Thursday, August 21, 2014

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.

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