Sunday, July 31, 2011

Telegraph Cove, Vancouver Island

We topped off the water tanks, before our departure, giving us time to contemplate how we were going to get out of our moorage space in Port McNeill.  It was down a narrow fairway with boats on both sides.  Boats that had left before us were bouncing off various boats, including Talos IV (no damage as we had put fenders out to avert just such an event), as they backed down the fairway and we did not want to follow in their wakes.  With a little help from John, the owner of a very sharp looking Pacific Seacraft ’34, we pulled the bow in and pushed the stern out into the fairway and proceeded to slowly back out.  As it turns out, we had no issues and negotiated the departure in fine form.  Once out, we pulled over to the fuel docks to top of the diesel.  It was the least expensive diesel so far at $4.66 per gallon.

Once under way, we again had the wind on our nose (I am beginning to think that there is a wind conspiracy here in the North Island that keeps sailboats from doing what they do best, sailing).  Our destination today is Telegraph Cove, about 10 miles east and a little south.  We are in Orca and Humpback country, so were hopeful that we would see some whales today.  The orca live website indicated that they are hanging in the Robson Bight area, which is beyond our destination for today, but one never knows.  As it turned out, we saw no whales, but our path tomorrow should take us through the area of their habitat so again we will be vigilant.

Telegraph Cove is a very small harbor with two marinas, each flanking their own side of the harbor.  We were assigned a spot deep into the marina on the left.  It is a good slip, with what we think or hope is adequate depth.  Since we have a new moon tonight, the tidal swing is pretty dramatic, with low water at about 1.3’.  The marina operator says that we should have about 6’ at zero tide.  If that is true, we should have about two feet under the keel at 9:20 AM tomorrow.  We watched it very carefully, getting up at 6 AM to ensure that we were not going to be high and dry.  As we watched and waited, the water kept going down and the depth sounder was giving us a very uncomfortable margin.  The solution was to push Talos IV as far out of the slip and into the fairway as possible to gain just a few more inches under the keel.  By low tide at 9:20 AM all ended well with a whopping 6 inches under the keel.

The historic side of the cove is lined with old buildings along a wooden walkway and platform.  At the far end is the Whale Bone Museum.  We had met the parents of one of the volunteers who assisted in assembling many of the bone exhibits here back in Ganges earlier in our trip.  He had strongly recommended a stop here.  The museum is an excellent interpretive center to learn about the whales and their habitat.  It was a highlight of our stop here at Telegraph Cove.

Telegraph Cove

The Bones" Project Building

Talos IV 

Leaving the cove

Working Tugboat

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island

We left mid morning and headed across the channel to Port McNeill.The passage took all of about 1 hour. This is probably the nicest government dock we have been to. Our purpose was to do a major resupply at a real grocery store and take a ferry to Alert Bay.

We encountered several cruisers from previous marinas and anchorages. It was nice to compare notes and share some stories. We were able to do an oil change and also secure a water jerry can. You never know what you will find as you wander the aisles of the local marine store!

Day two at Port Mcneill: Today we took the ferry to Alert Bay. The island is known as a First Nations Reserve and the home of killer whales. We did see an orca while on the ferry outbound. We could not take the boat to this bay as there is not a suitable area to tie up or anchor. The day was a sloppy rainy mess which filled my waterproof coat pocket with water and drowned my i-phone. We walked around viewing lots of totem poles, hiked the ecological park and finally observed some CMTs (culturally modified trees). Lastly we visited the cultural center and headed for the ferry home. Many of the totems seen in Vancouver BC were carved on this reserve. The cultural center has a beautiful collection of masks and has recently received back some of their artifacts taken by the BC govt when potlatches were outlawed.

Tomorrow we head for Telegraph Bay, Vancouver Island.

Totem at the graveyard

More totems

More totems

Ecological park boardwaalk

Culturally modified cedar tree. The cuts were made to remove a cedar beam for  a longhouse.

Worlds tallest totem located at the Big House.

Beautiful Nordic Tug. We think this is the ultimate Pacific Northwest boat. Notice the wooden kayaks on the roof racks!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Sointula Harbour, Malcolm Island

We left Port Hardy after a good nights sleep and laundry. The government dock was a tight fit, requiring us to spin Talos IV with the help of some others to get away from the dock. I think we were fortunate that we didn't have to raft up for the night. We had heard about the port community of Sointula from our dock mate in Seattle, Don Johnson. Sointula was 24 nm from Port Hardy, so that was our next stop.  The weather conditions were promising for sail, so we headed out about 10 AM with wind on our minds. The wind never got much above 6 kts until we were close to our destination. Oh well, we ran with the current under motor making about 6.5 kts.

Sointula is a Finnish utopian community from the turn of the century. Now inhabited by all demographics it seems very laid back, artsy and peaceful. We have discovered a great bakery, wonderful art gallery and the promise of some great hiking trails to view the orcas. Check out the local link to find out more about the orca whales that hang out in this area, you may need to cut and paste into your browser. (  docks are well maintained and supply the boater with bikes to get around town. We are so comfortable here we are staying an extra night.

It was an interesting occurrence that our dock mate had mentioned Sointula before we left Seattle. DJ was preparing his vessel to sail with Finnish friends to Alaska leaving Seattle in mid June. We had wondered if we might run into him during our own passage making adventures. Walking the dock in Sointula we were surprised to see him and his vessel tied to the dock. We hailed him and soon were catching up on his adventures while sipping tequila aboard the Flicka with his Finnish crew. It was an enjoyable happy hour and we returned to Talos IV glad to have encountered him but sad to hear he would be returning south in the morning. 

Pultney Point light house on the north west tip
of Malcom Island.

Paul with the really cool mauve bikes in front
of the bakery and latte shop.

Janet and the really cool mauve bikes.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Salish Sea Cruise Update #6 and Future Cruise Plan

We are in Port Hardy on the north end of Vancouver Island.  Blunden Harbour on the BC mainland coastline was our turn around point.  We will now be working our way south and east at a very leisurely pace.  The plan is to be back in Seattle sometime in early to mid September.  We will hit some of the spots we missed on the way north and perhaps re-visit some of our favorite spots.

View Salish Sea Cruise Update #6 in a larger map

Port Hardy, Vancouver Island

We woke early and the sea conditions were favorable for a crossing of Queen Charlotte Strait. We raised the mainsail and unfurled the jib just out of Blunden Harbour hoping to sail most of the 15 nm to Port hardy. The winds cooperated for a while, but finally gave up to rolling swell and 5kts on our nose. We dropped the sails and motored the last hour into port. This is a quick stop for water, minor provisions and fuel. Tomorrow we head for Siontula.

Crossing the Queen Charlotte Strait

Ultimate chainsaw art
We have walked into the main center of this northern town. The welcome sign is the ultimate in chainsaw art. We had some discussion with a First Nation's resident who told us she was from Blunden Harbour and shared some of the history of her people and her family living there in the 1960's and up until the relocation project. It was an interesting insight into the massive amounts of pottery shards we found on the beach.

Blunden Harbour

We left Jennis early to make Stuart Narrows by slack tide. The warm weather we had yesterday presented us with some very light fog this morning. Visibility was still adequate for the departure. We planned the time just right, arriving at the narrows with no problems. The ebb tide gave us a nice push out Wells passage to LaBouchere Passage. From that point on we were in open water, lots of sky and no wind. Seas were flat and we were making 6.5 kts toward Blunden Harbour. Paul and I agreed we were almost giddy at being able to have so much sky and knowing this was a major turning point for our trip. Arrival at Blunden was uneventful….we found a great anchorage and had plenty of time to explore by dinghy.

The Harbour has lots of tucked away lagoons and inlets. We anchored by a midden beach and an old first nations village. The beach was strewn with old pottery shards, iron remnants and of course clam shells. These middens are really deep. We were going to hike up to find the village but came across a memorial to another cruiser’s dog. The plaque stated that the dog lost a battle with a mountain lion at that spot 1 year ago. We thought exploring pottery shards was a great activity. We then went on a tour around the inlets and explored by dinghy.

The crab pot is set, dinner is on and the winds have picked up. We will probably stay here tomorrow unless the weather dictates our departure early AM.

Furry crew update: Louis has discovered that lying on the cockpit engine cover is nice and warm and also sheltered from the wind.

Leaving Jennis

Found objects

small cabin

more found objects

Midden beach

memorial to a brave dog

more midden beach

Sunset Blunden Harbour

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Turnbull Bay, Sutherland bay and Jennis Bay

We left Claydon Bay for Turnbull with some rain and low clouds. Things started to clear during the motor up Grappler Sound. By the time we arrived at Turnbull the weather was looking pretty nice. A big brown bear was on the shore at the head of the bay, grubbing around the rocks at low tide. There was a great hike to a swimming lake which we took later that afternoon. The temps were still a bit cool after the rain, so swimming was not on the agenda. We carried our air horn to scare off the bears if we encountered any. The berries are coming out now, so it is much more likely the bears will be close by.

Heading up Grappler Sound

Trail Marker...they have big tidal swings!

Trail head Turnbull Bay

Stairs cut into log leading down to lake

Swimming lake

Huge swim float

Leaving Turnbull
We left Turnbull early morning. We had to time our arrival at Stuart Narrows in Drury Inlet for slack water. The timing was perfect and we motored thru without problems. Our destination was Sutherland Bay at the head of Drury Inlet. This was about an 8nm inlet with lower hills and a lot more sky. The weather was great and when we got the the bay we were the only ones there. It was 10 - 12 foot depths all around and mud bottom. 

Making way up Drury Inlet

Talos IV at anchor Sutherland Bay

Sutherland Bay
We left Sutherland Bay in the morning planning to stay at Davis Bay tonight. Passing Jennis Bay we decided to go in for a look. We docked, met some really nice people and found out there was some good hiking here. We docked for the night. The marina has a very nice dog named Bravo who chases bears and has lost one eye in a fight with a wolf. We went hiking and Bravo went with us. We didn't find any bears, but there was a lot of bear scat on the trail. Bravo flushed a grouse out of the bush and spent a lot of time in the creek and running ahead. We returned to the marina for happy hour and encountered some boaters we had met earlier in Kwatsi Bay. Tonight one of the boaters brought up his crab trap. It was full to the brim with huge dungeness crab. They were throwing crab back in the water because they were over their limit. We will check our trap tomorrow!

Jennis Bay Marina

Flower boxes on the dock

Walking up the ramp with Bravo


Sullivan Bay Marina Resort, North Broughton Island

Sullivan Bay is a marina community. It is up Sutlej Channel just a ways from Greenway Sound. The buildings are all on floats here, no shore access. It has been a viable community since the first part of last century. Many people have summer homes here, with some living here year round. There are tidy homes, flower boxes, a great little café and very friendly people running the docks. We had lunch at the café…homemade pot pies. The pastry crusts were almost as good as Deborah’s Pies in Seattle. We were able to do a load of laundry, get showers, burn trash and recycle everything else.  It was worth the stay to get rid of the garbage! We walked the docks looking at the massive motor vessels and pretty homes. We put in an order for 2 apple pies (6 inch) and will have them fresh tomorrow morning before we leave. We also restock the food supplies, refueled and took on water. The water continues to have tannins, runs brown and looks icky. I have been treating it with bleach. So far we have had no ill effects.

Sunset at Sullivan Bay

The dock at Sullivan Bay

Private float homes and mega  yachts are part of the scene

Dock side at Sullivan Bay

Talos IV and dinghy

Greenway Sound Marina, Greenway Sound

Coming out of Cypress Harbour we enter Sutlej Channel. The channel carries us around Walker Point at which time we head west into Greenway Sound. Once again it is beautiful shoreline. Very steep and deep. There is some aqua culture here but otherwise pretty pristine. There is a BC Forest Service Campsite up the sound that has a trail and lake swimming. This is our target activity for the day. We had heard from several sailors the docks at the now deserted resort marina are still in good repair. We decided to go in and check it out, planning to tie up long enough to allow a hike and swim. Access to the BC Park is by dinghy only so anchoring is not an option…..Too deep.

The docks were expansive; this was a very exclusive resort in its day. There were 3 other boats tied up and we found a spot on one of the fingers. The dinghy ride to the trail head was short, the hike exceptional and the lake totally cool. We met an elderly couple coming down the trail. They had been coming here for years. They told us about the lakeside dock past where we would normally have stopped. It was a perfect place to strip down and swim from a ladder on the dock. The water temp was cool…maybe 70 degrees and full of tannins from the trees. The air temp was warm enough to prevent a chill. We had a great time!

Returning to the deserted marina we met the other couples tied up. We decided to stay the night as things were secure and the waters very still.

Next day everyone left except a power boat. Several new vessels arrived and spaced themselves around the dock. A Ranger tug pulled in across from us. They had a feline crew member “Boots”. Boots has logged over 14,000 nm in the tug. She is quite a pretty grey toned tabby with white paws. We decided to spend another day tied up enjoying the area, doing hand laundry and some maintenance. A floatplane arrived mid day and picked up someone off one of the boats. Paul tried crabbing at several different spots but no joy. It has been so long since I had crab I can’t remember what it tastes like.

Tomorrow we are going to Sullivan’s for water. We still have plenty in reserve but don’t want to get to low.

Swimming Lake

View of swimming lake and dock

Greenway Sound 
Floatplane picking up crew from one of the boats

Louie enjoying a sunny moment on deck

Claydon Bay, Mainland BC

Leaving Sullivan’s lighter in the pocket but happy with the services and supplies we head thru Dunsany Passage to Claydon Bay. This bay is supposed to be the crabber’s haven. We arrive and find crab floats everywhere we want to anchor. Paul finds us a spot in one of the arms among 2 other boats. He sets his trap in a spot he is sure to produce. We will be at anchor for the first time in 3 nights. It feels good to be back on the hook. The furry crew are also happier. The past 3 nights we have had lots of dogs on the docks. Tonight is steak, carrots, potatoes and apple pie.

We awoke this morning to overcast skies. We need to wait for a favorable slack to make way for Turnbull Cove. During the leisurely breakfast the weather started moving in. We expected a bit of rain, but this was steady and wet. The longer we waited the worse it got. Finally, over lunch Janet passed the motion to stay put and ride out the low trough here rather than fight it while trying to navigate. The motion was not met with any resistance from Paul or the furry crew who are now napping.

Paul went to pull the crab pot………Skunked again. We are thinking we need to evaluate our bait. He has changed things up, and now the trap is reset in a new spot.

Morning: Rained all night. We have been collecting rainwater to see how much is possible…just in case water becomes scarcer. Received a full kettle, enough for a full morning coffee pot and refill of water bottles.

Paul pulled the traps. HOORAY!!!!! 4 dungeness crab. All female. Back into the drink they go. Maybe next time.

Claydon Bay
Rain, rain, rain at Claydon Bay

Cypress Harbour, Broughton Island

Leaving Kwatsi Bay we headed out early morning down channel to Echo Bay. There was still plenty of debris in the water, but less than the day before.

Echo Bay was a quick 30 minute stop for grocery and wifi access. The next destination is Cypress Harbour on Broughton Island.

After Stopping at Echo Bay to restock food we headed north up Raleigh Passage to Penphrase Passage then around the point of Broughton Island to Cypress Harbour. Cypress Harbour is very pretty but has an aqua culture facility within its boundaries. Because of this we tried to find a good anchorage off to the side. Our location worked out well, shallow depths, very secure anchorage in mud and no company. We had a dinghy adventure and went to explore the Stopford Bay inlet at the head of Cypress Harbour. We opted not to anchor up in there for reasons I can’t remember… was very pretty up in the bay but very shallow. We saw the beautiful Ketch anchored there which we had observed earlier in our anchorage at Waddington Bay. Paul set his crab pot tonight…

Morning has produced no crab. Time to leave for Greenway Sound and a good hike.

Cypress Harbour.