Sunday, September 8, 2013

Ucluelet to Sidney Spit.

2nd September. Ucluelet to Effingham Bay. 12 miles
Summer is now behind us and Autumn is starting to show signs of approaching. The leaves on the trees are starting to turn and we have had a couple of cooler evenings. I do hope we get an Indian summer to help ease us into winter.
 Having said our goodbyes, again, to the Kirk, Kirsten and David and Stephanie we filled up with water and made our way into Barkely sound and the Broken group of islands. We looked forward to exploring this popular area in the kayaks and hiking trails.

Forest trail to the beach

Japanese Tsunami debris

The following morning we took the lovely hiking trail to a beach on the east side of the island that is reputed to have an old Native settlement. We spent pretty much the whole day on the beach. Katya making a structure out of wood which was adorned with flotsam, jetsam and an array of shells collected from the beach.
In the evening we lit a fire on another beach near the anchorage and invited everybody in the anchorage (6 boats) for a bit of a get together. Kirk, Kirsten, David and Stepanie set up the fire with us. We had a great evening chatting to everybody. We lit some more of the Chinese lanterns that Amber had bought over from Scotland, which we all loved. Thanks Amber! We made our way back to the boat in the dark and the phosphorescence was spectacular coming off the outboard motor of the dinghy.
The following day Jude went for a very long kayak trip around the island and Katya and I went for a less strenuous dinghy trip around the island, in search of more beach trinkets. It was an early night for all of us as we would be leaving early in the morning for our long trip down the Strait of San Juan De Fuca.
5th September. Effingham Bay to Murder Bay. 80 miles
We had a night of little sleep: a nearby motor boat were up partying late into the early morning, running their generator and shouting loudly. When awoke at 4:30am and their generator was still going and the crew were belching loudly. (See comment below regarding their sinking) I watched the guys on Linger Longer leave the anchorage whilst I had breakfast under the stars and prepared to get under way.

Sunset in Effingham Bay
We departed about 1 hour before sunset. There was some light and thankfully no fog but instead a beautiful morning with strong phosphorescence in the water from our bow wave.
Had enough sunset photos?
Dawn in the Pacific
The forecast was for 15-20 knot westerlies for the first part of the trip , which did not occur and the 10-15 knot westerlies going down the strait were actually easterlies. No sailing today, although we did motor sail some of the way to help with the fuel economy – I am trying to save fuel until we get back to the US where it is cheaper than in Canada. We pulled into Murder Bay, in Becher Bay and dropped the hook in shallow water for a peaceful night’s sleep after a long day.  

6th September. Murder Bay to Victoria 16 miles

Departing in thick fog at 8:30 am we navigated our way around Race Rocks in strong currents and using Radar. The sounds of fog horns emanated from the greyness all around us. At some points in the journey we were only doing 2.5 Knots over ground.

The fog was very thick and as we approached Victoria Harbour we could hear the fog horn of a ferry and see it on the radar approaching but we could not see it.  As we came within ¼ mile of the harbor entrance the fog lifted thankfully and we made our way to the slip in front of the Empress Hotel.

We spent the next couple of days re-provisioning, meeting Ed and Janis (S/V Cuisine) for a Chinese meal and visiting the wonderful Museum of BC, which had an exhibition on Scott’s race to the Antarctic and an IMAX movie of Shackleton’s ill fated trip to the Antarctic along with it’s excellent permanent First Nations exhibit. We spent pretty much the whole day at the museum.  

First Nations masks. Museum of BC

View of James Bay Victoria from the Museum

8th September. Victoria to Sidney Spit. 25 miles.
The fog was lingering around outside the harbor and the winds were light but as soon as we went around Trial island the fog lifted. We decided that this was the ideal opportunity to raise the spinnaker for this light downwind sail to Sidney spit.
What a zoo Sidney spit is! Having been used to quiet anchorages it was a bit of a shock. Dozens of boats and hundreds of crab pots to weave in and out of.
Kirk sent me an email letting us know that he had read an article in the newspaper mentioning that the motor boat in Effingham bay had sunk off the cost of Vancouver. Apparently swamped by waves? Luckily the crew were rescued within the hour of calling the may day but were found clinging to the beer cooler. I wonder if they were breathalized by the coast guard?

Sunday, September 1, 2013


30th August. Quait Bay to Ucluelet. 37 miles.
The morning forecast was for SE winds 15-25 knots changing to SW 15 knots in the afternoon. We would have preferred the prevailing NW winds but we had to get moving, at least the SW winds would mean we could sail / Motor sail and make the passage less lumpy in the 2 meter seas. We bashed our way out into the Pacific. The swell was certainly higher than 2 meters at the channel entrance and when we turned south down the coast the winds were on our forestay. We could not even motor sail and the seas were on our beam. 5 hours of lumpy sailing to come.

As we entered Ucluelet channel the VHF radio lit up: “Sarita, Sarita. This is Cambria”  We responded and found out that David and Stephanie were about 1 mile up ahead on anchor.
We dropped the hook near Cambria, just north of the small craft harbour and I dinghied over to see David and Stephanie and catch up on events since we met before our departure.
Ucluelet was actually a pleasant surprise. A pretty, clean town with nice cafΓ©s and a good store to re-provision. It also has a great walk, The Wild Pacific Trail, which we walked and enjoyed the rugged lava field coast line, collecting rocks and shells along the way for art project Katya was working on. David and Stephanie came over for dinner and we chatted into the early hours. It was great to see them again, although I was going to have a thick head the next day.  


Ewin Cove, Hot Springs Cove, Ahousat and Quait bay.

23rd August. Ewin Cove to Hot Springs Cove. 47 miles.  
Hot Springs
We had been watching the unsettled weather, hoping for a break to round Estevan Point and on to Hot Spring cove. We departed at 7am hoping for some lighter winds but as we entered the open waters the wind built to 25kts plus with 6-7foot seas. The sails were raised we sheeted in and close hauled our way down the coast having to beat to windward. The 32 miles rhumb line passage turned into 47 miles and we zigzagged our way down the coast. We turned downwind and headed for Hot Spring Cove, sailing within a 100 yards of our anchorage spot. 

Nimbus clouds forming in Young Bay

Sunset in Young Bay. In this case not sailor's delight

The guys on Loon were anchored in the cove as well and I went over to see them before going on the lovely boardwalk hike to the hot springs. I believe I was lucky in so much as the warm springs was empty and I bathed in the hot water pools overlooking the great Pacific Ocean. It’s a special place but best experienced in solitude I think. I walked back to the dinghy and counted 52 people heading to the springs. I had been lucky.

24th August. Hot Springs Cove to Young Bay. 7 miles. 
Young bay wins the award for the most uncomfortable anchorage of the trip so far. The south winds enter the harbor along with the relentless swell. When the tide turned and the winds dropped in the night we were beam on to the swell and we rocked from side to side for a few hours until the wind picked up again and faced us to the swell.   We looked forward to a peaceful night.
Boardwalk to the Hot springs
 Young Bay is about 750 ft across and room for about 3-4 boats. We tucked in behind the island on the north west side and took the dinghy to shore with the aim of taking the trail to Cecelia Lake. The trail was very overgrown and at points along the way the trail vanished in the very dense rainforest and was obstructed by fallen trees. We all thought it was great fun and were all glad to stretch our legs. Unfortunately we did not get to swim in the lake as we could not find a clear place to enter the water. We made our way back down the trail to find that our dinghy was well down the river, still tied to the tree but the tide had come in much higher than I had expected. I would get my swim after all!
The weather forecasts still looked bleak, 35-40 knot winds so we decided to stay another day. The rain came down in a great deluge, washing the decks clean and turning the water black with dancing droplets. We dropped the crab trap in the water and over the two days were rewarded with 2 nice Dungeness and 4 red crabs with their large, tasty, claw meat. Yum.
 The rain continued in showers, some of which were very heavy. We hunkered down in the cabin and I read Loamhedge out aloud. What a wonderful book.
Jude and I wrote  song for Irit’s birthday and we practiced it in hope that we might be able to record and send it to Irit for her big birthday. What fun we had. We were in hysterics trying to get a decent version to send.

27th August. Young Bay to Ahousat. 14 Miles.
Finally the weather broke, the rain stopped and we headed to the small settlement of Ahousat with its dock, laundry, small store and restaurant. 

We tied up at the long single dock, Native Indians came and went in their boats, dropping people off and picking people up. Friendly and very polite I enjoyed chatting to them. The mail plane came streaking down the inlet between the trees and pulled up behind Sarita. We posted a couple of letters and watched the plane whisk them away to their far flung destinations.  

Linger Longer came in and anchored further up the inlet. We joined them for supper in the restaurant, exchanged notes and opinions on places we have visited, future destinations and the weather.

The owner of the store showed us a video of a Cougar, or mountain lion, swimming across the inlet, jumping out of the water and running up the dock whilst confused people on the dock ran or went for guns. Apparently it was on the Canadian news the previous day.

28th August. Ahousat to Quait Bay. 16 miles
Again the extended forecasts look a bit wild so we looked for a protected place to wait out the passing of the weather fronts to make our passage to Ucluelet. Quait bay won the prize for best looking sheltered location so off we headed past pebble lined beaches, weaving our way through the myriad of crab traps. Speeding boats out of Tofino ferried tourists to Hot Springs cove and whale watching tours on the coast. Clearly we are nearing civilization after 2 months away from it. Some people might crave the hustle and bustle of a town or city but we were all slightly disappointed as it meant that we were nearing the end of our trip. We went through the narrow entrance to Quait bay. The winds were extinguished and we settled into an afternoon of driving rain hammering the decks.
Linger Longer entering Quait bay
29th August. Quait bay.
The weather continued to look bad so we stayed put in Quait bay. Linger longer came in to the bay as well and they heard from Cambria calling us on the VHF. Kirk kindly relayed our position and plans to David and Stephanie.    

Zeballos, Tahsis, Bodega Bay, Bligh Island

18th  August. Queens Cove to Zeballos. 15 miles.
The short passage to Zeballos was uneventful and we tied up in this small port and went to have a look at this interesting town. I went and paid our harbor dues to Arlene and Jeff at the harbor office, had a chat with them for a while and met Jude and Katya. We caught the smell of frying coming from a store and went in to have a look and see if we could get some french fries. It has been a while since we have had any and the thought of having some made us salivate. Sure enough Linda the store owner kindly obliged and made us some lover skin on fries which we devoured. We chatted to Linda, a real character. She told us of her passion rock collecting and showed us some examples and kindly gave Katya a stone pendant she had made. We bought some basic provisions from the store and went for a walk up the river to see if we could find some interesting rocks.

 In the evening the fishermen returned with their catches. A native pulled alongside the dock opposite us and unloaded his catch of King Salmon and kindly offered us a lovely 18lb salmon which we gratefully accepted. We chatted with a Chinese couple who used to live in Hong-Kong. Apparently he is a ballroom dancer?
Zeballos is an interesting town with its mining and logging history, its old timber, false fronted buildings and high mountains surrounding the village at the head of an inlet. The dock was bustling with life. Commercial fishermen came, unloaded their catch, refilled with ice and left again. Sports fishermen proudly landed their catches: Salmon, Lingcod, Halibut, Redsnapper. Children jumping off the wharf into the clear waters coming out of the river and into the inlet.   Zeballos seems like a seldom visited place by cruising boats, most heading for Tahsis instead. According to the harbor master we were only the 10th cruising boat in this season.
As the water in the harbor was so clear I took the opportunity to put my dive gear on and check out the condition of the bottom and zincs. I was watched by a young local native boy who, Jude said, held his breath every time when I went under the water.

19th August. Zeballos to Tahsis. 15 miles
Another short trip so our departure was not until midday, we motored down Zeballos inlet being overtaken by fishermen heading out to sea. We negotiated Tahsis narrows which are relatively benign and headed north up Tahsis inlet where we dropped the prawn trap on 300 feet of water at the mouth of the Leiner River. As we headed over to the marina Kirk from Linger-Longer called us on channel 16. Kirk had seen us and thought me might be anchoring out in the inlet. We motored into the marina and we greeted by the friendly staff, tied up and greeted by the guys on Linger Longer and Loon.

  Tahsis  is one of the few provisioning stops along the west coast. One has to borrow the courtesy car from the marina and drive into town and choose from a very limited selection of produce, with little or no fresh produce. We were glad to be able to buy some items though.
 We invited our friends over in the evening to help us eat the King Salmon we had been kindly given in Zeballos. Kirk kindly bought a lovely bottle of malt whiskey and we sat on the aft deck in the fading evening light.

20th August. Tahsis to Bodega Bay 16 miles.
The following morning we caught up on some laundry and I tried to upload my notes to this site but the internet was down. It was the first chance I have had since Prince Rupert. Pruth Harbour did have some internet but it was weak and flakey.
Having finished the laundry we cast off the lines and collected the prawn trap which yielded 85 prawns and 1 octopus, which was returned to the water despite the thoughts of pan frying it.
 Linger Longer were already anchored in Bodega as we arrived and were getting into their kayaks for some exploring. We dropped the hook and I went for a swim in the water which was 17c. warm.
 We stayed in Bodega for a couple of days. I caught a couple of good sized Dog Fish, which were returned. I don’t think they are good eating but they also have a venomous barb on their backs which makes landing them a bit of a challenge without killing them.

22nd August. Bodega bay to Ewin Cove, Bligh Island. 10 miles.
Weaving our way through the small islands on the west side of Bligh island and up Ewin inlet we were pleased to see that the anchorage was empty. The winds licked up a bit and seemed to swirl around the anchorage making us sail on the anchor a bit. The winds eventually died down in the evening and we had a good night’s sleep. 

The weather forecast still looks unsettled. Low pressure systems keep sweeping across the coast and the Pacific high is nowhere to be seen. The north of the island is getting battered by 50 knot winds and high seas.