Posted by: Ann | May 20, 2022

May 20th, Friday, Lagoon Cove to Port McNeill

Approach to Port McNeill brings the Vancouver Island Ranges into view

Overcast becoming sunny but low 50’s

We gave Lagoon a fond farewell at 8:15. The sailboats we were playing tag with had already departed. We all traveled out Knight Inlet to Queen Charlotte Strait.

The open water was calm today. Around 10:45 we had to duck a tug, the Bering Titan carrying interesting cargo including a school bus, a shrink wrapped boat, a panel van and many shipping containers.

Meanwhile Jon kept checking his email as soon as we had cell coverage, and we were thrilled to finally get confirmation of our Glacier Bay permit with our adjusted preferred dates. This 2nd confirmation took a LOT longer than our first request, and we were worried that something was wrong, but it’s all confirmed now.

Jon called ahead to reserve a slip at North Island Marina. Near noon, as we approached Port McNeill, we saw 3 harbor porpoises. By 1:50 we were greeted by Will at the dock and the Bald eagle families came flying by as well. The tide was out really far, and the eagles like to scrounge up delicacies from the tannin stained mud.

We had a busy afternoon:

  • Lunch at Archipelago where Jon loves the house-made kettle chips, salt and pepper seasoned with chipotle sauce
  • Coffee at Mugz 2.0, the newly remodeled coffee shop on the harbor
  • Laundry with the usual problems. Jon had to go get help at the hardware store. (CAB hardware, the marina and the laundry all owned by the same people) as some machines ate coins without functioning and anything other than high dryer temps did nothing.
  • Phone call to my parents to see how the kitties are doing.
  • Re-provision at IGA where the deli had closed early much to Jon’s dismay. He seemed to make up for that by buying tons more chips and Klondike bars
  • Tacos for supper on the boat

I finally got to relax at 8pm. Another site fascinating to me was Zoff’s Greenhouses in the garden center. Wonderful looking little fat A-frame buildings for plants.

Posted by: Ann | May 20, 2022

May 19, Thursday- Lagoon Cove

The boathouse or “historic workshop” at Lagoon Cove

Morning showers, Chilly overcast, Evening sunny

We stayed over today at Lagoon Cove, one of our favorite spots. The 3 sailboats came in as we lounged- s/vs Frangipani, Island Universe and Aventura seem to be traveling together. Everyone we meet is going to Alaska. On our last Inland Passage trip, we were so late that everyone was already there.

My blogging this morning took a bit longer as I worked to describe the inside Passage to the Broughtons. We have good internet here, but if you want cell coverage you have to go stand by the boathouse.

It got nice enough for a walk around 11. Unfortunately, it was short-lived. The trail was carpeted with tree needles, but muddy with many hidden small twigs and mud holes. I must have stepped on a cedar cone because suddenly I was falling down and the top half of my torso was hanging over the edge of the trail. I was looking straight down at the water and slowly sliding towards it! The ground was so mushy I couldn’t get leverage to get back up onto the trail. Jon said it kind of looked like a snowboarder crashed head first in the snow. He had to grab me by my waist band until I could roll up and back onto the trail. Fortunately I wasn’t seriously hurt.

I was game to go on to The Blow Hole lookout, but there were several downed trees blocking the trail and more muddy inclines that were acknowledged so steep that a rope had been installed to grab onto. I finally decided to give up. We partially cleaned our shoes by walking on the generous lawn, then returned to the boat. I was still a bit shook up so took a short nap.

We spent the afternoon reading, and I painted while Jon practiced guitar and worked on power to a wifi extender for the boat.

Near dinnertime, Kelley, (the owners daughter and her husband Dan run the resort) came by and asked if I’d like one of their extra crabs. Yes! She returned with a huge wiggling monster that couldn’t fit in my largest pot (I only have 6 and 3 qt pot plus a skillet on board). She generously offered to clean it and came back again with two large sections of body and legs. The legs still wiggled as I steamed it for dinner. Now that has to be the freshest Dungeness* crab I’ve ever eaten.

*The Dungeness crab (Metacarcinus magister) is a species of crab inhabiting eelgrass beds and water bottoms along the west coast of North America.

Posted by: Ann | May 19, 2022

May 18, Weds, Stuart Island to Lagoon Cove

Our Route to the Broughtons

Storm warning (worse than Gale warning), Heavy Rain

8 hours/ 60 miles. We made great time today despite the storm. Stuart Island had us perfectly situated for the inland passages through the many rapids that guard the Broughtons.

Jon rose at the dreadful hour of 5:45 to make sure we left the dock by 6:20. I managed to drag myself out of bed and get to the cabin in time to help with the stern lines. There is plenty of light early, but it’s cold and wet with the high forecast to be only 46.

I found a good description of our route today in the 2021 Waggoner’s guide.

Most cruisers heading north choose the sheltered inside route through Cordero Channel, Chancellor Channel, Wellbore Channel and Sunderland Channel rather than face a long, possibly rough passage in the Johnstone Strait against the prevailing northwest winds. The inside route runs from the north end of Calm Channel (the south tip of Stuart Island) through 5 sets of rapids: Yaculta Rapids, Gillard Passage, Dent Rapids, Greene Point Rapids, and Whirlpool Rapids. The route includes an open stretch of approximately 13 miles in the Johnstone Strait that cannot be avoided between Sunderland Channel and Havannah Channel after which the currents of Chatham Channel must be negotiated. Careful planning is paramount…
to get the timing of slack water at each of the rapids with the transit time between them calculated for a calm passage.

It sounds intimidating but fortunately, we’ve done this before and Jon has proven very good at timing tides and currents.

Transit times noted below:

  • 6:15 Depart dock, pass through Gillard Passage Rapids- no sea lions on Jimmy Judd island this time, not surprising given the rainy weather. Cross over ominous sounding Devils Hole
  • 6:45 Dent rapids
  • 7:20 Jon starts steaming our mochas just as we pass through a debris field of twigs, stumps and logs at the confluence of Frederick Arm and Nodales Channel. I have to steer us through until he’s free.
  • 7:40 Pass by Shoal Bay where 3 sailboats are taking refuge.
  • 8:11 Inspect the sad ruins of Cordero Lodge. We will never forget our wonderful stay here and the caretaker boating in pounds of sugar to feed hundreds of hummingbirds and sacks of soil for his greenhouse. The guide says the new owners are working to re-open but it looks to be a hopeless endeavor.
  • 8:30 Motor past our first potential stopping point of Blind Channel just before Greene Point Rapids. The rapids are at peak and Jon had planned to wait until slack, but it doesn’t look bad so we blast through getting a 6.5 kt assist on the ebb (which in this direction means it’s helping us). Our normal speed of 7 kts increases to 14 kts plus. Fun! We enter the Chancellor Channel.
  • 9:30 Enter the Wellbore Channel.
  • 9:45 Shoot the Whirlpool rapids which is at 12.2 kts ebb. More fun!
  • 9:50 Enter Forward harbour, our second potential stopping point but it does not look calm. The wind is still from the SE from which this anchorage is not protected. We debate whether to go on or not since to continue means to enter the Johnstone strait with 30 kt winds forecast. Jon calls Island Explorer who turns out to be a tug currently in the Johnstone. He informs us it’s only gusting to 20 kts so we decide to continue on, crossing into Sunderland Channel at 10:30.
  • 11:30 Into the Johnstone. Grey and rainy but wind is still mostly following from the SE, so not as rough as feared.
  • 1pm Tuck back inside along the Havannah Channel.
  • 1:45 enter the Chatham Channel where we have adverse current of about 4.5 kts. Chatham is a narrower channel between East Cracroft Island and the BC mainland. Incredulous we pass the rowboat Oyster with 4 aboard, two rowing and two resting. It’s now a heavy downpour and they are rowing against the current. Crazy adventurers!
  • 2:45 Turn into The Blow Hole, an even narrower channel, but it’s high tide so an easy passage.
  • 3:10 Arrive Lagoon Cove
  • We checked in with Dan and had a nice chat before spending a relaxing afternoon on the boat in the rain.
NE portion of our route
Posted by: Ann | May 17, 2022

May 17, Tuesday, Lund to Stuart Island

Jon at the Community Dock in Big Bay, Stuart Island

Overcast and cold, 46 deg this morning, turning to partly cloudy this afternoon. The typical weather pattern seems to include some afternoon clearing. Sunrise is 5:30 with sunset around 9:30pm.

I started my AM exercises before my alarm went off. Jon always gets up first and makes us mochas- yum! He deflated our extra big fender and waited to submit our preferred Glacier Bay application promptly at 8am. He also called with an explanation as the ranger had suggested, and got the voicemail again as expected. It’s going to be a long wait with no internet.

We departed shortly thereafter. S/v Frangipani had left already. Her captain yesterday voiced concern about the forecast for Wednesday. The prediction is 35-45 kts overnight for the Johnston Strait, making most travelers look for a solid dock to tie to this evening.

  • 9:30 travelling through Lewis Channel, Squirrel Cove to port, Refuge Cove to our starboard.
  • 10:50 exit Lewis Channel, Entering Calm channel.
  • 12 noon, transit Yaculta rapids at slack, continue short distance to Stuart Island Public dock to join m/v True Fun, s/v Euphoria, and 23 plus harbor seals on the nearby rocks.

Jon chatted with the captain of True Fun who said they had engine failure in the Dent rapids. They were waiting for a spare part to arrive. We walked up to the closed store where the owners of Euphoria pumped Jon for information about stops along the Inland Passage. The store has a nice patio for BBQs and the laundry had two newish washers and dryers, so this would make a convenient place to do laundry close to the boat, if expensive. $5 wash/ $4 dry, low setting only, complementary coins if you need more time, apologies.

We continued on a 2 mile walk along a rocky, muddy fire road to Eagle Lake and back. It’s a small marshy edged body of water; a bald eagle was overlooking the lake from a snag. Along the way we passed Eagle Creek Lodge recreation area including a few holes of golf, frisbee golf and maybe a lap pool. Signs made clear these facilities were for guests only.

We can see the Yaculta rapids from here and they look foamy now and then and ominious currents wind along the public dock. I expect most boaters are hunkering down waiting for the 45 kt winds at midnight tonight. The seals jockey for rocks as the tide changes. Cell coverage is good. It’s a pleasant spot.

Posted by: Ann | May 17, 2022

May 16, Monday, Pender Harbor to Lund

Mostly cloudy to partly cloudy to partly sunny late afternoon.

It was very lumpy and rolling along the main coast so Captain Jon steered a course for the lee of Texada Island which was much more pleasant. We havent seen much wildlife yet. Today we saw a bald eagle soaring off the NE corner of Texada.

12:45 we passed by Powell River. I got engrossed in sketching the view off the stern and depicting clouds in watercolor. Before I knew it we arrived in Lund, assigned to B dock and tied up by 2:20.

Jon rushed over to Nancy’s Bakery for his (famous) cinnamon bun, but sadly they were closed. Another COVID casualty: although you can check the internet for shop times, they can be unpredictably closed. Nancy’s sign said “closed Mon/Tue due to short staffing..“ The hotel sign said “opening long May weekend”.

I fear we will see a lot of that this trip. There are help-wanted signs everywhere. One stood out, not only for being plastered illegally on several traffic signs, but because it advertised openings for Ornamental Hermits, to tend ornamental garden at Bliss Landing. Must enter into 3-year contract promising not to bathe, cut hair or nails, and to think Buddhist thoughts for the duration. Any takers?

We visited the nice new grocery store, but the food bar was also closed. Too bad they didn’t stock up on Nancy’s cinnamon buns for the days she is closed. I was the only one wearing a COVID mask; I still wear them in grocery stores, but have given up everywhere else. The plexiglass barriers are still up most places however.

We walked the Lund Loop and returned to watch the harbour master squeeze several sailboats in between us and another American tug on Dock A. At one point he rushed into our boat to help tend the last sailboat into a spot.

We chatted with the captain of s/v Frangipani, also on B dock, and the American tug, Salish Nomad. We actually already had their boat card, but none of us remembered that. Jean and Dave Thompson live in both Anacortes and Skagway, AK, and they gave us some suggestions of Alaskan destinations.

I spent the rest of the afternoon in a slightly unpleasant iPad wrestling match. The call for Open Studios advertisements came in today, and I had to figure out how to get the iPad to fill out the contract. I also thought I should make sure I can produce the ad which took a long time of fiddling with several apps.

The major flaw of iOS is the lack of a real file system, and you spend a lot of time juggling apps to get the job done. The only reason I stick with the iPad for travel is its convenient size, and the Apple pencil which allows me to draw right on the screen. I had good internet here, so it was best to complete the task now. I sent a sample test ad to the catalog manager which is good enough to use if I have no more internet.

After that there was only time for me to cook rotini carbonara and clean up. No painting today. Jon manages to practice on his Blackbird Rider Nylon string guitar every day. This instrument is carbon fiber so not as effected by the humidity on the boat as his wood guitar.

Posted by: Ann | May 17, 2022

May 15, Sunday, Nanaimo to Pender Harbour

Dull and dreary watercolor exercise, like our day today

Overcast turning to steady afternoon rain

We are fortunate to have good cell coverage off Newcastle. Jon sent in our Glacier Bay permit application promptly and 8am and also called, but the calls only go to a voicemail talking about opening may1st. We are a bit anxious since this is the earliest possible but not ideal date we can visit.

We got underway immediately, but were still in the Newcastle Island passage when the Ranger returned Jon’s call. He informed us our permit had been granted (YAY!) and Jon was able to ask how we can apply again for our preferred date. At least we know we have one now.

Our passage across the Georgia Strait was dull, grey, but fortunately 10 knts less windy than predicted. We could barely see Texada Ise. I’m posting a painting I did instead. I was able to download another Hamish MacBeth Mystery audio book to entertain us (Death of a Valentine). I did use up all my high-speed data today.

Our 1:35 arrival started well with the friendly Harbour master and his huge drenched dog (malamute?) Akeela meeting us at the dock and helping us snug in for maximum dock usage. However, our visit ashore to Madeira Park was hostile, to say the least.

The Harbour master spoke of new restaurants including Mexican and Japanese, but we only saw our favorite coffee shop, Euphrasia, closed. We went to Java Docks who clearly did not want our business. A big pink sign essentially said “Eat and Get Out”, we were informed the kitchen was closed anyway, and the latte and macchiato was of poor quality and lukewarm. Across the street at IGA it wasn’t much better. I hesitated in front of the confusing butter offerings- Canadian butter is mostly in a solid block- and noticed a gentleman waiting behind me so I stepped aside and joked about being overwhelmed. He just grimaced and strode off somewhat angrily.

We retreated to the comfort of Fifth Element as it rained the rest of the day. Maybe the weather is to blame for the sour attitudes unusual for a place that we enjoyed previously

Posted by: Ann | May 15, 2022

May 14, Saturday, Sidney to Nanaimo

Showers, stopping near evenin

Fifth Element off Newcastle island park, Protection Island in bkgnd

How could such a lovely evening turn into such yucky weather? I woke to the sound of pounding rain and resolved to stay in bed, but the weather started to lift, so we continued with our plan to visit our favorite grocery store. We didn’t have to leave until 10:30 due to the 4pm slack at Dodd Narrows.

We closed our exercise rings- Apple watch fitness prompts- on our walk to downtown Sidney and Jon visited the bank while I started the shopping. Thrifty Foods with several locations on Vancouver Island puts Whole Foods to shame. We picked up all our favorites including Jons Red Oval Canadian made stoned wheat thins and Dare Maple cookies. They also carry a Canadian only toilet paper that works well with the boats head. But Jon’s real reason for visiting is the acquisition of his favorite hot Genoa style salami. This stuff is so hot I have to drink lots of water after tasting a slice.

We haven’t had good experience with Sidney taxi previously, but this time they were fairly timely. The pleasant driver received several calls during our return to the marina and told us their dispatch office had been closed due to Covid. I asked if he recorded the calls since I didn’t see how he could remember all the details of his next fare, but he said he did not.

We made it back in good time even tho’ the paper grocery backs started to tear in the rain. We were underway by 10:35 and made an uneventful trip to Nanaimo.

Around 3:50 we passed through Dodd Narrows where we saw about 4 other boats. Otherwise we don’t see many other boats and the anchorage off Newcastle Island is uncrowded. We picked up a mooring and the weather cooperated and the sun came out allowing us to enjoy one of our favorite stops. We took the dinghy in to Newcastle Island to pay for the mooring and strolled out the the SE point where we saw several tent campers and a hopeful raccoon. Then we dingheyed over to the Dinghy Dock pub for our favorite salmon burgers and I had a G&T with empress gin that the waitress said was her favorite color (and mine) Purple!

Posted by: Ann | May 15, 2022

May 13, Friday, Underway

Mostly sunny, Anacortes to Sidney

Photo actually next day, on Newcastle Island

We were both up early before 7 anxious to get the last few tasks done in time for a 9am departure. Jon had to deal with the long term parking of our truck/camper with a long walk back to the marina. I dealt with the stowing remaining gear, recycling/garbage and the oil disposal when the office opened at 8:30. I crossed paths with Jon at the disposal site and we managed to get back to the boat and shoved off at 9:05.

We would have left essentially on time if it hadn’t been for the fuel fiasco two days ago. Before leaving Cap Sante we had to finish taking on fuel which took another 30 minutes of maneuvering to the fuel dock and waiting for the pokey pumps to do their job.

By noon we were traversing the narrow Pole pass between Orcas and Crane Islands. I won the time estimation of entering Canada at 1:50 on the dot. By 2:45 we approached the van Isle marina in Sidney and squeezed onto the crowded customs dock at 3pm. Little did we know we wouldn’t leave there until 4:30.

Our delay at the customs dock was not unpleasant, simply long. In all our visits by boat to Canada, we have never had such a long inspection. Jon had uploaded all our entry data including vaccination cards to the Arrival Canada app. We were able to start entry while we were on the water. Upon arrival, he called in on his mobile phone since the 2nd customs phone was broken, delivered our passport numbers, official vessel registration, and was told to wait for a customs officer to arrive and “give us our clearance entry code”. We knew what that meant: inspection.

It was much longer than the indicated 10 minutes before a stealthy black craft with two 450hp outboards came snaking into the dock carrying 2-3 customs officers. One gets out and chats with one of the van Isle attendants for a rather long time, I assume another is visiting one of the many other american boats, then another finally makes his way to our boat. He is very pleasant, but it seems like we start the whole entry process again. He inspects our passports and vax cards, then asks me to stand on the dock, requests Jon to show him around the boat, then has Jon exit while he goes through Fifth Element and searches every possible crevice. He finally emerges satisfied that we’re legit, but then has to run off because an incoming 90 ft yacht needs the dock space. He promises to return with our entry code and dashes off. Fortunately he made good on his promise, but there is still a long payment process with van Isle before we finally get a slip assignment.

The weather had become nice and sunny and Jon just had time to run up and say hello to the office staff at van Isle that he had gotten to know well when we kept both Anomaly and Fifth Element here. Later we had a lovely dinner at Seaglass restaurant with Sidney residents Chris and Dave Schroeder whom we first met at Princess Louisa inlet several years ago. It was great to catch up with them after 3 years.

Posted by: Ann | May 15, 2022

May 10-12, 2022- Anacortes

Chilly weather

Fifth Element launched

We spent Tuesday through Thursday getting provisioned and geared up to depart. Our original target had been Thursday, but the weather turned nasty with a strong gale warning. Or I should say, “nastier”, since it’s been quite chilly and cold. It’s been a bit of an adjustment for me to go from low 80’s to 50s, and I have many layers on and am finally getting some good use of my wool Pollen beanie from Lund.

Jon had spent the first two weeks of April preparing m/v Fifth Element with his never ending list of improvements, the major items being the annual bottom paint, solar panel installation and a new alternator regulator. He still had a long wishlist of improvements along with maintenance such as changing the oil from the gear box. That item had a funny ending- it was just 3 pints of motor oil, and normally O’Reilly will take used oil for free, but the manager of the store said it “smelled funny” and refused to take it. Black marks for O’Reilly IMHO. We had to pay Cap Sante marina to dispose of it instead.

Another sad story was our experience with the fuel dock. I had convinced Jon we should fuel up on Weds since the weather would be windy Thursday and we wanted to leave early Friday. Unbeknownst to us, the pumps are extremely slow and although we arrived at 4:30, we didn’t finish our task. Fifth Element can carry 400 gallons, enough to get us to Ketchikan and more US priced diesel, but even with each of us manning a tank filler, we couldn’t get it filled before the pumps shut off. The fuel manager cheerfully turned us away. What a jerk.

I spent most of my stay managing the provisioning. This involves taking an inventory of what we already having, disposing of any expired stores. Then I made 4 trips to grocery stores- 1 to Anacortes market to get the items Safeway doesn’t carry, and 3 to Safeway, the 3rd time accompanied by Jon so he could select his preferred lunch items.

I also did the laundry on Thursday, and we had meals at our our favorite places

  • Donut House for Jon’s Apple fritters and my maple bars
  • Starbucks for grande mochas
  • Anthony’s for dinner- I’d hoped to watch the Warriors in the playoffs, but a local wanted to watch a meaningless Mariners game instead (but the clam linguine was delicious if expensive)
  • Anthony’s Cabana- a semi-outdoor affair with more affordable pricing
  • Village Pizza- delicious pizza AND another Warriors game, unfortunately the one the lost badly in Memphis
  • Adrift, serving their delicious Skagit burger
  • Happy Wok with delicious but now expensive chicken terriyaki
  • Pelican Bay books for salted rosemary rolls that are like a rolled up focaccia.
Posted by: Ann | May 9, 2022

May 9th, 2022, Monday, Destination Ketchikan

Ann at French Prairie Rest Area off I-5 in Oregon

We’re on the road again, and hopefully on the water by this evening. We departed Napa early Saturday and made a safe trip arriving Anacortes 6pm Sunday, 888 miles. I’m afraid I wasn’t much company as my last minute packing wore me out and I snoozed for much of the trip.

The weather Sunday morning in Eugene seemed cooler than usual for this time of year. Temperature was 39 deg F with a dusting of snow on the nearby hills. Skies were mostly cloudy with intermittent showers and sun. Seattle was much more pleasant than Portland, as usual. Diesel is abysmally expensive at $6.29/gal in CA., with the Pilot Travel plaza’s maintaining that price along I-5.

Events of note on the way,

• Lunch at Black Bear Diner #1 in Mt. Shasta city
• Jon’s espresso at the hut behind the mobile station in Ashland, diesel 5.75/gal
• Walk at French Prairie Rest Area, expertly maintained by Oregon State Dept of Transportation
• Armitage county park in Eugene, even though Jon accidentally reserved a tent-only space
Winding through West Seattle to drop off the sailboat hydraulics for re-build (again), which is time-consuming since the West Seattle Bridge, , is still out
• Sunday evening Walk to the point of Cap Sante park, Anacortes

Today Cap Sante Marine plans to launch the boat at 2:30 and we’ll be spending the night at Cap Sante Marina, hopefully watching the Golden State Warriors game #4 of the NBA Western conference semifinals from the bar in Anthony’s.

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