Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Walking the trail that interconnects all the homes you get to meet lots of the local residents.
Tidal flats in the cove.
Main Public dock on Walters Island with general store at the head of the dock.
Monday, August 29, 2011
Underway Klaskish Basin to Kyuquot (Walters Cove)
Position: 50°01.2N 127°40.8W @ 11AM
Rounding Cape Cook on Brooks Peninsula today so we made an early start as winds off the peninsula can build to gale force in the afternoon. Winds were light at the start and even so the swell and waves built noticeably in the vicinity of Solander Island off Cape Cook. Once abeam of the peninsula winds were only 5 knots and I was tempted to drop a line briefly. Surprisingly, based on recent experiences, I didn't immediately catch a salmon so we decided to move along. Winds by 11AM have built to North West at 25 knots steady and we are making way nicely toward Kyuuot (pronounced Ky-you-kit) with following winds and seas. In these conditions the boat sails effortlessly, flat and fast. No rocking, rolling and cork screwing along like our old mono a Beneteau First 40 that we sailed extensively downwind from Seattle to Australia from 2005-2008 covering over 15,000 nautical miles. She was a good boat and super well outfitted, but a entirely different beast than the Chris White Atlantic 42 which is simply dreamy to sail down wind and for that mater on all other points of wind as well. As I type sitting on a bar stool, and not in any jeopardy of tipping over, I notice my half full coffee cup sitting on the counter. I haven't the least concern that it will spill... not even if we get gale force winds later today. Properly designed catamaran are so comfortable. No more securing everything for a passage, white knuckle bracing, falling, bruises otherwise know as 'boat bites'. Everything is a trade-off, but we sure love this boat.
August 28, 2011
Anchorage Position: 050 15.4393 N 127 43.8659 W
Rising a little earlier than my eyelids would have liked we set out to explore the intertidal zone at the nearby East Creek. Kathy brewed a pot of coffee to take along on the adventure and our timing was perfect to arrive at the beach at low tide. Lots of clams and geoducks (pronounced gooey ducks) on the beach would make great meals if not for the concern with Paralytic Seafood poisoning (PSP) or colloquially know as 'Red Tide'. We did dig up a few for the purpose of baiting our crab trap which had produced nothing overnight and was being relocated to deeper water in the inlet off lying East Creek. Next was a bonified bush wack in search of berries. We're talking full on pushing through brush and stumbling over logs as the brush was so thick you couldn't really see your feet. Climbing up a steep hill in the pursuit of huckleberries we crested a ridge and spotted a small lake below. Hoping for berries along the lake we crashed down through the brush in more or less a controlled slip and fall routine. The lake was more of a pond and full of pollywog, frogs and even some lily pads. A very serene setting with towering old growth trees, silver snags and towering hills clad in majestic virgin old growth, but no berries. A bald eagle even swooped by the lake to check out these strange visitors. After our extensive exploration we were something beyond famished and returned to the boat for a big breakfast and even bigger plans to explore East Creek on the rising tide.
Near high tide we zoomed up East creek looking to explore and try again at some berry picking. Before long a wind fallen tree appeared to block the entire width of the river. Managing to squeeze through the branches under the main trunk we were showered with pine needles and a few small limbs. Heading up the river we were in awe of the virgin old growth trees that lined the Creek. Super size trees that are so rare you pretty much need to be in a National Park to find them of this size. Around the next bend was another wind fallen pile, but this time comprised of massive super old growth trees all piled in a jumble across the creek. It looked impassable, and was except the river had charted a new course around the behemoth trees of which we followed to yet another blow down.
This log was so low to the water I had to stand on the outboard engine and then climb over the log as we squeezed the dinghy under.
We definitely would need to be very cognizant of the tide level as it would be easy to get trapped up the river by either rising or falling waters. Not far after we approached a fully impassable log jam. Maybe with an axe and a short portage we could have explored more, but with time being of the essence to get back out of the river before the tide fell we headed downstream. From here we explored the flooded inter tidal marsh and then headed out to check out some beaches for more berries. We finally collected some yet to be determined red berries, sort of like salmon berries and quite tart. Back on the boat Kathy used the Berries to whip up a blended smoothy of fresh bananas with the mystery red berries. Delicious and apparently fine as we are still alive.
August 27, 2011
Sea Otter Cove to Winter Harbor to Klaskish Basin
Rising early to a brilliant blue sky day we hoisted anchor and an empty crab trap. I suspect the reintroduction of Sea Otters along the West Coast of Vancouver island and now their abundance likely is related to the apparent lack of crabs. As I understand about 80 Sea Otters were reintroduced between 1969 and 1972 and have since grown in population nearly twenty percent per year since with numbers now approaching 2000 sea urchin, clam and crab eating critters.
Sailed down Sea Otter Cove to Winter Harbor to fuel up and reprovision. We did succeed in filling up the tanks and ironically with Biodiesel which can be hard to find in other regions, but is prolific along Vancouver Island. Our cruising guide is over ten years old and the brilliant store described in the guide carried only a nice assortment of staples, but what do you expect for such a remote location. The helpful gas dock jockey slash grocery store attendant was kind enough and even donated a bunch of mostly brown bananas to our cause. Looking forward to some banana bread. However, the proliferation of big biting horse flies had us on the move in no time. We roared out of the inlet at full steam ahead swatting at the flies and trying to blow them off the boat. Sadly I can report that even with a headwind of 9 knots and boat speed of the same the huge buggers were still able to keep up with us in the 18 knots of apparent breeze. We resorted to heavy handed swatting and merciless killing with the swatter. Glad to be rid of the flies we then scrambled to plot a course to somewhere and quick. Prior to the horse flies it was our intent to overnight in Winter Harbor. Feeling ambitious we headed for Klaskish Inlet as it seemed the most interesting of the many choices and with sunny skies and a nice Northwest wind to sail we had little druthers about another 22 nautical miles of sailing before dropping the anchor. Along the way the fish were jumping and despite having some nice Halibut fillets in the fridge I felt obliged to try my hand at a fresh bright silver Coho salmon or maybe even a Chinook. It wasn't long before we had a whopper of a Coho on the line, but it was a wild fish and I think I can only keep hatchery marked fish so we released him after ensuring he'd recovered his strength. The best way to revive a fish is to gently hold him by the tail in the water and slowly move him back and forth to get water flowing through the gills. He'll let you know when he's revived and ready to swim away.
Dave revives a wild Coho.
Pulled into the super cool anchorage at Klaskish Basin and dropped the crab trap. However, having seen a few Sea Otters I was not too hopeful of finding any crabs in the bay. Enjoyed a great Halibut dinner and peaceful nights sleep.
August 26, 2011
Wrapping up our day of beach combing and dinghy exploration at Sea Otter Cove, we were just back on the boat when s/v Madchen hailing from Bellingham, Washington pulled in and tied up to a mooring buoy. I ran the dinghy over to make the acquaintance of Kara & Craig whom were circumnavigating Vancouver Island and looking to do some surfing in San Josef Bay. Not soon after another vessel made it's way into Sea Otter Cove under jury rigged outboard power. The outboard was suspended from the stern davit via some 2x4's and plywood, quite an ingenious solution to a blown auxiliary diesel. The boat was an older over 40' of ferocement construction and steered via tiller to a barn door rudder, I'm sure quite the handful to navigate with the jury rigged outboard. So I launched the dinghy and zipped over to ask if I might be of assistance in 'lassoing the mooring' the skipper was grateful for the help and we quickly got the boat secured. A not so short discussion ensued and truth be told this fellow was as interesting as one might expect to be found along these shores. He told me of the fated voyage from Bull Harbor that had him drifting aimlessly all through the night when the winds died. He was also very Eco-friendly and very into Waste Vegetable Oil(WVO)powered vehicles and vessels. Could a slap dash conversion to WVO have something to do with the blown diesel engine in the sailboat? Needless to say a good chat. Back on the boat we retired early to catch up on post overnight passage sleep.
Friday, August 26, 2011
Anchored Sea Otter Cove, Vancouver Island
Arrived at Sea Otter Cove on the North West Corner of Vancouver Island around noon today. Overall the trip from Haida Gwaii was perfect and our only wish would have been a touch more wind. It was a combination motor / sail and motorsail. Stopped for a little fishing about 8 nautical miles to the North West of Sea Otter Cove on a 66 meter bump surrounded by 10+ meter water The chart indicated sand on the bottom so a perfect spot for bottom fishing. Dropped the line and immediately had a huge Ling Cod on the line that I decided to release as I wasn't sure on the regulations. While we were unhooking him, he regurgitated a 2 1/2 feet long octopus arm! Dropped the line back down again and picked up a tasty halibut in less time than it took me to bone up on the regulations for marine area 127. Superb fishing!
Dropped anchor in Sea Otter cove avoiding the mooring buoys which are made for more industrial vessels. Took a nap, ate some rockfish and spinach salad and then set out on a major dinghy expedition to do some beach combing and stretch our legs.
Weather is perfect today with blue skies and NW winds around 15 knots. Will head for Winter Harbor tomorrow.
Fresh Black Bear tracks on the beach.
Underway Queen Charlotte Sound
Position @ 12:30AM 51°11.5N 129°41.2W
Midnight update: more or less half way to Vancouver Island. Lots of fishing vessels to dodge... keeps one alert in the wee hours of a overnight passage. Tuna boats and longliners? working the continental shelf.
August 25, 2011
Underway Queen Charlotte Sound
Position @ 7PM: 51°36.7 N 130°25.4 W
Total miles: 36,873
.. on LightSpeed 12,373
..in the last three months 2,780
After a fitful nights sleep we sailed over to Hotspring Island. Closing on Hotspring Island I have to say I was disappointed to see at least six buildings on the tiny island. Here we are at the edge of the earth and now in a National Park and we find six buildings at the 'natural' hotsprings? I almost tacked away for want of more pristine settings. But, we were there so we hailed the Haida Watchmen on VHF channel six to ask permission to land on the island. They said to call back when we were there to ensure that there was space for us! To the credit of the Park Service they limit visitor to a maximum of 12 at a time. What this translated to was a very short visit for us once ashore as we were informed we could stay 1 hour then needed to go to make room for a boat load of tourists arriving via high speed skiff. Really? So much for edge of the earth we were now mired in commercial tourism replete with schedules and dual layers of bureaucracy (i.e. Haida Watchmen / Parks Canada).
OK, so this side trip to the hotsprings wasn't the experience we hoped for and no sooner had our dinghy hit the beach two Haida Watchmen greeted us and escorted us across the island. Call me independent, but I would have preferred to walk across the island alone instead of being marched along and being set immediately to a time table. At the springs we found three nice pools and exactly ten other guests for an exact total of twelve persons. We did meet some nice sea kayakers who were on a 16 day paddle and whom were also getting the boot to accommodate the new guests. These guys really needed the warm up and therapeutic benefits of the springs after all that paddling. But, tough luck we all had to go to make room for those whom did nothing to earn their visit other than present a VISA card to a travel agent. A short time into our soak the Haida Watchman dropped by to remind us we were on the clock and had 30 minutes remaining. Oh, thanks for reminding us that we just sailed several thousand miles to get to one of the gems in the Pacific Northwest and now we need to get moving because a bunch of 'tourists' arriving by high speed skiff or seaplane. Ohh great! Thanks for reminding us of the commercial tourism operation you have going here. Ok, the rant is over.
So off we went back to the boat and pulled anchor and sailed South and through Burnaby Narrows on about a 8' tide which was cutting it close. The narrows dries at low water and the channel is a convoluted narrow and requires the boat operator to perform a zig zag from shore to shore passing very close to dangerous rocks and shoal waters. We went a little long on one of the zigs and found ourselves with about 2' of water under the boat. Burnaby Narrows is renowned for it's abundance of marine life and Kathy as bow watch was getting a first class show as passes colorful sea stars a little too closely for comfort. Making it though the narrows we continued South another 12 nautical miles to Ikeda Cove to anchor for the night.
August 24, 2011
Rising around 6AM we got underway to pull our prawn trap to discover a small octopus had taken up residence. Needless to say there were no prawns to be found in the Octopuses new lair. I opened the trap and tipped it on edge and the Octopus slithered out onto the trampoline under his own motive power via the many suction cupped covered tentacle arms. We took a few photos and briefly discussed if we should eat the unlucky fellow. Deciding we really had no clue how to dispatch nor prepare the beast we proceeded to hasten his departure back to the deep. The industrious fellow already had a few arms through the trampoline mesh and despite our best efforts to pull him back up and throw him overboard he was just too slippery. The tentacles and suction cups were very cool and very powerful, immediately sucking onto a hand and fingers, but as soon as you gripped and tried to pull the suction cups would release and arms would retract leaving only a handful of slime. Much to our amazement the Octopus was able to squeeze through the square mesh opening which was just a bit larger than the end of a stick of butter. Given his head was the size of a volley ball this was a remarkable feat. Once in the water he let out a big squirt of ink leaving a big brownish cloud under the boat. Luckily he didn't give us a squirt while he was on deck. Kathy had on her last pair of clean pants and would have been greatly dismayed should they have been squirted with inky slime.
Sailing along the coastline towards Cape St. James under brilliant blue skies we did a little fishing, but since we are headed to the North Coast of Vancouver Island about 180 nautical miles distant we can't linger too long. Stopping on a bank in about 80 meters of water I tried for a halibut, but quickly had a huge Rockfish on the line. Dinner in hand we made the left turn towards Vancouver Island and a likely landfall in Winter Harbour. Spotted plenty of whales today as is usual and also a good size pod of dolphins and a sealion haulout. The more interesting creature besides the Octopus is the large number of albatross we find now that we are well out to sea beyond Cape St James. The amazing thing is that these same birds nest in New Zealand and make the annual trip to Haida Gwaii. Simply amazing! The birds must have no natural predators as they skim closely by the boat time and time again affording a wonderful opportunity to enjoy their majestic splendor.
The high pressure system has reestablished after the last nasty low passed and now we enjoy mostly clear skies and light winds out of the Northwest. It's been a day of mixed sailing sometimes going good to 8 knots and sometimes slowing to 4 knots as the wind evaporates and a combination of motor sailing when the wind totally disappears. Enjoyed a nice sunset over a dinner of fresh rock fish. Downloaded an updated weather forecast for Queen Charlotte Sound and North Vancouver Island and things look good for our overnight voyage. It's nice to be underway and we are enjoying full fledged use of our sea legs. Mostly, we can do any task or read at leisure with no nasty lingering symptoms of seasickness. When we mention we get seasick most folks are a bit shocked. How could we sail so prolifically and 'gasp' feel seas sick. Well the trick is to stick with it. Almost every one is going to feel sea sick until they get acclimated to the motion of the sea then having gained their 'sea legs' they feel fine. We are the same. Too much time in the calm waters of a protected port and we loose our acclimation, then once back on the sea we might feel ill, have a headache and be a little grouchy for the first half a day. For me I just need a nap and then I'm good to go. The only trigger after that is if I have to go into a hot engine room when the seas are rough to work on the fuel system. The smell of hot diesel fumes in a confined space and vigorous motion from the sea will have me sweating and ready to vomit. Once out of the engine room I'll lie down for a few minutes closing my eyes and then I'm fine. Kathy sometimes needs a bit more time to acclimate, but she's tough and rarely influenced by 'mal de mar affect' for more than half a day.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Yesterday a huge low pressure system was forecast to pass over Haida Gwaii bringing winds to 40 knots and heavy precipitation. Since the low was going to really begin unleashing her furry starting in the afternoon we decided to move South into the Gwaii Haanas National Park and attempt to visit Hotsprings Island beforehand. Winds were only 15 knots when we raised anchor at Thurston Cove, Talunkwan Island. By late morning winds began to build quickly with gusts to 30+ knots in driving rain. Heading South into Juan Perez Sound we knew we'd have to bail on the plan to Hotspings Island and seek a harbor of refuge. We tried out an unnamed bay with a raging waterfall at the head about a mile North of Kostan Inlet, Moresby Island, but found it a bit too shallow. Next we sailed into Kostan Inlet negotiating the dangerous rocks at the narrows in blinding rain. Once in Kostan we set the anchor as quickly as possible near the head of the inlet and found very good holding. However, the down drafts of wind from the high peaks that line the bay jostled the boat wildly as they whipped the waters into a torrent of high velocity spume. Not sure how powerful the down drafts were as our anemometer only measures wind blowing parallel to the waters surface and does poorly with wind pouring down from above. We found the down drafts to be disconcerting so we pulled anchor in the teeth of the storm, treaded our way back out of Kostan Inlet and motored into the howling wind about an hour further South to Haswell Bay, Moresby Island.
Straining to see anything through the blinding rain we approached the head of Haswell Bay, Moresby Island only to find another yacht in the preferred anchorage location. We eeked out a suitable spot not too close to the other Yacht s/v Georgia B and not too close to the rocky shore that lined the bay. Before we had the anchor set we got blasted by more down drafts and as darkness fell the blasts got stronger and stronger. Very disconcerting to be sitting in steady 20-30 knot winds and driving rain then get one of these super sized blasts of wind that tear the water to shreds sometimes shoving the boat deeper in the water, sometimes lifting the bows and always giving us a good spin. Yikes. The holding (suitability of the bottom of the seafloor to allow the anchor to set deeply and resist a strong pull) was excellent at the head of the bay, but still these downdraft winds were wild. It was a long night wondering if the anchor was still set after being rudely awakened time and time again as the boat shuddered under the blasts of wind.
Happily the low pressure has passed and the North Pacific High is reestablishing itself for a few days which give us the opportunity to sail South towards Vancouver Island. Vancouver Island lies about 180 nautical miles to the South East and with the forecast NW winds it should be a nice sail if not for the leftover seas from this last 998mB low pressure system.
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Monday, August 22, 2011
Anchored Thurston Harbour
Anchorage Position about: 52 50.50'N 131 44.88'W
Motored from Skidegate South towards Gwaii Haanas National Park. Mostly just a bash against head seas and wind right on the nose. As we approached Thurston Harbour thousands of Sea Gulls and numerous other sea birds were actively feeding. This is by far the largest concentarion of sea birds we've ever seen. Undoubtedly, the fishing must be good if so many birds were to be in one small area. Dropped a Arm Truck colored Coyote spoon in the water behind a Deep Six on about a 42" leader and then stripped out 28 pulls of line. For some reason this seems to be the magic number lately so we trolled for a very shor time at 2.5 knots before a feisty Coho took the spoon with vigor. It was a great fight and salmon fishing at it's best with plenty of leaping and sounding. Supplied with a fresh fish head after filleting the Salmon I set my modified Dungeness crab trap in about 300' of water hoping to attract a King or Tanner Crab overnight.
Tomorrow we'll head in Gwaii Haanas and likely anchor at Murchison Island which offers the closest most secure anchorage to Hotspring Island. Hotspring Island has perhaps the most wonderful hotsprings on the West Coast of North America.
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