Saturday July 10th 5:00 am. Up to prepare Steel Eagle for the trip around the notorious Cape Caution.
With flat seas and 3 foot swell we pulled out the main sail to steady the role. Now weather reports will talk about sea conditions. Rippled is a piece of cake. Choppy, you probably can manage. Moderate is a comparative term meaning it’s ok if you’re a freighter, but if you don’t want your wife taking out a membership in the fraternity of “NEVER AGAIN BABY” you had better stay put, open another beer and listen on the VHF to the agonizing complaints of the skippers foolish enough to try.
We had prepared ourselves, with AIS and new radar, for the expected foggy days on this coast, but so far had evaded it. Today it would role in with a vengeance. It was thick stuff, where you peer at the front of the boat, straining your eyes and not seeing more than 100 feet. We had experienced this on our first trip around Vancouver Island, only this time, the wind also blew 15 to 20 knots. It was a long, mentally tiring trip past the many reefs and boats until we reached the Walker Islands, where it lifted briefly, only to roll back in. One can only imagine what fear this would have created before the days of GPS and Radar.
As we approached the light house,
Tonight would be spent at anchor across from Port McNeil, where our Bell card would allow us to check the internet for a new weather report.
Sunday July 11th 7:30 am. It’s out in the fog again, to catch the current and beat the wind that’s in the forecast for Johnstone Straight. By 1:30 pm, as we turn off Johnstone Straight, the 35 knot wind is on our back and whitecaps role by all the way down Sunderland Channel. To Alaska and back, smooth sailing. These are the roughest seas we’ve experienced.
3:30 pm. We swirl our way safely through Whirlpool Rapids reaching speeds up to 11knots, then rock and roll through Greene Point Rapids and dock at the Blind Bay Resort.
Monday July 12th 10:30 am. Depart Blind Bay for the public dock at Shoal Bay,
4:30 pm. The wind pushes us off the dock and we head out to attack Dent Rapids, Gillard Passage and the Yucults at the end of the flood. We will spend a few days on our dock at Maurelle Island and do some work on the boat. The Whitehead crew (all eight of them Carl, Jen, Lukas, Josh, Katie, Nigel, Nemo and Bear) are there waiting with open arms to great us once again.
Tuesday July 13th. Up early to take off the dingy davits and attack our much neglected rusty lockers on the back of the boat. The next 4-5 days will be spent grinding, sanding and painting, most of which, in an upside down position, not fun! The guys do get out fishing for a couple of runs and Wayne, in deeds lands a salmon.
Not as large as Carls 42 pounder the week before.
We do enjoy it here, very peaceful and laid back. The sounds of four happy children playing and eagles overhead. In the evenings we join the family up top for supper, bonfire and sing along. Bev’s red potatoes, that we helped Jen plant in April, are now ready. So it’s new potatoes and fresh vegetables from the garden.
Saturday July 17th 2:30 pm. With the boat now put back together we slip the lines once again and spring off the dock. We wave at the kids, with heavy hearts, knowing it will be another year before we see them again.
Tonight we anchor in busy Squirrel Cove. We have never seen so many boats in this bay, but then again, it is July and we usually try and avoid this area in July due to the heavy boat traffic.
Sunday July 18th 6:00 am. Pull up the hook, as Steel Eagle once again must head south. While traveling past Powell River, Wayne plays cat and mouse with two tugs, one pulling 3 containers full of sawdust and the other a log boom.
2:30 pm. We dropped the anchor in busy Garden Bay inside Pender Harbour. We had met a great couple, Bill and Lyn Charlton, when we were down in Panama and found out they lived in Pender Harbour. They had just shipped their boat “Canik” back home after a 12 year circum navigation and asked us to stop and see them. Lyn’s sister, Karen and husband Peter were there visiting from Windsor Ontario. We had a great visit with them. After cocktails on Steel Eagle they invited us back to their lovely new home for a very nice fresh fish dinner. After a bit of guitar and songs, we dingy back to the boat.
Monday July 19th 6:00am. We departed Pender Harbour and headed south across the Straits of Georgia. It is calm and sunny with only 7 knots of wind but we unfurl the sails for a smooth ride back to Nanaimo.
One last dumping of the holding tank, in preparation for docking. It has always amazed me that they call it “raw sewage”. Do some people actually cook that stuff?
10:30 am. On approaching Nanaimo we race the Departure Bay ferry into the bay.....the ferry wins!
Richard and Corrie are on the dock with hugs and welcome greetings.
We would like to thank our guest contributors to this blog: Bev, Larry, Gayle, Alana and Kevin. And thank them for joining us and contributing to the wonderful memories.
Our determined 46 foot Kristen had carried us to the far away and fabulous waters of the midnight sun, a fascinating place with frustrating dimensions.
We were feeling our antiquity and knew we had to stay out of trouble. And we had. The trip had developed a deeper appreciation for each other’s courage, patience and understanding.
We did it, you can too!