Sunday, September 23, 2012

Day 102-Sylvan Cove to Twin Bridges Marina

After a fairly early breakfast, Dad and I shut everything down at the cabin and headed towards Anacortes.  It had been windy during the night, and Rosario Strait was pretty lumpy.  Actually the roughest water I’d seen in awhile, and some of the roughest since leaving Ketchikan.  Not that it was that rough, just that the trip down from Ketchikan has been incredibly smooth.

I dropped dad off at Skyline Marina (his car was parked there) and headed around to Twin Bridges to have the boat pulled out of the water.  I was actually surprised at how little growth there was on the hull.  Lots of barnacles along the keel and metal parts on the transom, but nowhere else really.  There was some green grassy stuff growing, but most of it came off pretty easily.  I’ll need to figure out a way to remove the rings the barnacles left and the little bit of grass that didn’t come off, but I’ll return to that in the next few weeks.

After removing what seemed like endless supplies from the boat and filling the car to capacity, we headed back to Seattle.  70 miles per hour sure does seem fast!

19.6 nm today and 3,220.2 total

Day 101-Sylvan Cove

Not too much to report from today.  Dad came over and I spent the day relaxing, reading, walking, etc.  Tomorrow we’ll head back to Anacortes and get the boat cleaned up, then back to Seattle.

Day 100-Conover Cove to Sylvan Cove

After breakfast I headed out from Wallace Island with no particular destination in mind.  Based on the guidebook I though Rum Island might be a nice place to stay, so I figured I’d check it out and if it didn’t work out I’d be just a few miles from Roche Harbor and the US customs dock.

There were a ton of boats out as I made my way through the Gulf Islands.  Big boats going fast, big wakes, strange, zig zagging courses…all reminders that I was getting back towards cruising areas that are often frequented by less experienced weekend boaters, or at least boaters who don’t display the same courtesy that the people further north seem to.  I’m sure the beautiful September weekend brought out additional crowds, too.

I got to Rum Island in just a couple of hours and poked around.  Two sailboats were already anchored and I confess the crowded waterways experienced on the trip down from Wallace Island made me frustrated.  The best anchoring spots were taken Roche Harbor was 30 minutes away, and then our cabin on Decatur Island (with a shower and a hot tub…pretty nice after 100 days on the boat!).  I promptly throttled up and set the course for Roche Harbor.
Spieden Island, visible from Rum Island
Roche Harbor was chaotic.  Lots of boats coming and going, boat owners (typically with 24-28 foot express cruisers) driving around the harbor too fast (not on plane, not off plane, just digging a big hole in the water and throwing out a big wake), sea planes taking off and landing, etc.  A massive yacht was taking up the entirety of the customs dock when I arrived, and I tied up right in front of it.  I grabbed my passport, boat registration, and Canadian clearance number and begun waiting in line to get checked in. 

10 minutes later it was my turn and I handed over the documents.  Officer Holmes then asked which boat was mine.  I pointed it out, and he promptly yelled at me that I was not docked within the designated customs dock area and needed to move the boat and wait in the line again.  It didn’t seem to matter that the behemoth that had been tied up before had totally obscured the signs marking the area of the customs dock.  So I moved the boat to another spot maybe 50 feet away and waited in line for another 20 minutes.

Finally officer Holmes had time for me again, and his thorough unpleasantness continued.  I’ve gone through customs many times in a couple dozen countries and never dealt with an officer as unpleasant as officer Holmes.  Thankfully he didn’t find anything wrong with my story or anything I was carrying (I was in total compliance) and let me back into the country.

From Roche Harbor it was about an hour and a half through the San Juans to Sylvan Cove on Decatur Island.  The trip was easy and familiar and traffic was surprisingly light.  After all these miles, all these stunningly beautiful places, the sight of glacier-covered Mt. Baker rising above the San Juan’s hadn’t lost its magic.
Mt. Baker is still spectacular
As I approached Sylvan Cove, I could tell the dock was mostly empty.  I tied up in front of the other boat and walked around on shore a bit.  The rest of the day was spent lounging in the sun, sitting in the hot tub, and enjoying a hot shower without feeding quarters/loonies into the machine.
Retriever secure in Sylvan Cove
43.1 nm today and 3,200.6 total

Day 99-Ballet Bay to Conover Cove

With a good forecast (NW 10-15) for the Strait of Georgia, I set off this morning to check out Jedediah Island for possible anchorages.  If I couldn’t find something I liked, I’d continue to the Gulf Islands.

The trip to Jedediah was easy.  Basically smooth water, light winds, and good visibility.  I first checked out a little nook on the south end of the island.  It wasn’t charted well, but it would have been an awesome anchorage with a stern tie and in northerly weather.  I think southerly weather would work its way in…

After that I worked my way around to a few other spots but didn’t see anything that looked ideal.  The problem was the wind was forecast to shift from the northwest to the southeast overnight, so what was a good anchorage today could become a not so good anchorage sometime in the middle of the night.

Given the nice weather, I decided to just head across the Strait of Georgia and into the Gulf Islands.  Area Whiskey Golf, a joint US/Canadian naval torpedo test range, was active, so I took a longer course around it.  As I transited the area I heard the navy patrol boats calling a lot of other boaters who hadn’t known or bothered to check if the area was safe to transit.
Navy boat heading out to intercept a cruising boat in Whiskey Golf 
Tides have been quite small recently, so Dodd Narrows didn’t present a problem no matter when I went through.  As it was, I transited at the max flood for the day, about 3 knots.  No big deal and there were even sea kayakers going through at the same time.

I cruised another hour and a half down to Wallace Island, a wonderful provincial park that I’ve visited many times before.  Princess Cove, the northernmost anchorage, was surprisingly full and requires a stern tie so I headed down to see about dock space in Conover Cove.  Sure enough, after asking another boat to move forward a few feet, I had just enough space and settled in.

After reading a bit I set off to walk around the Island, which took a few hours.  Good exercise and nice trails.  On my way back I ran into Brian and Ann from Seven Please and chatted a bit.  Later on, I paddled out to their boat and had drinks with the two of them and Brian’s daughter, who had swapped places with Ann’s son.
The north tip of Wallace Island 
I need a car when I get back to Seattle, but I don't think this will be it...
Back on the dock I chatted with one of the neighboring boat owners.  He was awfully impressed that I’d taken such a little boat to Alaska.  It’s always funny when people ask how long I’ve been out for, where I’ve been, etc.  Normally they’re pretty shocked when I tell them.

62.5 nm today and 3,157.5 total

Day 98-Lund to Ballet Bay

The wind calmed down sometime in the middle of the night and when I woke up it was glassy calm outside.  I took a shower and made my way over to the bakery to grab breakfast.

Breakfast was excellent, if a bit expensive.  While waiting for my food a couple next to me asked me some questions about where I’d been, etc. and they were intrigued with taking a little boat to Alaska.  They’d been kayakers for a long time and just bought a 26-foot powerboat.  They live over in Comox and get to head over to Desolation Sound regularly.  I showed them a bunch of pictures from my trip and encouraged them to head further north.

After breakfast I headed back to the boat, cleaned things up a bit, and set off for somewhere south.  I didn’t really have a destination in mind but figured I’d see where I was when I started to get tired and go from there.

I ended up making it down to Ballet Bay, at the northern entrance to Jervis Inlet.  One other sailboat entered right before me and nestled itself in close to shore, while I dropped the hook a bit further out.  Plenty of space.

Today was another gorgeous day of weather.  Light winds, sunny skies, and warm temperatures.  I think everyone from Desolation Sound was taking advantage of it and heading south, since the last few days had been pretty windy.  It was crowded on the water, and most of the boats seemed to be moving at top speed!
Malaspina Strait on a lovely day
Ballet Bay itself is a fine anchorage.  Nothing spectacular about it, but it’s strategically located and perfectly adequate.  There are lots of homes along the nearby shores, but there was little traffic.

29.0 nm today and 3095.0 total

Day 97-Roscoe Bay to Lund

After a relaxed morning hanging out in the sun and chatting more with Brian, Ann, and Dylan, I left Roscoe Bay mid morning bound for Lund.  I had stopped at Lund several years back and enjoyed the place.  The bakery there was great, there were places to walk around, and the docks had a nice mix of commercial boats, cruising boats, and local commuting boats.

There isn’t much to report from the trip down to Lund, other than the crowds.  It seemed like everyone in Desolation Sound was out and about, and there were a lot of boats.  I expected the crowds to be thinner after Labor Day, but I guess people are still out enjoying the perfect cruising weather.
Leaving Desolation Sound behind
My first stop in Lund was the fuel dock.  I’ve found their fuel is generally the cheapest in the area (cheaper than Nanaimo or Powell River even), so I filled up with enough to get back to Anacortes.  I then headed over to the marina and squeezed into my assigned space.  The wind was blowing about 20 knots right on the beam, but thankfully I’ve improved my docking skills immensely in the last three months and had no problem getting into the spot with just a few feet in front and behind the boat.  Joe, the guy running the marina today, was there to grab lines and welcome me to Lund.

Right after I got in a neighbor came by and asked where I was from.  I said Seattle, and they looked at the boat and asked if I’d come all that way on this little boat.  I told them about the trip and they were pretty impressed.

A few hours after I arrived Ron and Sue on a miniature tugboat named Popeye pulled in next to me.  Popeye is just about the cutest little cruising boat I’ve ever seen.  It’s a 24-foot Alaskan Trader Tug, kind of like a Ranger Tug but older and with much more character.  It was fun talking to other little boat cruisers and we had many shared experiences.  I ended up getting dinner with them.
Sue and Ron with Popeye
The wind had been blowing pretty briskly from the northwest, and it made for a rough ride in the marina.  I was docked beam to the waves that were working their way past the breakwater, and I hoped that it would calm down before it was time to go to sleep.  It didn’t.  I still got a decent night of sleep, but I don’t know that I’d stay in Lund again when it’s blowing from the NW.

13.8 nm today and 3,066.0 total

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Day 90-Stopford Bay to Viner Sound

This post was stuck in the "drafts" folder and didn't send for some reason...

Terri from Mellow Moments emailed me a few days ago and recommended Viner Sound as an anchorage (among other places…too many to visit in just a week!) so I figured I’d check it out.

After breakfast and pulling the anchor I cruised over to Viner Sound at displacement speed.  I passed through the Burdwood Group, which would be a marvelous small boat anchorage.  A couple of kayakers were camped ashore in one spot, and they’d chosen well.  A nice beach was right in front of their tent and the views were gorgeous.  I almost dropped the hook and joined them.
Burdwood Group, you can see the kayakers tent on the left
Alas, I continued to Viner Sound, and I’m glad I did.  A huge mountain rises at least a few thousand feet from the anchorage (actually, there are two mooring buoys to use).  A lagoon offers great kayaking.  Another BC Forest Service campground provides onshore accommodations.
The boat looks tiny compared to the mountain
The sun even came out for a bit
I took advantage of several sunbreaks to paddle around the are rather extensively and had a great time.

Around 5:30, however, the rain came back with a vengeance.  In the space of just a few minutes, it went from partly sunny to pouring and windy.  The wind didn’t last long, but the rain continued for many hours.  I’m glad I wasn’t out in the kayak when it all started!

12.4 nm today and 2,908.8 total

Day 87-Joe's Bay to Jennis Bay

This post was stuck in the "drafts" folder and didn't send for some reason...

I woke up a bit before 8:00 expecting to have a lazy morning and then head the short distance down to Fury Cove, a jumping off point for rounding Cape Caution.  I listened to the weather forecast and quickly realized that today was the day to head around Cape Caution, since it looks like tomorrow will be much windier.

After a few minutes of preparation and I was pulling up the anchor and heading out of Joe’s Bay, bound for the Broughton’s.

Fitz Hugh Sound was glassy and the ocean swells built gradually as I headed south.  A big fog bank looked to be just beyond Cape Calvert, and as I moved south I found myself right in it with visibility of just a few hundred yards.  Normally fog is something I try to avoid, but in this case it was actually a good thing.  Typically when there’s fog there isn’t much wind.  Radar and GPS make navigating in fog pretty easy, but no electronic toys can make windy weather more comfortable.
Limited visibility in the fog 
The fog began to lift as a neared this BC ferry.  It's 3/4 mile away in the photo.
There were quite a few other boats rounding Cape Caution, at least according to my radar screen.  The fog didn’t actually last that long, maybe five miles, and thankfully the wind didn’t fill in when the fog lifted.  Overall a very easy rounding.  The worst conditions were probably a one-foot chop and a four-to-five foot swell.  Not as calm as the rounding on the trip north, but certainly not rough.

The view entering Wells Passage and the Broughtons was spectacular.  Maybe not quite as striking as some of the vistas further north, but impressive nonetheless.

I didn’t have any real plan on where I was going in the Broughtons, but a fellow cruiser in Shearwater had suggested Jennis Bay in Drury Inlet.  The timing to get through the narrows at the entrance to Drury Inlet was perfect, so I headed for Jennis Bay.

The caretakers are super friendly and welcoming.  There were only a couple other boats on the dock and the cabins are currently rented out to logging crews, but most people got together in the evening for drinks and conversation.  Lots of, “You went to Alaska in that,” comment, which are kind of entertaining.  For many people the Broughtons are as far north as they venture, but the truth is, getting past Cape Caution and then Dixon Entrance is not difficult in a small boat.  It just takes a schedule flexible enough to wait for good weather.

80.5 nm today and 2,870.9 total