Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Day 33: Friendly Cove to Hot Spring Cove

When I woke up at 5:00, the local wind hadn’t abated. Environment Canada forecast 25-35 knots of NW wind and 3-4 meter seas. Not good.

But conditions offshore looked decent. The Estevan Point light station reported 16 knots of wind and 3-foot moderate sea conditions. The South Brooks buoy (well north of me) showed winds gusting to 25 knots and seas of 3.1 meters at 9 seconds. The La Perouse Bank buoy (well south of me) shoed light winds and 2.4 meter seas at 9 seconds. Certainly not ideal, but the forecast for the coming days didn’t sound any better. I figured I could always turn around.

By 5:15 I was out of Friendly Cove. I’d secured everything on the boat, inside and out. All systems were working and I’d run the kicker for 10 minutes to make sure it was ready to go if needed.

I headed south and had the wind directly astern. Nice! Given the weather pattern for deteriorating conditions by about 11:00, I didn’t waste any time. Engine at 4800 rpm, boat speed at 17 knots.

As I continued into the ocean the swells (on the beam) built. They weren’t breaking, but they were steep and close together. And tall. In the troughs, all I could see were the crests to port and starboard. A few waves broke; they looked like snowcapped mountains.

By the time Estevan Point was abeam, the seas were consistently running 6-8 feet, with some bigger. I turned, putting the seas on the quarter and then the stern. Surfing time! For the next half hour, my right arm got a workout on the throttle. Full power, climb the wave, back off, and surf. Then repeat. Boat speed varied from 14 knots when climbing the back of a wave, to 26 knots when screaming down the face.

The challenge in these conditions is to avoid burying the bow. If I were to surf down a wave too fast and slam the bow into the back of the next wave, the stern of the boat could rapidly swing to the side. This would leave the boat beam-to the seas, with considerable forward motion (now sideways motion), and the very real risk of capsizing. The whole scenario is called broaching, and from what I’m told, it’s quite unpleasant.

Not to worry, though. C-Dory’s, in my experience, love to surf. With judicious use of the throttle, trim, and steering, the ride never felt anywhere close to unsafe. I’ve had much more unsettling conditions in short, steep chop in the inside.

By 7:15 am I was secure at the Hot Springs Cove dock. I quickly made my way along a 1.3-mile boardwalk to the hot springs. This early, only one other couple was enjoying the water. Bob and Denise, the couple in the pool below me, live in Tofino and own a B&B and charter fishing outfit. They’re out for the only summer weekend without guests. Nice people, with lots of local knowledge.
Boardwalk path to the hot springs
The springs themselves. That waterfall is a perfect natural shower, and about 10 feet high.
By about 9:30 am the tour boats and float plans had begun arriving, bringing dozens of people to soak in the springs. I walked back to the boat and made breakfast, then relaxed for a few hours. Late in the morning a small crowd gathered on the dock, and I spent the afternoon relaxing in the sun enjoying a few cold beers. Perfect afternoon!

34.3 nm today
739.0 nm total

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