Sunday, June 24, 2012

True North Summary, June 16 - 23

Live, from "Blind Channel Resort", here's our latest update...  Anne has updated the Google Map of our route. You can see that at:

True North Summary, June 16 - 23

Saturday, June 16: Second night in Gorge Harbor Marina on Cortes Island. It's a very nice marina with landscaped areas around a pool and hot tub. We were going to stay just one night. But with a high wind warning for the night, we (and all the other boats) stayed in our cozy spot. Boats were arriving from various adventures to the safe haven of the protected marina. Earlier on Saturday we noticed a posting on the grocery store bulletin board for a studio and garden tour plus the best burger lunch at Hollyhock, a meditative retreat resort on the other side of Cortes from where we were. Our new pal at the grocery store told us it would be about a 2-hour walk but if we hitched we were sure to get a ride with a friendly local. We finally did. The walk would have been more like 4 hours! We took the self guided garden tour and found out that the studios on tour were all over the island, not there at Hollyhock. Not having a car, we went for the fantastic burger lunch, then caught a ride to Whaletown, a quaint place consisting of a Post Office, Church, dock and a few houses. The big winds did occur for a short time with a gust of 39 knots inside the marina.

Whaletown honey bee condo

Sunday, June 17: Left Gorge Harbor in the rain for Rebecca Spit where we spent several hours at anchor, hiking on the beach and waiting for the slack water at Seymour Narrows just south of the entry to Campbell River. It's a great spot for getting some exercise, and since the shore is accessible by road, there are trash cans you can dump garbage in. Arrived at Discovery Bay Marina in the late afternoon.

Lunch anchorage at Rebecca Spit

Monday, June 18: We woke up to bright sun, quite a treat after the rains the previous two days and this was the day Chris was to leave. After enduring all the NW is famous for in June – showers, rain, drizzle, clouds, he leaves on a bright day – for New Mexico! At least he would have stunning views on the seaplane flight back to Seattle. We attempted to get to the seaplane dock at Tyee Spit by dinghy but the current was too strong for our 2 hp engine so we docked it and hurriedly walked to get there on time. Gerry Bruder was the pilot who arrived in the Kenmore otter, and friend we hadn't seen for several years. He was an Alaska bush pilot years ago with thrilling stories which he published in a book, Northern Flights: Adventures of an Alaskan Bush Pilot. He wrote another book about many of the well-known bush pilots from the 1930s to 1950s, both books good reads. This was our second night at Campbell River.

Chris's Kenmore Otter leaves Tyee Spit

Tueday, June 19: The boat repair was made. We now have a new alternator and rebuilt spare. Todd at Ocean Pacific Marine in Campbell River was very knowledgable and efficient and we were underway as soon as the credit card was signed. Now that the summer solstice is just a few days away it stays light very late, making staying up later than usual an attractive alternative to sleep. The early light is conducive to early waking and activity so around mid-day it's easy to think about a short snooze on the deck while underway. Arrived in peaceful, scenic Gowlland Bay and were anchored by 1845. Because we had just bought fresh food in Campbell River and had a calm, warm evening, we took the time to grill a good dinner outside. We're getting more comfortable with our small galley each day. The fridge seemed so tiny at first. Now it seems to have just enough room but the item you need is always on the bottom.

Red Sky At Night, Gowlland Bay

Wednesday, June 20: Today's job was to get through Seymour Narrows in the most uneventful way possible. The fast 14 knot current necessitates paying close attention to slack water, 1225 daylight savings time today. Canadian tide and current tables use Standard Time so we need to add an hour for DST. Along the shores of Discovery Passage are numerous fish farms. We counted five of them within 20 minutes. From Discovery we turned into Okisollo Channel on the way to Owen Bay. It is so easy to locate where we are on the large Canadian paper chart using the lat/long positions on the hand-held VHF radio in the cockpit! GPS on the iPad is always nearby, too. There was no wind again today. With the semi-protected waters of Desolation Sound and the Discovery Islands, we may not be able to sail again until we get out into Johnstone Strait. We're now in Owen Bay, just off the south end of Sonora Island. We took a hike from the pubic dock to an overlook above Hole in the Wall where we'll be in a day or two. The hike goes along a road which passes several houses, many on the rough-hewn side. Talking to two local mountain men we met along the way, i.e., aging hippies growing 'who knows what', we learned there are just 20 adults living around Owen Bay. It had an eery, lonesome kind of feel to it. It didn't help that Wagoner's guide mentioned the bay has an ominous feeling, with one past report of a few ghost stories. It brought to mind Joshua Slocumb's clever defense of spreading tacks on the deck so he could sleep in peace while protecting himself from barefoot pirates who might board his sailboat at night. There was another sailboat with a friendly crew from Seattle nearby. We kept an eye open for them.

Local's building site, Owen Bay

Thursday, June 21: Owen Bay was pretty but we were glad to move out with the early slack water at 0545 through the Okisolo Upper Rapids and on to the Octopus Islands where we anchored some years ago in La Vie, our first sailboat. There's a small bay where stern ties are required which had 3 sailboats already anchored, then west bay with a few power boats where we anchored at 0645. We had the whole day to explore the nearby islands and set our crab pot for tonight's dinner. We're getting deeper into an exceptionally beautiful region with snow capped mountains, sheer rock cliffs and beautiful channels and inlets.

Excellent trail, Octopus Islands

Friday, June 22: Hole in the Wall rapids, slack at 0631. Full current can be 12 knots in this passage. We got there early, 0555 and it was easy going. An ebb current gave us an extra push for 8 knots through the center at one point but with lots of space. There were some logs through which we had to navigate but otherwise was uneventful. We planned to bypass the next rapids, Yuculta, coming right up after Hole in the Wall, by way of Bute Inlet since we thought there wouldn't be enough time to run both rapids on the same slack schedule but when we got close and took a look, we saw several fishing boats coming through from the north and the water looked calm. We began at about 0730 so were right on time and made it into the Stuart Island Community Dock at Big Bay. A strong current at the marina made docking interesting! Shortly after arriving, our crab pot went overboard without a tether so we went fishing for it. There was hardly anyone here that day! We thought it would be filled with boats. We met the store manager, Tara, and her parents Ken and Sara when I went looking for another crab pot! Ken offered to help retrieve our crab pot this afternoon. He has a large hook attached to a magnet that he says he rigged up for all the things people lose off the dock. He was sure he could get our pot back. Sara filled us in on all the changes to what used to be Big Bay Resort 12 years ago when I worked with Kenmore Air. It used to be a popular fishing destination with seaplanes coming in and out a couple of times every day. The Resort is gone, so is the Fisherman's Pub. The docks were moved to the community dock and a Campbell River man now owns 9 or 10 waterfront cabins and lots of dock space. Ken and his family work for the Ritchey Brothers who run an auction business and resort around the bay. Had we been here last night we could have joined in their business barbeque, dockside for 60 or so people! We took a walk to see Arran rapids and continued on to an amazing corporate resort built and used by Paccar. There were two 3-story brick houses with columns in front, tennis courts, swimming pool, covered bridge with apartments above, a couple of grand party boats at the docks and large entertainment area. It was quite an unusual site for this fishing area. Ken, Sara and Tara live in a beautiful house there owned by the Ritcheys, who have a neighboring resort. Sonora Island Resort is another grand fishing lodge across Calm Channel from Big Bay with 15 fishing boats. Ten were out today. Ken says the fishing hasn't been good for several years because the stocks are down due to the logging which spoils the fish spawning areas, though a client from Sonora brought in a 45 pound Chinook yesterday. It had been a cloudy but beautiful day until we returned from our hike. Then it poured for several hours with a thick fog blocking most of the view across the channel to Sonora Resort. A foghorn sounded in the distance every 2 minutes to signal a vessel passing through the channel. We were cozy inside our boat with just one other sailboat on this dock, a couple from Nanaimo.

True North at Stuart Island, Big Bay

Saturday, June 23: Left Big Bay in time for the 0715 run through Gillard Passage, followed by Tugboat Passage, avoiding the dreaded Devil's Hole in Dent Passage. The misty departure was spectacularly scenic with two groups of Dall's porpoises swimming off starboard. 

Departing Big Bay

Cordero Lodge was our destination. We passed by years ago but never stopped and thought it would make a convenient staging point for continuing on to Blind Channel Sunday to pick up Marie and David. We were the only boat staying at Cordero for the night. The lodge managers, Steve, Laura, their niece Erin and son's friend were all super friendly, giving Gregg some new fishing tips and cooking up one heck of a good wienerschnitzel dinner. Burgees from boaters everywhere hung from the ceiling and photos from many good times were posted. Steve and Laura live there year-round because it's a floating lodge which needs a 24/7 manager and loggers stay there during the winter. They would be terrific owners! The current owners build Cordero Lodge 33 years ago and put heart and soul into it.

Cordero Lodge

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