Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Potts Lagoon to Kawtsi Bay, BC

Distance traveled:  31.6 miles

Travel time: 4 hrs, 7 minutes

Tides and currents here affect our travel/anchoring plans more than we’re accustomed to. At home, normal tide swings are in the 8 - 10 or sometimes 12-foot range. On our Great Loop trip back east, the only place we’ve ever anchored overnight, the normal range was 1 – 6 feet. Wednesday’s tide table shows here in The Broughtons, yesterday was a 17.2 foot swing. When we dropped the anchor at Potts Lagoon we were in 27 feet of water.


The next morning when we pulled the anchor, we were only in 10 feet of water. Here’s a photo of the chart plotter’s screen showing how much we moved during the night, as the tides swung through 2 complete cycles while we were there. The scale doesn’t show in the photo, but the movement from one end of our “bread crumb” to  the other is greater than 80 feet. Such movement makes it hard to judge by looking at the landscape around you, whether you’re dragging anchor.


We planned to stay in Potts Lagoon a second night, but it rained overnight and was misting lightly when we pulled the two crab pots in the morning (two male Dungeness crabs, one under-legal size, and the second one right at the limit of legal size, so threw them both back.) Given the weather, and calm, flat water, we decided to make it a travel day instead.


It’s hard to capture the “scale” of this place in photos. Huge rock faces and rise-straight-out-of-the-water hillsides are common. The fir trees in the photo below are in the 40-100 foot range, so you can see the sheer cliffs are tall. The water really does have a blue-green hue, even in this foggy weather.


The boat below isn’t anchored at all; just bow-tied and stern-tied to shore in this teeny anchorage.


We planned to anchor for a couple nights in Kwatsi Bay near the northeast edge of The Broughton islands. Last-minute research revealed we’d be anchoring in 72-100 feet of water, with another 18-foot tide swing overnight. We chickened out. We know it’s common to anchor in 60 feet here, and we have friends Jim and Robin in Alaska now who have anchored in 90 feet, but we’re not mentally prepared yet to anchor overnight (and hope for any sleep) with only a 3:1 scope on our anchor rode and unfamiliar with weather patterns. So we pulled into Kwatsi Bay marina instead, under sunny skies by now.


The definition of “marina” here is different from what we’re accustomed to at home or on the east coast. The only amenity you absolutely get is a dock to tie to. Like most, this one is family-run by Max and Anca who opened it in 1998, raised their two kids here, and Anca moved to Port McNeill for a few years so the kids could go to high school. Now the kids are live elsewhere. There’s a tiny gift shop of beautiful local wares ranging from pottery to wood-carvings. There’s no electricity or running water for boats, one shower is available for $4, and satellite wi-fi is slow, but works. Max and Anca are friendlier than you can imagine, and every night on the dock they organize a potluck dinner or Happy Hour, with tables and chairs for everyone in the marina (about 15 boats worth). All boats are side-tied, and docks are tied together with floating logs and sometimes “gangplanks”. The setting is at the head of the very deep bowl of Kwatsi Bay. Spectacular. Below is the view from our boat. The cruising guide describes this place as “”This is not a luxury resort; this is the wilderness, at its gentle but hardworking best.” We agree.


People produced astonishingly good dishes to share for potluck dinner. Cathryn sat next to 14-year-old Jake, on a 40-foot sailboat with his parents AND grandparents for a week, and not altogether happy about it. They live on Vashon Island across from our home. On Cathryn’s other side was 87-year-old Jerry who has been boating all his life with his wife Dorothy and a succession of Scottish Terriers. He told some great stories about their many trips to Alaska. They live in Vancouver, Canada.


No comments: