Monday, June 18, 2018

Our first Grizzly!

Anchored in Elle Cove on Baranof Island. On the short 8 NM ride up Chatham Straight the humpbacks put on a show. We saw a multitude of blows and a half dozen flukes before a deep dive. After dropping the hook we enjoyed lunch on the aft deck and Macky spotted a bear on shore. He was a lighter brown and had the distinctive grizzly hump on his back. Our first grizzly! He ate grass and we all enjoyed a leisurely lunch together for well over an hour.
Put the dinghy down and explored Waterfall Cove and Kasnyku Falls.
The steep granite sides of our Anchorage cascades up to snowy ridges. Old growth spruce, cedar, and hemlock cover the slopes.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Warm Springs Bay, Baranof Island

Father's Day

It was a great day today, starting at our launch from anchor at 4:00 in the morning.  The plan was to ride the ebb currents down Frederick Sound. Then catch the flood current six miles up Chatham Strait to Warm Spring Bay.  It does make it a little easier to drag yourself out of bed at 3:40 when it's already getting light.  The plan worked very well and the forecasted wind and waves held off.  55 nautical miles and we arrived at 11:30, plenty of time to enjoy the hot springs.

What a cool place with a huge waterfall roaring in the bay, little cabins lining the water all connected by board walks, a hike to Baranof Lake and two places to soak in the hot springs.  First we hiked up to the pair of "grotto" pools on the side of the waterfall.  This was incredible, but the water was too hot for me.  So we went on up to the lake before returning to the bay with three private hot tub rooms overlooking the waterfalls and the bay.  A quick run down to the boat secured beer and guacamole.  The tub's two water inlets, one from the hot springs and the second from the ice cold river made it easy to get the perfect temperature. Aaaahhh, we've been pretty cold on our trip at times.  This was dreamy.  Our favorite anchorage so far!

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Crossing Cape Caution

Crossing Cape Caution 5-22-18
Wagoner Cruising Guide: To get to the central and northern BC coast you must first round CapeCaution.  Although the distance is only about 40 miles, the seas can be high and steep. The bottom shoals from 100+ fathoms off the continental shelf to 20-70 fathoms in Queen Charlotte Sound itself, causing seas to heap up.  The problem is made worse w hen these seas aremet by ebb currents from the Queen Charlotte Strait, Smith Sound, Rivers Inletand Fritz Hugh Sound. 
… yes, you have my attention.  We had been concerned about the crossing and still felt a little rusty in our seamanship skills from spending the Winter on a dock.  Our friend who delivered boats between Alaska and BC in a previous life had suggested a longer route from Port McNeill to Fury Cove anchorage, 62 miles.  This route helps to find the deeper water and stays somewhat away from the ebb flows coming out of the mainland inlets and sounds. I studied the weather every way I knew until late Monday night and then we launched at first light, 4 am.  Following all the worry, the day was a little anticlimactic, very calm.  It was a new experience for us with larger ocean swells about 6 to 10 feet, but the period between swells was 8-9 seconds.  The result was a gentle ride up and down the swells, but not a time to be down below.  Wendy and I both had moments of funny tummy, a first for me.
We have now traveled further North than last summer.  It’s beginning to feel like more of an adventure.  Our anchorage was Fury Cove with several other boats who had launched north under the accommodating weather.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Johnston Strait was angry today

Johnston Strait can be flat calm or very angry, brought on by strong tidal currents and winds that funnel through the steep walled passage.  With currents opposing the wind, the waves can be big and steep making boating no fun.  Bradford’s friend and longtime resident on Murrell Island, Rob Wood warned us of the potential for really bad rides there last year.   The forecast was for building NW winds a little later in the day, but I hoped that we could leave early, scoot through to Pt. McNeill and make preparations for crossing Cape Caution above Vancouver Island.  Not happening.  Pretty soon the wind was 24 knots on the nose with lumpy sea conditions, so we only got in 35 miles and bailed out to anchor.  I am sure it gets worse, but this supposed to be fun.  Sitting in the calm anchorage at Pt. Neville, it was a little frustrating knowing that only a mile away the strait was not a happy place.  We easily made Pt. McNeill on Monday, the next morning.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Finally, finally, finally headed North

After three planned weeks in the boat yard in Anacortes followed by three unplanned weeks in the yard in Sidney, BC, we are finally under way to Alaska.  It feels so good to actually be traveling.  Wendy and I seem to sure like moving more than staying in one place; we share the energy.
Last night's anchorage by Buccaneer Beach on Thornby Island brought a beautiful sunset that just did not want to go away.  Our plan was to pull anchor and leave at 6:30 this morning, but Wendy could not sleep, so she encouraged her sleepy partner to get going at about 6:00.  It was a good choice, because we had great tailwind currents all day.  The plan was to stop at Campbell River, but the tidal currents pushed us along to pass Campbell River and make Seymour Narrows for the 2:53 slack tide.  Seymour Narrows is a huge tidal rapid that even large cruise ships respect and only pass at or near slack.  I would love to see the rapids at full flow, just not from a boat, so I check the tide book and three different electronic charts to make sure that I have the timing right.

Our anchorage is Otter Cove on the west side of Discovery Passage.  No otters, but three seals splashing around and checking us out.  Wendy tried her new camera with the 600 telescope lens; if only the seals and the bald eagle would cooperate. 
We've had a light southerly wind all day, but this evening it's picked up and veered to the west.  I hope it does not continue to increase, since we want blast off early again tomorrow and ride the currents in the morning through Johnston Strait to Port McNeill. But with strong NW winds against the currents, the strait gets angry.  The forecast is for light winds in the morning, so we will see.

In the morning, our anchor had grown a seaweed beard.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Orcas to port!

After a quick walk to the hardware for a five gallon bucket we were off from Squamish 10:30, just after the inflow winds picked up.  The interior from Squamish heats up during the day which pulls in cool air from Howe Sound.  The wind was 24 knots when we came in on Friday making docking adventurous.  About half way down Howe Sound we saw a whale watching tour boat buzz by to stop a couple of miles up.  As we got closer, Wendy spotted the blows.  First, two orcas on our starboard side then two or three to port.  I called the whale watching boat on the radio and we slowly passed by over about twenty minutes.  The whale boat said that these were transient orcas that eat mammals; seals, porpoise, etc.   The locals eat salmon and each local pod eats a different species of salmon.  Wendy and I have both read “Listening to Whales,” by Alexandra Morton.  It’s a great book about her lifelong studies of Orcas in the Broughton Islands where we spent last summer.   
The anchorage at Buccaneer Bay on Thornby Island displayed a wonderful sunset and only gave it up oh so slowly.
As usual, the picture does not do the sunset justice.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

A visit with Bradford in Squamish

Our plan to leave for Alaska on April 21 after dropping off Bradford and his ascent team at the Homathko River logging camp has seen many delays.  Bradford’s trip was cancelled.  Then our generator and battery charger had problems requiring a trip back down to Sidney for major repairs.  While there, other problems kept grabbing us, including discovering that the rudder tube was separating from the hull.  Yes, that could have been no fun to have come apart in the middle of nowhere BC or maybe crossing the Gulf of Alaska!   Anyway, by mid May we were exhausted with repairs, paying for them and my trying to do as much work as I could in addition to feeling that almost a month was lost on the trip north.  As well, confidence in our trusty boat has been bruised keeping us wondering what is next.
 A nice day’s travel across the Strait of Georgia, past Vancouver, up Howe Sound to Squamish to see Bradford provided the perfect transition back to cruising, helping us put the boat yards behind us.  Howe Sound is stunningly beautiful with the tall mountains busting straight up from the shore all around.  Bradford and Ebba treated us to a wonderful day beginning with our favorite, a big breakfast.   Next was an incredible ride up the gondola 900 meters into the mountains to see where Ebba is the Special Events Manager and to hike.  The views of Howe sound and the surrounding mountains are unbelievable.  Even more than ever, we understand why Squamish is the rock climbing mecca of North America.  We capped off the day with a cookout at Justin Sweeney’s to help celebrate his birthday.
The laughter, stories and hugs remind us why we decided to live a different life closer to our family.  We have quickly become accustomed to seeing Bradford every couple of months since we moved to the west coast.  Our plan to stay in Seward, AK for the Winter now keeps us frm knowing when we will see him next.  That’s no good.  The boat repairs are quickly becoming a distant memory.

The mountain over Ebba's head is where they go back country skiing.

The low overcast clouds burned off for beautiful day at the top of the gondola.

Wendy and Ebba in their high tech hiking dresses.  Looking good!
The gondola ride back down.