Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Across Queen Charlotte Strait to Sointula

Distance traveled:  29.8 miles

Travel time:  3 hrs, 48 mins

For the first time since leaving home, we set an alarm clock when we went to bed last night. “Alarm Clock Syndrome”, as we call it when we set an alarm before catching early morning flights, assured that we slept badly. We wanted to cross the southern end of Queen Charlotte Strait this morning, from the Broughton Islands to Vancouver Island, and the forecast was “iffy”. We got up at 5:30am and listened to the “Environment Canada” forecast while drinking coffee. It called for “high wind warning in the morning, with winds rising in the afternoon.” Uh oh. Our boat might be fine with those conditions, but we would not be. Studying the charts again, we devised alternate routes, routes that skipped our planned destination and would take us somewhere else. Finally, knowing how forecasts can be way wrong, Bob decided we’d “stick our nose out into the Strait to see how things look”, then continue on or turn back, depending on what we found out there.


As we entered Queen Charlotte Strait, here’s what it looked like. High Five and Sally Forth!!!


Less than an hour out, we spotted a couple whales frolicking, tail slapping and diving deep. Thrilling!  Humpbacks we think, but we’re not good at identifying any except Orca whales, so we could be wrong.


The crossing of Queen Charlotte Strait remained calm and gray and peaceful. There were swells, but no waves or chop. It doesn’t get much better than this. By the time we pulled into Sointula, the sun was even out AND we got a cell signal for the first time in more than a week, so picked up a handful of voicemail messages and text messages.


Sointula is a commercial fishing haven, bigger than, but similar to, Fisherman’s Terminal in Seattle. We’re one of the only recreational vessels here. Coho salmon fishing season opened again at 5:00 this afternoon, so dozens of purse seiners and gillnetters pulled out mid-afternoon to be positioned in prime fishing grounds.


We walked 1.5 miles each way into the small town of Sointula. This town, whose name means “Place of Harmony”, was established in the early 1900s by Finnish immigrants as a utopian cooperative. Utopia didn’t last, and today’s residents are a more eclectic group of folks who are hardy and support the “cooperative” notion, but don’t expect utopia, we gather.


Most of the homes that line the waterfront and First Street (also called “Ragged Ass Road”), are colorful, neat and tidy. Some are a bit more decrepit, including this boat which undoubtedly saw its’ last voyage decades ago.


We bought some produce, the first fresh stuff in a couple weeks, and beer and sandpaper. It felt great to stretch our legs and get some exercise after almost 4 weeks on the boat. For dinner we ate some of the salmon given to us back in Sullivan Bay, a real treat!

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