Friday, June 29, 2012

Blind Channel

June 29th

We departed Big Bay Marina on Stuart Island at 6:20am to catch the slack tide through Dent rapids. The approach to Dent rapids is flanked by two islands both of which were crowded with bald eagles, estimated at over 100 eagles were diving for fish in this rich water. It was quite a spectacle. The water was calm as we approached the rapids but soon became turbulent with large whirlpools that got my adrenalin going. We transited the rapids just 5 mins after slack and already the transit was a challenge. I would not have wanted to leave it a minute later.

Once on the other side of the rapids the channel expanded and the water was calm again. We were immediately joined by a pod of white sided dolphins playing in our bow wave. The dolphins then veered off to starboard and started to chase salmon which were leaping out of the water all around us. We quickly changed the lure on the rod and dropped a line in the water to try our luck.

We stopped at Mink Island to wait for the next slack water, dropped the anchor and caught up on some sleep. The rain has started and is promised to remain for the next few days.   
Today’s destination is the Blind Channel Resort, reportedly to be a small but clean and friendly marina with a store, restaurant and good water to fill our tanks.
Katya and I went for a walk in the forest to see the large cedar tree which was 16 foot in diameter and 800 years old. The sign at the trail head warned of bears, wolves and cougars and reports form a local warned us that a recent visitor had his dog taken by a cougar whilst walking.

Jude and Sandy spent the afternoon doing the week’s worth of laundry. They seem to have commandeered the building and all of the machines. The laundry also seems to be the best place to meet people and get advice and recommendations on where to go next.

Roger cooked 1/3 of the ling cod that we caught the day before. There is so much there is should provide good sized meals for 18 people. Cooked with garlic and rice it was a welcome supper for us all.

Steve and Sandy are eager sailors and are great crew to have aboard. Leaping into action whether it be on a winch or on the dock to tie the boat up. Steve has been sharing the helm, even when it rained!

Luda, our dog has been amazing. She has a good routine and knows that she has to do her business as soon as we get a shore. We have had no mistakes yet. She also loves all the walks in the forest and meeting other people and dogs on the docks.

This morning we saw six or seven sea otters playing on the docks near our boat. They were very shy but inquisitive. Hiding under the docks but peeking out to see what was going on. They made the strangest noise which only Steve can impersonate. Perhaps a video demonstration later?   
We are now awaiting our long passage up the Johnstone Strait, which is reported to have strong currents and high winds so passage planning is crucial. From here on in it becomes more remote with fewer towns and places to provision.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


We will be heading out of range of cell phone and Internet for a few days so blog posts will be postponed.

Toba Inlet

This  entry made on Wednesday evening, June 28th:

At this point, I take no responsibility for the chronology of events other than this mostly wonderful day. We are at the Stuart Island Marina tonight after  traversing  a portion of the Yaculta  Rapids at slack tide to avoid  more excitement than any of us wanted… feels like we are finally  entering true wilderness and the wildlife it implies…..this afternoon we noticed literally hundreds of birds bustling about an island to the west and when viewed with binoculars discovered that it was all Bald Eagles…….We hadn’t provisioned since Nanaimo, so we stormed the general store here at Stuart Island and pretty well wiped them out on numerous essentials (including beer!)…..the folks here are quite friendly and gave us some tips on fishing for ling cod, so Richard, Katya, and I (Steve) headed out in the dinghy early afternoon and in about 30 minutes, Richard snagged this monster fellow from the deep (20 lbs?)……enough fish for all of us for a few days of delightful dinners……..Beautiful waterfalls are ubiquitous and on the way up here, Richard pulled the bow of the boat so close that you could literally take a shower up front if you could stand the cold. Our resident boat artist , Katya, continues to amaze with her drawings and three dimensional art projects including face disguises and caricatures for us to wear in the evening. Roger Brierley Jones keeps us all honest with the driest (and most effortless) wit since James Bond. Jude and Sandy are keeping us all well fed as well as handling the sheets whenever required (wenches on winches).  Luda Brierley Jones is our soulful and intrepid leader on all our trekking excursions  and  crashes in total , well deserved exhaustion at the end of the day……tomorrow we head further north in the hopes of  seeing grizzly bears and possibly orcas and who knows what else……. It’s a mystery……


Monday, June 25, 2012

Lund to Grace Harbour – Desolation sound

Lund to Grace Harbour  – Desolation sound

After the rain of the previous day the sunshine of the morning was very welcome. There were a few rain clouds to the west but it looked promising. We have been exceedingly lucking so far, with only one day of rain in nearly two weeks. Let’s hope this trend continues.
We all trooped ashore from the floating dock, showered and went to the Lund bakery for breakfast. What a treat it was. Katya’s eyes were as wide as saucers at the sight of the large blueberry cinnamon buns. Roger had bacon and hash browns, along with Steve. Sandy had a spinach quiche and garden salad. (healthy brownie points for her). It is amazing how simple amenities provide us with so much more pleasure when deprived of them.

Having made a trip to the general store to stock up on milk and a few other items (very expensive) and refueling we departed for Desolation sound.

We motored up inside the Copeland Islands and then onwards to Grace Harbour. An anchorage which was supposed to be very popular in the summer. On arrival it was almost empty. Great. Only three other boats so we dropped the anchor in 30 feet of water at low tide and prepared the exploration party.

The guide books recommended a walk up to a freshwater lake which is supposed to get quite warm so off we trekked. The path became a quagmire after a few hundred yards so I decided to go ahead and see what the rest of the trail was like. It traversed a stream and there were a few stretches where the water was a foot or so deep but it would be worth the effort. Off we went and were rewarded with a beautiful vista and a warm swim. Luda joined us for the dip and seemed to enjoy having the buoyancy of her life vest.

The wind picked up in the evening and swung us around on the anchor. I was up in the night every few hours to make sure that the anchor was not dragging. The winds finally abated at around 3am.

Grace Harbour to Laura cove

Another sunny day. Breakfast on deck and then the preparations for a relatively short sail to Laura Cove. Once into the main channel of Desolation Sound the winds came up so we raised the sails and went along at a very pleasant 4 knots. Sandy dropped the fishing lines in the water hoping for a chance at Salmon and Steve made sandwiches for lunch. All very pleasant.

Laura Cove is a small anchorage requiring a stern tie on the steep shores. Steve was sent out again in the dingy with the line and did a spectacular job in attaching the line around a tree despite the steep, slippery and barnacle covered rocks. It took us a while to anchor satisfactorily (for a good nights sleep) but I think we are getting the hang of this.

Roger has been our resident camera man. I think he has over 2 hours of video so far. He has also has an endless supply of English confectionary. No wonder his luggage was so heavy. But it is much appreciated by all.

The afternoon was spent fishing, no success, swimming, with Steve and Katya joining me, and Jude and Sandy went exploring in the kayaks. Later in the evening Katya, Luda and I went exploring in the forest and found a magical trail to Melanie cove. We crossed crystal clear streams, traversed long moss covered logs and saw snakes and giant slugs and other strange creatures. Strangely enough there are no flies or mosquitoes here, thank goodness.
I think we have decided to stay here tomorrow, do some more exploring.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Oh sh**

I accidentally deleted all the photos. I will have to upload them all again when I get a good internet connection 

The crew

Personnel by Roger;-

Captain;- Richard, more than capable, cool ,calm and very lovable.

Captain below decks;- Jude, more than capable, excellent cook does most if not ALL  things with an intensity that would frighten Genghis  Khan, a planner of great detail and very lovable.

Bosun and Chief Petty Officer ;- Katya, manufacturer of fine works of art when she isn’t telling us all what to do and how to go about it!
The only child (I use the word advisedly) who has never said “I’m bored” even after fifteen hours in a car Also very lovable.

First Mate;- Sandy Duren, possesses a wicked sense of humour and also has to be mental health nurse.

First Officer (mechanical). Stephen Duren. Also very amusing,however he’s a Texan who reads books about Caligula, which is worrying enough! He also sports a hat that advertises Broadmoor. Hence the first mate’s alternative employment.

We are all rubbing along very well (just fine in local parlance). Well they havn’t made me walk the plank yet and have taken me on for another few weeks as chief video recorder and occasional curry provider.

The next few weeks promises to be both breathtaking and extremely amusing!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Chatterbox Falls

We explored the area around Chatterbox falls which is lush rainforest with the deepest green Colours I have ever seen. Steve and I were approached by the ranger (oh no, what have we done now?) but she was looking for some help fixing here water powered generator. We duly obliged and traced the fault down to lack of water pressure. We then tracked up the mountain to the head of the pipe feeding the generator and re sank the collector in the waterfall, which was a bit of a challenge due to the amount of water flowing. All fixed.

I took Luda for a walk up towards an old Trappers hut, a steep climb over slippery rocks and roots for which I had to take Luda off the lead. 45 mins into the walk I could not find Luda. Half an hour of looking for her had me worried as the undergrowth was very thick in the rainforest. I thought that Luda was clever enough to find her way home so i headed back down the mountain where I found the  rest of the party looking for me as Luda had returned and they thought that she was telling them that I was lost!

Princess Louisa Inlet to Lund

22nd June

In order to exit the inlet we have to exit Malibu rapids at high water slack, which today is at 7:15am, so we were all up at 5:30am. The sun was shining again, contrary to the forecast, and we exited the inlet with no fuss. Much better than our entrance. Lesson learned.

The wind picked up to 20 knots so up came the sails as we ran down wind towards Lund.. A great sail making 8 knots most of he way. The rain started at about 1pm and Steve and I endured a soaking for a few hours whilst the rest of the crew fed and watered us from under the hard dodger and warmth.

We entered Lund harbour at 5pm, tied up on a floating breakwater ,tired after our long day. Steve, Rog and I went ashore to check the facilities out - straight to the pub for a pint- and worked out where to buy coffee and have showers.

Lund is a pretty little harbour on the edge on Desolation sound. Serviced by a good pub and a great bakery. All the essentials.

Tomorrow we head off for Grace harbour, an anchorage about 10 miles away. Looking forward to a good night of sleep

Friday, June 22, 2012

Princess Louisa Inlet

Harmony Islands to Princess Louisa Inlet

We departed the Harmony Islands at 6:30 to catch the slack tide going through the Malibu rapids which are at the entrance to Princess Louisa Inlet. The journey is about 40 miles and we managed to get the sails up shortly after leaving but having to tack up the Prince of Wales reach and the wind died after we turned the corner. The scenery is getting more and more spectacular as we head north. Steep sided fjords with depths in mid channel reaching nearly 2000 feet.

We made good time so we cut the engine about 2 miles short of Malibu rapids to wait for slack tide. Jude and Sandy prepared a lovely lunch and we sat in the sunshine drifting along.

We attempted a transit 30 mins before slack having seen another few vessels go before us. The water was greatly disturbed still and we managed to get through with 3 knots of boat speed to spare. Not enough for my liking so I will be patient next time and wait for full slack to transit. We don’t want to become sport for the audience anxiously watching onshore for impending doom.

Once inside Princess Louisa Inlet the views became even more spectacular. Waterfalls on both sides lined the inlet and the steep sides of many thousand feet climbing vertical.

Being early in the season there were few boats at the head of the inlet – Chatterbox falls – and we managed to tie up to a small public dock with two other boats.  Many photographs and video footage was taken. Luda was pleased to get ashore and we all explored the area around the falls where a short walk led to the base of the falls.

Nanaimo to Jervis Inlet

Nanaimo to Jervis Inlet

We were all pleasantly surprised by Nanaimo. The promise of an ex coal mining town did not sound that inviting but the marina was clean, showers good and the town very pleasant. A lovely walk along an esplanade overlooking Newcastle island lined with coffee shops, restaurants, boats and seaplanes was a fun place for a walk Luda and stretch our legs.

Nanaimo is our last large provisioning port before we head across the Strait of Georgia for the wilderness of Jervis Inlet and up to Princess Louisa Inlet, which from all accounts is spectacular. Jude and Sandy spent the next day stocking up on food and cleaning up the inside of the boat. Steve repaired the oarlocks on the dingy and I had a second attempt at getting the dingy outboard running better (success this time) and trying to organize a Canadian pay as you go cell package with data plan, which took half a day as ATT had not unlocked my iphone as promised 3 times. We have it done now and our Canadian cell phone number is:  +1  778-269-3501.

We departed Nanaimo at 9:15 on Tuesday the 19th. Forecast was for light winds – 5-10 knots from the south, which is what we got. The Canadian Navy missile range, Whiskey Golf, was active so we had to create a route that went to the west and north of the large test area. At one point on the journey we drifted into the area and were shadowed by a patrol boat until we changed course.

We crossed the Strait with a little wind and a current that helped us along at around 8.5 knots over ground and entered Agamemnon channel for the short cut to Jervis channel and the Harmony Islands, our destination for the evening.

The Agamemnon channel was about 5 miles long and sparsely populated with a few fishing huts. We were all getting the feeling that we are entering the wilderness area we have been waiting for. For those wanting to know what the weather has been like, it has been quite amazing so far. No rain in two weeks, some overcast days but mostly sunny days with midday temperatures around 15-20 Celsius.

We arrived in the Harmony islands at 4:30. Still another 6 hours of daylight left at this latitude! On the east side of the islands is a narrow channel where we planned to anchor. Our first night at anchor this trip and my first attempt at stern tying. The channel is steep to shore and about 100 ft in most places so we had several attempts at getting the anchor satisfactorily set before we sent Steve ashore in the dingy to tie the line around a tree and back to the boat. All we eventually did without too much fuss. 

The beers and snacks came out and Katya and I went across to an island to take Luda for a walk and go rock pooling. Katya found many amazing purple starfish and other creatures which kept us amused for a couple of hours.

The evening weather was warm and the views at this anchorage are spectacular. Calm water views with a backdrop of snow covered mountains rising high in the distance and the sound of the 1400 ft Freil waterfall, which is only half a mile away.

Back on the boat the fishing rods were bought out and within seconds we had rockfish on our lines. Katya was so excited. I decided that the water is warm enough for a swim and surprisingly it was! Bliss.

We have decided to stay here tomorrow and relax and explore this lovely anchorage before heading up to princess Louisa inlet.

Wednesday 20th June

A relaxing day was had by all. Steve and Sandy paddled off in the Kayaks to look at Freil waterfall. Katya and I went exploring in the dingy. We found more starfish and caught a nice sized rockfish at exactly the same time as Jude caught one. Jude’s was larger. Both were kept for cooking for supper.
Two more boats arrived later in the afternoon. One large motor boat and another sail boat that anchored 5-6 boat lengths away.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Into Canada

Into Canada

After leaving Lopez Island we sailed the short distance to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, a place we have been to before a few times. FH is the largest town in the San Juan Islands and has a reasonable supermarket and DIY store for the repair supplies required. The sail to FH was glorious. Steve and Sandy shared the helm and we sailed up the San Juan channel in glorious sunshine and about 15knots of wind and enjoyed the scenery.

Once docked in FH we headed to the local pub for a meal and a some much needed liquid refreshment. 

The next day, sorry for my vagueness I have lost track of time, we did some chores - cleaning the boat, food shopping, replenishing propane etc and prepared for our trip into Canada. Destination Bedwell harbor on Pender Island.

We left the dock at 9am on Friday, fueled up and headed off to Pender Island, about a 5 hour sail through the islands. On arrival we checked into customs and immigration. Not a painful experience compared to checking in and out of US customs. Once done we picked up a mooring buoy and took Luda ashore for a walk etc. The dingy motor is still playing up so I had to take off the carburetor to strip it down to clean. (it did have a lot of dirt in it – which will probably mean the fuel tank needs cleaning)

Jude and I then went exploring in the Kayaks. The weather has been warm and sunny with the occasional overcast day but I have still managed to get sunburned. No rain yet but I am sure that will come!

The girls cooked up a feast for the evening and we lounged around on deck reading, relaxing and generally mucking about.

More systems failures – the forward shower drain pump became blocked. Steve and I spent an hour tracking down the culprit – a blocked strainer – pulled it off and cleaned it. Sounds easier than it actually was. We are getting to know this boat very well.

Saturday morning we were up bright and early for our trip to Ganges harbor on Saltspring Island where we have heard that there is a great Saturday market. The winds were brisk but on the nose so we motor-sailed most of the 15 miles.

Docking was an interesting experience as the winds had picked up to 20 plus knots and we were moving along at 2 knots without power or sail with the wind pushing us onto the dock. We decided to stay but I requested an inside berth so we had to move to a rather tight inside berth that would present a challenge to get out of. First we had to get of the dock we were being blown onto which tested our crew skills. It was not easy and the tender suffered a squash but is OK.

Ganges is a pretty town and seems to have a strong artist community – Birkenstocks were commonplace. More food shopping at the market.

Katya has been drawing madly and the cabin has been decorated with her pictures. She has also been spending time shrimping and collecting these amazing purple starfish (and returning them).

We stayed overnight in Ganges and left early in the morning destination Nanaimo on the east coast of Vancouver Island, 35 miles away. When we left there was no wind so we motored for about 45 mins. The wind then started to pick up, 5 knots, 2 knots 10 knots, 5 knots and then 20knots. We were soon ripping along at 8 knots with a decent heal on the boat and reefed sails. Now we were making good time, too good as a matter of fact as we had to time our approach to Dodd narrows and near slack water as the current rushes through this narrow channel at up to 9 knots with strong whirlpools. We therefore reduced sail to slow us down to 3 knots, and made lunch and enjoyed the sunshine.

We arrived at the Dodd Narrows when the tide was still flooding at 5 knots. Having seen another sailboat go through we decided to take the plunge and go for it. All looked benign as we entered. Very little current. Then as we looked at the exit point we could see the strong currents and whirlpools. Full throttle and we were through fine. Our first of many transits of narrows to come. Now onward to Nanaimo which was another 5 miles.
Nanaimo will be our last major provisioning stop before we head up to Desolation sound.

More photos have been loaded onto the photos page.      

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Lopez Island

It took all four of us to hoist Richard to the top of the mast so that he could check the rigging.  We learned two things: the mast has a damaged pulley (the one he was tethered on!)  and Richard has to cut down on his snacks, however, there may be two points of view here;  it has been suggested that we may all need to take a little more exercise. 
The wind was blowing a hooley as we arrived on Lopez Island Tuesday morning making docking a challenge. None the less, Richard achieved the docking with his usual aplomb.  Sandy and Steve’s friends from  Yelapa, Judy and Ken, were on the hillside at the edge of town smiling and waving us in.  What a good feeling to see familiar faces!  They piled all 6 of us + Luda into their truck, took us to Ken’s beautifully handcrafted home where ate, drank and had a merry time. Katya says “Ken’s woodworking/guitar workshop was bigger than one of Home Depot’s aisles. There was a dead hummingbird that got smushed between 2 books.  It looked like it got cut in half—it was beautiful. Katya and Steve picked Salmon berries before dinner and we saved some for breakfast the next morning.

Wednesday morning we girls excitedly headed off to the island resort to frolic in the pool and relax in the jacuzzi .  We know that we will soon be “roughing it,” soon, but we are making the most of the good life while we can.  Meanwhile, Ken was imparting his pearls of wisdom regarding the Inside Passage from his former sailing adventures.