Thursday, June 30, 2011

(no subject)

June 30, 2011
Underway Grenville Channel 17:30UTC 53°48N 129°57W
Day 2131
Miles sailed since day 1: 35,179

Day 20 of BC/Alaska adventure miles sailed in BC waters since day 1: 720nm.

Anchored in Lowe inlet overnight. Made a very brief foray ashore in attempt to hike to the upper Verney Falls. However, it wasn't long before our imaginations ran a bit wild after hearing or at least thinking we heard some bears crashing around in the dense rain forest. Being sufficiently scared back into our dinghy we made the rounds in the anchorage and met cruisers Bev & Jerry on m/v 'Silver Star' hailing from Winthrop, WA whom are 20 year veterans of these Northern waters and sailors Kellie and Terry on s/v Noah hailing from Point Roberts, Wa whom will be heading to Mexico this fall roughly on our time table.

Weather forecast for later today is 25-30 knots increasing to 35-40 near midnight. We'll be tucking into well protected Hunt inlet in the early afternoon (54°03.29 N 130°26.35 W) to ride out the blow.

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

(no subject)

June 29, 2011
Position @ 22:00 UTC 53°27.8485N 129°28.3782W
Underway, Grenville Channel

Last night night LightSpeed was anchored snug as a bug in the nearly landlocked Clarke Cove. The entrance to Clarke Cove is extremely tight for a catamaran on a +12' tide and as we left Clarke this AM on a +3' tide it was positively sketchy with barley enough room to slip out. The shallow 3' draft (depth of our keel) of our catamaran is of little help in these narrow passages as it occurs near our maximum 23' beam (width). Weather is rainy and blustery today so we decided to make it a travel day with a stop at Hartley Bay for fuel and water. No other services readily available in Hartley Bay so our pile of dirty laundry continues to mount as our stock of fresh food dwindles.

Near the Grenville Channel entrance we spotted three Humpback whales which provided some fun viewing for 15-20 minutes as the whales were heading more or less the same direction as us. We spend many hours each day with our binoculars trained on likely beaches and grassy river mouths trying to spot bears. Put in a lot of hours scanning shores as we transit Princess Royal Island in hopes of spotting the rare and mysterious 'Spirit Bear'. Princess Royal Island is reported to have a large population of Kermodei bear (ursus kermodei) which is a cream colored black bear know in indigenous lore as the 'Sprit Bear'. Tonight we are headed for Lowe Inlet to anchor in Nettle Basin near the scenic Verney Falls (53°33.4N 129°34.14W).

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011


June 28, 2011
Underway Laredo Channel

On our way into Alston Cove we dropped our prawn trap, baited with a salmon back bone, to the seafloor four hundred feet below. Our expectations were guarded as we'd yet to capture a single prawn in Northern BC waters. Previously, the trap had been baited with rockfish heads of which we now believe may have been scaring away the prawns, rockfish being natural predators. We also surmise that on at least one occasion a octopus took up residence as the trap was littered with sea shells and the bait was gone.

Testing our theory of fish heads in prawn traps, we instead used the salmon head to bait our crab trap. Apparently, crabs take no notice of bared teeth and oogling eyes as it filled overnight with nine keepers in excess of 6-1/4" across the back, however flush with seafood we retained only three of the biggest.

Finding another sailboat in Alston Cove we puttered over in our dinghy to introduce ourselves and met Jim of s/v Artic Loon. We then ran our dinghy up the creek at the head of the inlet to look for bears to no avail. Pulling anchor in the morning Jim hollered over 'to swing by on our way out of the bay', where upon Jim threw us a bag of Seattle's best coffee which was a generous gift for the salmon we gave him and was much appreciated. We hope to share an anchorage with Jim sometime again soon.

Pulling the prawn trap on the way out of the cove we met success with a nice haul of about fifty large spot prawns. Breakfast was delicious with fresh prawns and crab. Kathy baked some fresh French bread and smothered the lightly toasted slices with tasty smoked salmon and cream cheese. Delightful!

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Salmon Fishing

June 27, 2011
Anchorage Position: 52°44.8171N 128°44.4497W
Alston Cove, Laredo Inlet

Sailed from Kitsau Bay toward Aristazabal Island (pronounced 'Aristabal') where we encountered a flock of Bald Eagles swooping down and snatching unsuspecting fish out of the water. Simply amazing to see more than 20 eagles flying, one after another, swooping down in turn to snatch the fish with their razor sharp talons. Eagles that were taking a break to eat their catch, perched on a nearby rock bluff overlooking the action below. Needless to say the fishing was good all around and based on the semi-secret tips of a commercial fisherman we have had some fishing success ourselves. Spent a few hours trolling for salmon and after breaking off two fish (too light of leader) we landed a really nice Coho. We anchored overnight in Weeteean Bay near the South end of Aristazbal and the next morning headed out for some early 6AM fishing. Before 9AM had a very nice Tyee Chinook salmon onboard, perhaps my biggest salmon yet. We filmed the catching with a new 'GoPro' HD video head cam so look for a video post soon.

After a beach BBQ in Weeteeam Bay we pressure canned the remainder of our Coho salmon. Having such a quantity of fresh salmon I decided to build a fish smoker on a nearby beach. The fish smoker was about 4' tall and comprised of a stone base located next to an old log and then hoops of cedar branches formed a frame into which I wove more cedar branches. On top I made a smoking rack out of you guessed it, cedar. Luckily, there were a few Alder trees on the small island so after marinating the fish overnight I built a small smoldering fire and cold smoked the fish for 8 hours. A great project for the day, but not without some pain. Chopping some wood I managed to catch a flying chunk of wood with my eye and thus have a very nice black eye and small cut, good thing I had on glasses or it could have been worse. The fresh smoked fish was worth the effort and even the black eye. Delicious!

Spending the night in Alston Cove, Laredo Inlet and likely making our way toward Prince Rupert in the next few days to reprovision with fresh fruits and vegetables to compliment all the amazing fresh fish.

Dave & Kathy
s/v LightSpeed

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Windy Bay Fjordland to Klemtu to Osment Inlet

June 22, 2011
Anchorage Position 52°31.8706 N 128°41.6769 W
or according to Google Earth 52°31'51.55"N 128°41'37.86"W
Osment Inlet

Today we sailed out of Fjordland down Sheep Passage and south down Finlayson Channel where we spotted a salmon jump. Stopped the boat to do a little fishing with a Buzz Bomb and then spotted a small pod of Orca Whales. Drifting slowly with the current and fishing, the largest of the Orcas cruised closely by our bows. Very Cool! We made a provisioning stop in the small village of Klemtu. Stopped at the Klemtu Band Store for some greens, filled the tanks with diesel and had lunch at the cafe. On the fuel dock we met John of m/v Madera whom graciously gave us some fishing advice and even some lures. John works eight days on and eight days off at the Kiaso Seafoods facility in Klemtu, as we met John he was on his way home and waiting for his seaplane to arrive. Thanks for the fishing tips John! The Seaplane flyboys sure do know how to dock a seaplane. Next time I feel stressed docking my boat I'll think of the talented pilot I watched dock at Klemtu who with just inches to spare slid his plane into the dock past another seaplane. Look for a video at some point.

After lunch and a nice chat with a cruising couple, Jerry and Fran from Tacoma, WA aboard WindSong III we acquired a copy of Charlie's Charts Alaska as they had two copies. THANKS s/v Windsong!!! Your generosity will not be forgotten and passed along at the earliest opportunity.

On our way we transited Meyers Passage at perfect high water then sailed south to Kitasu Bay and checked out Cowards Cove which we deemed just too tight and then ventured deeper into the bay to the uncharted Osment Inlet. Proceeding at a painstakingly slow pace through the uncharted waters, we poked our way deep into Osment Inlet around many dangerous rocks and numerous Lions Mane jellies. The effort payed dividends as we dropped anchor in a truly gorgeous anchorage on mirror still waters. Check it out yourself on Google earth using the coordinates above. Loosely planning on spending two nights here as there is much to explore.

PS the pictures posted on the blog are not in order nor captioned, this will need to wait until we have good internet. This post is via SSB radio thanks to Sailmail.

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Cool Native Longhouse in Koeye River.
Art at the Alert Bay Museum gift shop
Native masks.

Sailing up the BC Fjords.

Alert Bay

Had a great stop in Alert Bay. Had the pleasure of meeting Wendy and Bill from the nearby Pearse Island. Super interesting folks whom we hope to meet again on our way South.

Alert Bay Boardwalk

Alert Bay downtown.

Government Float at Alert Bay.
Old Gillnet Boat

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Fjordland Park

June 21, 2011
Fjordland Park, Culpepper Lagoon, BC
Anchorage Position: 52°43.8803N 127°49.7842W

Kynoch Inlet and Culpepper Lagoon, part of British Columbia's Fjordland Park, offers magnificent scenery beyond compare. Towering granite domes, sculpted glacial valleys, towering bright snow capped peaks, countless snow melt waterfalls cascading from snow fields above and verdant old growth forest merely offer only broad brush strokes in describing this beautiful wilderness. That we haven't seen another human in days is an eagles feather in our caps. Eagles perching on an old growth cedar are a common sight, seeing an Eagle swoop down to pluck a fish out of the water is nearly a daily occurrence. Sure, it's a long way off the beaten path and Culpepper Lagoon offers a tricky entrance and nothing resembling a good anchorage, but really we get it all to ourselves? This really is one of the most beautiful places we've ever visited, move over Yosemite there are more granite walls here, move over Fjordlands of the South Island of New Zealand this is way better and we get it all to ourselves? Amazing!

Ok, enough gloating. We made the journey up the Fjords to try to spot some brown bears at the head of Culpepper Lagoon. No luck spotting bears, but we did catch some huge Dungeness Crabs, spot a porcupine climbing a tree, watch frolicking river otters, marvel over a deer swimming across the lagoon and of course plenty of seals and a cornucopia of birds from King Fishers to Ravens. Oh, and the Crabs were over 8" across the back making them the biggest I've ever pulled from the sea. So big I only kept four of my daily limit of 6 as they were just too big.

A little more on Culpepper Lagoon anchorage (June 20, 2011), the anchorage is non-existent in the conventional sense so we spent over an hour motoring around the head of the inlet to collect enough data to create a custom depth chart using our sounder and some software. The inlet goes from uber deep to shoal in just a few boat lengths so mapping out the best spot to drop the anchor was paramount to safely spending the night. After studying our newly minted charts we decided on a little niche to the south of the small creek near Anchorage Position: 52°43.8803N 127°49.7842W. The anchor dropped down in 24+ meters about 3 boat lengths from shore then we backed toward shore about 2 boat lengths leaving a mere one boat length to shore. The stern was in 4 meters the bow in 12 meters and the anchor in 24 meters. While I was fussing with the exact position to drop the anchor, Kathy launched the dinghy to run a stern line to a cedar tree on the rocky shore. Our first try of both anchor and tree didn't work out so we re-anchored and tried a different tree. Finally, satisfied with the secure position of the boat we took the dinghy for an evening ride up the river to look for bears. We found evidence of bears, but no bears as we drifted silently back down the river.

The weather was benign overnight so our anchoring scheme thankfully didn't get a stress test. It rained most of the night and at the dawn of the summer solstice thick fog filled the Fjord. The tide was falling quickly and the tidal height for the day was not conducive to further exploration of the tidal river estuary, so we decide to ride the current out of Culpepper toward Mathieson Channel.

One stunningly beautiful waterfall near the intersection of Knoch Inlet and Mathieson Channel surely is a standout. This fall is like the one at Princess Louisa Inlet, but way bigger and it pours directly into the Fjord. Our guide book suggest that one not get too close or the boat could be swamped. We took some pretty cool videos of our exploration of the fall that will eventually get posted on the blog when we get internet.

Once back in Mathieson Channel we'll head North towards Mussel Inlet and Poison Cove, both named by Captain Cook during his futile search for the Northwest Passage, and so named as some of his crew ate some toxic mussels and died. Unfortunately, the risk of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) prevents us from enjoying a bounty of clams, oysters and mussels. We are limited to crab, prawns and fish this time of year. I wonder if there is a home testing kit for PSP that we could carry aboard? Would also love to have a test kit for Ciguatera toxin for tropical fish.

Just stopped in Oatswish Bay 52°55.703N 128°07.80'W to marvel at one huge waterfall spilling into the bay. Drifted around the bay while we cracked crab in preparation for canning. Crab cracked and no bears sighted we are continuing onto Mussel Bay and Poison Cove to look for bears and likely spend the night... if we can sort out an anchorage.

It's been a few days since my last post so I quickly hit on some of the highlights after leaving Fly Bay in Smith Sound. We pulled our prawn trap, and lucky us had a king crab hanging on the outside of the trap, but no prawns. The king crab was delicious! The days journey took us up Fitz Hugh Sound to Koeye River, along the way we enjoyed the company of several humpback whales. We stopped at a few likely spots and picked up some beautiful rock fish for dinner, but it's still too early for salmon fishing.

June 18, 2011
Arriving at Koeye River on the high tide we found the bay to be a bit rolly so we ventured up the river about one mile to the site of an old lime mine. Searching the river for a deep channel to anchor for the night we tried out a few spots, but the power of the current and the narrowness of the river was a bit too risky. Heading back to the bay we anchored off a beautifully decorated Indian Long house for the night. Before calling it a day we ran the dinghy up the river Koeye river a few miles looking for bears, no luck with bears, but what a beautiful spot and definitely bear country. We hope to stop back at Koeye River on our way south.

June 19, 2011
From Koeye River we sailed for a good bit of the day toward Bella Bella to refuel, do some laundry and pick up some groceries at Shearwater. The long days are awesome and after our errands we sailed for another hour and a half to Mouat Cove for the night.

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Friday, June 17, 2011

June 17, 2011

June 17, 2011
51°16.4050N 127°36.8390W
Cruising Queen Charlotte Sound

Today we made our way from Alert Bay to Fly Basin at Takush Harbour off Smith Inlet (a 62 nm run). Winds were super light so it was a easy trip up Queen Charlotte Sound and around Cape Caution. Stopped for some fishing along the way and picked up a few nice rockfish which were considerably bigger than others we'd previously caught. The catching was good, just get the buzz bomb lure near the bottom and reel in the fish. The real challenge is to avoid catching the bottom as it usually wins the tug-o-war and keeps the lure.

Fly Basin, surrounded by old growth cedar trees, branches dipping in the bay at high water, represents a near perfect anchorage. The entrance is narrow and shallow and the small basin inside the entrance affords three hundred and sixty degree protection. Tonight we are anchored in the West Arm of the basin in 3.7 meters (at low water) over solid holding. The tidal range for the next twelve hours is 4 meters! Just outside the bay is Takush Harbour and as we entered the harbour we were greeted by hundred and hundreds of diving birds and sea gulls which is a sure sign of some good fishing. The birds generally congregate and feed on bait fish driven to the surface by larger predators below (i.e. Salmon), so dropping a line below the birds can produce good fishing results. Tomorrow, we'll head out in the harbour to pull our prawn trap which is sitting in 100 meters of water to hopefully catch lots of prawns and then do some fishing on the way back.

Started the day at 7AM with a trip to the engine room to make a jury rig to my Yanmar engine final fuel filter. The filter mounts to the engine lifting eye which had for some strange reason sheared off both it's mounting bolts. Off all things I would have never guessed the lifting eye would fall off! Anyway since the filter is attached it was rubbing on a cooling water hose, so I moved the filter off the engine to the bulkhead and installed longer fuel hoses. It's a good solution since I can't get a tap or drill to the broken off bolts as the fuel injection pump is in the way.

Kathy is cooking up a wonderful dinner of fresh broiled rockfish with an orange glaze, spinach sauté and a side of wild rice.

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

June 16, 2011
Headed for Alert Bay to pick up some canning jars and fuel line. We've never done any canning before, but it seems the perfect way to preserve some of the great seafood we're encountering up here in BC.

June 15, 2011
Layover day in Port McNeil. Strong NW winds encouraged us to take a layover day here in Port McNeil. Still a little shopping to take care of so we explore every shop in town and enjoy lunch at Gus Pub. Stanley Cup Final tonight so nearly everyone we encounter all day is talking about the Canucks game and or wearing a Canucks. Although we would normally enjoy reveling with the fans at a local pub for the game we take a pass as it seems long odds the Canucks will win and the disappointment will likely lead to ugliness.

June 14, 2011
Got a 4:50AM start from Port Neville to maximize the benefit of the fast flowing tidal currents in Johnstone Strait. Around 7AM I woke Kathy up as she had been missing the antics of so many dolphins. The dolphins were going out of their way to enjoy the double bow wakes of LightSpeed. Mostly Pacific White Sided dolphins and then later in the morning a few groups of Dahl porpoise. Around 9AM we stopped to fish and picked up 4 or 5 nice rockfish. Arriving in Port McNeil we pulled into the fuel dock in pouring rain, filled up, started laundry and cleaned our catch of rockfish. Then it was off to the grocery store, marine store and auto parts store to check off the final items on our shopping lists. Items such as an Axe for campfires, fishing lures, and special ingredients for cooking some new seafood recipes. Back on the boat we had a late afternoon nap and then a great fish dinner topped off with watching a few vintage episodes of Northern Exposure.

June 13, 2011
Sail from Kanish Bay Cove on Quadra Island up Discovery Passage to Johnstone Strait riding the early morning tide. Stopped at North Cove on Helmcken Island to await favorable afternoon tides. Set the prawn trap and crab trap. Loaded the dinghy with fishing poles and fished the NW and W sides of the island for some rockfish. Tidal currents around the W end were creating remarkably huge whirlpools, upwelling and rapids. Just for fun we entered the eddy line and before long were prominently affixed to a large whirlpool. The center of the whirl was easily two feet lower than the surrounding water level with a deep funnel in the middle. Once in the whirl we were spinning so fast we both started to get dizzy and want off that ride so we wooseley started the outboard motor and powered out of the turbulent waters. Good fun.

After checking the Crab and Prawn traps of which we got skunked, we had lunch and a nap. In the afternoon we joined the flow of the tide and made our way to Port Neville. Heading up the inlet we anchored for a few hours to fish, crab and prawn. After a futile fishing endeavor we headed to the Government Float at Port Neville for the night. The caretaker gave us a tour of the original log building and tiny museum and then we hung out on the dock with a commercial fisherman / cruiser who gave us some tips on the best fishing spots up North. We hope to run in to Warren in Mexico to report on our fishing success. What a day. With 16 hours plus of daylight you can get alot done!

June 12, 2011
A not so early start from Nanoose Bay bound for Kanish Bay. Enjoyed flying the spinnaker in Southerly component winds for much of the day and then hitting Seymour Narrows at peak ebb current of 8+ knots with our boat speed up to 15-16 knots over ground. Despite all the warnings in the guide book it was super easy. The water flow was laminar (smooth) and mid channel we had only a few eddy lines, whirlpools or upwelling.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Port McNeil, Vancouver Island, BC

Nice 6-1/4" Red Rock Crab.
Kathy jigs up a huge ball of kelp bottom fishing on Discovery Passage.
Sailing past Campbell River, BC with the flood tide. Speed over ground is 11 + knots and as we pass through Seymour Narrows the speed will jump up to 16 knots over ground.
Log boom and Tug near Port McNeil.
Aaron Hollingbery enjoying a beautiful afternoon aboard LightSpeed sailing between Kingston, WA and Edmonds, WA.
A rare cloudless June day on Puget Sound.
Hollingbery twins had a great time.
Hanging out on the trampoline.

Humpback whale up close and personal. This photo was NOT shot with a zoom lens. This whale surfaced about twenty feet from our stern.
Hump back dives.
What a treat to see a Humpback whale in Puget Sound near Kingston, WA. This guy must have missed a turn on his way to Alaska.

Jon Stewart aboard Lightspeed.
Crew David ready to clean a catch of fresh rockfish.
Jon at the helm of LightSpeed.
Crew David with freshly caught rockfish.

Jon Stewart works on some really cool boat art for LightSpeed. For more on Jon see