We had a choice to make: we either leave in the dark and arrive in the light or leave in the light and arrive in the dark, we opted to leave early so that we could anchor safely. So it was we dropped the mooring line off the buoy at 3.45 am in pitch darkness. The radar was on and I could not see a thing around us. I have to say it was a bit of a nerve-wracking experience. You have to trust your instruments – compass – GPS and radar to give you the heading. At first I only trusted by sense of direction which told me I was going in a circle, which I was not, we were within 80ft of the shore and I decided that I had to trust the instruments. To make matters worse the channel leading out to Hecate Strait has strong currents and these were playing havoc with our course over ground, at some times we were heading one way but our course was 40-50 degrees in another direction. I put my trust in the autopilot and thank God it was working. I think that has been the scariest moment so far. Pitch blackness, strong currents and rocks and islands all around us.
Once we were in open water we started to relax. We looked outside and saw the strong phosphorescence coming off the bow wave. It was not long before it started to get lighter, land was fading into fog behind us and the sea stretched out infront of us, over 100 miles of open water. We had hoped for some wind to help us but there was only 5-10 knots behind us which would not be must use to we motored. The sea was quite lumpy especially as we crossed the North Bank where the waters rose to a few hundred feet and the waves climbed to around 6 feet.
Sea birds circled us. Shearwaters, black footed Albatross and we even saw some crested Puffins, one of my favorite animals on the trip. They look like some Ancient Chinese opera performers with their bright colours and flowing crests.
60 miles into the journey a small yellow bird circled our boat, then vanished. 2 minutes later it came back and landed on deck, walked around inspecting the boat and flew off again. 5 minutes later it was back this time it was clearly looking for a way to get into the cockpit. We obliged and opened a panel in the covers and after a few failed attempts the small fluffy bird came in to the cockpit and started looking around. He found a place under Jude’s shoe and tucked his head under his wing and went to sleep. He was clearly exhausted. He looked like a land bird that had lost his way. We gave him some water and found some dead flies which he ate out of our hands. He flew down the companion way steps and slept for a while. Jude went downstairs and made a nest for him which he jumped into and went to sleep again. An hour or so later Jude checked on him and he had died with his head under his wing. He must have been lost and exhausted. We were pleased that he had died not in the wing but having had a rest, food and water. It is a shame he did not live for a few hours longer to see land.
We motored onwards, the wind staying light until we neared Calvert island so we raised the sails for a bit of relief from the engine. Jude and Katya spotted a blue shark following us, with its distinctive long tail. There were droves of fishermen out as we approached Calvert Island, these are supposed to be some of the most productive salmon waters along the coast. We weaved our way through the islands and into Pruth Harbour where there were about 7 other boats, by far the most we had seen for quite some time. It was great to arrive after the long passage but it seemed strange to have so many other people about.
5-6th August. Pruth Harbour.
We spent the next couple of days exploring the wonderful sandy beaches of Calvert Island. There is an Institute, I believe it used to be a resort, on the island and they offer free internet so it was great to catch up on some news although it was not that great for uploading updates to this site. We stretched our legs on the beaches, collecting various flotsam and jetsam. We gave Lellow, the small yellow bird a burial near the beach and met up with some great people. Katya made a friend and went over to her boat to socialize and we had them over for a pizza night and drinks. Mark, Catherine, Dominique on Crossroads.