Thursday, July 2, 2015

On to Port McNeill in Gale Force Winds?

Distance traveled: 46.6 miles

Awake at 5:45, we listened to the weather forecast on the VHF radio, calling for Gale Force Winds on Johnstone Strait just outside the harbour where we spent the night. The current and wind were moving in the harbour, but our view of the Strait included no whitecaps. So 25 minutes later we cast off our lines to "poke our nose out" to see for ourselves what the conditions looked like on the Strait. If it was bad, we could always turn around, tie up at the dock again and go back to bed, right?

But it was pretty nearly calm on the Strait, so after identifying several "bail out points" where we could duck out of the wind and waves if necessary, we proceeded northwest.

We're normally a 7-knot (8 mph) boat, but the current was ebbing northwest, the same direction we were traveling, so it gave us a 1-3 mph boost the whole way, significantly shortening our trip. And it stayed calm, WHEW! So much for weather forecasts.

Three times, "bursts" of activity startled us in the water near our bow, and each time it turned out to be a pod of 5-7 dolphins (or porpoises? we're not sure what they were, except not the Dall's Porpoises so common in Puget Sound). They surfed our bow wave, dove from one side under our boat to the other side, and raced alongside, always briefly. Sorry, we weren't quick enough to get photos.

And after 5.5 hours, we pulled into North Island Marina at Port McNeill, not far from the northern tip of Vancouver Island. So much for those Gale Force winds!

For our entertainment, a group of young people were practicing their paddling skills in the marina, half of the crew facing each direction and paddling against each other!

And a fog bank rolled in during the evening, in the distance. After a bunch of days putting lots of miles under our hull, it looks like we may spend more time than planned in Port McNeill.

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