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Sunday, August 29, 2004

Pinkerton Islands

August 29, 2004
Pinkerton Islands (N 48o 57' W 125 17')

We made the short trip from Pipestem Inlet to the Pinkerton Islands yesterday morning before the rain started. I immediately put my fishing gear together to make the short trip from the anchorage to one of the hottest fishing areas in Barkley Sound, Swale Rock. We passed this area on our trip from Effingham Bay to Pipestem Inlet and there were about 25 boats fishing there. When I arrived it was clear people still get the weekends off because there were no less then 50 small fishing boats trolling their baits. I put myself to work with the plan of catching at least one fish. How hard could it be, I reasoned, given that boats on all sides were pulling in fish after fish.

Of course they were using natural bait, anchovies, and I had to use my selection of hoochies and spoons. But I was confident that I would eventually find something to fool a fish into biting. That or I would pass by a very stupid fish and he would bite my piece of plastic out of foolishness. Well almost two hours later I was still changing baits without a single bite. I had watched some boats near me pull in three or four fish and I was getting depressed.

About that time I passed by a boat where one of the fishermen was holding his rod, bent to touching the water because of the large fish he was fighting. He looked over at me (must have seen the look of envy on my face) and waved me over. I trolled over to his boat and he asked if I wanted the fish. Well I thought about it. I really wanted to catch a fish, it's fun after all, but the whole idea was simply to get something to put into the freezer for the trip to San Francisco. What the hell, I thought, and said 'yes.' I pulled up my gear and got ready to receive the fish.

Now I figured this was a smallish fish. One that was smaller than others he had caught and he was waiting for a larger one to take home. Not so. When his companion netted the thing it was clear it was a BIG fish! After subduing it with a mallet he said it was probably about 25 pounds. That's more then I bargained for, but I wasn't about to go back on my acceptance of his offer.

It took me over two hours to clean, steak, fillet and vacuum pack that fish. We had to remove everything from the freezer just to fit it all in (we're now on an 'Atkins' diet, we have to eat all the thawed meat!) and worst of all I'm forbidden from fishing again. Oh well, at least we have salmon for the trip home.

The rest of our time here at the Pinkerton Islands has been anticlimactic. It's been raining persistently so we haven't been able to get out and about much, although we did spend an hour exploring during a break in the weather this afternoon. Instead we've been spending today getting ready for the ocean trip to San Francisco, stowing things we won't need and lashing down items that will remain on deck. It looks like the weather will be good on Wednesday, at least the seas will be down, and we can start our trip then.

Tomorrow we're going to Bamfield, a little coastal town, to mail a book back to it's owner (Darrel, who we met in Port Hardy, loaned us his copy of Watmough) and get a few provisions. On Tuesday we plan to go to Neah Bay and check back into the USA and get fuel. Our time in Canada is drawing to a close, we feel like we had to rush through it almost as much as we did in 1997. Maybe we'll wise up for the next trip and go directly to Columbia Cove and simply spend 2 months there. :-)

John and Linda

Friday, August 27, 2004

Lucky Times

August 27, 2004
Lucky Creek, Pipestem Inlet (N 49° 01' W 125° 16')

The weather improved a little yesterday. It's stopped raining for the most part and the sun is making an appearance once in awhile. One thing that didn't improve was the swell. Effingham Bay is quite close to a group of barrier islands. In the quiet of the evening when the wind dropped we could clearly hear the sound of the waves pounding these islands mercilessly. It reminded me of the freeway that I could hear from our berth in Redwood City. I thanked Linda several times for convincing me to make the jump from Tofino to Barkley Sound Tuesday instead of waiting. If we had waited we may have had better wind but we would have much higher seas.

We left Effingham Bay late yesterday afternoon after taking the short trail over the island to the site of an old Native village. In spite of warnings from other boaters about the very muddy trail, we found it to be "an easy hike" of about 1/2 a mile. The beginning was a little muddy, but not nearly enough to require rubber boots.

The trail was just as we remembered it. This section of the British Columbia coast has never been logged or developed. After clambering though dense underbrush near the shore the forest opened up and we found ourselves under the high canopy of cedar trees with the ground covered with moss, a few ferns here and there, and the biggest slugs we've ever seen. Truly a fairy tale landscape. After reaching the other shore we examined the midden and looked for the remains of the native long house (which we were not able to find unfortunately). We sat on the rocky shore and had lunch, watching kayakers slowly paddle by.

After the short trip from Effingham Bay to Pipestem Inlet we anchored in a small bay bounded by a peninsula and three small islands. When we first anchored we thought we would have plenty of room to swing, letting Nakia pivot around the anchor, as we usually do. However, it soon became apparent that a bad wind shift could easily push us onto one of the bounding islands so I ran a line to a cedar tree and tied Nakia's stern to the tree with the line. Amazingly, this is the first time we've had to do this in spite of the fact that boats in nearly all of the anchorages on the inside anchor this way. Of course they do it primarily because everyone else does it. We only do it when we need to.

The anchorage, however, is not the main attraction here. A short dinghy ride away there is a large creek which is deep enough to take a dinghy into at high tide. About a half mile in there are a series of water falls with large pools below each fall. The shores of the creek are too steep to walk on, so to get from one pool to the other you have to swim.

We took the dinghy in about an hour before high tide and had no trouble motoring all the way to the first fall. Then there was a short trail to the first pool above. Fully equipped with bathing suits and reef shoes we prepared to swim the pool to the next fall. That was until we stepped into the water and prepared to dive in. It was COLD (and there was no sun to warm ourselves in afterwards)! Linda was satisfied to have her picture taken sitting on a rock with the falls in the background. I, however, could not come so far without "getting my money's worth." So I dove in and dog paddled, screaming, to the opposite shore where I quickly climbed out and continued along the shore to the next pool. Once arriving at the second, much larger pool I decided that I had seen enough (especially with having to swim back through the first pool just to get back to the dinghy!). I dried off and we ate lunch sitting on a log watching the falls.

Tomorrow we have a short trip to a group of islands called the Pinkerton Islands. There is good salmon fishing close by and the freezer is getting pretty empty. Hopefully I'll get lucky and we'll have enough fish to take home with us.

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Tofino and Barkley Sound

August 24, 2004
Effingham Bay, Barkley Sound (N 48° 52' W 125° 18')

We spent the nights of August 22 and 23 in Tofino after making a quick passage from Young Bay. One of these trips we're going to get to the west coast early enough in the season so we don't feel like we have to make tracks south. As it is, we feel like the trip home is lurking over our heads so we cruise down the coast without stopping at places that look interesting. Oh well, we will just have to come back again and do it right.

Tofino is (was) our last "big" town before returning to the U.S. (though we may make a quick stop in Ucluelet for fresh fruit and veggies for the trip home). If I had to describe Tofino, I'd say it's a cross between Half Moon Bay and Berkeley. It has the small, fishing village feel of Half Moon Bay and the sandalwood scented/dread locked/liberal attitude of Berkeley. We had two meals out: fish and chips for dinner and pizza for lunch. Quite different from our trip in 1997 when we ate lunch at a trendy style cafe that had just opened. The cafe was still there, but was only open for dinner and the prices had gone up considerably.

We arrived on the afternoon of the 22nd and did laundry for the first time since July 30. Strangely enough it only took 90 minutes to complete this chore, thanks to the new triple loader washers in the laundromat. I'm not sure I ever mentioned this before, but I get to play "pack mule" whenever we do laundry. We have found the easiest way to transport things like laundry and propane tanks is on a back pack frame, the docks being too rough and uneven for rolling a cart. So we bag all the bedding and many weeks worth of T-shirts, underwear, pants, and sweatshirts and strap them to the pack frame. Then I get to sling it on my back and carry it however far we need to go. In Tofino the laundromat is not far, but the marina is at the bottom of a very steep hill which makes laundry day a special work out.

Today we made the jump from Tofino to Barkley Sound. It's about 35 miles in a southeast direction. We just managed to make it in before the weather. The 4 AM forecast called for wind out of the southwest at 10-20 knots. That would have been great, except that this was the only area forecast to blow from the southwest. Every other forecast area was supposed to have wind out of the southeast. I figured the guy recording the forecast had misread it. Sure enough, when they came out with the 10:30 forecast it was for southeast. Thankfully it never blew hard enough to impede our progress and the only problem we had was reduced visibility while bands of rain came through.

Oh, we did have one other exciting moment. We were entering the islands of Barkley Sound. I was out on the bow making sure we were heading through an appropriate gap in the rocks and Linda was at the wheel taking directions. I was checking the chart when all of a sudden Linda shouted and threw the boat into neutral. I look up expecting to see a rock that I had missed directly in front of us, but there was nothing there. I looked back at Linda and she yelled, "A whale, we almost hit a whale!" It had surfaced about 30 ft in front and to the right of NAKIA while I was looking at the chart. Thankfully we didn't feel any bumps and we continued on into the protection of the islands without further incident.

The rain started coming down in earnest just before we got the anchor down. That's fine though, at least we had reason to appreciate our afternoon tea and cookies. Hopefully the rain will stop tomorrow and we can take the trail to the other side of the island. We've done this one before so we know it's "an easy walk."

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Head Games

August 21, 2004
Young Bay (N 49° 25' W 126° 13')

We slept terribly at Hot Springs Cove with the fishing boats' generators running all night, and got going early Friday morning to move to Young Bay before the first float plane landed. Young Bay is just a few miles from Hot Springs Cove and when we arrived we found it had the two features we wanted most: 1) it was unoccupied and 2) it was quiet!

After arriving, we waited for high tide so we could take the dinghy to shore where the guidebook assured us "an easy walk" of 1/2 a mile would take us to a lake suitable for swimming and bathing. The guidebook wasn't clear where in Young Bay the trailhead was, however another guidebook said it was on the south side of the bay. We decided not to bother putting the engine on since Young Bay is small, and how hard would it be to find the trailhead anyway because the guidebook says it's on the south side. So John rowed all over the place putting Linda ashore at a couple of different spots to search for the trailhead. As Linda started to investigate one faint trail she managed to land her foot right smack dab in the middle of a very fresh pile of bear scat. She quickly decided that she would not be following that trail any farther! Fortunately the scat consisted of mostly crushed berries which only stained the bottom of her reef walker shoe bright purple.

We eventually found the well-indicated (by surveyor ribbon) trailhead up the creek on the east end of the bay (which is where Linda suggested we should have started in the first place; I guess sometimes it's better to ignore the guidebook). Unfortunately it was a very rough trail, definitely not "an easy walk." We struggled along for 15 minutes only to reach the first of two ponds before you get to the lake itself. The ribbons seemed to go to the pond (which was surrounded by logs in the water - no shore) but it was impossible to tell where you were supposed to continue from there. At this point Linda was feeling a bit like she would scream at the slightest thing (after finding the mother of all daddy-long-legs crawling on her hat), and we were both sweating bullets. Figuring a bath in a freshwater lake was kind of pointless if we were going to have to get all sweaty just getting back to the dinghy, we high-tailed it back out of there! We opted for showers right away and opened a bottle of wine with dinner to soothe our frayed nerves.

We were supposed to leave today for Matilda Inlet but since it was raining we decided to sit tight to see if it would clear. We haven't had many "rain days" so we were looking forward to sitting below drinking tea and reading. Unfortunately the discovery that the head was clogged put an end to that. Of course this discovery occurred after the holding tank was full and to clear the clog we would have to empty the tank. Of course, catch 22, the clog is what was preventing the tank from emptying. In the end we sacrificed the hand pump we use to change the oil to pump the contents of the tank overboard through the pump-out fitting. Then we put vinegar and baking soda (Linda's special de-clogger recipe!) down the pump-out fitting. We let that fizz for a while then poured boiling water down the hose after it. It took two applications, but we were able to clear the clog. We came through the experience well enough, only gagging a couple of times while pumping the tank out.

We're going to give the trip to Matilda Inlet a try again tomorrow. The guidebook says there's a warm springs within "an easy walk" of the anchorage. I hope we don't need our rock climbing gear for this one.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Hot Springs Cove

August 19, 2004
Hot Springs Cove (N 49° 22' W 126° 16')

Today we made the long jump from Nuchatlitz Inlet to Hot Springs Cove. We had a good, if a little too long (53 nm) and a little too rough, sail all the way down the coast. The last few miles of it we sailed a mile or so away from Pacific Swift, the same square rigged schooner that we were tied up next to in Uclulet in 1997. We thought we might show them how it's done by sailing all the way into the anchorage but when the wind shifted at the entrance, we chickened out and motored the last half mile.

I'm sure at one time Hot Springs Cove was a really nice place, but now it simply is not. In addition to high speed tour boats that bring people in by the dozens, float planes fly in every few minutes dropping off and picking up passengers. The float planes take off and land within 50 yards of our boat. There are half a dozen fishing boats in the anchorage, all of them running generators constantly. And to top it all off there's a camp on shore where a dog is howling as though it's being murdered. Its owners left it while they went off to soak in the hot springs, no doubt, oblivious to the unpleasant setting they are leaving for their neighbors.

Linda says she wants to stay here two days, since we went through a long hard sail to get here. Personally I'd leave tonight if I thought I could navigate from here to the next anchorage in the dark...

Sea Otters and New Moons

August 18, 2004
Mary Basin, Nuchatlitz Inlet (N 49° 47' W 126° 50')

When we left Rugged Point yesterday bound for Mary Basin we only intended to stay overnight. But when an early afternoon fog chased us into Nuchatlitz Inlet and several sea otters greeted us on the way in we decided to stay an extra day and take in some of the sights in the area.

Nuchatlitz Inlet indents the western side of Nootka Island on the west side of Vancouver Island. In March of 1778, in a small cove near Nootka Island, Captain James Cook, R.N., became the first European to set foot on what later became British Columbia. According to our guide book (Cruising Guide to the West Coast of Vancouver Island by Don Watmough), Cook named Nootka Island after the word the natives chanted as he approached: "noot-ka, noot-ka." Only later was the true meaning of the chant learned: it's an imperative advising the listener to "go around!" We, unlike Cook, decided to follow the advice of the natives and go around the outside of Nootka Island without stopping in the fjords that separate it from Vancouver Island. Mary Basin is our only stop in this area.

Mary Basin is open, quiet, uncrowded, and filled with wildlife. There are several large sandy beaches close by for walking, and the outer cliffs have many sea caves. While exploring in the dinghy this morning we saw a black bear on one of the beaches eating mussels off the rocks at low tide. The small channel separating Nuchatlitz Inlet from Mary Basin is home to five or so sea otters. They come into the basin now and then to sleep quietly, their hind flippers and forepaws held above the surface. They are just too cute for words. We've also identified red throated loons in the basin, which we've not seen before. All in all, this has been a great place to spend a couple of days.

Tomorrow we'll be moving to Clayoquot (CLAY-kit) Sound and the fabled Hot Springs Cove. We had resolved not to go to the springs as they are just too crowded for us (high speed tour boats and float planes make runs from Tofino bringing tourists by the dozens). But it's a convenient waypoint on our way south.

For some strange reason over the last few years I have gotten into the habit of measuring months by the phase of the moon. I think of some date in the future, and instead of thinking, "that's three months from now," I think, "that's three new moons from now." This evening was no different when Linda brought my attention to the setting crescent of the moon. I looked at it and realized it's the first quarter of the new moon, the new moon who's last quarter will shine on Nakia's wake as she makes her way back to her home waters in the Bay Area in September. It's a small reminder that we need to enjoy ourselves while we can because our time here is short.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Rugged Point

August 17, 2004
Rugged Point (N 49° 58' W 127° 15')

We left the security and beauty of the Bunsby Islands yesterday for the open sandy beaches of Rugged Point. During our short stay at the Bunsbys we saw a large diversity of wildlife including:

Bald eagle (an anchorage is not complete without at least one bald eagle)
Blue heron
Black oyster catcher
Black bear
Harbor seal
Sea otter

All in all, the Bunsbys were one of the best places we've been and we'll definitely go back.

On our way to Rugged Point, we stopped at the little town of Kyuquot (Ki-YOU-kit) to fill the water tanks, get a few provisions, and see if we could swap some books. By the way, you should always be suspicious when a sailor says "we needed a few provisions." Usually it means they needed beer and potato chips. In this case, Kyuquot doesn't have alcohol (by local Native ordinance) so 'provisions' meant potato chips and ice cream. Of course we also had to buy eggs and bread to make it look like we didn't go just for chips and ice cream.

Kyuquot is located in Walters Cove (N 50° 01' W 127° 22') and is actually two towns. The Native town, Walters Cove, is on the Vancouver Island side of the cove and the "white" town, Kyuquot, is on an island across the cove. The Natives seem to have most of the political power, but that doesn't seem to stop everyone from getting along very well. The twin towns of Kyuquot/Walters Cove seem to be better adjusted than any other place we've visited with a mixed Native/Anglo population.

The third population in Kyuquot/Walters Cove seems to be sea otters. The closer you get to town, the more sea otters there are, and in a smaller cove right outside the main cove there is a group of about 25 that lounge together in the kelp. They seem to be as well adjusted as the rest of the population and are very tolerant of people. We were able to cruise by their little kelp town and take pictures without disturbing them at all.

From Kyuquot it's a short hop to Rugged Point Marine Park, a granite peninsula wooded with old growth Douglas fir, which has several white sand beaches as its claim to fame. There are three beaches on the north "inside" of the point, and four beaches (one over a half mile long) on the south "outside" of the point. A trail leads between the north and south sides. Unfortunately the anchorage at Rugged Point is not particularly protected. We're anchored in a notch on the north side of the peninsula between two granite fingers that jut out to the north from the point. The southwest swell wraps around the point and makes it a little rolly. It's not that bad really, we've been in rollier anchorages. The real problem is if the wind comes out of the north (as it's doing at this moment), we are in one nasty lee shore and if the anchor drags at all we'll be on the rocks in seconds. Did I mention that it's three in the morning and I'm sitting up watching the radar making sure we don't drag? I think I forgot that part... Anyway the wind is dying down and it looks like I should be able to go back to bed soon. Later this morning we'll get up and take the dinghy ashore to explore the beaches. That is, after all why we came here.

Sunday, August 15, 2004

The Bunsbys

August 15, 2004
Bunsby Islands (N 50° 6' W 127° 31')

We arrived at the Bunsby Islands yesterday morning after our trip from Columbia Cove and were reminded of one of the distinguishing features of the west coast of Vancouver Island: rocks. Lots of rocks. Scattered everywhere. Not that we hit one or anything, but it's a whole 'nother ballgame out here as compared to the inside. We go slower and scout carefully before entering a "rock pile." Many of these dangers are marked by kelp or they stick up above the surface at low tide. They are the easy ones to spot. Others are nothing more than a white smear in the otherwise dark water. The worst ones are so deep that only the depth sounder will tell you that they are about to jump up off an otherwise smooth bottom and grab your boat.

It was worth it though. After threading our way in we went out for a ride in the dinghy and found a fantastic miniature sandy beach which was created by the ocean swell driving over a rocky reef through a narrow slit in the reef. The sand was so fine and clean it looked tropical.

After our dinghy ride we came back to Nakia and sat on the foredeck and watched our mascot, "Crab Crusher," eat lunch. Crab Crusher is a sea otter who's been hanging around our little cove. He seems to have a great fondness for red rock crab and swims along the shore diving for them and then floating on his back crunching them loudly, with the sounds of him eating echoing off the trees.

After Crab Crusher had left Linda sat on the foredeck quietly reading. I was working below and when I went up on deck there was a large black bear foraging on the beach 150 yards away. I told Linda, "You have to look around once in a while!" We had a great time watching him flip over rocks and then eating whatever he found underneath.

This morning being Sunday we had a special breakfast. Salmon (what a surprise) thinly sliced and fried in butter placed over toast with eggs over easy on top, then topped with Hollandaise sauce. Yum!

After completing some chores we spent the afternoon exploring in the dinghy, this time visiting a small inlet nearby which has the remains of an old native fish weir. I'm not really sure what a fish weir is, but we saw it anyway. We also spent some time watching an osprey diving for herring. It was the first osprey we've seen in Canada. The morning overcast burned off by the time we were exploring the fish weir and it was another beautiful sunny afternoon.

This evening we were reminded of one of the other distinguishing features of the west coast: fog! We had just finished dinner and I looked out to see a fog bank rolling in. Within half an hour we couldn't see out of the anchorage 1/4 mile away. If it's like this tomorrow morning, we won't be going anywhere (we had planned to leave for Rugged Point or thereabouts via Walters Cove). We've been extremely fortunate with the weather this time so we can't complain!

Friday, August 13, 2004

A Day at the Beach

August 13, 2004
Columbia Cove

We spent the entire day today at the beach. The weather couldn't have been nicer. Although today there were a number of other beachgoers who, while not making it crowded, made it something less than deserted so we weren't able to go au naturel.

We started out the day doing a little beachcombing. I wanted to find a piece of fishing net and we're always on the lookout for a glass fishing float. There are dozens of fishing floats on this beach but they're made of anything but glass (plastic mostly, but also foam, and even aluminum!). Having found a nice piece of fish net we set about spending the rest of the day sitting in a hammock which was also made from fishing net washed up on the beach. Someone had made the hammock, a picnic table, and benches all out of things found among the driftwood. The only thing missing is a Deposito (for buying a cold six pack of Corona).

Strangely enough we're leaving tomorrow to go to the Bunsby Islands. We both say we should have stayed here an entire week but time is ticking by and we want to see more of the west coast before we leave Canada. The Bunsbys are supposed to be home to many sea otters, some of which have been re-released to the wild, so we're hoping for a different kind of entertainment.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

I'm a Sick, Sick Man

August 12, 2004
Columbia Cove (N 50° 08' W 127° 41')

We made our rounding of Cape Cook this morning at 1100. We're both glad we got up a little earlier than we had first planned because the Cape was blowing 20 kts when we got there, and I'm sure it did nothing but increase all afternoon. No unusual wildlife to report, I guess the albatross are keeping farther offshore lately.

Now for the sick part. If you've been following this web log you know we are currently inundated with fish. I have two pink salmon in the freezer, along with the better part of a lingcod as well as an entire coho which was given to us in Winter Harbour. You'd think I'd refrain from fishing, wouldn't you? But no, I'm a sick man. This morning as we were leaving I put out the green and white hoochy that caught "the one that got away." As I said before, trailing a hoochy on the surface has never been very successful, so I figured it probably wouldn't be this time. Wrong! About six miles north of Cape Cook I heard the reel issue a short burst. This usually means it hit a piece of kelp, but I looked behind the boat and saw a fish following the lure. I took the line in my hand and began pulling hard on the hoochy, making it skip on the water, and then letting it out a little. After about three tries I felt a pull and yanked to set the hook. Fish on! A short fight later and I netted a nice coho (forgot to mention I repaired the net after the last blow up). Taking no chances this time, I flung the fish and net up onto the side deck and quickly dispatched it with a winch handle (provided by my very able assistant). Now we have a freezer and a refrigerator full of fish!

We arrived at Columbia Cove in bright warm sunshine and quickly put the dinghy together for a shore excursion. Columbia Cove has a large sandy bay where we can walk the dinghy to shore (it's almost like a sandy flat in Florida). From there it's a 15 minute hike out to a large beach that faces the Pacific Ocean. The beach is wonderful white sand, about half a mile long, and has a stream at one end. Since it faces the Pacific it's great for beach combing. There are all kinds of fishing floats (plastic, not glass unfortunately), driftwood, and other assorted flotsam. We spent the afternoon just relaxing, but we plan on going back tomorrow to comb the beach carefully as well as soak in the stream.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Fish, the Dish

August 10, 2004
Klaskino Anchorage (N 50° 18' W 127° 48')

Yesterday was a beautiful, hot, sunny day in Quatsino Sound. We spent the day running around in the dinghy going to "town" and exploring. Around 6 PM we saw Bad Company, a sport fisher, pull into the anchorage. We had noticed them earlier in the morning because they came in towing what looked like a ski boat. They dropped an anchor and then tied the ski boat off to the anchor and left it while they went elsewhere. This time they retrieved the ski boat and after a short while a couple of young men got into it and headed over to Nakia. I came up on deck to say hello and they asked if I'd like a fish. As always I'm not one to turn down a fish that I don't have to clean, so they passed over a 6 lb coho. Not only had we not yet eaten the 2 lbs worth of fillets that Gary gave us the day before, but I had to cut the head and tail off this fish just to fit it in the refrigerator!

Needless to say we had salmon for dinner last night. There were lots of leftovers, so we had salmon salad sandwiches for lunch today. I cut the coho into meal-sized portions. Seven meal-sized portions, including a couple of nice fillets, one of which we had for dinner tonight. I'm giving serious thought to slicing the other fillet thinly and having eggs and salmon with Hollandaise sauce tomorrow for breakfast. We have to make some room in the freezer or else I can't catch any more fish.

The difference between the west coast of Vancouver Island and the inside is incredible. Not only is the scenery different (there are more white sand beaches and rocky/reef shorelines), the wildlife is completely different. On the way from Cape Scott to Quatsino Sound we saw at least four small sharks swimming near the surface. They are so brave! Nakia can pass within a few feet and they don't so much as change course. Today we saw our first tufted puffins of the trip and there were no less then four sea otters in Quatsino Sound. I don't know why we spent so much time coming up the Inside, we should have just made a beeline for Cape Scott.

We'll be here in Klaskino anchorage until the 12th, when we make our run for the final big hurdle of the trip: rounding the Brooks Peninsula. Jutting more then 9 nm to the southwest of Vancouver Island, the Brooks Peninsula has a reputation for high winds and big seas. But the weather looks good for our rounding so we don't anticipate problems. Maybe we'll even see a black-footed albatross as we did in 1997.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

The Ones That Got Away

August 8, 2004
North Harbour, Quatsino Sound
(Near Winter Harbour, N 50° 29' W 128° 02')

Over the last two days we have traveled a total of 128 nautical miles. That may not seem like a lot but considering our average speed is around 5.7 kt, 128 nm means we've been underway 22 of the last 48 hours. Linda, on her second watch of the day today, said, "I just want to stop for awhile!"

You may ask how we came to be underway so much. Well let me tell you. Yesterday, August 7, we planned on leaving Fury Cove bound for Cape Scott. Cape Scott is the farthest reach of Vancouver Island and it marks the boundary between Queen Charlotte Sound and the Pacific Ocean. It's often the scene of severe weather and the fact that the tide runs around the Cape at 3 knots makes it even more challenging to round. There are no harbors of refuge within 15 nm of the Cape so once you're there you've got a way to go before you can get out of the weather.

In our case we didn't have much choice for timing. We won't run at night because of the many logs (sometimes entire trees!) that float on the waterways so the best we could do was to wake a half hour before sunrise yesterday and get underway even before we'd had our morning coffee. Cape Scott was 42 nm away (7 hours 20 minutes). When we arrived it wasn't that bad. It wasn't that good either. We were faced with a 20 kt southerly breeze and a 2 kt counter current. The best we could do over the ground was about 4 kts and the only place for us to go south of the Cape is Sea Otter Cove. It sounds nice, but in reality it's a rock infested, shallow anchorage that will turn your hair gray anytime you so much as look at the depth sounder. In plain language, we did NOT want to go there.

So we were faced with doing 4 kts all the way to Winter Harbour and getting in well after dark, or turning around and heading back to Bull Harbour. The only problem with Bull Harbour is that it involves crossing a bar, similar to a river bar. As luck would have it, we were almost perfectly timed to cross at high slack water both on our way to Bull Harbour and on our way back out the next morning. Bull Harbour it was (at the risk of having to pay a "sleeping fee" to the natives) and so we turned away from Cape Scott, the first one to get away.

We awoke this morning at 0615 and departed the dock at 0700 for an 0755 slack (we elected to tie to the free fishermen's float since there were no fishermen currently tied to it). The ocean was drastically different from the night before. We arrived at Cape Scott at 1100 to find a 10 kt breeze behind us and a 1 kt current also with us. Nice! We set the spinnaker and were looking good as we entered the Pacific. Of course Cape Scott doesn't have a reputation for constant wind, so in the course of an hour I: 1) set the spinnaker, 2) took down the spinnaker, 3) started the engine, 4). set the jib (turned off the engine), 5) reefed the main, 6) set the stay sail, and 7) unreefed the main. A good work out, but by the time we were 10 nm from the Cape the wind was more constant and we sailed most of the way to Quatsino Sound.

Nearly all the time Nakia is under way we drag a fishing line. This is because someone once told me that salmon will strike a lure even if it's traveling at almost 6 kts. This tactic has never been successful for us. Nothing has ever been caught on a hoochy dragging behind the boat. That is until today. We had just started the motor after the wind died. I was down below mixing dough for a couple loaves of bread when all of a sudden the reel we use to trail the hoochy starts spinning and clicking. This happens all the time. We catch a piece of seaweed on the hook and have to pull the line in to clear it, then we put it back out. Except this time when I looked astern there was a fish being dragged through the water! Linda quickly stopped the boat and I reeled it in. It was a nice fat salmon and Linda got the net under it. At this point it was apparent what the problem is with this kind of fishing. Not having a rod and reel with which to play the fish (my reel is attached to one of the stainless steel posts that hold up our lifelines), the fish enters the net with nearly all of its energy. It began thrashing like nothing else and tore a huge hole in the net. Back into the sea it went leaving only a few scales behind for us to remember it by. Granted, the net in question is many years old and has seen its fair share of abuse, but I never expected a fish to actually tear it to shreds. Oh well, another one gets away. At least the bread is good.

We arrived in Quatsino Sound a little while later. While doing the dishes Linda noticed a dinghy coming over. A nice man named Gary pulled up next to Nakia and asked if we'd like some fish. Yes, was our answer (we told him our fish tale), and we were presented with a couple of nice Coho fillets. Not all of them get away.

We just talked to Phil. He was, just as we were calling, passing under the Golden Gate Bridge! Home at last. We're so happy to hear that he is home in the Bay safe and sound.

Friday, August 06, 2004

Movin' South

August 6, 2004
Fury Cove (N 51° 29' W 127° 45')

We moved from Pruth Bay to Fury Cove today. I tried fishing at Pruth Bay yesterday but didn't have any luck. Also I was the only guy out there in his inflatable so I felt a little self conscious. No problem. We still have a freezer full of fish so we're not going to be going hungry anytime soon.

We spent most of the day yesterday lounging on the beach north of Pruth Bay. We were the only ones on the beach the entire time we were there. It would have been just like Mexico except for two things: the water temperature was a chilly 55° F, and I didn't have a cold Corona.

Fury Cove is a pretty neat place. The last two or three times we've been through here I never had the nerve to pull in. Today I found out how simple it is to get into this anchorage. Canadian charts are covered with places like this. They look like great places to stay, secure and cozy, but when you try to figure out the path for getting in you can't seem to find a way around all the rocks! Then someone tells you the path to take (or you read it in a book as in this case) and all of a sudden it's easy to find the entrance and weave your way in.

The dominating feature of Fury Cove is a number of white sand beaches strung between small islets. These beaches are all that separate the anchorage from the wide open Pacific. This way we can get up tomorrow morning and take a look out the window to see if we want to leave. Convenient!

Our bug bites are still causing us a great deal of discomfort. I woke up last night because of the itching. I got up to put some Stop Itch on them and that helped a little, but the thing that got me back to sleep was a dose of 600 mg of ibuprofen. Hopefully we're done with the white socks for awhile. Either that or we should just put some repellent on!

BIG NEWS! We have a new email address: WBD3734@sailmail.com. If you have been using KE6HUA@winlink.org please use the SailMail address instead. Of course you can still leave your comments on the blog instead of sending email directly (but remember they don't call it the World Wide Web [www] for nothing; everything you post there is PUBLIC).

Tomorrow we plan on heading around to the west side of Vancouver Island which involves rounding the dreaded Cape Scott. Last time Cape Scott was the easiest part of the trip. We'll see this time. There is a low pressure system forecast to come through tomorrow but it's not supposed to be very strong. We're hoping we can sail out with the pre-frontal southeasterly wind and then round Cape Scott with the post-frontal northwesterlies. We'll see.

Thursday, August 05, 2004

Pruth Bay

We departed Bull Harbour early Tuesday morning, collecting the crab trap on our way out. Unfortunately no crabs. Looks like they've all left Bull Harbour. Either that or we didn't set the trap in the right spot. The trip was mostly uneventful with light winds and six foot seas (the route from Bull Harbour to Pruth Bay is on the open Pacific). I got a little seasick but it went away as soon as I stopped looking at the computer screen and went up on deck.

On our way we met a whale. We're not exactly sure what kind, but we think it was a humpback. We saw it ahead swimming toward us so we shut the boat down and drifted along to see how close it would come. It swam up pretty close, about 150 yards, and then "spy hopped." At first I thought it was feeding, but it only did it once so we figured was just taking a look at us. It swam around for a good 10-15 minutes, all the while staying 150 yards away. Then it surfaced 100 yards from the boat, took a huge breath, and dove. It was gone beneath the surface for 3-4 minutes and then surfaced on the other side of the boat. It obviously swam directly below us! It swam a circle around us at about 150 yards and then closed in on us again, this time surfacing only 20 yards from the boat! We thought we were in store for another close inspection, but it seemed to have had enough of us because the next time it surfaced it was 300 yards away and heading on. Very exciting.

We arrived at Pruth Bay (N 51° 39' W 128° 7') at 1630 and dropped anchor in a nice spot. We took showers and had dinner (left over pasta with creamy garlic sauce and salmon pieces) and were just settling in with our books when a dinghy pulled up to Nakia. In it were a man and his two children (a boy and a girl) and they wanted to know if we would like some fish. Never one to turn down a piece of fish that I don't have to clean, I said yes, and was presented with a four pound fillet of ling cod! Now our freezer is really full.

Of course I had put the crab trap out before they arrived and when I pulled it up this morning there were 4 crabs in it. When it rains it pours! One was a female so I gave her the freedom that her sex requires, and looked over the other three. Two were pretty big, measuring 7 1/2 inches across the back and the third was not quite as big. Not wanting to be greedy, I let the smaller one go as the other two would easily feed us. I put them into our "live tank" (a bucket with a net strung over the top) for storage until dinner time. I put each in his own bucket having had problems before with them pulling each other's limbs off when they are stored in the same bucket.

With dinner secured, we went ashore to take the walk to the beach. To get there we tie up our dinghy at a dock which is owned by the Hakai Beach Resort. This is an upscale fishing resort where the guests fly in on float planes and have world class fishing available within a few miles of the resort. During our beach walk we met the manager (who is the former owner) and he says they're trying to make the place a combination spa/fishing resort so it will appeal more to couples and families (hint, hint, Tom). The wide sandy beach was just as beautiful as we remembered it, and we took in a side trail where we had lunch on our own private beach.

So far the only down side is the bugs which have been pretty pesky every evening, and while walking through the woods to and from the beach. Not mosquitos, these are little biting flies. Their bite is a little red dot which sometimes bleeds a drop of blood and then develops into a welt which itches terribly and lasts forever. I'm not sure what kind of flies they are, but we call them "white socks" after the white patches on their feet. Does anyone know what they might be? They are small - smaller than a mosquito (black flies?).

Tomorrow we're walking out to "North Beach" where we hope we will be having cold cracked crab for lunch. I say "we hope" because it all depends on catching one or two more in the trap tonight. We'll see. Turkey sandwiches wouldn't be bad for a change either.

Phil is continuing to make progress on his return home from Hawaii. As of tonight's radio conversation with him he has about 525 miles to go and hopes to be back in the Gate by Sunday afternoon. He wasn't sounding too happy the other night when things were really slow and he was having to think about rationing his food and water, but he's in much better spirits now that he has some wind again!

Late update: We didn't have cold cracked crab for lunch on the beach. The crabs never showed. Also Phil continues to make great progress. 140 miles closer today thanks to a 25 knot westerly. Take a look at his log on http://sailavie.blogspot.com

Monday, August 02, 2004

Northbound Again, Almost

We left Port Hardy yesterday with the plan of going to Bull Harbour (N 50° 54' W 127° 56'). We spent three wonderful nights at Port Hardy tied up to a fellow sailor, Darrel, who saved us from having to go anchor out when we arrived from our sail over from Booker Lagoon. Darrel told us that there is good crabbing in Bull Harbour, inspiring us to move that way.

I can sure see why ship captains of old had a love/hate relationship with ports. On the one hand you have to go into port now and again for supplies, fuel, and water. But, on the other hand, the drunkenness and debauchery of the crew while in port is a sure detriment to a successful cruise. Not to say that Linda and I were drinking excessively, or at least more than usual, but we were spending our cruising dollars on frivolous things like meals out, expensive fruits, beer, and entertainment. It's sure a lot cheaper to be anchored in a remote place without the scents of shoreside restaurants to lure your pay away.

As I said it was our plan to get to Bull Harbour but that's not how it turned out. We left very early (0530, much to Darrel's dismay) to catch the last of the ebb tide and hopefully to keep from having to buck the northwesterlies that have been blowing for two weeks straight. As it turned out, the northwesterly wind got up earlier than we did, and when we made our way into the channel the wind blowing on the ebb tide made the chop completely unbearable. We altered plans and were in Port Alexander (N 50° 51' W 127° 39') in time to have Sunday pancakes at 0900.

This morning we took up the fight again, but our foe had given up. The northwest wind had completely died out and we were able to motor from Port Alexander to Bull Harbour in only a few hours (with the last of the ebb to help us along). We ate breakfast on arrival and then put the dinghy in the water to set the crab trap. After setting the trap we headed to the dock where there is supposed to be a nice walk to a beach that's exposed to the northwest (and the full force of the Pacific Ocean). Linda had read that since Bull Harbour is part of First Nation (Indian) lands, it's proper to ask for permission to walk on shore. This was confirmed by a U.S. fisherman who was at the dock and let us use his VHF radio to make contact. We were informed that we could walk on shore if we liked, but there would be a $5 "walking fee." Looks like the Natives have learned much from their erstwhile government. Not having any handy cash, I rowed back to the boat to get some walking paper. Thinking ahead I took $30 back to the dock with me (what if there were "anchoring fees," "viewing fees," and "breathing fees" too?). Good thing I did, as the "walking fee" was $5 per person (or $2.50 per foot if you prefer). Thankfully that was the end of the fees.

We took off down the gravel road and it started to rain, of course. The rain was free though, so we continued our walk and were treated to a very nice beach and view. $5 worth especially considering we sighted a doe with two spotted fawns on our way there, and a sailboat under spinnaker from the beach before we left.

Tomorrow we move from Bull Harbour to Pruth Bay (N 51° 39' W 128° 05') which is our northernmost harbor this trip. The fishing is supposed to be excellent and we know from our 1997 trip that hiking on Calvert Island is beautiful.