Sunday, June 3, 2012

Day 3-Charles Bay to Echo Bay

Slack current at Greene Point Rapids was scheduled for about 9:30 this morning, but I wanted to get an earlier start.  Based on yesterdays experience with the previous three rapids (a non event, even with a significant current running) I figured we'd have no trouble heading through early.  So we woke up at 7:00, cooked eggs and oatmeal, and pulled the anchor around 8:00.  We cruised through Greene Point Rapids with a nice boost from a 3.5 knot ebb and proceeded for Whirlpool Rapids, which we hit right at slack along with about a dozen sea kayakers.

Environment Canada was calling for 10-15 knot northwest winds in Johnstone Strait in the morning, rising to 15-25 knots in the afternoon.  I had read horror stories of wind against current conditions in Johnstone Strait, resulting in big, steep, seas.  We entered the strait knowing that it might be too rough to continue, and had several bailout anchorages in mind.  We found the winds were as predicted, but the seas were quite calm and we had no trouble cruising at 3800 RPM and 11-12 knots into the head seas.  The biggest obstacle was the tremendous amount of floating debris in the water.  Lots of big logs waiting to take out a prop, lower unit, or worse.

Conditions in Johnstone Strait remained mild and we made it to Lagoon Cove without any trouble.  I picked up 90 liters of gas and (1.489 per liter, cheaper than Secret Cove) and chatted with Bill and Jean Barber (the owners) for about an hour.  They're retirees from the Seattle area who bought the marina 20 years ago after they sent their youngest kid to college.  Interesting people carving out a life in a very remote area.  I think there was only one cruising boat at the marina, but another boat came in for fuel with three couples out of the Seattle area.  One of the couples owns a home in the area and they were all on vacation.  We talked with them for a while, played with their golden retriever, and then headed out for Echo Bay.

We cruised at displacement speed the rest of the day.  The autopilot makes this easy, and the fuel savings are huge.  We can also cook, listen to music, turn on a TV show, etc. when cruising slowly.  Of course it is important to keep a sharp lookout with all of the debris in the water and the occasional other boat around.

We got to Echo Bay around 6:00 PM.  It's a neat place, with a couple of small, entirely floating marinas (both empty right now) and a decrepit provincial park dock.  The provincial park dock is free, and that's where we're tied up.  We're getting a very slow Wi-Fi signal from one of the marinas and that's what I'm posting from.  Much too slow for pictures.  Telus cell phone service has been surprisingly available and fast, but it's expensive so I've only been using it for occasional email checks and weather info.

Echo Bay is notable for a few reasons.  First, a section of the old I-90 floating bridge is up here, used as a breakwater and float for some buildings.  Having grown up on Mercer Island and transited I-90 countless times so it's kind of neat to see part of the old bridge up here.  The second is a "museum" that a resident, Billy Proctor, has put together.  He's lived here his whole life (70+ years) and has watched the population decline from 160 to the current 4 as a result of the collapse of the logging and fishing industries.  He's built a bunch of buildings on his property, including a replica logging cabin built from a single cedar log.  Another building is home to countless artifacts from the last hundred years up here.  Ancient chainsaws and marine engines, old bottles of whisky and chewing tobacco, decades old magazines and charts.  It's fun to look through it all.  He still has the wooden fishing troller that he used for his livelihood and it's amazing that he maintains everything as well as he does.  He said he normally gets about 3500 people coming through in July and August, but this year has been off to a slow start.  That makes sense based on what I've seen; just a couple other cruising boats all day today.

Tomorrow we'll head to Sullivan Bay to fill up the fuel tanks and jerry cans.  Then we might poke our nose out into Queen Charlotte Strait to see if we can make it up towards Cape Caution.  I'm a bit nervous about getting around Cape Caution (it's open to the Pacific Ocean and can get really nasty apparently).  It's tentatively looking like Tuesday evening or early Wednesday morning might be decent times to make it around, but we'll see what the forecast says as it gets closer.  We're doing well on time and there's no sense in taking chances.

Internet is slow up here, so I'll add some pictures when I've got a faster connection.  Not sure when that will be.

67.3 nm today and 255.3 total