July 20, 2019–Salmon, Sailing, Sun, Scenery

Departure Port:  Hot Springs Cove; Departure Time:  8:30am; Destination:  Bacchante Bay; Arrival Time:  2:30pm; Distance Cruised Today:  18 miles; Total Distance for the Trip:  807 miles; Conditions:  Clear and sunny, wind 5 – 12 knots, westerly; seas smooth to light chop

DSCF2648We’ve no sooner gotten the coffee water to heating when the first floatplane load of hot springs bathers lands and idles up to the dock.  It is followed in quick succession by 3 more planes, all before 7 am.  Hot Springs is open for business.  We have other plans in mind, and as soon as breakfast is done, we prepare the boat for departure, and head on out.  We make a slow pass by the hot springs, noting the cloud of steam rising in the morning chill.  While Greg steers, I prepare the salmon rod for a bit of trolling just outside Hot Springs Cove.  Three other boats GOPR0693have the same idea, and soon we join the flotilla, with our flasher and Super Bait trailing from the downrigger at a depth of around 40 feet.  We haven’t gone 100 yards before we get our first strike.  The fish isn’t hooked, so we retrieve the line and downrigger cannonball, add some “salmon sauce” scent to the lure, and drop it down again.  On our next pass we hook a fish, and Greg reels in a nice coho, about 4 pounds in size.  We put it on the stringer and go back for another.  Each time we troll past this one spot we get a strike, missing 4 fish in all.  Those barbless hooks sure do a good job of protecting salmon.  One of the escaped fish was on briefly, and felt quite heavy.  Around 9:20 we get another hit, and this time it stays on the hook.  It gives a good battle, feeling heavier than the first fish.  In the excitement of cranking up the downrigger cannonball, a kink somehow gets into the cable, and the cable snaps, sending my 10 lb cannonball plunging to the bottom.  Now it’s really important for us to land this fish, since we can’t troll anymore without a downrigger ball and clip.  The sun is reflecting off the IMG_4823water, right into my eyes as I try to net the fish.  It makes runs under the dinghy and under the boat, but finally Greg draws it close enough to net.   We have our second fish and it’s not yet 9:30am. 

While Greg steers the boat, I turn the cockpit bench seat into a fish butchering station, filleting both fish and slipping the fillets into storage bags and tucking them into the refrigerator, which is now serving as our freezer.  We’ll bring these fish home with us, to share with family.  It takes numerous buckets of water and scrubbing with a boat brush to clean up the mess, but before too long the fishing things are stowed and we’re back to cruising mode.  We motor up Sydney Inlet about 3 miles, then turn east into Shelter Inlet.  A light breeze on our starboard beam begins to move our flags, so I raise the GOPR0705main and unfurl the jib.  We don’t have too far to go, so I shut the engine down and we let the sails do the work.  We ghost along at 2 to 3 knots on a reach for about a mile, before the wind nearly dies.  Our speed drops to less than a knot for a time, and just when I’m close to starting the engine again, the breeze returns.  Soon we’re doing between 3 and 4 knots, wing on wing. and enjoying the gurgling sound the boat makes when happily sailing at that pace.  I set a preventer on the main to avoid an unplanned gybe.  The full genoa is out, and as long as I maintain the proper angle to the wind, I can keep it filled without use of the whisker pole.  We end up doing a series of broad, lazy downwind tacks, alternating between wing on wing and broad reach.  It feels great to move by sail only, and be making good progress toward our day’s destination.

We eat lunch on the fly, enjoying the sail, the sunshine, the solitude, and the striking scenery.  It’s clear that we’ll be able to sail all the way into Bacchante Bay.  The wind begins to drop off when we glide through the narrow entrance to Bacchante Bay, a lovely pool of water surrounded by soaring forested walls.  Since this is part of Strathcona Provincial Park, these forests IMG_4830haven’t been logged, and the pristine look of the place is lovely to behold.  I’m hoping to sail right onto the anchor, however, the anchoring here is tricky, with depths of 60 feet right to the edge of the shallows at the head of the bay.  I start the engine and patrol around a few times before finding a suitable place to drop anchor. 

Once secure, we get into the dinghy for an explore up Wassa Creek.  It’s nearly high tide, so we’re able to motor up the inlet creek for about a half mile.  We get out and wade a quarter mile further upstream, enjoying the isolation and undisturbed character of the place. 

Back on board, our dinner tonight is the last of our Rugged Point salmon, along with fried oysters, rice, and green salad.   While Greg cleans up the dishes I go ashore to burn paper trash.  It’s been a full week since we last were able to dispose of trash onshore.  Our waste basket is about half the size of a regular kitchen waste basket.  By flattening things and burning all our paper goods, we’ve been able to get surprising mileage out of that container.  After burning the paper, it’s still only about 2/3’s full.  Not bad for a full week.

July 19, 2019–Winging it to Hot Springs Cove

Departure Port:  Bligh Cove; Departure Time:  6:30am; Destination:  Hot Springs Cove; Arrival Time:  1:30pm; Distance Traveled Today:  32 miles; Total Distance Cruised:  789 miles; Conditions:  Clear and sunny; winds  NW 5 to 15 mph; air temp 51 degrees first thing, 70 degrees in afternoon; water temp:  61 degrees

DSCF2613I’m forced to get out of bed in the middle of the night to solve a minor, but recurring problem, and am greeted by a nearly full moon beaming down into our little cove from a cloudless sky.  This bodes well for our planned outside run once it gets light.  We’re up by 5:45am, and underway by 6:30, as planned.  It’s a very brisk 51 degrees thanks to the clear overnight sky, however, it’s an acceptable trade, since the sun will soon be up and warming us.  The seas are flat to start with, but as we reach the mouth of Nootka Sound we begin to pick up the swell,DSCF2614 which is running at 3 feet to begin with.  This is a consequence of the rainy and windy weather of the past couple of days.  It will take a day or so of calm weather for it to really settle down, but we won’t wait for that to happen.  We should have both wind and seas behind us today, so the ride shouldn’t be too uncomfortable.

We initially swing a few miles offshore, because a gnarly assortment of rocks guard the southern approach to Nootka, and we must seek deep water well beyond them.  We nose into the swell to begin with, but once we can swing our turn southward, the swell is more on our stern quarter.  I’m able to put out a jib, which helps the ride for a short while, but once the wind eases, I’m forced to roll it back in.  We make another course adjustment, again further to the south, once we bring Perez Rock off our port beam, and we now have a sailing wind in our favor as we parallel the shore of Hesquiat Penninsula, about 3 miles offshore.  I raise the main and set a preventer, since the wind is uncomfortably close to directly astern.  I open up a partial jib, but it causes trouble, being somewhat backwinded by the main.  We see the Estevan Point lighthouse from a considerable distance away, and once we pass the lighthouse, we’re able to head due east, toward the entrance to Hot Springs Cove.  This last leg is 11 miles in length, and with the wind directly behind us, I’m able to set the main on the starboard side, with a preventer, and I open a jib on the port side.  The wind angle enables us to keep the jib filled without use of the whisker pole, which is nice, since the following seas are running 4 to 5 feet at times, DSCF2638and I don’t enjoy getting up on the cabin roof in those conditions.  While we’re motorsailing along at 5 1/2 knots, we listen closely to the VHF, since we hear a MayDay call from a guy in a 26 foot power boat, who’s struck a submerged object up on Nootka Sound, where we departed from this morning.  He’s taking on water and the bilge pump isn’t catching up.  He says the boat will sink unless someone can reach him in time with an additional pump.  The Canadian Coast Guard puts out a call for nearby boats to render assistance, and they end up dispatching a rescue helicopter.  We later hear that he’s managed to slow the flow of water into the boat, and the pump is keeping up.  He thinks he can make it to Gold River.  Someone is escorting him there just in case. 

A little after noon we draw near to Hot Springs Cove.  Time to lower the sail and head for the dock.  It’s been a rocking and rolling 6 hours, so we look forward to sheltered water and aDSCF2639 secure dock.  As we pass the hot springs, we see a large number of bathers climbing all over the rocks at the springs.  Float planes have been shuttling in all morning, and we start encountering numerous excursion boats coming and going.  Once we’re docked, we talk with one of the boat drivers.  He says there are probably 100 bathers over at the springs in midday.  This is a major increase from when Sandy and I were here 5 years ago.  It’s really been promoted.  I ask when the last commercial group is likely to leave, and he tells me probably around 7pm, since it takes 1 1/2 hours for them to get back to Tofino.  Greg and I plan to fix dinner around 5pm, and head up the trail to the hot springs around 6:30 for an evening soak, hopefully without quite so many people to contend with.

We finish with dinner by 6pm, get into our swim suits, grab towels and head for the trail to the hot springs.  The trail itself is a wonder, winding its way through a beautiful rain forest, cedar boardwalk for its entire 1 1/2 mile length.  What makes it even more special, for decades now, cruising boaters have carved their boat names and dates of visit onto the boardwalk planks.  Some of these carvings are extremely artistic and elaborate. 

Our timing for visiting the hot springs couldn’t have been better.  The last of the afternoon crowd is leaving by the time we start up the trail.  When we get to the hot springs, only 2 bathers are still there, so we enjoy this very special place in almost complete solitude.  We stand beneath the little hot water waterfall, which serves as a delightful outdoor shower, and soak as long as we wish in the pools below.  When we’ve had all the hot water we can take, we  climb back up to the changing room, and then begin our walk back toward the boat.  On our way out, we’re passed by at least 20 people, just starting on their way in.  I’m sure they were all thinking that by going in late, they’d have the place all to theirselves.  Unfortunately for them, a whole bunch of others had the same idea.  We can’t believe our good fortune in timing our visit to the hot springs.  The soak has been incredibly invigorating and we both feel great.

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July 18, 2019–Breakfast at Critter Cove

DSCF2600We’ve been out for lunch, we’ve gone out to dinner, but we’ve yet to order up a cafe breakfast on this trip, but that’s about to change.  We decide to take advantage of our opportunity, in this remote place, to go to Critter Cove for breakfast.  It’s only 3 miles from where we anchored yesterday, so around 6:30 we get up.  Before getting underway I dinghy over toward the head of the inlet, where we looked down at a beautiful oyster bed yesterday afternoon, while the tide was yet high.  It’s out this morning and I’ve decided that this is a good opportunity to harvest a few oysters.  We’re at the head of a remote bay, with a good supply of fresh water draining right over the oyster bed.  We’ve seen no redIMG_4794 tide on the way in, and there was no phosphorescence in the water last night.  Also, we’ve seen piles of shucked oyster shells on the beach.  I select a half dozen medium sized oysters, open them with my trusty, rusty oyster knife, and slip the morsels into a zip loc bag.  Then it’s time to head for breakfast.  On our way down Hisnet Inlet we fire up the stove and fix mugs of coffee, which help take the chill out of the morning.  We have patchy clouds overhead, and the sun is trying to get the upper hand.  We find lots of space at the Critter Cove dock, tie up and head for the cafe.

Critter Cove is a fishing resort, founded by Cameron Forbes, a former hockey player.  In his playing days his nickname was “Critter”, thus the name of the fishing resort he has established.  It’s a very well kept place, complete with log breakwater, fuel dock, extensive dockage, cafe, shower room, and lodgings.  We receive good service and are served very tasty food.  It’s nice to have someone else do the cooking for a change.  We enjoy viewing the rustic fishing themed decor and looking out the window at the activity out on the docks.  After breakfast we move over to the fuel dock to top off our tank and buy a bag of ice, and then we’re off. 

We head out toward the top of Bligh Island under mostly sunny skies, however, by the time we turn the corner and enter Hanna Channel the sky is darkening.  About 3 miles ahead we watch a strong rain squall rush across the channel.  We’re relieved to miss it, however its big brother is right behind, and we get plastered.  Greg climbs into his rain gear and I hunker down under the bimini.  The seat cushions are already saturated, so there’s no point in putting up the surround.  The weather is changing so quickly, and we don’t want to obstruct our view. 

DSCF2601We continue to buck rain filled headwinds as we proceed down Zuchiarte Channel, toward Resolution Cove at the southeast end of Bligh Island.  This cove is where Captain Cook, in the spring of 1778. became the first Englishman to land in the Northwest.  The cove itself is rather open and subject to swell, and the holding is supposed to be mediocre at best, so we view from the water the two commemorative plaques, put there on the bicentennial of his landing, but do not go ashore.  Then we proceed to our intended destination of Burwood Point.  Burwood is a somewhat open cove, right at the mouth of Nootka Sound, and it offers a good jumping off point for tomorrow’s run down to Estevan Point and beyond.  However, I’ve known since the trip planning stage months ago, that Burwood would have to be a fair weather anchorage, because of it’s limited protection.  We’reDSCF2604 checking it out in hopes that it’s calm enough to suit our needs.  As we draw near, though, we see it isn’t.  While sheltered from the southwest wind we now have, the 3 to 4 foot swells charging into Nootka Sound are wrapping around the point, creating a substantial swell in the anchorage itself.  We don’t relish being kicked around here, so we proceed to Plan B, which means heading back over to Bligh Island and up Ewing Inlet to the sheltered anchorage at its head.   We eat lunch while on the move, and anchor in Bligh Cove Provincial Marine Park around 2pm.  While setting the anchor it once again begins to rain, so we shelter in the cabin.  While closing the hatch, I notice boat entering the anchorage.  It turns out to be a pair of park rangers, out on patrol.  We enjoy a pleasant chat with them, telling them about our trip and getting a bit of information about the area. 

For dinner, we fix up another of our great Panko breaded rock fish fillets, and I try out the oysters as well.  Dinner is once again a success, enhanced by the fact that we were able to fry fish on the barbque without getting rained on.  After dinner I row ashore to burn paper trash.  I head for a small campfire ring we can see from the boat.  I walk over to an opening in the dense shoreline vegetation, and I step into an amazing place.  It’s obviously a well used, but very neat and clean, kayak camp, with nice flat tent sites and other camp conveniences, like flat boards to lay out gear.  The amazing thing about this place, however, are the trees.  More specifically, cedars, big cedars.  Five massive cedars stand like giant sentinels around this deeply shadowed camp site.  From the boat, one has no clue that the cedars are even here.  Other nearby trees are taller, but the sheer girth of these cedars is awe inspiring.  I row back and get Greg, so he can experience this amazing place.

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July 17, 2019–Things That Go Bump in the Night

Departure Port:  Friendly Cove; Departure Time:  8:40am; Destination:  Hisnet Inlet; Arrival Time:  11:30am; Distance Traveled Today:  12 miles; Total Distance for the Trip:  737 miles; Conditions:  Overcast most of the day, rainy off and on with occasional brief sunbreaks; wind 5 to 10 mph from the southwest; air temp:  72 degrees; water temp:  64 degrees

DSCF2594The  forecast for last night called for rain, so as soon as I finished writing my post for yesterday, I went out into the cockpit to install the surround.  It began spitting rain before I was finished, and by the time we crawled into our sleeping bags it was raining steadily.  We fell asleep to the steady rattle of a serious rain, with the boat rolling back and forth from a 1 foot swell which was refracting into the bay.

Some time in the middle of the night I’m startled awake by a distinct bump.  Now, there are only a few reasons to feel a bump in the middle of the night when swinging at anchor, and most of them spell trouble.  I’m sure I both heard and felt a bump, and I have no choice but to investigate.  It’s still steadily raining outside as I remove the hatch and climb out into theDSCF2595 cockpit.  I grab the spotlight and unzip the surround side panel, on the side closest to the rock cliff which was just 100 feet away from the boat when we anchored yesterday.  It’s nearly impossible to see anything with a spotlight when it’s raining, since each falling raindrop refracts the light, creating a great light show but not giving much meaningful visibility.  Nonetheless, I determine that the rock cliff is still where it’s supposed to be.  That eliminates the anchor dragging.  I can’t see anything amiss, and conclude that the dinghy must have caused the bump.  Back to bed I go.  I’m just starting to doze off when I feel another bump, followed in short succession by another, and then another.  Something is definitely out there, bumping our hull.  I grab the small flashlight and go into the cockpit once again.  The dinghy is trailing behind the boat, and not in contact.  I sit out in the cockpit watching dinghy, waiting to see if it’s swinging close to the boat.  About 15 minutes go by and I feel another bump.  This time I know dinghy is innocent.  I stick my head outside in the rain, and train my light down, along the hull on the port side.  I see a large log lying close against the hull, and being prevented from floating free by part of the dinghy towing bridle.  I pop the boat hook from its bracket and give the log a shove.  It floats free, and seems to be heading for the beach.  In the morning I scan the beach, and see a large log, longer than the boat, lying at water’s edge.  It has a suspiciously guilty look about it.  Fortunately it didn’t have any nasty iron spikes sticking out of it like some logs do, and all it cost me was a bit of sleep.

The day’s run is relatively uneventful.  It rains off and on, and a favorable wind teases us into raising the mainsail and unfurling the jib.  We can only make 3.5 knots, and that for just a short time before the wind dies, so it’s back to motoring.  We pass numerous sport fishing boats, so conclude that this area is still open to fishing.  We don’t put our line out, however, and make our way along Bligh Island toward DSCF2597Hisnet Inlet.  We’re again working our way deep into mountainous country.  We reach the head of Hisnet Inlet shortly before lunch.  After anchoring in 45 feet of water we heat up a lunch of leftovers from last night’s Thai chicken dish.  We use the last of our salvaged flour tortillas, which are amazingly still quite good, and make wraps with the chicken dish and sauce.  Perfect lunch for this gloomy, rainy day.  After lunch the rain closes in, so we doze and read until mid afternoon, when the sun makes a brief appearance.  I go out and pump about 4 inches of water out of dinghy, and we go on a dinghy explore.  We land at a grassy area across the inlet and find a series of campsites, including one with an old cast iron stove sitting out in the open.  We use it to burn our paper trash.  We find a road which comes down to the saltwater from the forest interior, and later discover that this road ultimately connects with the highway to Port McNeil. 

For dinner this evening we barbque pork steaks, and serve them with mashed potatoes, canned corn, and applesauce.  A cup of tea and biscotti finish things off.  While cleaning up a sudden gust of wind comes rushing down off the mountain closest to us.  The gust must have approached 30 miles per hour, but only lasted 15 seconds or so.  We conclude it must have been one of those catabatic winds called “williwas”.  First one I’ve ever experienced, and I’m glad it wasn’t more severe.  Hopefully, we’ll be able to go through this night without something going bump.

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July 16, 2019–Captured by Chief Breaking Wind

Departure Port:  Bodega Bay; Departure Time:  8:30am; Destination:  Friendly Cove; Arrival Time:  10:30am; Distance Cruised Today:  9 miles; Total Distance for the Trip:  725 miles; Conditions: Cloudy in morning, clearing by midday, clouding up in evening; mostly calm until evening, then building wind; air temp:  72; water temp:  64

DSCF2556Today we make the short passage to Friendly Cove, at the mouth of Nootka Sound, where history was made.  Little do we know that on this day we’ll add our own colorful chapter to those stories.  It takes mugs of hot coffee and bowls of steaming  oatmeal to get us going on this chill, misty morning.  We head south, down Kendrick Inlet, between Strange and Nootka Islands toward historic Friendly Cove.  We pass a couple of logging camps along the way, and spot 3 black bears, patrolling the beach in search of breakfast.  We cruise inside theDSCF2564 Spanish Pilot Islands before rounding into Friendly Cove.  A large Canadian Coast Guard buoy maintenance ship is anchored just outside the bay, the village dock is busy with fishermen tending their boats and young kids fishing from the dock.  The Nootka Lighthouse dominates on a hill above the bay, with its white walled, red roofed buildings brightening the scene.  Coastguardsmen shuttle back and forth between their ship and the Lighthouse dock, delivering goods and materials for use at the lighthouse.

We anchor on the east edge of the curving bay, prepare lunch fixings and stuff them into a day pack, and then row ashore.  We follow the path around the bay, past a large campground, which is filled with tents and campers.  We rightly guess that they are part of a large tribal gathering.  We continue on, toward the lighthouse, climbing stairs and crossing a steel girder bridge to the lighthouse.  The light keeper and his wife, along with a group of Coastguardsmen and women are gathered around a picnic table, roasting hot dogs.  They invite us to join them, and we gladly accept.  After lunch we wander over toward the little chapel, which is well known for its two beautiful stain glassed windows,  depicting significant historic events, as well as dramatic and striking examples of local carving.  On our way over we pause to chat with an older man who is picking a few blackberries.  He’s from Hesquiat originally, but now lives in Campbell River.  He’s come here with family members to be part of the large gathering at the campground.  He remembers this place from years ago, when many families lived here.  Now, he tells us, only one family remains in year round residence.  He is 78 years old, and slowly recovering from an aneurism which nearly claimed his life 7 years ago.  He is one of a very few who still speak the language.  He was forced to attend DSCF2567“Residential School” where the Canadian government attempted to stamp out the Indian culture.  He still carries scarred memories of that experience.  He openly tells us of his early struggles with alcoholism, but proudly says he’s been sober for the past 32 years, and he says “I feel alive every day.”  He knows the old songs and stories, and has 22 great grandchildren.  We tell him he’s a wealthy man.DSCF2570

After visiting the chapel we walk back toward the beach, and notice that the door to the carving shack, which we’d passed by on the way to the lighthouse, is open.  I peer inside, and see Sanford Williams seated at a small bench, surrounded by carving projects in various stages of completion.  The aroma of fresh cedar permeates the air.  I ask if we can come in, and he warmly welcomes us.  We learn that his family has lived here for many generations, and that his parents are those final two permanent residents we had earlier heard about.  He studied his art form for 4 years  at a Native Art school in Hazelton BC, and spent another 2 years there working with master carvers.  He’s now recognized as one of British Columbia’s premier carvers, and in his little carving shack we admire works of art valued at many thousands of dollars. 

We step out of Sanford’s carving shack and climb over great driftwood logs, toward the gravel beach.  It’s not yet 2pm, but we feel we’ve about run out of things to do.  It seems the only thing to do is sit down in the gravel, lean against a log, listen to the little waves lapping against the shore, and consider the dramatic events which have unfolded here.  Spain’s claim to these lands dates back to a 1494 treaty between Spain and Portugal, however, it wasn’t until the Russians began exploiting the fur trade in the late 1700’s before Spain took an active interest in defending their claims to this region.  The English became involved following Captain DSCF2573Cook’s landing here, at Friendly Cove, during his third voyage of exploration in 1778.  Cook refitted his ships here and traded with Chief Maquinna’s band of Mowachahts.  Following publication of the accounts of Cook’s voyage, commercial interest in this area soared.  John Meares, an English venture capitalist sailing under the Portugese flag, landed here in 1788, and traded for sea otter pelts.  He also directed the construction of the first European ship ever built on the West Coast of North America, a schooner aptly named North America.  This activity raised concerns among the Spanish, and in 1789 an armed Spanish ship seized control of the trading post Meares had established, along with his trading vessels.  This brought Spain and England to the brink of war.  Ultimately, England’s Captain Vancouver and Spain’s Captain Quadra met here laterDSCF2577 that year and agreed to resolve the dispute in England’s favor.  Spain later abandoned all claims to the Northwest.  History was not yet done being made at Nootka Sound, however.  In 1803 the American ship Boston, captained by John Slater, arrived here to trade with Chief Maquinna’s Mowachahts, offering  metal goods for sea otter pelts.  Things started out well at first, however a dispute arose over a faulty shotgun given by Slater to Chief Maquinna.  Captain Slater directed insulting and contemptuous language toward the Chief, not realizing that Chief Maquinna understood the English language very well.  Maquinna brought the matter to a council of the band’s elders, and they decided to take revenge.  The resulting attack resulted in the killing of all but 2 of the ship’s officers and crew.  Two crewmen were spared:  John Jewitt, whose metal working skills were recognized and prized by Maquinna, and John Thompson, a sailor who had hidden during the fight.  Jewitt was held captive by Maquinna for 2 years and, during that time, came to greatly respect the chief. 

With all this spinning around in my head, and the sun beating down, I doze off, only to be startled by a wet muzzle, shoving against the back of my head.  I glance up and behold the head of a young German shepherd, who either wants to play or get at the turkey sandwich still in my daypack.  I hear Greg say high to a young man, about 20 years of age, who’s accompanied by a jovial man old enough to be his grandfather.  The young guy is toting a log jack, and the older man is carrying a 32 inch bar Husquvarna chain saw.  We learn that they have plans to saw up for firewood the 30 inch DSCF2581thick hemlock log, lying right next to where I’ve been napping.  Before they can begin cutting, however, the log must be lifted up off the gravel bed on which it’s lying, thus the log jack.  It turns out that the old man is Sanford Williams’ father, the permanent resident we’ve heard about.  Grandpa Williams tells us about his triple bypass surgery, which prevents him from substantial physical exertion.  He invites us to help out a bit.  While he’s assisting in the positioning of the log jack, he rather loudly passes gas, which he dismisses with a coy smile.  He takes to referring to me as “John Jewitt”, which we both find quite funny.  The young man, named Tom and boyfriend to his granddaughter, mans the chainsaw and begins dicing the log into firewood sized rounds.  Greg and I roll them over to a place Grandpa Williams has designated.  I say to him “If I’m John Jewitt, then you must be Chief Maquinna.”  “No,” he immediately replies.  “I’m Chief Breaking Wind.”  This produces loud laughs all around.  Since I’m apparently the slave of Chief Breaking Wind, I do everything I can do to help the project along.  I end up sharpening up the chain saw, and I split the rounds into quarters, which are then manageable chunks for hauling up to the house.  When the chainsaw rewind spring breaks, while Tom is attempting to restart it, the work comes to an end.  Greg and I gather up our things and “escape” via dinghy back to the boat. 

Back on board, we crack open beers and listen to the weather forecast.  A cold front is due to pass over tonight, bringing with it rain and strong winds.  We fix a fancy Thai chicken dinner and consider moving to another anchorage.  However, folks on a nearby sailboat tell us that this place is best, so we end up staying put.  Thus ends our day at historic Friendly Cove.

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July 15, 2019–Taking the Back Door into Historic Nootka Sound

Departure Port:  Zeballos; Departure Time:  8:30am; Destination:  Bodega Bay; Arrival Time:  1pm; Distance Cruised Today:  21 miles; Total Distance for Trip:  716 miles; Conditions:  Mostly sunny, calm in morning, breezy  in mid afternoon, air temp nearly 80, water temp 65 degrees

DSCF2531Good night’s sleep, with hardly a disturbance from the fishermen who depart early this morning.  We sack in until 7:00, and then take our time with a French toast breakfast.  We finally uncleat our lines and idle out of the marina at 8:30 on glassy smooth water.  The sky is mostly clear, and the sun quickly warms the still air.  We backtrack our way down Zeballos Inlet, and then turn southeast into Hecate Channel.  We pass several fish farms and a pretty little waterfall before reaching Tahsis Narrows.  This tight constriction in the channel has strong currentsDSCF2532 written all over it, however, because of the way the tidal flows converge here, Tahsis Narrows is surprisingly placid, and we pass through with hardly any change in our speed.  We exit the narrows and swing due south on the long and straight Tahsis Inlet.  We opt against visiting the small town of Tahsis, situated 3 miles to our north.  It seems to have little to offer us after our pleasant stay in Zeballos.  We start picking up a headwind as we cruise down Tahsis Inlet.  The breeze is about 12 knots, right on our nose, so sailing is out of the question.  This wind doesn’t raise much chop, however it does cut about 1 to 1 1/2 knots from our speed. 

Our destination is the cozy anchorage known as Bodega Bay, located at the head of Kendrick Inlet.  We access this inlet off of Tahsis by turning into Princesca Channel.  We’ve chosen this conveniently located spot partly because crabbing is supposed to be good here.  We’ve been mostly disappointed with the crabbing thus far.  While at Rugged Point we learned from our friend Andy that those cute looking sea otters, which we’ve enjoyed seeing in great numbers are largely to blame.  According to Andy, an adult otter needs to consume something like 50 pounds of seafood each day in order for it to thrive in these chilly waters, and otters apparently love crab.  While the reintroduction of sea otters on this coast has been hugely successful, it’s really taken a toll on the crab population.  A guy we talked with at the Zeballos dock says that the crab are beginning to make a comeback in Tahsis Inlet.  We’re hoping to find a productive place to set our trap up in once we get anchored. 

DSCF2534We move all the way up to the inner anchorage.  We pass one other cruising sailboat, which is anchored in the outer bay, but we find the inner bay completely deserted.  After lunch we load the crabbing gear into the dinghy and run back out to the head of Kendrick Inlet, poke around a bit for some deeper water, and lower our trap.  We putt back to the boat.   The sun is beaming in brightly.  Some puffy clouds are overhead.  We grab books and lounge in the cockpit until drowsiness dictates nap time.  We’re out in the full sun, and a light sprinkle begins to fall.  The sunshine and precipitation are in perfect balance, making for a most pleasant experience. 

We decide to tackle a fried rockfish dinner this evening.  It’s a bit of work to put together, but we’re really getting the hang of coating and frying these fresh rockfish fillets.  The Panko crust browns beautifully, and once again, the dinner meal is a gourmet affair.  The wind has died down, so we’ll fire up the dinghy and check to see if we have managed to capture any Dungeness crabs.

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July 14, 2019–Cruising Deep into the Mountains: Zeballos

Departure Port:  Nuchatlitz; Departure Time:  8am; Destination:  Zeballos; Arrival Time:  Noon; Miles Cruised Today:  24; Total Miles for the Trip:  695; Conditions:  mostly cloudy, with sun breaks and occasional showers; light to no wind; air temp:  75; water temp:  65

DSCF2513It was perfectly calm all night, without the slightest hint of swell or water movement.  We might as well been sitting on land.  Water is glassy smooth this morning, sky mottled withDSCF2515 clouds and sun breaking through.  We ease out of our cozy little anchorage, past the other slumbering boats in the outer bay, and head up Esperanza Inlet.  Esperanza Inlet has a very lonely feel to it, as it winds its way deep into the Vancouver Island mountains.  We follow the main inlet to its junction with the dead end arm which extends up to the small mining town of Zeballos.  We see very few boats along the way. 

Zeballos had its heyday as a gold rush town in the late 1920’s, and hard rock mining really kicked in by the mid 1930’s.  Mining activity continued for a dozen years or so, but the town has languished since then.  We talked with a local after tying up at the marina, who says they’ve been test drilling for the past 3 years, and there is hope that mining may resume in the near future.  In its day, the mine here produced some extremely high quality gold ore.

We stop at the fuel dock on our way in, and fill some rather empty fuel tanks.  I haven’t calculated how much remained before filling, but I’m guessing about 6 gallons or so in the two 18 gallon tanks, and an additional 6 gallons in jerry cans, which we carry as reserve.  I’ve been averaging about 5.5 miles per gallon.

After filling the tanks, we move over to the marina docks and pick out a spot.  There’s no manned marina office here, but while fixing lunch the wharfinger stops by to check us in.  Price is $29 Canadian, including power, which they call Hydro here, as well as water, garbage service, and showers.  Excellent deal.  Mostly sport fishing boats and commercial fishing boats here, and we enjoy watching the fishermen come in with their catch.  They have done very well today.  After lunch we walk up to the local museum and are pleased to find it open.  The granddaughter of the wharfinger has recently been hired to tend the museum, and she’s a delightful young lady.  Just a year out of high school, and very interested in learning the history of the area and sharing it with visitors.

On the way back to the boat we drop in at the little store and pick up items we weren’t able to get in Kyuquot.  I’m talking beer, wine and rum, which we couldn’t get before, since Kyuquot is dry.  It was a little embarassing carting all that alcohol up to the counter.  I felt obligated to explain the situation to the clerk.  She just smiled. 

This afternoon has been laid back, catching up on email and publishing posts, since we once again have access to wifi here.  We’ll be going for a while in the coming week without connection, so take advantage when we can.  We’ll barbque at the dock this evening, with steak on the agenda.

July 13, 2019–Just the Bear Necessities

Departure Port:  Rugged Point; Departure Time:  7:30am; Destination:  Nuchatlitz; Arrival Time:  Noon; Distance Cruised:  18 miles;  Total Distance for the Trip:  679 miles; Conditions:  Overcast most of the day, light sprinkle just after noon, some sun breaks, wind light; air temp:  70 degrees; water temp:  60 degrees

DSCF2491We’ve thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Rugged Point, but it’s now time to continue down the Island.  We’ll now leave the vicinity of Kyuquot Sound, headed for Esperanza Inlet, next in the series of deep inlets and channels which periodically indent the West Coast of Vancouver Island.  Anchor’s up at 7:30am, about 15 minutes after our friends Andy and Sue depart aboard Spruce.  I steer out past Rugged Point, watching the nearby fishing boats which are busily trolling the waters we fished yesterday, hoping we can watch someone land a salmon.  I head out through craggy rocks which barely poke up above water level, bound for Grassy Island, a rugged, desolate place where we’ve been told we might see puffins and elephant seals.  No such creatures reveal themselves, but we are treated with a view of a large raft of sea otters, bobbing in amongst the kelp.

Every 5 miles or so we pass clusters of sport fishing boats, and we wonder where they all come from.  We’re a long way from any communities with road connections to theDSCF2500 east side of the Island.  We cruise inside of Catala Island via the passage known as Rolling Roadstead, and then cross the entrance to Esperanza Inlet.  Our destination is Nuchatlitz, an interesting cluster of islands which offer calm, well protected anchorage.  A First Nations village was once sited on one of the islands.  The site is now abandoned, and the village has relocated to a nearby spot along the bay shore.  We find one other cruising sailboat anchored here when we arrive.   We idle past, and swing into a little nook which is well separated from the main anchorage, and just perfect for our small boat.  The shoreline is bouldery, so I rig the trip line before setting the anchor.

We’ve lit the stove on the way in, so water for soup is hot by the time we settle in.  Sandwiches, fruit and a cookie accompany the soup.  This lunch leaves me drowsy, so I go below for a sound nap, while Greg reads out in the cockpit.  By midafternoon we’re ready to get out and explore.  I mount the kicker on dinghy and we head out a narrow back door channel.  We round a corner and Greg softly says “Bear”.  I look to the right and, sure enough, a young male black bear is out on the tidal flats scrounging up a midday meal.  I kill the dinghy motor; we drift and snap pictures.  The bear doesn’t seem much bothered by us, and we feel quite secure with 20 yards of water between us and the bear.  I restart the motor and we continue on, toward the island where the village once stood.  We land on a steep beach, consisting of smoothly rounded pebbles.  We pull dinghy up on the gravel and set the anchor line, and then walk around the village DSCF2495site.  One of our cruising guides, written about 25 years ago, has an aerial photo of this place, and the photo still shows 4 or 5 structures standing upright.  Today they’re all gone, although we do find the remains of one.  The roof trusses are all that still stands, and they’re quickly being overcome by berry vines.  A big pile of bear poop reveals who the current residents are.  We walk out to a narrow spit which, at low tide connects the village island with another of similar size.  We start out onto the spit but stop when Greg notices another bear, grazing in a grassy area.  A shallow lagoon separates us from this bear.  It’s substantially larger than the one we saw from the dinghy.  The wind is in our favor, so we continue walking out onto the spit.  A scattering of shorebirds, including oystercatchers, sandpipers, and a pair of Greater Yellowlegs poke around in the shallows. 

We return to the dinghy and putt back to the boat.  The main anchorage is now populated by 2 large sailboats and a pair of power cruising boats.  We fix up the last of our beefDSCF2501 strogonoff dinners, and savor every bite.  Our evening entertainment is provided by a pair of rowdy crows who are determined to make life miserable for a bald eagle, who simply wants to sit on his rock and gaze out onto the water.  The crows will have none of it.  They stand just out of reach of the eagle, raising a terrible racket.  Every so often one will fly up 15 feet or so, then pivot into a dive toward the eagle.  We find ourselves hoping one of the crows will make a mistake, however, nothing of the sort happens.  Eventually, the crows tire of this game and fly off.  The eagle is rewarded by his patience, and finally enjoys some peace and quiet.

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July 12, 2019–Fishin’s Always Best in the Rain, or “The Tale of the Social Salmon”

DSCF2478Layover Day at Rugged Point; Miles Logged Trolling:  9; Total Miles on the Trip:  661; Conditions:  Light rain in the morning, sunny in afternoon; air temp:  73; wind light

The sun set to a clear sky, the forecast promised settled weather for today, and we’re planning on going out fishing this morning, so the patter of rain drops on the cabin roof as I awake at 5:30am seems especially cruel.  We cook up our omelet as planned, and go through the motions of getting ready, although ginning up enthusiasm is a challenge.  I’ve put up the bimini, but all that does is funnel the runoff onto the cockpit cushions.  We can’t put up the cockpit surround if we’re going out to fish, so we have no choice but to let things outside get completely wet, all the while knowing that soon we’ll be out there demonstrating that rainproof foul weather gear is really a myth.  The one thing which sustains us is the fact that theDSCF2479 fish are out there, they can’t be caught if we stay at anchor, and of course, the common knowledge that fish always bite better during a rainstorm.

We motor out into the entrance to Kyuquot Sound, just outside our anchorage, and set up the downrigger for trolling.  It’s raining lightly, just enough to make things miserable.  The rollers coming in from outside don’t help.  I do note with considerable interest that the depth sounder shows a multitude of fish below us, some at 33 foot depth, others down around 45 feet.  We adjust our downrigger accordingly and begin to troll.  We go back and forth just off the rugged shore, and then turn further outside.  Fish are everyhwhere we go.  We have a few false alarms when the line trips due to kelp fouling our line.  I go below to get the stove started, and while down there Greg exclaims “Fish!”  Sure enough, the rod tip is bouncing excitedly.  All sorts of things happen in short order.  Cut the throttle; engage the auto pilot; crank up the downrigger cannonball; grab the landing net.  Meanwhile, Greg is manning the pole, knowing full well that we’re fishing with barbless hooks, and the fish could easily get free with just the right contortion.  After a short tussel Greg brings the fish to net, and I haul it aboard.  It’s a chinook, not very large but very beautiful.  We have our first salmon of the trip, and after I clip it onto the stringer, Greg mentions that this is the very first salmon he’s ever caught.  How special is that!\

We get our lure back on the downrigger and fishing again as quickly as possible.  I finish making hot tea, and not long afterward, and again while I’m down below, he again calls out “Fish!”  We go through the same drill, noticing that this fish seems a bit larger.  That may account for my failing to remember to crank up the downrigger cannonball.  As Greg reels the fish in, close to the boat, the fish begins to make mad dashes in every direction, including toward the IMG_4741downrigger cable.  He manages to get the line around the cable, but amazingly, he swims free of it instead of breaking off.  After a few more dramatics, I slide the net under the fish and we now have two salmon to our credit.  This one is a silver, or coho salmon, about 23 inches in length, and weighing 3 or 4 pounds.  We’re getting ready to continue fishing when GregDSCF2483 remembers that the limit is 2, and he has the only license aboard, so our salmon fishing is over for today.  We motor back toward our anchorage, but stop over deep water to try for halibut.  We rig the heavy deep sea pole with bait and drop it down to the bottom, 300 feet below.  I fix up hot soup and we eat lunch while jigging for halibut.  Nothing is biting, however, so we motor back to our little anchorage. 

Our friends Andy and Sue, who are cruising on Spruce, had said that they were going to fish today as well.  We didn’t expect to see them out, on account of the rain and because today is Sue’s birthday.  Imagine our surprise to see their dinghy looming through the mist, out on the fishing grounds.  After anchoring, we go ashore to fillet our salmon, and we find their dinghy also ashore.  They’ve gone for a walk.  When they return we exchange fishing stories.  They’d hooked several, but they all got away.  Sue is disappointed, since she’d hoped for a fresh salmon dinner on her birthday.  Greg and I glance at each other and nod.  “We’ve got plenty of salmon for us all”, we say.  They suggest a beach barbque, which sounds like a great idea.  We return to our respective boats to grab fixings.  No coordination or plan, just grab stuff.  Between us, a memorable meal takes shape.  Sue has prepared a cole slaw salad and a nice maranade of soy, brown sugar and ginger for the salmon.  Andy has wrapped potatoes in foil.  He builds a nice beach fire, and Sue sets up planks for seats.  Andy builds a fire, and while it is burning down to a good bed of cooking coals, the conversation flies.  Andy and Sue are true world travelers, having sailed their boat nearly all the way around the world.  In addition, they have visited nearly all the places Greg and I have gone to on this cruise, and they’ve met many of the same hospitable people.  We swap stories while the salmon is grilling on our beachfront cedar smoke fire, and the fellowship continues as we eat.  Sue remarks on how memorable this birthday has been.  Greg and I realize just how special this day has been.

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