Friday, July 13, 2012

True North Summary July 2 - July 16

We've used the (relatively) excellent Internet connection at Shawl Bay to upload photos for this period.  Anne has updated the Google Map of our route. You can see that at:

True North Summary July 2 - July 16

Today is Friday, July 13th. We're in stunning Kwatsi Bay, nestled right next to Glory Be Basin, so aptly named with 3000' granite walls, several high waterfalls, and snow-capped Mt. Reed to the south. The remote setting with its low-key owners is a pleasant change from some of the other marinas. Boaters gathered on the dock last night for a pot luck dinner together, held every other night. Several boats hailed from Anacortes so we had some common ground. We plan to fill the water tanks this morning with this clear snowmelt and then head east, back towards Simoon Sound to reposition for the next week in the NW Broughtons.
We've been incommunicado since July 2nd for lack of internet access so last night after dinner, several of us gathered dockside for a makeshift Internet cafe. It was a strange site in this wilderness. We've spent the past 10 days exploring in the heart of the Broughtons with splendid landscapes of snowy peaks, rocky islets, pristine passages and with misty mornings changing to bright sun-filled, warm afternoons under bluebird skies. Get the picture? Our internet access here is limited so we'll just say “standing by” for now and fill in the facts and some photos from July 2 at the next stop.

Update as of 16 July -  Here's our full report for the period to date:

Monday, July 2: This was the day we were to leave Port McNeill, having finished many of the chores we came to do. However, we awoke to such a cold downpour, and with no urgency to get anywhere else, decided to stay and hang out. The cold rain continued all day. I had been curious to see Sointula, not one of our planned stops, and took the 30-minute ferry over for a look while Gregg worked on his photos. I had expected a First Nations village but found a town with Finnish roots instead. From the quaint ferry landing there isn't too much nearby to explore easily in a cold rain except the large, outdoor wall mural, a small museum with memorabilia from the early days, and the oldest coop in B.C., from 1905. A good trail across the island to a whale lookout point would have to wait for another visit.

Tuesday, July 3: Hope springs eternal with a dry day! Sunlight streaming in through the portholes and the feeling that life is great once again got us up and motivated to leave Port McNeill. We had noticed a Kenmore Turbine Otter landing and a short while later at the fuel dock, ran into friendly Tim Brooks, the pilot. How nice it was to see a familiar face and catch up on a few years in 5 minutes! In no time, we were sailing with the jib in 12 knots, wind astern, dodging large logs floating past every which way in the current. Later, while NW of Cormorant Island and with full sails Gregg heard the familiar sound of a porpoise blowing air but found instead a single humpback 20' off our port side. What a thrill! We arrived at Hanson Island at 1635, anchored and tucked behind Spout Islet. There were no other boats, only eagles. It was very calm through the rest of our stay. We took a dingy to shore in the morning to hike the short trail across the island, then left for Mamalilacula.

Fishboat in Blackfish Sound

Wednesday, July 4: From the distance we could see another boat anchored at Mamalilacula so detoured to Pearl Pass for an anchorage. It lies between Pearl and Maude Islands and is a beautiful, peaceful cove with a view of snow-capped mountains to the south across Village Channel. Pearl Pass is a significant place name for us, having met on another Pearl Pass in the Colorado Mountains! We took the dinghy over to the Mamalilacula anchorage to search for the native village and totems and found the white shell beach easily, and could see a couple of small old cabins but the impenetrable thicket of flowering bushes full of bees made access impossible. Further west along the beach we found a trail leading up to a clearing, and another trail just to the east of the cabins, which are clearly seen from the water, that leads to an abandoned wood house. We made our way out through a clearing and gave up on finding the totems in the overgrowth. On the way back to True North, we stopped to casually check the crab pot Gregg had set out before we left and were shocked to find four large male Dungeness crabs. Dinner, coming up! We quickly measured each to be sure they were at least 6-1/2 inches and found them to be 7 and 7-1/2”, huge. We put two back in the water and steamed two. They were the best! Served absolutely plain, they tasted as if they had been drenched in butter.

Dungeness dinner!

To top off the evening,  this serene little cove was the setting of a clear sky and beautiful full moon.

Pearl Pass anchorage

Thursday, July 5: As low low water drew near early in the day, we left Pearl Pass to seek the next anchorage, either popular, protected Waddington Bay on the NE side of Bonwich Island or the more isolated Dusky Cove on the SW side, both among the outer islands and islets of the Broughton Archipelago Marine Park. Clearly, the snug Dusky Cove with its picturesque rock islands would keep us entertained for a whole day and evening. It's still light until 2300 so there would be lots of time to do things. Eagles sat on the beach next to a few abandoned crab pots on arrival. The cove's appearance would change dramatically with the 16' tide. Hours later our cove expanded to fill in all the low water areas, making new passages in and between the rock islands to explore by dinghy. A light wind from the NW in Queen Charlotte Strait blew into the cove for some rockin' and rollin' but it was mild and our anchor secure.

Rocky Islets and Mountains from Dusky Cove

Friday, July 6: The morning was clear and sunny in the cove with fog visible in the distant Queen Charlotte Strait. As we talked over coffee, the fog rolled into the cove and completely enveloped us.

Fog clears off in Dusky Cove

We discussed navigating out safely through the fog with radar though were in no huge hurry to leave, while the fog moved about in the cove until gradually lifting enough so that we made our way out with good visibility. We travelled clockwise around Bonwick Island into Arrow Passage and to Retreat Passage to check out anchorages in Waddington Bay for future reference. It's a large, protected bay and, surprisingly, no other boats were there. We continued on to Echo Bay passing on the south side of Baker Island and looking for the small Blackfish Lodge, tucked into one of the coves along Baker Island. We found it about a mile west of Echo Bay, went into the cove for a quick look from the water, and then got to Echo Bay at 1530. A high bluff marks the entrance to this large marina with several attractive small buildings. Many boats were already in the marina when we arrived, including Dan and Steve from Seattle on Serenete, their 46' Beneteau, right next to our boat. We had planned to meet them for the weekend and Saturday night pig roast, one of the featured marina events in the area. They had arrived from Thompson Sound the night before with a harrowing story of being bashed into the nearby rock wall and nearly being dismasted! They were alone at the head of the calm Sound at 2300 when their boat, with a stern tie, was suddenly moving about in a swirling current and hit the rock wall. Fortunately, their dinghy was in between, fending off the stern. There were massive cedar branches grabbing at the mast and they quickly cut their stern line and moved their boat to safety. The swirl lasted only a couple of minutes but they spent an unrestful night on watch, at least under a beautiful full moon. The stern was mildly nicked, saved by the dinghy.

Saturday, July 7: One of the sights to see at Echo Bay is Billy Proctor's museum of old stuff, a short hike over the hill to Simoon Cove. Billy has lived in the Broughtons his whole life and has been a collector of old things for as long. The museum is full of interesting artifacts from the sea and the area. He is a local legend, a storyteller, and author of the book, “Full Moon Flood Tide” which is a guide book to the islets and islands between the B.C. mainland and northern Vancouver Island and his recollections of the odd characters who inhabit the land. There was an eye-catching older sailboat with a square rigged mast down in the cove with another old salt named Bill sitting on the dock working on the hull. This Bill wore a dark beret and a long gray beard that ended in a braid. He was happy to talk to us about his boat which he built, modeled exactly after Joshua Slocumb's Spray. There have only been three made, ever! It's 32' long with a full keel and 14' beam, a wood stove, and quite appealing with its old world charm. We hiked back to Echo Cove along the rocky shoreline at low tide, bypassing the trail through the woods. Meanwhile, aromas from the roasting pig filled the air so that by 1800 sharp, the banquet was ready, hearty side dishes provided by each boater for a most excellent pot luck.

Pierre introduces the pig at the Pig Roast

We met a couple at dinner who used to live just a few blocks from us in LFP. They would also be traveling around Vancouver Island so we exchanged contact info and perhaps our paths will cross again in a few weeks. In the evening, folks on our dock spent the evening outside visiting. Friendly, Salty Bill from the Spray rowed up to us and gave us a few tips on favorite anchorages, including Joe Cove where we would spend the following two nights.

Sunday, July 8: All but two of the many boats which had filled the marina for the weekend left on Sunday for new sights. We followed Dan and Steve out of the marina and sailed together for a couple of hours through Cramer Passage with about 12 to 20 knots on our nose. We must have tacked a dozen times. Our goal was Joe Cove on the south side of Eden Island. There were 8 boats already there, 4 rafted together and 3 tied to an old wooden raft. We carefully explored the other available spaces to find a nice nook behind a rock island where our two boats could anchor in 27' and raft together with stern ties to the rocks. Dan and I set out the crab pot, then took the dinghy around to visit with the other boaters. Gregg spotted a very strange sea creature swimming past our boat that looked like a 15” sea snake. We checked with the divers from the 4 boats rafted together and they pulled out a book to confirm that the creature we saw was a sea worm. A very large worm!

Monday, July 9: Checking on the crab pot brought disappointment as the bait was gone and we caught no crabs. Again, we set out the trap with new bait, a chicken leg. We formed a flotilla made up of our two dinghys plus a kayak for a morning exploration to a bright, white midden near the mouth of Joe Cove. Sue and Jeff from another boat had rowed over and were already out on the beach. We savored the moment together! How fortunate we all felt to be here now, doing this. The days are so present oriented, seemingly endless, filled with such detail, and the major chore planning how to get from point A to B safely.

Tuesday, July 10: Joe Cove was a fun anchorage with other friendly boaters nearby, making it hard to leave after two nights but with so much ahead to explore we left for Laura Cove on NW Broughton Island. A steady wind between 6 and 20 knots on Fife Sound kept us sailing for a couple of hours in bright sun, and wing on wing for a top speed of 7.8 knots. Dan and Steve sailed ahead in Serenete. We used the spinnaker pole to help keep the jib in place and a preventer to keep the main from jibing unintentionally. It worked perfectly until it was time to unrig the spinnaker pole. It's difficult to get the thick jib sheet through the small shackle on the spinnaker pole. An adjustment is needed! Laura Cove is small and surrounded by trees but not much to get to on land. We rafted our two boats together again for the evening and Gregg and Dan took a bold jump off the stern for a refreshing dip. It was as calm as a summer pond.
Dan illustrates Island Time in Laura Cove

Wednesday, July 11: The day began with a pancake breakfast, served up by Dan and Steve before they made their departure west for Port McNeill. We were going east with the first stop an exploration of the beautiful Burdwood Islands, a kayakers paradise for the smooth, lowland rocky islets and sandy beaches but with limited anchorage for other boats. Except for 8 kayaks on the beach, we were the only boat in sight. The cove is deep at 100-200 feet with a narrow rocky shoreline. Second time around we found our spot with the anchor in 110' and the boat settling in 75' at the north end off Twin Beach Island. We secured the stern tie and then settled in to take a closer look at the area. So splendid! Above the point on the nearby island, two eagles soared in the breezes. Squawking ravens kept dive-bombing the eagles as they perched nearby, guarding their nests. The eagles had carried something to their nests. Did they steal baby ravens or eggs? We first called this Eagle Point but later renamed it Angry Birds Cove! We visited with another sailboat that arrived later, originally from England, and with a family that had helped us dock our boat in Port McNeill. They were only in the cove a few hours before leaving. We may have had the only secure overnight moorage in the Burdwoods. It was one of the most beautiful anchorages to date, with snow capped peaks to the east, sandy beaches and low rocky islets, eagles and many other birds, plus sunshine – and a perfect place to celebrate our 20th anniversary. Twenty years!

Burdwood anchorage

Thursday, July 12: No hurry to leave this paradise. However, with stronger winds predicted and this being a good anchorage only in calm weather, reluctantly we left for for Kwatsi Bay and Glory Be Basin. One has to be curious to see locations with such place names! Along the way, we passed slowly by the majestic Lacy Falls, pictured in so many guide books.

Lacy Falls

Arriving in friendly Kwatsi Bay at 1615, Anka, one of the marina owners, assisted us with our lines. She gave us the orientation: very laid back pot luck at 6pm and don't download movies and photos from the internet.

True North at rustic Kwatsi Bay Marina

Note: Itinerary Change - We've found it necessary to change our itinerary from the original plan. We will forego the passage across Queen Charlotte Sound to Haida Gwai this summer, having determined that more time is needed to fully experience it than the two weeks we allowed. We'll use the extra time to explore more of the Broughtons, sail the sounds and inlets here, and then make our way over to Port Hardy and Cape Scott for the sail around the west side of Vancouver Island in August. Haida Gwai will wait for another summer.

Saturday-Sunday, July 14-15: We spent Friday afternoon and evening in Simoon Sound. The anchorage was calm and protected with only two other boats in the huge area. Bald Mountain was colorful in the sunset but the heavily logged hillsides made it unattractive and gloomy. It was dead calm throughout most of the day Saturday as we made our way from Simoon Sound across the glacial green waters near Greenway Sound and into Sullivan Bay. A few porpoises followed our wake. Sullivan Bay is much larger than either of us had expected. Besides the usual marina features, there is a community of 14 float houses with summer residents. Many of the original buildings of the marina are from the 1940s. They are colorful and well maintined and include a restaurant that serves 3 meals/day. The docks, named with street signs, cover 1.3 miles. That's called hiking in Sullivan Bay!

Sullivan Bay Marina

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