Thursday, June 30, 2016

Pruth Bay at Hakai Institute

We anchored near "RePhyl" in Pruth Bay, just offshore from the Hakai Institute, a scientific and environmental research organization funded by Eric Peterson. Staff here were the First Responders who came to our rescue last summer before the Coast Guard arrived. The campus is gorgeous, staff are friendly and love to share what they're working on, and 10 nearby beaches are spectacular.

Late in the first day, we searched for and found Rod and Blake, the two Hakai staff who first rescued us last summer, then repaired our boat and drove it 80 miles south around Cape Caution to leave it at Port McNeill for a month until we could arrange to bring her home.

It was a wonderful reunion, full of hugs and stories and happiness.

Cape Caution

Alarm sounding at 5am, we found fog so thick we couldn't see "RePhyl" anchored 100 feet away. We talked on the VHF and decided to travel the 2 miles out of the Harbour and see if it cleared. 

Since our radar wouldn't spin up, "RePhyl" took the lead. For two hours we followed them as closely as we safely could, sometimes losing sight of them and steering to stay between the lines of their wake. We connected often via VHF.

Finally the fog lifted, ocean swells grew and we were able to steer our nearby but separate paths around the Cape and into Fitzhugh Sound. Felt good to get out of those huge swells!

Turning left (west) at Kwakusha Channel into Calvert Island brought us back to the scene of last summer's boating accident. We held hands and shared memories.

North of Cape Caution

While in Port McNeill we were docked to another Navigator, same type of boat as our "Phoenix", so met Darrell and Charlene on "RePhyl" and decided to leave together the next day to buddy-boat around Cape Caution.

First day's journey took us to a beautiful anchorage at Allison Harbour where we all dropped kayaks and went paddling.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Port McNeill Revisited

When we cast off our lines at 6:45am, we'd planned a short-ish day, knowing winds "always" come up in the afternoon, making travel on Johnstone Strait at least uncomfortable, sometimes scary. Instead we found no wind, flat water and a current pushing us 2-4 knots faster than normal speed at 1500 rpm, so we just kept going. 

And going, and before we knew it we'd passed our end-of-day destination. Note the 12.9 knot speed (almost 15 mph) in the top right corner of our chart plotter above. Wow!

Are you tired of photos of gray water and skies yet? Not us! As long as wind and water stay calm, we're happy. So 74 miles and 7 hours later, we pulled into Port McNeill near the top of Vancouver Island, further than we'd planned to travel today.
This place is special to us. It's where "Next To Me", our previous boat, stayed for a month after last summer's accident and our emergency evacuation. It's where Captain Bob Smith, a complete stranger to us and un-met until his arrival aboard "Next To Me", bringing her home to Seattle for us a month later, became part of our lives. It's where the helicopter that rescued us is housed. So this place is full of "Angels" for us. Steve and Jessica Jackman, owners of the marina here, orchestrated enough of that stuff to have become special people too. The boating world has lots of wonderful people. We are grateful.
Apologies for the lack of photos today. A school of dolphins repeatedly and gracefully breached in front of the boat, but we weren't quick enough to catch any on camera. 
We'll be here a few days doing an oil change, topping off fuel and water, laundry, groceries and other mundane stuff while awaiting a weather window suitable for rounding Cape Caution, the next "gateway" that stops lots of folks from moving further north. Still happy and well. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Lund and Blind Channel

Last night in Lund was mostly for chores, including groceries, buying fuel and filling the water tanks, but we also celebrated the end of our first week with dinner at the Lund Hotel where their signature curried mussels were fantastic.

We cast off at 7:45am today to time our arrival at 3 consecutive tidal rapids, Yuculta, Gillard and Dent, all of which can be dangerous at the wrong time, but easy at or near slack. In the middle of Gillard our first whale of the season made a showing, a Minke, but the eddies were pulling us around enough there was no time to grab a camera. 

Mid-afternoon we pulled into Blind Channel for the evening, awaiting slack tide at two more tidal rapids tomorrow, the "back route" through The Broughton Islands Archipelago that mostly allows you to avoid Johnstone Strait which gets rough most days.

Here at Blind Channel there's one full-time live-aboard boater who grows an entire fruit and vegetable garden, including apple trees and corn, aboard her vessel!

We're happy and well. Grey skies haven't produced much rain or wind or waves, so travel has been easy so far.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Princess Louisa Inlet

Last time we were here in 2011 our boat was hit by a seaplane (minor damage, no injuries), so we were hoping for a less "eventful" visit this year, and we got it! Sunny, warm and more spectacular scenery than we remembered.
We passed thru Malibu Rapids, which can run 10 knots at peak flow, at slack tide, very peacefully.
Water is up to 2,000 feet deep in this narrow 4-mile channel, and mountains rise steeply to 3,000+ feet, with snow on the peaks creating gorgeous waterfalls everywhere this time of year. Chatterbox Falls flows at the terminus of the inlet. 

On arrival we discovered the adjacent boat at the dock was "Gray Hawk" with Bob and Marilyn from Saskstchewan aboard their 42' DeFever. We first met them and shared dinner 2 years ago in LaConnor, WA. Happy hour with 13 on the dock followed. 

The second day we hiked 1800' of elevation gain up a steep, rocky, heavily rooted trail to the remnants of Trapper's cabin where another waterfall and the view down to the Inlet were spectacular (and yes, sore muscles to show for it today).

That evening two people wandered down the dock and stopped to chat, and we eventually figured out they were Jim and Lisa Favors from Michigan, a couple we first met in 2012 at Rogersville, Alabama shortly before we finished The Great Loop journey. They trailer their 27-foot Ranger Tug all over the country and are spending the whole summer in this area. 

This morning the alarm went off at 5am so we could travel to Malibu Rapids in time to catch the 6am outbound slack tide. Gorgeous views continued and conditions were kind all the way to Lund, the gateway to Desolation Sound (where we'll spend a week in August with Cathryn's sister and brother-in-law aboard.) We're happy and well!

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Georgia On My Mind

For the second year in a row, we had an easy Strait of Georgia crossing. This sometimes fearsome 110 mile long by 50-mile wide body of water can be flat as a pancake, no wind or waves, and that's what we got today. 80 miles in 8 hours, and we landed on the Sechelt Peninsula at Pender Harbour for the night. Despite the rain, we're happy and well. Tomorrow we travel up Jervis Inlet to Princess Louisa Inlet where the mountain walls are so steep that no wifi, cell signal, GPS or even Coast Guard radio can get through. We'll be back online when we return, probably Tuesday or Wednesday.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Oh Canada!

In the afternoon we continued 20 miles to Bedwell Harbor on South Pender Island to clear Canadian Customs and call it a day. 84 miles, Day 1. We're happy and well. "Phoenix" ran like a champ all day.

Northward Bound

Early departure, 5:50am with only one cup of coffee. At 1800 rpm the whole time, our speed varied from 9 mph to 16 mph depending on the current. Sunny blue skies, temps about 70, and water flat as glass on the Strait of Juan de Fuca brought us into Friday Harbor to top off the fuel tanks.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Getting Ready To Head North

Phoenix has been renamed and is being prepared for her first trip up the inside passage.