Tuesday, July 31, 2012

True North Summary July 23 - July 31

Here's the latest news from True North, about to depart Port Hardy for Bull Harbor.  Anne has updated the Google Map of our route. You can see that at:

True North Summary July 23 - July 31

Monday, Tuesday, July 23-24: We took our time leaving Shawl Harbour, first checking out the boat interiors of a few neighbors' boats, saying our good-byes, and then heading out into Penphrase Passage to the SE, south through Raleigh Passage past the Burdwood Islands, and around to Fife Sound, directly into a 27-29 knot wind and opposing current, making it slow-going at 3.5 knots. Arriving in protected Cullen Harbour we made our way through the entrance as a fog was disappearing. Two boats were already tucked inside. There is an anchorage noted in the Dreamspeaker guide behind an island that blocks the opening south but which is in the path of the outflow from narrow Booker Passage leading into Booker Lagoon. It's a beautiful spot with low rocky islets, eagles, and many smaller, vocal birds. We anchored there but not for long! The currents from Booker Passage were swirling quite a ways into our anchorage. While we were below deck, a loud thunk brought us up to the cockpit quickly to find a huge 30' log leaving our anchor chain, narrowly missing the boat.

Arguing with large log

With that, we left for the other side of the island and a more peaceful anchorage, though it was mildly rolly through the night. Earlier in the evening we took the dinghy through Booker Passage for a look into the Booker Lagoon but it didn't strike us as being as pretty as Cullen Harbour. The hillsides are full of clearcuts and there are no small islets to explore. We spent a second day at this very serene anchorage before leaving on Wednesday. Taking the anchor up brought 3 large sun starfish clinging tightly to the chain and another 2 wrapped around the anchor. No wonder we caught no crabs, again!

The Inukshuk in Cullen Harbor marking Booker Lagoon entrance

Eagles in Cullen Harbor

Wednesday, July 25: Beautiful Blunden Harbour was our destination though we really wanted to see the Polkinghorne Islands, west of Broughton Island, on the way. We never dreamed the one anchorage well-protected from the northwesterlies would be available but it was, so we went in to explore – and stayed! Shortly before arriving and while out in Nowell Channel in Queen Charlotte Strait we saw a humpback whale blow and then dive away and disappear. This anchorage is one of the very remote, wild places. The tide was low on arrival so we took the dinghy to the outer rocky islands near the entrance to walk all along the shore among the massive logs and rounded granite rocks. Great place to stretch!

Lot's of stony shores in The Polkinghornes

Thursday, July 26: After a peaceful morning in the Polkinghornes, we left with the current for a helpful push north to Blunden Harbour. This would be our last night on the 'Inside!' There were 5 other sailboats and 5 power boats in the harbour for the night with plenty of room for others. We took the dinghy out to the white shell beach where two local boys played, then found a trail through the woods that led to a wide open canopied space where one could imagine a former community of people living. There were many places to explore by dinghy through small passages between islands. A couple of kayakers were also exploring the coves. The evening was calm and clear.

Blunden Harbor

Friday, July 27: We left Blunden Harbour at 1010, about an hour before slack and rode with the current most of the way to Port Hardy. There was absolutely no wind on this crossing. Another sailboat from Blunden motored a short distance behind us all the way across the strait. We scanned the water for wildlife and were rewarded with a humpy off the port bow, then abeam and then gone! Later, a group of porpoises dove first in front of our boat and then off the bow of Itaska, the sailboat behind us. Approaching Port Hardy, we called ahead for reservations and were lucky to get the last available space at Quarterdeck Marina. There are also three public docks nearby. All four docks are filled with fishing vessels. A walk around the docks revealed these fishermen were bringing in lots of fish. The docks reminded us of the fishermen's docks in Sitka with many rustic, well-used vessels and a few salty old guys finishing up with tasks from the day's catch. By the way, many of these old salts aren't any older than we are! We called around to make arrangements for diving the zincs and changing the oil (Monday). One other chore before rounding the cape is to get another tripline. The one we got before leaving Seattle was supposed to be 75' but wasn't. Having fouled our anchor temporarily once made us intent on getting this in order before leaving for the west side.

Glassy water in Queen Charlotte Straight

Saturday, Monday - July 28-31: Port Hardy – We're filled with anticipation as we talk to others and think about going around the west side of Vancouver Island. So many choices! Which way to go? across Nahwitti Bar, inside of the Tatnall Reef, or north around the islands altogether? We will leave Tuesday if the weather cooperates. We walked every dock, visiting with fishermen, a logger, other boaters including the skipper from Cat's Paw with whom we visited in Refuge Cove in early June. On Sunday, we walked through town and to the other public dock where we saw a huge blue whale just 20' from the dock where locals were fishing. Incredible hulk! It looked as if it might beach as it came so close to shore. Back at our boat, the fishing guides were returning with their clients' abundant catch for the day – a 110 lb halibut, “sister” of the 105 pounder they caught the day before, plus at least a dozen large salmon that were being distributed among the 3 clients' coolers. Port Hardy still has fish! We spent Monday doing chores: groceries, mail pick-up, zincs and oil and filters change, trip line. We're set to go! A footnote, here: looks like the weather is changing for the worse this week. Tuesday should be fine for getting to Bull Harbour but the rest of the week is a bit up in the air. To be continued...

"Busy" downtown Port Hardy
Lot's of fish in Port Hardy for the fishing clients

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