Posted by: Ann | October 1, 2019

9-28-19, Saturday- Lund to Pender Harbour

Sunny and breezy

We had a pretty awful night on the Lund A dock, bouncing up and down. I finally gave up trying to sleep around 4:30 and got up. Jon was a sweetie and turned the heat on for me; I managed to doze a bit on the settee until 7am.

Lund isn’t much of a “harbour” if you’re expecting winds from the Northwest.

We had the yummy “Egger” breakfast sandwiches at Nancys while Jon kept checking the weather. It was expected to calm down only a little today, so we decided to continue on to Pender Harbour. We departed Lund around 11:30.

We were fairly well protected by Texada Island and the trip was calmer than expected. We followed the sailboat ‘High Noon’ that had been moored behind us most of the day.

An odd thing happened – Victoria Coastguard radio called for them or us, and we picked up fist. They started to ask us if we were together or could at least contact them, but that was made moot by High Noon finally answering.

The long and short of it was that High Noon had entered the wrong AIS identifying number into their system and it was causing havoc with Victoria traffic. The number belonged to a tug, and the coastguard system was incorrectly seeing the tug disappear out of Victoria harbour and reappear off the Sunshine Coast where we were in the Malaspina Strait. Unfortunately, the captain of High Noon was not the person who had incorrectly set their AIS; in fact, Jon said in the US, the dealer is usually the one who has to set it, so nothing could be done about the situation.

Eventually High Noon attempted to sail and we passed them on our way into Pender Harbour. At the entrance, another odd thing was going on. It looked like a sailboat was aground at one of the rocks near the entrance. Several people were out on the deck near the mast and they weren’t moving. They didn’t ask for help however, so we continued in to the anchorage.

There was room at Madera Park public dock, but we intended to leave early in the morning, so we anchored at 5pm off the Seattle yacht club outpost near the moored party tug, Beldis. We’ve been here several times, but this time we really struggled to stick the anchor.

Jon again had a tough night as he was sure we dragged at least 50 feet. We could hear the chain rattling across rock all night, which I’ve decided to start calling “Marley’s ghost”, for the ghost who drags his chains in the beginning of Scrooge. Fortunately, it was really calm so we didn’t wander too far.

Actually showing the entrance of Pender Harbor looking West into the Strait

Posted by: Ann | October 1, 2019

9-27-19, Friday- Gorge Harbour to Lund

Strong Northwest winds

We debated on whether we should continue to Lund today. Gorge Harbour is much more protected in these conditions, but we have no cell service here, and Jon needs to make calls to arrange the storage of Fifth Element at the end of the season. He’s tried emailing Van Isle, but the manager doesn’t have time to respond right away, and we need to make our travel plans home right ASAP.

The wind isn’t high enough to be dangerous. It’s simply a matter of comfort. So we set out early before Jon fired up the espresso machine.

There was a nasty cold wind blowing in from the northwest. It was the coldest I’ve been on the stern while brining in the lines and fenders; usually I’m well protected from the wind back there. We were outside the Gorge by 7:45 and it was indeed very windy and disturbed just outside the entrance, but fortunately, it settled down as we went along. It helped that we had a following sea rather than bashing into it.

At 8:15, I noted 20+ kts wind from the northwest. We again marveled at the toothy reef marked by buoy number 020 that extends a long way off Cortes Island at Sutil point. You always wonder who the unfortunate souls was who got to discover that one.

Crusing easterly though the Baker Passage, we seemed to at least have some protection from both Cortes and then Hernando Islands. By 10am we got the last large enough spot on the docks at Lund.

Unfortunately, the afternoon was more uncomfortable that the morning. We were bouncing up and down so much in the harbour that I could barely tolerate being on the boat. We spent a long afternoon in Nancys, then returned to the just as it started raining boat.

It stopped long enough for me to walk the 1km Lund Loop, then we enjoyed dinner at the Back room restaurant at the hotel which we found greatly improved. The salmon fish and chips had really large pieces of salmon and crispy fries. We were only sorry we didn’t pick up on the fact that the discount for the dish of the day was only available during happy hour before 6pm. We could have saved $20 if we’d realized that.

The Lund hotel has been acquired by the Tsimshian tribe and they seem to be putting a lot of effort into improvements and marketing. The entrance has been enhanced with a Sweet Shop, espresso bar and gift shop which Jon felt made the space much more welcoming to non-guests of the hotel. The restaurant is running several different promotions including specials during happy hour, elaborate “Trunch” (tea + lunch), and even an opportunity to work with the chef for a day. The dining rooms were full and everyone ran out to take pictures of the very impressive sunset.

Buoy Number 020 off Sutil Point

Nancy’s cinnamon roll

Sunset at Lund

Posted by: Ann | September 28, 2019

9-26-19, Thursday- Afternoon at Gorge Harbour

Windy

We had nice sun but a chilly wind in Gorge Harbour today. We had our lunch then went up to pay moorage at the little store. Someone was mowing the very steep lawn, and the grounds were as immaculate as ever.

Gorge Harbour is a busier place than some of our more remote stops since they run a campground and do a brisk business selling a variety of foods in the store. They even have fresh bread and vegetables, not to mention ice cream.

I wanted to get some exercise so we walked up the tree shaded entrance road and turned west on Whaletown road. I’d intended to reverse when my 15 minute timer went off, but we ran into a couple walking the other direction and Jon asked them what was up ahead. They directed us to a trailhead near the highway indicator for the fire station. There was a banner announcing the Proposed Whaletown Commons.

Apparently, you can walk all the way to Whaletown on this network of beautiful cedar carpeted trails. We followed the SE trail to the intersection with the Quarry trail and back. As usual, it was lush, green, dense vegetation. Occasionally you could see the burbling creek as it tumbled down below.

When we got back to the marina, I still needed 300 steps so I stayed up on the fireplace terrace. I discovered a friendly little tabby who was delighted to have someone petting him. He jumped into my lap and made biscuits on my leg.

Later we met the family in the s/v Fairfax and traded commiserations about the weather. They didn’t like venturing out in windy weather either. We gave them a tour of Fifth Element and they admired the warm interior spaces. Fairfax turns out to be a 28’ Pearson Triton and they related that one gives up all notions of privacy with 3 people aboard.

We all had dinner at the Floathouse restaurant which we found seems to have installed a less gourmet and less expensive menu, much to our approval. The dinner menu included a variety of burgers, including oyster and red snapper burgers, of which we enjoyed the latter. We splurged on a bottle of Martini Carbernet Sauv which was surprisingly good and even had the Black Chocolate torte for dessert.

We briefly tried lighting the fire since it was all set up with fire sticks ready to go. It was enjoyable for a while, but the wind started blowing the smoke onto us instead of up the chimney. We tried to warm up the tabby who was there again, but he was too exciting by the windy night.

It continued windy which made for great stargazing. (We haven’t had very many clear nights this trip.) You could see the Milky Way. The family on the Fairfax must have had a stargazing app because they were holding a tablet up to the sky.

On the SE trail, Whaletown Commons

Posted by: Ann | September 28, 2019

9-26-19, Thursday- Shoal Bay to Gorge Harbour

Clearing, afternoon sun and wind

It rained so hard yesterday that I didn’t venture beyond the swim platform. Jon had walked up and checked with the Shoal Bay Bar owner Mike and confirmed that things were shut down for the season. It looks like it could be a nice stop in better weather.

This morning I walked the length of the boardwalk to get some pictures and it was as slick as an ice sheet. As we departed at 8, we marveled that a trash fire burning when we arrived was still going strong.

Continuing southeast on the Cordero Channel, we had two more rapids to transit today- the Dent and the Yaculta. The s/v Fairfax left Shoal Bay much earlier than us but was too early for the Devil’s Hole in the Dent rapids. It was mostly calm as we arrived near slack tide.

We waved to the proud elephant seals as we passed by Jimmy Judd Island and then cruised on through the Yaculta. We caught up to the Fairfax at 10am north of Bassett Point as we motored south in the Calm Channel. An hour later we were in the Sutil Channel and cruised through whale passage, but no whales today.

It was getting really windy as we rounded the west side of Cortes Island and headed into the narrow Uganda passage. The winds were sustaining 20kts but we made it through safely and only had to bounce around a short while before we were into the relative calm of Gorge Harbour.

I admired a bald eagle soaring Heather Islet near the entrance- it looked like he was purposely pivoting his wings so that he would rise up backwards and then soar down diagonally forward, making an oval in the air.

We were moored at Gorge Harbour marina by 12:45.

The long sandy spit making Uganda Pass a narrow passage

The manicured grounds of Gorge Harbour

Posted by: Ann | September 28, 2019

9-25-19, Weds., Lagoon Cove to Shoal Bay

Overcast, showers then RAIN

Jon paid our moorage (and unbeknownst to me, grabbed more Klondike bars) and we departed around 8am. Our long journey today took us through several of the rapids that need to be well-timed. It was calm enough to go down the Johnstone Strait instead, but we opted for the more interesting inner passages.

  • We began by turning SE down the Chathem Channel (with up to 9.6 kts in our favor in the narrows!)
  • South-southwest down behind Hull Island in the Havannah Channel where the rain showers started just after 9
  • Out the Havannah Channel and SE down the Johnstone Strait
  • Slightly NE into the Sunderland Channel, then
  • SE into the Wellbore Channel and through the Whirlpool Rapids
  • Slightly NE again through the Chancellor Channel
  • Through the Green Point Rapids and into the Cordero Channel
  • 4pm arrival at Shoal Bay where it promptly started to rain in earnest just as we had to rig for mooring at the public dock.

Items of note along the way were a bear and some bow-riding dolphins. Both were in the vicinity of D’Arcy Point as we entered the Chancellor Channel. The good-sized black bear was scrounging along the beach near a river that emptied into a shallow bay just N of the point. The dolphins were swimming westward down the Chancellor and detoured over to our boat. For the first time this trip they were actually bowriding. You could really see their sleek torsos through the clear cobalt turquoise water. The fickle creatures were quickly bored however, and disappeared after a few minutes.

Near Shoal Bay is a semi-resort area. There seems to be some kind of settlement or resort just west of Cordero Island. We also saw a sign proclaiming Under New Management at a previous stop of ours, Cordero Lodge. However, it looks like the transient dock is only attached to land by a rope and the lodge itself looks to be sinking at one corner. It looks like it needs more maintenance to be a viable stopping place once more.

There was no sign of the hummingbird feeders that we so enjoyed during our stay. It made me wonder what those scores of Alan’s hummingbirds are doing for food now.

Black Bear enjoying low tide NW of D’Arcy Point

Shoal Bay would be inviting on a sunny day

The public dock at Shoal Bay

I wonder what happened to this little guy at Cordero Lodge

Posted by: Ann | September 28, 2019

9-24-25-19, Images from Lagoon Cove

No one on the South docks

Great Blue Heron Neighbor

Still only one visiting boat on the docks when we left Lagoon Cove

Posted by: Ann | September 27, 2019

9-24-19, Tuesday- Port McNeill to Lagoon Cove

Mostly sunny and raining Orca’s!

We enjoyed a nice day which has been rare for this September 2019 and a fantastic day for wildlife. Apparently the area of the Johnstone strait near Blackfish sound is well-named, but for some reason we’ve never seen anything here before today.

We left as early as around 7:30 hoping to beat any winds or adverse current which might come up on our southerly route along the Johnstone Strait. Our true direction is really more easterly behind Hanson Island before entering the Baronet Passage. The sunrise was pretty behind the clouds.

With the help of my Merlin’s bird ID app (which requires an internet connection) I was happy to finally positively ID some little seabirds as red-necked phalarope, which is a new bird for my life list. Merlin is an extremely helpful free app since it narrows down the possibilities by only giving you alternatives that are actually expected given the area you are in.

Just after 9, we saw a humpback south of Hanson Island. Then the real show began. Over the next hour, we saw 14 Killer whales, aka Blackfish, cruise by in the opposite direction. Some were right in front of the boat and others were along the shoreline over by the Blinkhorn Peninsula. By the time we saw the last two near the Blackfish and Blackney Passages, the whale watching boats were homing in on all sides. Once again, I thought there were too close since they actually caused the animals to change direction.

Just before we turned off the Johnstone we started seeing splashing everywhere and the Strait filled from shore to shore with white-sided dolphins. There were everywhere, porpoising, leaping out of the water and even diving under our hull. I wanted to tell them to go the other way and not towards the killer whales.

As we turned into Baronet Passage, we saw two more humpbacks and then that was it for the day aside for some sea lions and of course harbour seals in the Passage. The tide was such that some of the harbour seals looked like they were sleeping on top of the water.

The rest of the way to Lagoon Cove was a bit of a slog against an adverse current. It was especially bad where Walden Island bisects the Baronet. Our speed dropped off by almost 3kts. It turns out, THE CURRENT IN THE BARONET AND CLIO PASSAGES RUN IN REVERSE to the flood tide. Jon fretted that he’d expected a helpful tide to Minstrel Island, but we confirmed with the locals and eventually he found the notation in the secondary tides at the back of Ports and Passages that mentions this.

We finally arrived at Lagoon Cove around 1pm. Kelly and Cameo met us at the dock despite our not calling in. It didn’t seem necessary give there was only one other guest at the docks. Quite a difference from our visit in August, but we were greeted as warmly as ever.

The shrimp traps have been brought in for the season, so no more formal happy hours for the year. A few bear-watching groups still stop by daily, but we beat them to the last of the Klondike bars. We went for a walk around the lawn and I finally realized enviously that one of their many fruit trees is actually a chestnut. I didn’t recognize the nuts at first because they looked like slightly large hazelnuts. We stopped to chat with Kristoff and got more accurate info on Butedale since he and Cameo had been caretakers there earlier in the year.

We were glad to have functional WIF so we could read the news of the announcement of impeachment proceedings by Nancy Pelosi. At dinner time, we had a lovely closeup experience with a Great Blue Heron. He was vocalizing often and flying back and forth between the shore and the end of our dock. Eventually he was practically on our swim step.

Blackfish in the Johnstone Strait

Sunrise at Port McNeill

Seals “sleeping on water”

Posted by: Ann | September 27, 2019

9-23-19, Monday- Port McNeill Layover

Rain

We stayed in port today to wait out the bad weather. West Sea Otter buoy reported 38.9 kt winds with 12 seas. The wind shifted around and got a lot colder.

We reluctantly ventured out to do laundry while grabbing a sandwich at the IGA. Espresso from Tia’s was ok. I called my dad to let him know we were back in more familiar waters.

I spent the afternoon painting. Jon was happy to have good WIFI. There seems to be a trend island-wide that it deteriorates as the evening approached; not sure if that is due to increased load or if a data limit is enforced.

We tried Archipelago again for dinner with better results. We “walked in” to the informal bistro dining area and ordered the fresh house-made pasta. It was a much better meal, on a less crowded night (n.b. they are closed Tuesdays)

We enjoyed a nice sunset behind billowy clouds. I admired the logo of the RCMP launch.

Sunset over Port McNeill

Yes, the RCMP logo features a Bison

Posted by: Ann | September 24, 2019

9-22-19, Sunday- Miles Inlet to Port McNeill

Rain and wind, remnants of the storm

As forecast, the storm had move beyond us to Vancouver Island, so we got started at 7:15. This didn’t mean conditions were calm. We still had to cross Queen Charlotte Strait and winds were gusting to 25 kts. The waves breaking over the rocks on our eastern shoreline were impressive to say the least. Fortunately, the waves were small and the 3-4 ft swell was long enough to be tolerable.

It was hard to walk around the boat due to all the movement until around 11am when we finally started getting over to the western side of Queen Charlotte Strait. We made it into Port McNeill around 12:30.

After receiving instructions from North Island marina to moor to the “south side of C dock” a heated discussion ensued as to which was the south side. Jon’s persnickety insistence on the exact meanings of north and south can get him into trouble. It made perfect sense to me that the harbormaster meant we should go in with the floating dock on our starboard side. The “north” side lined up with the north end of Vancouver Island. However, Jon insisted the “south” side was on the other side of the dock because he was looking at the diagram of the docks in his guidebook and he felt that was the side that was true north. Fortunately, the wharfinger settled the question by standing out there on the side that lined up with my understanding. (Frankly, if he had used “west” vs “east” it would have been more clear)

Safely at the dock, we ran up to Tia’s for lunch, but were told that it was way too late at just after 1pm to get breakfast items. I had hoped for the eggs benedict given it might have been seen as Sunday brunch time, but I was to be disappointed. At least it was one of the few places that we didn’t have to wait forever for our food, probably because they planned to close at 2pm today (despite the hours being listed as 4pm closing)

We shopped IGA and Jon was able to get the 49ers football back at the boat so I could listen to our team win despite 5 turnovers. Go Jimmy G!!

We went to Archipelago for dinner, but they weren’t having a good night. To their credit, there were only two waitresses to cover the bistro and dinning rooms, but we there were a lot of basic issues tonight- starting with not realizing they hadn’t given us menus. I’m not going to detail all the problems, but it was a disappointing experience compared to our last visit.

But maybe I was just in a bad mood. Earlier in the day I’d received a call informing me that my college roommate just died of cancer. She had been in remission, but didn’t tell me the cancer had returned and it killed her at the end of August. She was only 59 years old, so it’s kind of a shock despite her diagnosis.

Posted by: Ann | September 24, 2019

9-21-19, Saturday- Layover Day at Miles Inlet

Rain

With the worst of Cape Caution behind us, we hunkered down in Miles Inlet for the day. As the storm passed over us, Fifth Element saw wind gusts of 24kts. The Inlet was long enough to let the southeast wind swing us back and forth, but we were pretty well protected.

We spent the day reading and lazing around. I colored my hair and updated my blog drafts for the next opportunity at cell coverage.

We decided to watch our Netflix movie, 13 Hours, the true story of Benghazi, which was a long movie of detailed battle scenes with insurgents attacking the US Embassy in Libya. It made you wonder if the US was really watching the whole thing unfold with drone surveillance, and it made you very sad no one of authority sent any help to save the lives of the soldiers and Ambassador Chris Stevens. It stuck in my head and I dreamt about battling insurgents all night.

Jon remarked Cape Caution is not very impressive as capes go

Our Miles Inlet Anchorage

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