Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Let's Not Do That Again! Johnstone Strait at It's Worst

Distance traveled:  48.5 miles

We timed our departure from the Octopus Islands anchorage to coincide with Slack Tide at the Upper Rapids 3 miles away, And we hit it on target along with several other boats.

Conditions were calm and uneventful for awhile, but eventually gave way to wild eddies and whirlpools, big waves and opposing currents that had Next To Me sometimes traveling only 2 mph. Waves are high in these stretches, and we recalled having a similar "bad day" through the Helmcken Islands stretch last summer. It wasn't scary, just slow and disconcerting, sometimes finding our sideways "crabbing" leaving us making no "speed over ground". 

But the scenery remained spectacular. Boating traffic thinned out considerably, as did communication on channel 16 on the VHF radio.  We saw several tugs chug past hauling HUGE piles of timber. And lots of clear cutting attested to the health of the Canadian timber industry.

Late in the afternoon the tide turned from flood to ebb, meaning the current and wind were opposing, so big waves formed. In addition the wind increased to 30 knots making the last two hours of travel very uncomfortable if not scary. Finally, late in the day, we pulled into Port Neville, a "lonely" former Government dock now overseen by a retired couple who serve as caretakers. It's not a marina, just a single dock with no electricity or water, a place to tie up out of the weather. We had a delightful evening here a year ago with two other boaters. Chet (or is it Chuck?) who lives here caught our lines again this time, as he did both times we visited northbound and southbound last summer. He and his wife live an unusually adventurous life, wintering with no nearby neighbors, and occasionally having to shoot a bear who tries to enter their home.

We "rocked and rolled' all night in the current and wind, so were happy to be tied to the dock instead of at anchor, where we know we'd have worried about dragging anchor, so would have slept badly.

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