Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Check-in/OK message from SPOT Bob and Cathryn

Bob and Cathryn
GPS location Date/Time:08/27/2014 14:25:32 PDT

Message:We are happy, well and having fun.

Click the link below to see where I am located.

If the above link does not work, try this link:,-124.68822&ll=50.14185,-124.68822&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Bob and Cathryn

You have received this message because Bob and Cathryn has added you to their SPOT contact list.

Ready for Adventure

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Into the Heart of Desolation Sound

Distance traveled:  19.8 miles

Travel time: 2 hrs, 40 mins

We’re loving the short distances from place to place here. Leisurely mornings are great, and getting to a destination mid-day instead of late afternoon feels luxurious. We have time to do chores, take naps, read, and if we’re in a marina, do laundry, catch up on email, buy fresh produce and more.


The trip down Lewis Channel was beautiful. Conditions were calm, sunny and warm. Temps here are at least 10 degrees warmer and much sunnier than in The Broughton Islands. We’ve heard from people who were here last month that it was “too hot”. And from relatives at home that it has been record-breaking warm there too.


We bypassed lovely-looking Teakerne Arm because we had more interesting stops to consider than we have nights left here.


Mid-day we pulled into Refuge Cove.


It’s a pretty spot, rustic and active and genuine. Bob washed the boat for the first time since we left home (something normally done at the end of every 2-3 days, but water is so precious and expensive in these parts). Cathryn touched up some deck paint, Bob bought gasoline for the dinghy, washed the windows, and we found lots of things, including our first fresh produce in awhile, to buy at the Store.


A small maze of docks, ramps, modest homes and a couple of tiny shops hug the shoreline.


We have internet, and thus email and access to posting to the blog for the first time in a few days as we’ve spent the last 3 nights at anchor in remote places. We’re beginning to plot our route and schedule for the return to home, and the weather forecast calls for changing conditions. We have to cross Georgia Strait again, so need to figure out when is the best time to do that. Life remains good.

Check-in message from Refuge Cove

GPS location Date/Time:08/26/2014 12:38:02 PDT

Click the link below to see where we are located.

If the above link does not work, try this link:,-124.83990&ll=50.12364,-124.83990&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Monday, August 25, 2014

Octopus Islands to Von Donop Inlet

Distance traveled:  22.7 miles

Travel time: 3 hrs, 20 mins

The first part of today’s trip, in the upper left corner, involved re-tracing our steps through the narrow mouth of Hole in the Wall, ending in the bottom right corner at Von Donop Inlet. This brought us into our first southbound stop in Desolation Sound.


Living where we do, with a major airport 8 miles across the water, we never see stars in the night sky. So we appreciate them that much more when we’re in a remote anchorage and the stars, Milky Way, planets, moon and satellites shine so brightly.

After a quick dinghy trip this morning to visit with and say goodbye to Aaron and Julie on “Eight Bells”, we pulled anchor, then slowly and carefully made our way back through Bodega Channel toward Hole in the Wall.


The previous day while kayaking back to our boats from the Driftwood Museum, the four of us intended to paddle the “short way” back though this channel. But at the very low spring tide associated with the day before Full Moon, it was dry, so we portaged our kayaks instead. We were reminded that our kayaks are solid and stable, but heavy.


Our second trip through Hole in the Wall in 3 days was calmer than the first, and we hit slack perfectly.


The eddies and whirlpools, while still there, had much less strength.


IMG_5541 IMG_5544

But this boat didn’t like our speed (a 40-foot boat with a Ford Lehman 120hp engine can only go so fast!) so passed us despite being in the narrowest segment of the channel.



As usual, the shoreline was almost entirely undeveloped for the 20+ miles, but an occasional structure appeared, on an otherwise undeveloped island, and accessible only by water with not anywhere for even a helicopter to land. We do notice, though, that the structures are more elaborate as we head south into more accessible areas.


Today’s route took us through the steepest shorelines and deepest water we’ve seen yet. Note the 1801-foot sounding just behind our boat in the photo below, with other soundings of 1621 and 1680 feet. Our depth sounder doesn’t go beyond 999 feet, so only the chart tells us we’re transiting such deep water. No worries about touching bottom here!


Early afternoon we traveled more than 2 miles up the narrow Von Donop Inlet to the very head, and dropped anchor.


By late afternoon the anchorage was “crowded”, meaning there were almost 20 boats inside, but it’s large enough to accommodate many more without anyone being close by if preferred. Several boats rafted up and partied til past our bedtime.


This large aluminum fishing boat from Kingston, Washington came in late in the day, and at sunset used a system with loudspeakers to play a pretty version of a song, not “Taps” but similar, in that it was a piano and a muted trumpet. Almost everyone was out on the decks of their boats, listening, and most applauded at the end.


For the first time since we left home, we’d spent the whole afternoon sitting on deck reading our books. It sounds absurd to say, but we’ve been too busy for much reading.

Check-in message from Von Donop Inlet

GPS location Date/Time:08/25/2014 17:55:50 PDT

Click the link below to see where we are located.

If the above link does not work, try this link:,-124.94547&ll=50.14159,-124.94547&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Day in the Octopus Islands

We don’t know whether it’s the proximity of The Broughton Islands to Queen Charlotte Strait, Queen Charlotte Sound and the Pacific Ocean, or something else, but our experience, and that of a number of other boaters we’ve talked to who have traveled this stretch, is that the weather is cooler and grayer there, and most years more rainy, than points south. Technically we’re not in Desolation Sound yet; we’re still in the area between The Broughtons and Desolation, specifically the Octopus Islands. But already the weather is warmer and sunnier, though the scenery is less dramatic. The sunrise was beautiful.


Aaron and Julie, anchored 100 feet from us here in the Octopus Islands Marine Park, arrived by kayak mid-morning. We all took off to explore the islands and shoreline, and visit what’s variously called “The Driftwood Museum”, the “Cruiser’s Cabin” or some other name, depending who you talk to.


The shoreline is rocky  and shallow, making it harder to tie up a dinghy with a motor, and the kayaks made it easy.


We first visited The Driftwood Museum with Greg and Terry on “Gold Rush” in 2009. It’s located on a small private island, but the owners allow this funky cruiser’s relic to exist. Built entirely of wood, and with only partial walls and a roof, cruisers make a piece of art, mostly from natural material such as driftwood and shells, identifying their boat by name, and the date of their visit.


These artworks are hung from the rafters with netting or string, or nailed, screwed or glued to the walls. A few have been in place almost 20 years, with additional pieces added on during subsequent years with a new date, signifying many return visits. We couldn’t find the “Gold Rush” piece we know Greg and Terry installed.


But Aaron and Julie on “Eight Bells” were able to find their piece of driftwood, marking this as their fifth visit.


After returning to our respective boats for lunch, we took off in the dinghies for a hike to Newton Lake. The first half mile was mostly flat, winding from the head of Waiatt Bay where we tied up the dinghies, to Small Inlet, where the trail forks to continue steeply uphill to the lake.


It was cool, densely forested trail, and we saw a few hikers already headed down, some of whom had gone swimming.


We just perched on a rock enjoying the warmth and beauty.


The night ended with the four of us enjoying dinner on “Next To Me’', grilling some of the salmon we were given back in Sullivan Bay. It was a calm, warm evening, so we ate on the deck of the aft cabin, talking til well after dark.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Shooting the Rapids and Octopus Islands

Distance traveled:  30.5 miles

Travel time: 4 hrs, 40 mins

We rose before sunrise, knowing we needed to leave Blind Channel early. Today was the day we’d find out whether we’d been adequate students in our training on how to travel the tidal rapids. We’d pored over the charts, reviewed the schedules for both tides and currents, done the calculations on when “slack” would occur at each of the 3 successive tidal rapids, Dent, Gillard and Yuculta, and said our goodbyes, headed for a 9:47am slack, 15 miles away. These rapids run to 15 knots if you hit them at the worst possible time, and the full moon is only 2 days away, so spring tides are running. We were aiming for a low slack, not as favorable as a high slack, but still good if done correctly.


It was another sunny, flat water day, and we traveled slowly with the still ebbing tide running a couple knots against us for the next 15 miles. We wondered if we’d timed our departure early enough to get there on the slack.


It’s all trees, mountains, rocks and water in this territory between The Broughton Islands and Desolation Sound, only a little development, very occasionally.


And suddenly, there’s THIS!  We have no idea what it is, but it reminds us of a lodge-style ski resort at Whistler Mountain. It doesn’t show on the charts, isn’t mentioned in any of our cruising guides, and peering at it through binoculars doesn’t reveal a name. There’s one helicopter. No one we’ve talked to knows what it is either. We suspect if you have to ask, you can’t afford it, so don’t need to know?


We arrived at Dent Rapids on schedule. We didn’t transit these same tidal rapids in 2009 when we traveled to Ketchikan as guests aboard “Gold Rush” with Greg and Terry, but the experience was similar, with roiling water full of whirlpools and eddies, turbulence that tried hard to take control of the boat and spin it, and we remember Greg literally sweating while fighting the wheel going through one such rapid. We had the same experience. It wasn’t as difficult as our “worst fears” imagined it might be, but we did think if this is what it’s like at “slack tide”, we can’t imagine what it would be like any other time. And we’ll hope never to find out. We’ve read stories of people who went through when they’d missed slack or didn’t know to pay attention to it, and none of them are good.


With transiting the 3 rapids and Hole in the Wall happily in our rearview mirror, we proceeded into the tiny, shallow channel that leads into the Octopus Islands. We’d been here once before, also with Greg and Terry, and knew that their 60-foot boat made it safely through, so 40-foot “Next To Me” would too. Following Greg’s example, we posted a bow-watch peering for rocks beneath the surface, and traveled slowly. It was beautiful.


Shortly after, we dropped anchor in a cove off Waiatt Bay in 17 feet of water, knowing it would rise to 27 feet at high tide, and happily putting out 5:1 scope. We like shallow water anchoring! The holding here is reportedly very good.


Mid-afternoon we dropped the dinghy and went exploring.


Late in the day, we connected on the VHF radio with Aaron and Julie on “Eight Bells” who’d just come through the afternoon slack at Hole in the Wall, boating friends from back home. They’re on a 3-week vacation up here, and we’d both communicated our plans in hopes of seeing each other. Soon after, they came gliding through the narrow channel into the Octopus Islands and dropped anchor 100 feet from us.


Aaron and Julie invited us to dinner on Eight Bells, and we brought our chart of Desolation Sound so they could mark their favorite spots, as they’ve been there many times and we’re headed there next. Eight Bells is a gorgeous 34’ CHB which they worked on themselves for 3 years to bring her to pristine condition. They know how to do almost everything (Julie is the one who taught Cathryn how to change the oil in the injectors) and are knowledgeable boaters too. Onboard power management was a hot topic of discussion, as they’ve already done some of the things we plan to do on Next To Me, including replacing the anchor light and others with LEDs to reduce our power consumption at anchor. Julie is a fabulous cook, so dinner was delicious, and it was great fun to see them again. They spent 3 weeks in France earlier this summer, including canal boating in the Loire valley for 10 days.


Check-in message from Octopus Islands

GPS location Date/Time:08/23/2014 11:51:50 PDT

Click the link below to see where I am located.

If the above link does not work, try this link:,-125.23248&ll=50.27690,-125.23248&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Friday, August 22, 2014

No More Johnstone Strait Weather Forecasts!

Distance traveled:  30.6 miles

Travel time:  4 hrs, 21 mins

As usual, we began our day with coffee and listening to Environment Canada on the VHF radio. We’re starting to think Environment Canada broadcasts the SAME forecast every single day: wind 15 knots in the morning (or sometimes a “high wind warning” instead), and rising in the afternoon to 15-25 knots”.  Well, after 3 weeks boating in Canada, we’re finding that isn’t hugely helpful. It’s almost never been accurate: often forecasting much worse conditions than what happens, and occasionally forecasting much better. But mostly the forecasts seem extreme, and we’ve been tempted to take them with a grain of salt. So . . . . as of today, we’re DONE with Johnstone Strait for this year and don’t have to try to decipher what we’ll really experience on the water.


We rocked and rolled all last night at Port Neville, with high wind and happily tied to a creaking dock so at least we weren’t wondering whether we’d drag anchor. We got up early and cast off our lines at 7:30am.


We passed through the same stretch of Johnstone Strait that taught us a lot about steering through boils, eddies and whirlpools when northbound, but we knew how Next To Me behaved in those conditions this time, and the weather conditions were perfect: no wind, small waves, sunshine, and beautiful scenery: more multi-layered mountains!


As usual, there was some clear-cutting too. We pulled into Blind Channel, another off-grid marina, just before noon, and a seaplane zipped past to land, only 100 feet to our side, as we approached the dock.


Our afternoon was all work, and Bob drew the undesirable card. Cathryn did 3 loads of laundry while Bob changed out another “sanitation hose” in the engine room, as our aft head again seemed clog and stopped working. Ick!  We’re so glad we have a second head in the guest stateroom!


Both of our heads (toilets) operate by pulling in “raw water” for flushing, which means the water that the boat is sitting in, so salt water. We don’t understand all the details but have learned that seawater is very high in carbonates and bicarbonates, and when combined with urine (as happens when you flush a toilet with salt water) a very dense “scale” forms which eventually will completely plug your sanitation hoses (like plumbing lines in a house). Guess what that scale looks like? No wonder the toilet wouldn’t flush, despite the motor obviously working properly.


Enough about that. So . . . . we had yet another Small World Experience today.  Back in May we hired a 100-Ton US Coast Guard Captain who has traveled from Seattle to Alaska by boat dozens of times to train us for a half day, focusing on issues related to The Broughton Islands, including how to safely run tidal rapids. Guess who we ran into on the dock here at Blind Channel this afternoon? That’s right: Linda Lewis, the Captain who trained us. She single-handed her 45’ boat “Royal Sounder” to The Broughtons this summer, as her husband has some mobility issues and couldn’t come with her.



We invited Linda to join us for Happy Hour, and a lively conversation ensued. We’d unknowingly been near each other many times during the past two weeks in The Broughtons, always missing each other by a day or two. Linda is a competent, independent, lively boater who inspires Cathryn to keep bucking the stereotypes and learn more and more about boating, and reinforces Bob’s natural instinct, like Linda’s husband, to continue encouraging this boating pursuit as an equal partnership.

We’re off to bed early, as we have another early departure tomorrow, planning to shoot 3 sets of rapids, hopefully achieving the goal of hitting all of them at slack tide.

Check-in message from Blind Chanel

GPS location Date/Time:08/22/2014 19:26:29 PDT

Message:We are happy, well and having fun.

Click the link below to see where we are located.

If the above link does not work, try this link:,-125.50099&ll=50.41287,-125.50099&ie=UTF8&z=

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Check-in message from Port Neville, Again

GPS location Date/Time:08/21/2014 19:46:50 PDT

Click the link below to see where we are located.

If the above link does not work, try this link:,-126.08780&ll=50.49279,-126.08780&ie=UTF8&z=12&om=1

Sointula: Plans Change, and Back to Port Neville

Distance traveled: 46.0 miles

Travel time: 5 hrs, 41 mins

Our plan for today was to go 7 miles from Sointula to Alert Bay. So we slept in, drank coffee and loitered. At 9:30am after listening to Environment Canada on the weather channel, we discussed that the weather on unpredictable, sometimes ferocious Johnstone Strait seemed to be exceptionally calm today. So, you guessed it, we took off! We decided to skip Alert Bay and head southeast on Johnstone Strait. It was cloudy and calm, and many of the commercial fishing boats in Sointula had been fishing all night, as this “opening” is only 36 hours.


Shortly after departing, as we by-passed the turn into Alert Bay, we saw a fog bank up ahead.


Soon the fog bank surrounded the boat, and we traveled entirely by radar. This is not a time to take photos as there’s nothing to photograph and the attention required to stay on course (no autopilot on Next To Me, which would have made that part easier) and take note of and avoid any boats showing on the radar, is intense. Fortunately it only lasted an hour, then began to lift, and the blue sky, sunshine, and ever-increasing visibility returned. This was Johnstone Strait at its’ most benign. No wind, no waves, no more fog!


We “traveled with” this black fishing boat essentially all day: first he was a mile behind us, (he was back there so long, exactly on our course, that we jokingly referred to him as our “Somali pirate”) then he passed us, then he was a mile ahead of us. All that took 4 hours.


And mid-late afternoon we “crossed our wake” and pulled into Port Neville, the free, abandoned Government Dock where we spent the night two-plus weeks ago and talked with the missionary who lives here now, and spent an entertaining evening with Jeannette who single-handed her boat to Alaska, and her new First Mate, Victor, a First Nations man from Port Hartley accompanying her for a couple of weeks.


We’re the only boat here tonight, either at the dock or anchored in the bay, and the wind came up late in the afternoon to rock the boat pretty ferociously. Chet, the missionary, came down to chat again, and this time, instead of partying til midnight like last time we were here, we had a quiet evening with our books.

Blog Archive