Departure Port: Bacchante Bay; Departure Time: 8:45am; Destination: Ritchie Bay; Arrival Time: 6pm; Stops along the way: West Whitepine Cove for lunch, Catface Range for fishing; Distance Cruised Today: 25 miles; Total Distance for the Trip: 832 miles; Conditions: sunny, clear and warm, air temp: 75 degrees; water temp 62 degrees; wind calm in morning, 10-12 mph in afternoon
The best thing to do with a perfect morning is to savor it. We take our time getting up and when we do, sunshine illuminates our bay and is warming the air. For the first time we enjoy breakfast outside, in the cockpit. While sipping our coffee we are startled to hear an eerie, course wail, which echoes against the high mountain slopes. The second time we hear it, we get a fix on its source. Binoculars reveal a loon, far across the water. The bird book confirms that we’re hearing and seeing a Redthroated Loon, rather uncommon for this area, at least in summer.
The air continues to warm as we slowly motor out of Bacchante Bay and out onto Shelter Inlet. Greg rubs on sunscreen, while I put on my sun shirt. The air is still, the water smooth, providing some captivating reflection images. We choose to go through the narrow, twisting Sulphure Passage to get past Obstruction Island. Cruising guides refer to this passage with extreme caution, however we find it comfortably doable, and just made for MacGregors. The turns are obvious, and with plenty of width and depth, and we encounter negligable current. We motor down Millar Channel and cross the mouth of Herbert Inlat, bound for a place which Sandy and I particularly enjoyed on our cruise through this area 5 years ago. On that trip we anchored for a night in West Whitepine Cove, and were treated with a visit by a female wolf, who walked around the entire lagoon while we ate dinner. She returned next morning while we were having breakfast. On the way out, we caught sight of a black bear. With these happy memories in mind, I want to show Greg the place, not expecting to see any wildlife in the middle of the day, but to just experience it. We set a lunch hook out in the middle, fire up the barbque, and grill up some sausages. While eating this tasty lunch, I glance over toward shore, just as a black bear steps out of the woods and begins searching for morsels on the low tide beach. Greg just looks at me, as though I’d set this all up.
Our next planned stop is an open bay below the Catface Range, on exposed waters. I’m hoping it will be settled enough to anchor the boat and dinghy over through the kelp to a place where, about 20 years ago, I managed to catch several nice coho salmon from the canoe, jigging while tied off on the kelp. Conditions are good when we get there, so we anchor the boat and dinghy over to my old fishing hole. The salmon refuse to bite, however, we do watch several large schools of little salmon fry flashing in the water around our dinghy. Greg hooks a large rockfish, however it gets off before I can ready the stringer. He also catches a small ling cod, which we release.
It’s mid afternoon by the time we give up on fishing. Time to head for tonight’s anchorage, which we think will be Ritchie Bay. A nice afternoon infill breeze has come up, so we raise the main and jib and shut the engine off. We make an easy 4 knots on a reach for the first couple of miles, before needing to alter course toward the northeast, through a channel between two small islands. This brings the wind more behind us, so I rig wing on wing, with preventer set on the main. Our speed drops to 3 knots, but we’re making good progress in our desired direction. The wind sneaks behind the main, but the preventer does its job, and I east the main across in a controlled gybe, and the new sail set increases our speed. Once past the little islands we’re able to set a direct course toward Ritchie Bay, sailing on a reach, again at 4 knots. Ritchie Bay is rather open, and the wind and chop are coming into it, however, we’re counting on the wind settling down this evening, and we really don’t want to go any farther today. We set the anchor around 6pm, and get to work on our steak dinner. The wind does indeed cooperate, and we anticipate a comfortable, undisturbed night.