had a boisterous sail to Lund at the entrance to Desolation Sound, re provisioned again, did laundry, enjoyed a meal out then carried on to Prideaux Haven the next day.
Tuesday, June 15, Lund
We witnessed an unfortunate accident in Lund that illustrates what can happen when your attention is diverted for even a second or two when leaving a dock. As a boat was leaving the dock their dinghy got caught up on the dock. The skipper turned back to see what was happening and the stern of his boat clipped the bow pulpit of the one ahead and turned it into a stainless steel pretzel (see before picture). The responsible skipper felt just terrible about this and went out of his way to ensure the damaged boat could finish their trip. A local yard in Lund managed to do a “quick repair” that took only a couple of hours to do and makes it look surprisingly normal. They just came into Prideaux Haven (see the after picture). The skipper of the damaged boat figures the whole accident put them back only a few hours. The final repair will wait until they return to their home port later this summer.
June 24, Big Bay
We are heading North. Originally we expected to be sending this as we powered through the Yuculta and Gillard Rapids, heading into the Cordero Channel. Alas, Mother Nature intervened and we were presented with a Yuculta Rapids that was thoroughly fogged in. Not only that - from the radio reports of other boats we determined it was foggy all the way down Cordero Channel. Along with a small flotilla of other boats, and the help of our Radar and Navigation Software, we felt our way into the Big Bay Marina on Stuart Island. Visibility deteriorated to about three boat lengths. The picture shows us at the Big Bay Marina docks looking out on the fog. With luck we will be on our way tomorrow. In the meantime, well... this is a pretty nice place. Nice docks, walking, restaurant, etc. - and great cellphone coverage.
With good conditions we are three days travel from our destination - the Broughton Penninusla area east of Port Mcneil (The north end of Vancouver Island).
We had an unseasonably hot and wonderful visit to Desolation Sound and environs with no crowds. Wonderful. The highlight of this period was the opportunity to host our new relatives from Mike's side, Hans and Poppy from Campbell River. We had an idyllic three day cruise to the Octopus Island Marine Park area at North Quadra. They were great company aboard. We swam, hiked, and swam some more. And we played bridge....
An interesting event just as we were anchoring in Von Donnop Inlet was the opportunity to observe a Bald Headed Eagle catch a Seagull. The Seagull was flying alone down the inlet. The Eagle made two passes, the gull swerved and he missed on the first pass, immediately made a short turn and dove again and got him. The Eagle few with the gull to the shore and made short work of him - nothing to see but a pile of feathers. We have seen Eagles catch fish but have never seen an Eagle catch a bird before. We wonder if the gull was injured. I would have guessed that a gull was too quick for an Eagle.
June 26, Big Bay
Things are looking brighter this morning. The picture shows the view this morning from the Big Bay Marina towards Yuculta Rapids. Same basic direction as the foggy picture I sent yesterday. We will be off about noon today for a short run (2 hour) to the Cordero Islands. Probably will be accompanying and anchoring with a boat called Nirvanna.
The sun is trying very hard to break through.
June 29, Port Neville
We had a nice two days getting from Big Bay to Forward Harbour. From Forward Harbour it is necessary to venture out into the wind swept waters of Johnstone Strait. Unfortunately, during the summer time, the prevailing winds are from the Northwest - on the nose. They tend to be lightest in the morning and strongest in the late afternoon. Yesterday they went up to Gale Force in the afternoon so we took a layover day in Forward Harbour.
Fortuitously we have met a sailboat from Pender Island, Sarak K, with Len and Karen on board. We traveled together this morning and stopped here in Port Neville to get out of the wind. Tomorrow we should have only a couple of hours on the Strait to cover before ducking into the sheltered waters of Havannah Channel. Once in Havannah Channel we have essentially "arrived".
Walking up the old government dock here we could hear a rooster crowing. Yes, we were able to buy a dozen fresh eggs. A young gal and her mom run the "store" in the original home built in 1895 by the grand parents. from Norway. A huge old squared log house, two stories was the site of one of the first post offices on the coast.
The picture is of the Port Neville public docks. Johnstone Strait is in the background, as are the mountains of Vancouver Island. The closer sailboat is the "Sarah K".
July 4: Laura Cove, Broughton Islands.
We ave entered the Broughton Island area (that is North East of Port McNeil near the North end of Vancouver Island) - new country for us. We are traveling in the company of the 34 foot C&C sailboat "Sarah K" with Len and Karen aboard from Pender Island. We expect to stay here at Laura Cove for two nights. Eleanor will be celebrating her birthday on July 6th and we expect to do that at the Greenway Sound Marine Resort (www.greenwaysound.com). Our rough plan is to explore this area. How long it will take I am not sure (1 week? 2 weeks?), but afterwards we plan to head down to Malcolm Island (very close to Port McNeil) to visit Sointula.
We enjoyed the Lagoon Cove Marina near Minstrel Island very much. Participated in two sing-a-longs. Hiked the local trails. Accompanied a boat on a prawning run. A real good time. The weather tends to be much the same every day. Morning dawns cool and overcast. About noon the sun breaks out and the wind starts to build from the North West (typically not very strong in our anchorages). Normally the wind dies down things are getting downright hot by sundown. The water is cold. We are enjoying wonderful seafood feasts (prawns and crabs).
Sunday, Sunday, July 11th, Rainy days in the Broughton Islands
It's been a wet and cool week. We have been enjoying traveling with Len and Karen on board "Sarah K", also a 34 foot sailboat. They are from Pender Island.
We were heading to Laura Cove in our last report and it was a very nice spot. On the morning of our "layover" day we had a good explore in the kayak and were especially intrigued by the herring balls (very dense schools of fish) which appeared from above as little black underwater clouds that moved about the anchorage. When we paddled near them they would veer away. Some water birds and a seal took a great interest in them as well. Good thing we explored when we did as all afternoon and overnight the rain poured down.
Each day the weather has been much the same. Overcast, cool and showery. Occasional downpours.
We had an excellent birthday party for Eleanor at our next stop, the Greenway Sound Resort. We were joined by Pat from "Nirvana". We met Pat and Marsha back in the Cordero Islands and helped them celebrate Marsha's birthday at that time. Marsha had flown home and Pat was alone, waiting to pick up fresh crew for a trip around Vancouver Island.
The Forestry Service maintains an excellent trail to Broughton Lake nearby and we took the rare opportunity to go for an hour and a half hike.
The next night we anchored nearby in Carter Passage then powered to Sullivan Bay to re-provision and have lunch (Cheeseburger in paradise?). After lunch a short run took us to Cypress Harbour, a lovely anchorage next to a park with hiking. We had planned to stay two nights but were ambushed by hordes of mosquitoes and had a terrible night's sleep. The next morning we left quickly and headed across to the Shawl Bay Marina to re-group and heal. Eleanor painted on the dock and John entertained the old timers with his guitar as usual. Most popular tune: "Does your chewing gum loose its flavour on the bedpost overnight ..."
Saturday we came via Echo Bay (Fuel and food stop) to our current anchorage on Gilford Island behind Seabreeze Island. This spot is quite close to the mouth of Knight Inlet. We have caught lots of crabs, unfortunately all undersized so far. There is rain in the forecast for later this morning. This is such a pretty spot we decided to stay another day. "Sarah K" left us this morning - heading south. We will miss them.Tuesday, July 13th: "Drying Out" at Sointula, Malcolm Island
As we looked out at the fog from our Anchorage Monday morning we had to decide "to go or not to go?". The fog lifted and we went. The Gulf was very pretty and calm across to Donegal head on Malcolm island and the rest was a straightforward run to Sointula. About 5 hours including an hour of true sailing. At 4:30 pm at the dock we had about 50% overcast with occasional bursts of wonderful sunlight. We looked like a laundry junk; everything open and drying. Sointula has a very nice dock - very substantial. It is run by the local Lions Club. Lula's Burger Bar at the end of the Bay serves an excellent Halibut Burger.
Today (Tuesday) we went into town to explore with the aid of a very able guide in the form of a fellow HAM radio operator also called John (VE7JOH). Tea at John's house was followed by a very successful visit to the studio of the Artist Stewart Marshall who is the subject of the book "Painter Paddler" by Andrew Scott. Stewart is a very talented watercolour artist (To see some of his work I think you can go to www.StewartMarshall.ca ).
This was followed by a hike down the Mateoja Trail (about 1.5 hours) to a local swimming hole where John picked us up and drove us back. A long and very satisfying day. Everyone is very friendly here.
Tuesday started out quite foggy but by the time we made it into "town" (about a half hour walk) we were in wonderful sunshine and enjoyed it for the rest of the day. Feels marvelous.
Thursday, July 15th, Port McNeil
The weather has been nicer the past few days. A typical day dawns with relatively heavy fog, which will dissipate sometime between 10 and 11am. Then the weather is nice and warm until about 5pm when the fog tends to roll back in again and things get cool quite quickly.
Port McNeil is a very short 1 hour run from Sointula - we can see Sointula easily from the docks here. The docks are quite crowded. We were aware they have been turning boats away so we came over early this morning. There is a lot to attract boaters here, fuel, Supermarkets, Banks, Drugstore, etc. etc. so it is easy to understand why this is popular.
We have finally seen people bringing in fish they have caught - some real nice Salmon. This is a real fishy place. Some seals barking for the trimmings.
Galiander is getting a good airing out; the "mangy" lockers are open and drying; towels cushions jackets are warming up. Lots of activity about, ferry beeping, airplanes coming and going, flags waving everywhere, seagulls swooping about, crows talking .Lots of campers and vans coming through town. What a bustling place this is. Seems the land and sea meet here.
Just saw Pierre go by in his runabout with a load full of groceries for his marina at "Pierre's Bay", 40km to the north. Port McNeill is a major supply centre for the popular Broughton area. (where we have just spent the last two weeks.) John took the opportunity to get his hair cut and Eleanor visited Art Galleries (there is a nice Native Art gallery here).
There is a pub near the head of the dock. I can scarcely remember the last time I had a frosty glass of draft beer... We will be going up for supper with Scott and Karen from Nightwind (they were behind us on the dock at Sointula).
Friday, July 16th, Port Neville
Conditions were pretty nice on Johnstone Strait so we just decided to keep on going. It was mostly a "power" day with about 3 hours of motor sailing. Made good time and went a long way. The fishing was great, the catching was lousy. We saw dolphins and had one very close pass with an Orca. The whale actually surfaced about a boat length away but we didn't have the camera ready at that point.
We are anchored out across from the Port Neville docks this time.
We are only two days from Desolation Sound now. Conditions look ideal for a move right down Johnstone Strait tomorrow.
Sunday, July 18th - Thurston Bay Marine Park.
We had a swishy ride down the South half of Johnstone Strait on Saturday. At times the currents took our speed up to over 9 knots (we normally do 5). The conditions were almost ideal. The wind was behind us but not strongly. A bit more wind would have been nice - we could have sailed more. We motor sailed mostly. We sailed wing on wing for about 1-2 hours. The weather was lovely. We anchored in Cameleon Harbour in the Thurston Bay Marine Park, quite close to Chatham Point.
We were joined for happy hour by Gert and Linda from Taranga who left Port Neville shortly after us and attempted to sail. We could see their colourful spinnaker behind us. But the wind was too fluky, they said, and eventually they ended up powering also.
Sunday morning Taranga headed for Campbell River. We elected to go to Oleo's Gallery (a dock and restaurant near Yuculta Rapids) for an excellent Duck Dinner. We had fond memories of Oleo's from last year. We didn't have to leave until middle afternoon so had lots of time to explore the park and enjoy an interesting hour long hike to an anchorage on the other side.
Often I bring up the anchor by hand. I figure it is good exercise and it is nice to know that we can do it if the winch fails. Well I was having trouble - thought I must have been overtired - and went over to the winch. The picture shows what we brought up. Fortunately the rock was easy to dislodge. Earlier in the trip, by Rebecca Spit, the chain was wrapped around a much heavier chunk of iron which took a lot of work to dislodge. From now on I will remember to take a picture of these souvenirs.
We suppered at Oleo's with an interesting couple who live a board a 45 foot power boat and drive a 5th wheel camper down south in the winter. A lifestyle that works well for them.
We are Luxuriating in the nice warm weather.
Wednesday, July 21: In transit to Heriot Bay.
Our original plan on Monday was to go to Von Donnop Inlet after we passed through the Yuculta Rapids. However the weather altered our plans. As we exited Yuculta and entered Calm Channel we faced 20+ knots of wind on the nose (Calm Channel was definitely not "calm"). So we slipped into a place called Hole in the Wall and dropped the hook in Florence Cove to wait for slack water at 7:16pm and slipped through into the Octopus Islands.
Another boat noticed our diversion and followed us in to anchor nearby and then came over to thank us for the idea and visit. It was a pleasant way to while away the afternoon. We pulled up about 70 feet of 1/4 inch line when we brought up our anchor this time. The line was awfully mucky but I refused to throw it back so it occupies a garbage bag in the stern cockpit locker until we get to Heriot Bay. I took a picture but will spare showing it to you this time. Waiatt Bay right next to the Octopus Islands was wonderfully tranquil. We went to bed early and slept like logs.
We had hoped to hike up to Newton Lake again on Tuesday but, alas, it was a very wet day. Eleanor spent her time doing watercolours and I took the opportunity to read, print some pictures for our photo album and back up the computer to CD's.
The picture on the right shows Waiaat Bay in the rain at 3pm. That is the Octopus Islands in the background. Not every impressive eh? :-) However every rain comes to an end. The other image shows the same scene 4 hours later - everything was dripping wet but the view was wonderful.
Wednesday, July 28th, Tribune Bay, Hornby Island
Joe and Anami arrived last Friday morning and we got away from Heriot Bay in time to catch slack water and go through to the Octopus Islands for a delightful afternoon swimming, relaxing and getting re-acquainted (Joe and Anami work in the UAE and we hadn't seen them for a year). We planned to stay until the late slack on Saturday but the morning weather report, with indications of stronger North West winds caused us to catch the morning slack in Surge Narrows and we were back on Heriot Bay Marina docks early in the afternoon. It turned out to be a wise move as the winds did build, making the approach to the Marina docks quite difficult. The docks also tend to get crowded and if a boat is forced to stay on the outside finger it becomes a real "bumper torture test", not very comfortable.
Sunday was interesting. We did laundry and checked our provisions of course. The North West wind continued to blow broadside onto the exposed Marina docks. We spent quite a bit of time helping people get their boats in and out (and at the same time got acquainted). That evening a whole bunch of us went up to the pub for supper and a live jazz group from Denman Island.
We were anxious to leave, so, early Monday morning, before the wind built, we carefully backed our way out between the boats on the finger (with lots of helping hands in case of problems) and headed south. We rode that North West wind all the way down to Deep Bay on Vancouver Island near the South end of Denman Island, a 10 hour passage. We sailed as far as Comox and motor sailed from there. Tim and Tara from Sumitra (whom we sailed with for several weeks last year) came down to visit us in Deep Bay in the evening.
Yesterday a short sail brought us to Tribune Bay on Hornby Island. My last visit here was by land about 30 years ago. I am impressed! The beach is as wonderful as I remembered. There are people everywhere. Tribune Bay is completely exposed to the South East so it is only a safe anchorage in North West winds, but they are forecast to stay for another 24 hours, so we are going to stay another day, read, swim, relax and enjoy the beach environment.
We will go to Jedediah Island behind Lasqueti tomorrow. After a stay there we will head over to Nanaimo.
August 7th - Engine problems resolved and head back home.
We had a great visit to Jedediah Island and then a very nice sail to the Port of Nanaimo. We only had to power for about the last hour when the wind died.
Sunday morning Eleanor's brother Johnny and his friend Marcia joined us for the trip back to Whaler Bay.
I check the engine before we leave each day. Sometimes I do what I call a "quick check" which just involves using a flashlight and "eyeballing" it for any problems through the inspection hatches on the side of the engine compartment. Most often I do a "full check" which involves completely uncovering the engine by removing the companionway stairs and checking the oil and coolant levels and looking for anything else that might be amiss.
On Monday we had intended to go through Dodd's Narrows to visit the Maddisons in Degnan Bay on Garbriola Island. But when I did the full engine check on Sunday afternoon there was a large amount of cooling water pooled under the engine, probably more than a cup. Running the engine and bringing it up to temperature showed there was a steady leak in behind the cooling water pump. It was certainly a serious enough leak that I wasn't happy about leaving Naniamo without getting it resolved. But what to do? - it was a Sunday on a holiday long weekend.
I went up to the Port of Nanaimo harbour office and picked up some business cards for local mechanics and decided I might as well phone, expecting to have to leave a message on an answering machine. I selected a fellow named Carl who advertised he serviced Kubota diesels, the type of engine we have. Much to my surprise I ended up talking to Carl himself who said he was coming down to the Port to pick up a cheque anyhow and would drop by in 20 minutes.
Carl spent about 30 minutes determining that we had a fairly steady "seepage" from one of two gaskets, but he wasn't sure which. In any case he didn't feel the seepage was too excessive and thought it could be solved with an additive for the cooling system. He recommended a product that you add to the cooling water from a company called "Lock Tite" which could be purchased from a company easy walking distance from the port. For this service he charged the very modest fee of $20.00. Monday morning we were pleased to find the company open on this holiday. The additive worked as advertised ..., within 5-10 minutes the leak was gone and today the engine is still dry. If you want a reference for a diesel mechanic in Nanaimo who won't rip you off I will be pleased to pass along his name.
On top of this we didn't even miss our visit to the Maddisons. We caught the ferry to Gabriola in the afternoon and enjoyed a wonderful salmon barbecue with our relatives.
Tuesday we powered into a very stiff wind to Clam Bay between Thetis and Kuper Islands. We spent two nights there, exploring the two Marinas on Thetis by dinghy and getting in a nice hike. Eleanor baked a wonderful blackberry pie. A very special treat was the passage of over 30 war canoes to a beach over on Kuper Island (which is an Indian Reserve). The canoes are on their way North. The attached picture shows two of them. The participants are promoting a drug and alcohol free life style.
Wednesday the morning weather report noted "An unseasonably low Low is expected to cross the south end of Vancouver Island on Friday". For those of you who don't follow marine weather reports that means rain, and possibly a lot of rain - so we decided to head for home.
Thursday presented us with a wonderful sail. We
experienced everything from gentle beam winds to tacking into a stiff
wind coming down Trincomali Channel. The wind was getting very strong
as we approached Montague so we dropped the sails and went in to put
down the hook for a few hours for lunch and a rest. By late afternoon
we were nestled back home in Whaler Bay. A very nice, but tiring, end
to our two month trip.
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