In planning for this day’s run we had a choice, which is dictated by getting past the potentially hazardous Yuculta-Gillard-Dent Rapids, all three of which occur within a one mile stretch, and all three of which can causes significant problems if encountered at any time other than slack, or at least near slack. One option was to get up at 3:30am, be off the dock by 4am, which would put us at Yuculta by 8am and in time to clear all 3 rapids under favorable conditions, and in so doing, arrive at today’s destination, Blind Channel Resort, by 11am. Second option was to sleep in, get off the dock by a more civilized 9:30am, which would allow us to make the next slack and reach our destination by 5:30pm. Of course, we opted for the early morning departure.
It’s quite dark when we quietly slip away from the sleeping boats tied up at Refuge Cove dock and head for Lewis Channel, which takes us north to Stuart Island and the famous rapids. It’s breezy and quite chilly out. We take turns going down into the cabin to eat our breakfast of English muffins and peanut butter. The auto pilot is working well, so hands can stay warm in pockets. We’re the only boat out this early. The only problem encountered involves dinghy. Several times on the trip we’ve had oars come loose from their locking tab. I have to slow the boat, climb out into dinghy, and resecure the oars. This time I tie them in with sail tie bungies, so we shouldn’t have that problem again. We near the start of Yuculta Rapids a half hour early. Greg notices some turbulance along the west bank of the channel, and at first we’re stumped as to the cause. Boat wake, current effect, or something else? Greg finally realizes that some sort of animals are causing the splashing. We’re seeing a gang of white sided dolphins, charging against the current, right along the shore, and moving very fast. We think they are in feeding mode. I swing over toward them, in hope that they’ll come out and ride our bow wave, however, they are intent on hunting, and they soon leave us far behind.
We decide to go through Yuculta early, and are able to easily manage the current, which is against us. We pass the large luxury resort on our port side. It’s very quiet over there, with virtually no activity. Gillard Passage comes next. The current here is constricted between two small islands, and once again, we have no trouble challenging the dying flood. By the time we reach Dent Rapids, we’re very near slack, and the waters are nearly calm. We begin encountering other cruising boats headed south, and before long, we start getting passed by northbound boats who are running a few knots faster than we are. We enjoy a pleasant run the rest of the way up Cordero Channel, to its junction with Mayne Passage, where Blind Channel Resort is located. Our radio call to the marina is promptly answered, and we receive clear instructions on how to navigate to our dock space. A dock hand is standing by to take our lines and assist us in getting tied up. This is a very attractive place, well maintained and run.
The sky begins to clear about the time we arrive, so our lunch of grilled cheese sandwiches and soup is consumed in the cockpit, in bright sun, under the welcome shade of the bimini. Conditions here change so very fast. After lunch we gather up our accumulated laundry, and head for the wash room. We’re lucky to find washers and dryers open, as well as showers. We clean up while our clothes get washed. With these chores done, we still have time in the afternoon to go for a walk in the woods, up a nice trail which leads to an enormous cedar tree. This giant is approximately 20 feet in width at its base. Really spectacular. Our afternoon finishes up with a drink in the cockpit, some reading, and a short nap. We have dinner reservations for 6pm, and enjoy a nice meal at a window table in their dining room.
We’ve been talking with other boaters regarding strategy for tomorrow. We plan on starting at 7:30am, with 2 more rapids ahead of us, Greene Point and Whirlpool. We should be able to get through them fine with our 7:30 start. The big question will be whether the winds are too high for us to go out onto Johnstone Strait. If we can’t, we’ll probably lay up early at Forward Bay. It would be nice, though, to make it past Johnstone and up into the start of the Broughton Islands. Only time will tell.