With promises of 25 knot winds and 2-4 knot currents against us for the first few hours of the journey we prepared for a 10 hour long sail up to Alert Bay, just off the north east coast of Vancouver Island. We departed Blind Channel Marina just as the sun came out at 11.30, wrapped up for windy weather for this notoriously difficult passage.
The currents and winds did not appear and we actually had between 1 and 2 knots of current with us most of the way which reduced our journey time to around 6 hours. The seas were calm with about 10 knots of wind behind us. A huge troupe of dolphins joined as at one stage and we marveled at their numbers stretching probably ½ a mile either side of the boat.
We approached Alert bay in light fog and calm waters, a slightly eerie atmosphere pervaded all of us. Before we left we had decided to stop in Alert Bay rather than Port McNeil as it promised a good supermarket and an interesting First Nations cultural center as a town. On arrival it looked decidedly run down. The marina was home to a rather sorry looking fleet of fishing boats, most of which were well past their use-by dates. Our hopes were lifted when we visited the shower block which was brand new, clean, warm and offered a 3 min shower for 1 dollar. It is amazing that simple pleasures like taking a hot shower in a clean and commodious room gives all of us so much pleasure.
The next day we checked out the supermarket and decided that a trip to Port McNeil was in order to find all of the required provisions for a two week trip through the Broughton Islands (pronounced brow-ton) but not before we checked out the bakery which had been recommended. Apparently the bakery is run by people from a Finnish community set up in the late 1800s on a nearby island. We patiently waited for them to open, having brought their produce over on the ferry and bought most of their shop. Bread, biscuits, cakes, sausage rolls etc.
The people on the island are very welcoming and friendly. Ed, who works at the Harbour office, is English having moved to Canada from Southampton when he was a lad. The island seems to be split between the First Nations communities and the non indigenous Canadians.
We then departed for Port McNeil with slightly overcast skies. The journey is only 7 miles and the seas were calm. A pod of Orcas (killer whales) were spotted off our starboard bow and we slowed down to watch them and take photos. Port McNeil looked like a promising town for provisioning. We docked at the loading pontoon and headed into town. I surprisingly managed to find a replacement breaker switch for the bow thruster, which conveniently gave up its ghost on entering Big Bay marina a few days ago. The provisioning was completed with great enthusiasm which was reflected in the $800 bill. Roger kindly picked up the tab – to be split later – as my card had been compromised a few days ago. Somebody had obviously sold the card details to a few people and it had been used in Paris, Mexico, Spain. Luckily I had spotted the fraud but only after $2000 had been spent. The bank promised to reimburse the fraudulent transactions.
Now that we were stocked up we headed off to an anchorage in the Broughton Islands. We had a great downwind sail arriving at Mound Island at 9pm – still and hour and a half of daylight left. After some problems in setting the anchor (the anchor rode jamming in the windlass) we took Luda ashore for a walk, did not see any bears put there was plenty of bear scat around. We then enjoyed a peaceful evening at anchor with lots of swing room between the two other boats in the large anchorage.
The Broughton Island Archipelago is quite magnificent. So many small and large islands with protected bays and coves and channels that weave their way through this delightful landscape.
We had a lazy morning and departed the anchorage for Waddington bay, a short sail through the islands. We only saw a couple of other boats, one of which was flying a huge Canadian flag for Canada Day.
Waddington bay is a well protected anchorage with a narrow channel with a few rocks at its entrance. Once inside we found two other boats at anchor so it was not busy at all.
Jude and Sandy went exploring in the kayaks and Steve and I went to set the crab trap. The bait in the crab trap had been “saved” by us from a past meal. Apparently crabs like smelly chicken. So not taking this task lightly we had saved some old chicken bones for quite some time. Probably too long. Two weeks in fact. I am sure I don’t have to describe the stench that came out f the bag when we opened it.
We sat on deck in the afternoon and soaked up the sun. A lady on one of the nearby boats was practicing her flute which sounded very haunting as it echoed through the still anchorage.
Steve has been working his way through a few books on the Roman Emperors. Katya has been drawing and competing with Steve to see who can read the most books on the trip. Sandy and Jude have been keeping us all extremely well fed with delicious meals. The fish that we caught provided us with quite a few meals and with all the provisions we have on the boat it is unlikely we will go hungry. Roger has been videoing our journey and we are looking forward to a viewing. We are now three weeks into our journey with another week ahead before we start heading back. There have been so many places to stop and see that we decided to take it easy rather than rush up to Alaska. We will have to save that for another time. The weather up here has turned a bit English on us – well probably not that bad but nearly.
Sailing Sarita 2.7.2012
Richard and I took Luda for her morning excursion ashore where she performed well despite the cold and very wet conditions. She wore her life jacket which as a convenient handle attached to pick her up like a piece of luggage which she tolerates with good grace, being a lady of a certain age,
After we came back she was dried out and wrapped in a cosy blanket, see pictures.
A miserable weather day was made immeasurably better by Jude cooking an “English Breakfast” for us all, see picture, which included fried bread, which Steve had not come across before whereupon he promptly spread it liberally with strawberry jam! See picture.( Explanation for our American Cousins) Fried Bread is a slice of bread fried/griddled in the fat of the bacon just cooked. Delicious if not totally healthy! Steve consumed this with no dire effects – so far.
Also there is a picture of Steve eating (this is something at which he is particularly good at) one of the delicious sausage rolls bought at Alert Bay from the Finnish baker.
Steve has taught us that we have been missing several American delicacies:-
Coffee, Rum to taste, maple syrup to taste and cream also to taste
Crunchy peanut butter sandwich with strawberry jelly (jam)
He has also taken a liking to several other items that he hasn’t come across before. Branston Pickle, Vegemite, Marmite and HP sauce. So far there does not seem to be too much he doesn’t like. A fairly catholic taste in food has Steve. He very kindly tried in vain to concoct me a drink based on Bacardi the other night which resulted in being gently chided by Sandy for not feeling all that well the following morning. Very long suffering is Mrs Duren, our mental health nurse.
I should add that Steve stood shoulder to shoulder with Richard sharing the helm for six hours in foul weather the day before yesterday which took a bit of doing.
Waddington Bay to Booker Lagoon
The forecast was for showers and 15 to 20 knot winds for our short 15 mile trip to Booker Lagoon, a large secluded inland lake with its only entrance 50 feet across. Reported currents of 14 knots meant that timing was important to enter the lagoon. We motored out of Waddington and down the channel until we turned north and unfurled the sails in sunshine. Not a shower in sight. Steve was on the helm, close hauled in 15 knots. Dolphins and Orcas were spotted. We entered the outer anchorage and dropped the hook and had lunch whilst we waited for slack water. A group of Bald Eagles, soared overhead.
We entered the lagoon at slack water, kelp on our port and rocks on our starboard sides. Once through the channel the large lagoon lay ahead and we searched for a place for the night. We found a spot on the north end. Sheltered with a few islands to explore this looked like an ideal place to spend a couple of days.
We explored the shoreline, found and old cabin in the woods which had been abandoned some years ago and walked Luda in the woods. Sandy tried her luck at fishing but the fish were being somewhat elusive although one small fish was caught.
Booker Lagoon to Claydon Bay and Turnbull Cove
We exited the lagoon at 4pm, being slack water. We debated leaving at the earlier slack water but being at 2.30 am it was an easy choice to make. There was a group of 5 boats awaiting to enter the lagoon and we were pleased that we had had the place almost to ourselves for two days.
We had a short sail to Claydon bay, Whales were spotted again and we spent the night at anchor, set the crab trap and enjoyed yet another quite evening with only three other boats in the bay. The next morning we were pleasantly surprised to find 4 Dungeness crabs in the trap but the ones that were of legal size were females so they all had to be returned.