Homeward Bound - Shearwater to Anacortes:
August 11 to August 31 - Left Shearwater after two nights and headed to Fury Cove, a seven hour trip. This puts us in position to cross Queen Charlotte Sound tomorrow morning. We passed Namu, one of the old abandoned canneries that dot the coast. It was once a small town complete with stores and a hotel. The ability to ship fresh and frozen salmon by air helped kill the canneries. Even then, the bulk of canned salmon went to Great Briton and its colonies. Namu is now a ghost town. You can walk the docks, carefully because you might fall through, and see the machinery they left behind. Peer through the dirty windows into the office and see the ledgers and file cabinets still in place. A calendar from the early 1960s hangs on the wall. There is a caretaker on site. He's more of a squatter really. You might see a couple of old time gill netters tied to the dock waiting for the next opening. The moorage is cheap.
It was calm and pretty at Fury. Its one of our favorite stops. We left Fury at first light, when the winds are lightest, for the crossing of QC Sound. Is was flat with only widely spaced rollers from the west - less than one meter. We dropped anchor in Blunden Harbor about noon. Blunden has room for many boats and was once the site of a First Nations village. Only the tell tale miden of white shells remains. It is a favorite spot for the beach combers to crawl around looking for the few remaining trade beads.
Saturday we completed the trip to the Broughtons by pulling into Sullivan Bay Marina. Sullivan Bay is a long established marina and complex of summer homes all on floats. There are about a half mile of docks. Many of the homes are surprisingly large and some have even larger boats parked in front. If you peak around the back of the houses you may see a float plane tied up. There is a helicopter on the roof of one house. We stayed two days and met up with Suzie and Mike Miner aboard "Seeker". They live near us in California. The store bought several of Rolynn's books for resale.
We continued the "grand tour" by heading to Pierre's at Echo Bay but we first stopped off for one night in pretty little Laura Cove where we pulled up about 80 prawns. At Pierre's we sat down for their Wednesday night prime rib dinner. A complete dinner with all the trimmings for $30. It's a good deal. Rolynn made a little pitch to the 80 or so in attendance and there was a run on her book. The store ended up selling 20 of them. We stayed through the pig roast on Saturday night then headed to our favorite stop - Kwatsi Bay.
Kwatsi is a small marina run by Anca and Max and their two teenage kids. We have known them for about 12 years now and they have become good friends. Its always fun to catch up with them.
After two nights at Kwatsi it was on to Lagoon Cove. Bill Barber and his wife Jean have run the place for 19 years now. Bill is 77 and hops around like he's 40. Lagoon Cove has been here since the early 20s. There were once 5000 loggers and fishermen living in the area. The store around the corner, now gone, once sold more beer than any place in BC except one.
Orcas in Johnstone Staits
The next day was a short trip to Port Harvey, on the cusp of Johnstone Straits. Port Harvey Marina is a new facility - only three years old. They are struggling and we like to support them if we can. It was looking like the following day would be a good day to head down the straits and that proved to be true. A good tide, sun and a light following breeze brought us to Hemming Bay on Nodales Channel - a new stop for us. Its in a good location since it allows us to by pass two of the five tidal rapids that complicate this part of the coast.
On the 26th we negotiated the rapids at Dent Island and tied up at the Stuart Island Community Dock in Big Bay, the site of "Last Resort". Rolynn pow wowed with the store manager who wants to stock the book next season. She also agreed to give copies of it, along with a letter from Rolynn, to the managers of the Sonora Island and Dent Island Resorts. We could have gone to dinner at Sonora Island for only $195 each.
Saturday we left at 09:45 to time the Yuculta Rapids and then spent a sunny four hours motoring to Cortes Day where we anchored at about 13:00. There are several homes here as well as outstations for the Seattle and Royal Vancouver Yacht Clubs. I winterized the dinghy while Rolynn worked on marketing ideas for her book. It looks like light winds tomorrow so we will be up at 05:30 to listen to the weather then we will probably head down The Straits of Georgia to Nanaimo - about a nine hour drive.
Night Time Nanaimo
It was an easy 8 1/4 hours to Nanaimo - we had a good current. We pulled up behind Newcastle Island in a designated anchorage. Its named after Newcastle, England, because there used to be coal mines on the island. ("As useless as hauling coal to Newcastle") it was a beautiful afternoon and evening as we listened to western music coming from a concert in the park across the harbor.
Area Whiskey Gulf: On a chart of the Straits of Georgia, north of Nanaimo, you will notice a large five sided polygon marked "WG", about 150 square miles in area. It lies on the direct route to the opposite side of the straits. In radio talk it is referred to as area "Whiskey Gulf". The chart will also tell you that the seabed within the area is 1200 feet deep and is as flat as a billiard table. It is a military exercise area in which the Canadian and US navies test torpedo guidance systems. On the seabed lie an underwater network of sensors joined by cables to a control center on nearby Winchelsea Island. The torpedoes are fired from range vessels along a predetermined course and tracked from the control center. After a run the torpedoes pop to the surface and are retrieved by helicopter or range vessels. The area is closed to transit a few days each week while testing occurs. The status of Whiskey Gulf is broadcast over VHF radio on the Coast Guard and weather channels. If you wander into the active area you will hear from the control center who will inform you, in no uncertain terms, to make a bee line out of the area. They insist that you take the most direct course regardless of wind or sea conditions. If you don't respond you will soon have a helicopter hovering over your boat. Ignore the helicopter and you might have a gunboat show up. Whiskey Gulf was not active during our crossing so we did not have to negotiate our way around it.
Dodd Narrows - Nanaimo
Monday morning found us having coffee in the sun on the back deck. Soon after we tossed off the line to the mooring buoy and headed for our 10:00 appointment with the currents at Dodd Narrows. Dodd can be a little bit of a zoo with so many boats trying to get though a 30 minute, or so, window. That's especially true now that we are approaching Labor Day with lots of boats are heading home for the start of school. There is also a large paper mill just south of Nanaimo, near Dodd. Paper mills need wood. So, there are large tugs pulling log booms or barges full of wood chips, either hundreds of feet long, that you might need to maneuver around to get to the narrows which, by the way, has a partially blind corner. To facilitate communications there is a standard practice in such passages. On VHF channel 16, which all boats are to monitor, we announce, "Securite', Securite', Securite'. This is the 46 foot motor vessel Intrepid south bound in Dodd Narrows. Concerned traffic please respond on channel 1 - 6." If everybody does this then you have a good idea of who's coming and how to take turns.
Telegraph Harbor - Thetis Island
By 13:00 we were tied up to the little marina in Telegraph Harbor on Thetis Island. They have old fashioned milkshakes here. Yes, we did.
Montegue Boats on Radar
Tuesday brought us to Montegue Harbor, only 2 1/2 hours away. Montegue is a large and well sheltered harbor on Galiano Island. There are lots of mooring buoys and room for many more boats to anchor. We tied up to a buoy and the park ranger came around in his dinghy to collect the $12 fee. The following morning we set out for Anacortes, 5+ hours away.
We crossed the US/Canadian border in Boundary pass where we cleared customs via the phone. We have NEXUS cards which give us expedited clearance without having to go to a customs dock. To get the cards we had to appear for an interview in the customs office in Seattle and have our finger prints and eye scans taken. One side benefit is that we can clear customs in airports by scanning our passports in a kiosk thus skipping right to the front of the lines. We are going to Baja in October so we can't wait to try it out.
As we left Monegue we saw the M/V "Olympus", an historic and well know yacht in the PNW. She was built in 1929 and is now owned by one of Rolynn's former students. She is a divorce attorney.
We entered the San Juans via Pole Pass, a narrow passage between Orcas and Crane Islands. It is so called because the indians used to catch birds there using cedar bark nets raised on poles.
We have had a wonderful trip with no unpleasant surprises. The boat ran well and our DIY desalinator made abundant, crystal clear water. We saw spectacular vistas, intimate anchorages, unique boardwalk towns and more wild life than we could have imagined. We returned to Anacortes on our 111th day of cruising. We reached 59 degrees north latitude, about 811 nm as the crow flies. We burned about 850 gal of fuel and covered 2705 nm of water in 378 hours of running time. That's 3110 statue miles - roughly the equivalent of driving to central Nicaragua at 8 miles an hour.
We'll go again.