Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Octopus Islands

We departed squirrel cove at 7:30 am on the 16th September to catch the slack tide in the “Hole in the wall rapids” at 12 o’clock. We dropped our rubbish off at the government dock in Squirrel cover, ($4 a bag). Would you believe it was another sunny day, although a little brisk at 9 degrees C, so Jude had all her 5 layers on. Cups of tea and coffee and hot buttered toast were made and off we went.

About ½ an hour after we left we spotted spouts of water rising on our starboard. The binoculars confirmed it was a pod of 4 Orcas heading south. It is always great to see these creatures and they remind us how far we are away from the towns and cities. The law states that we have to stay about 400 yards away from any Orcas and if they approach we are supposed to move out of their way.

The channel ahead is about 1 mile wide, 12 miles long, high sided and with not a single other boat in sight, other than a speeding orange R.I.B. taking tourists back from seeing the grizzly bears in Bute inlet.

We enter the Hole in the wall channel, ahead of schedule, due to the strong following current, and have to slow down as we do not want to go through the rapids too early. We decide to stop off at a small but deep anchorage on the south side of the channel to have some lunch and wait until slack water. The anchorage is big enough for one boat and the shallowest spot is 80 feet deep, so we have to let out most of our chain rode.

We enter the rapids at slack and they are thankfully benign. The reminder of today’s journey to the Octopus islands is only another couple of miles, and we are looking forward to exploring this new area, which is supposed to be magnificent. We weave our way through the islands, down a narrow channel about 100ft wide and only 11 feet deep and into the anchorage. We choose a spot to drop the hook with plenty of swing room and a great view.

It has been 5 days since we left Vancouver and our last provisioning stop, and when we filled up our water tanks. We reckon we have another week and a half before we have to stop for some more water and perishable foods. I have been trying to perfect the bread making so we have fresh bread three times a week. We must get our water maker fixed so that we can stay out longer in future.

Katya is getting along fine. It’s a bit of a struggle getting her to concentrate on her home schooling, which tests all our patience. We try to break the days up so that we have some physical activity during the day, walking or kayaking and continue the work into the evening. Math is probably the hardest subject. Some days it seems to click for her and others it seems totally alien. We have been doing history and a unit on weather and a couple of nights we have been reading about the stars and making the most of the clear night skies to sit on deck and identify constellations and planets. We all love this especially as the nights have been so clear.

We have not had much luck with the crabbing or fishing. I did catch a rock fish but the crab trap has been filled with crab below the legal size so all have to go back. Katya and I go out on the morning to check the trap, fingers crossed that it will be packed with large male Dunganess crab. Ah well, perhaps the next place will deliver something.
The Octopus islands are one of our favorite anchorages so far. There are numerous small islands to the north and east and a large bay to the west. There is a feeling of protection from the winds but without a feeling of being hemmed in.

The day after we arrived a couple arrived in their motor boat, who were in Squirrel cove with us earlier in the week.  They came by in their dinghy and introduced themselves. The three of us love the social aspect of cruising. Everybody so far has been very friendly and helpful. Katya loves it when we invite people across for dinner so that she can show off her artwork or her latest collection of shells.

Katya and I have been exploring the islands in the Kayaks. Drifting through the shallows and looking at the various sea creatures on the seabed. We find it amazing that each anchorage can be so different. Some, like squirrel cover, are dominated by jelly fish, others by star fish (or sea stars as we are supposed to now call them), others by shoals of small fish. Katya has been collecting shells and rocks of various shapes, sizes, and colours. The collection is getting, how should say it delicately, quite large recently and zip lock bags are littering the boat. Katya gave us a viewing the other day, with some of the more precious and unusual on display.

The guide books told us that there is a freshwater lake about 2.5 miles up a track that starts around the corner in Waiatt bay. We donned our walking boots, packed a lunch, our swimmers and set off in the dinghy around the bay to the trail head. The walks started by going to Small Inlet, another bay which is on the other side of Quadra Island. The narrow rocky path then took us up a steep hill, where poor Katya was attacked by biting flying ants. There were screams and lots of waving of arms whilst Jude and I wondered what on earth was going on. 5 very large bite marks confirmed that she had indeed been bitten. Not sure why they chose to attach her.

We arrived at the large lake; Its water was crystal clear, blue and very inviting. We could not wait to get into the water, to feel clean and refreshed. I stripped off and in I went, Katya said I have gone “Hippie” and was horrified that her father would go swimming in the nuddie. Jude was very pleased to be swimming as this was her first swim since we have been on the boat. She was grinning from ear to ear.

Another couple arrived in their boat and whilst in our dinghy we introduced ourselves, exchanged short biographies, stories and comments on the crabbing, fishing, anchorages and plans.  The dinghy has turned out to be an effective way of getting to know people. We call it “dinghylising” the act of socializing in a dinghy. Lots of people seem to do it. Dinghys are used to go ashore, take the dog for a walk, stretch the legs, explore, crabbing, fishing, picking up supplies or visiting other boats. One passes other boats on these errands and naturally a friendly wave turns into a meeting. I exchanged a loaf of our freshly baked bread for a loaf of their freshly baked banana bread. Jude was very pleased with the exchange. Later that evening Ed and Janice came over for supper and a few glasses of wine.  
We decided that it was time to head off and stock up on some milk and get some water. I was also concerned that we will need some propane soon and we need to collect the new tanks from Squirrel cover. We therefore decided that we would leave the following morning, catch the 10:30 slack through Surge Narrows and head for Rebecca Spit. We have been here for 5 days and enjoyed the place very much. It will be on our list of places of favorite places come back to.

We awoke in the morning to find thick fog blanketing the anchorage. We considered staying as it could be tricky navigating out of the islands as there are many submerged rocks around all of the islands. We decided to leave and trust in the GPS and radar. Jude was on the bow watching, not that much could be seen. It was like pea soup. Thankfully the fog thinned as we approached the rapids as the passage is narrow and the currents can run up to 10 knots apparently.  

Pea soup

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