Summer Cruising Through Sidney, Vancouver Island, & Prince Rupert - Part 1
This year we have decided to remain in British Columbia and explore new anchorages as well as revisit those we have enjoyed in the past. We also plan to spend time in Haida Gwaii - previously known as the Queen Charlotte Islands. This means that our farthest point north will be the town of Prince Rupert. Aboard are myself, Venture’s long-term captain Chris, and regular crew mem-bers Louisa and Christine.
As usual, Venture - now in her 15th season with 64,000 nm under her keel - spent the winter at Delta Marine Services on Vancouver Island where she had been serviced as well as having a couple of new ideas tried out.
We are underway at noon on Sunday May 26th with our first stop in Nanaimo. We usually keep the first day fairly short and anchor at the end of it to make sure that everything is working after the long winter break. If necessary, it is not too far to return to base if something should go wrong. All equipment needs to be used and often suffers from the sulks when called upon to function after a period of inactivity. All is well on this occasion.
May 27 Monday
We get underway at 0735. It is a gorgeous day with calm seas. We transit Seymour Narrows with the current behind us and reach 14.3 knots at a throttle setting which usually gives us 9.5 knots. We anchored in secluded Small Inlet off Kanish Bay at 1718. We are the only boat. It is calm as we sit in the cockpit after dinner but, around midnight, strong winds spring up with gusts as high as 37 knots. A reminder that anchoring has to be done with care and forethought.
May 28 Tuesday
Underway at 0830 up Johnstone Strait. The tide is against us. Along the shore of narrow
Pipeline Channel, Minstrel Island, we spot two deer well camouflaged among the rocks edging the water. We arrive at the cozy marina of Lagoon Cove at 1515. Happy Hour is at 1700 where we meet the friendly folk who operate this delightful marina as well as fellow boaters. Venture is well known along this coast and we enjoy giving tours of the boat
May 29 Wednesday
Before getting underway at 1016, we visit the lovely garden and Chris and Christine go for a hike along one of several trails. It is chilly until a weak sun burns off the morning mist. We arrive at North Island Marina in Port McNeill on Vancouver Island at 1335. We meet a couple on a GB we had met last year in Hot Springs Bay on Baranof Island.
May 30 Thursday
Clear sky but chilly. We provision fresh produce at the local supermarket. Bruce who owns the marina generously lends us a van to drive to Telegraph Bay where we visit the whale museum and have dinner in a local restaurant.
May 31 Friday
Today we need to cross one of the two sections of the Inside Passage open to the open ocean. We are underway at 0713. The sky is overcast and the ocean quite bumpy in Queen Charlotte Strait and Sound. We meet the southbound Alaskan State ferry, Kennicot. We continue up Fitz-hugh Sound where we pass a tug towing barge loaded with what looked like a locomotive and carriages destined for the scenic White Pass railway in Skagway. We see a convocation of ea-gles atop an isolated rock without being able to spot the reason. We turn into Kwakshua Channel in Calvert Island and anchor off Hakai Beach Institute. We go ashore and follow a well-kept trail to West Beach. It’s curving sandy crescent is rare in these parts. One of the sailboats moored in the bay where we are anchored has rounded Cape Horn twice. You never know who your neighbours are when cruising.
June 1 Saturday
Underway at 0835. We return to Fitzhugh Sound through the more interesting and tricky Meay Inlet and Hakai Passage. We tie up at Shearwater at 1252. We enjoy dinner at the cafe. Across the bay, a BC ferry we have not seen before displays an interesting wolf graphic on its bow. A couple who have a 1998 55 come aboard for to pick our brains about places to visit in SE Alas-ka. On this occasion, they are traveling with another couple on a Tollycraft. They have not been in this area before. I give them copy of my DVD from last year’s cruising.
June 2 Sunday
Underway at 0637. Overcast and chilly. We turn on the heating system. There are numerous logs in the water. Rain falls all day. We tie up at Butedale at 1413. This used to be a thriving can-nery in past years but became abandoned and fell into disrepair with the gradual collapse of old buildings. Recently the tide of decay has turned and many of the old buildings have been cleared. There is still much to do but we were able to tie up at the new docks recently built with timber from reclaimed logs. We shared the moorage with two sailboats. A pair of colourful Barn Swallows flitted around Venture and landed on the rail.
June 3 Monday
Rain all day today. We are underway at 0813 and pass numerous waterfalls. We divert from our course slightly to pass the First Nation village of Hartley Bay. It is possible to get brief cell phone coverage in this area. The wind is blowing up to 20kts - whipping up whitecaps. We have the tide with us pushing us along at up to14 kts. We overtake a Krogen traveling with GB and we receive a radio call from Claudette aboard the GB whom I knew from earlier days in California. We hope to meet in Prince Rupert. We anchor in East Inlet Marine Park Klewnuggit at 1407. This is a se-cluded spot surrounded by steep wooded hills wreathed in cloud. We have the place to our-selves.
June 4 Tuesday
More rain overnight and intermittent during the day. Up anchor at 0732. Only 10 degrees C. this morning. Put the heat on. We pass the coal and grain wharf and then the container docks before tying up in Prince Rupert at 1234. Prince Rupert is only 11 days by ship from Shanghai and six days by rail from Chicago. There is a cruise ship Silver Muse moored at the cruise ship dock. The GB and Krogen mentioned earlier come in and Claudette and Bob Vincent from the GB pay us a visit. They come aboard Venture. This is their first time in this area and I give them a copy of my DVD. We have a good meal at Dolly’s Fish Restaurant. The cruise ship sails at 6 pm.
June 5 Wednesday
We awake to a lovely sunny morning - especially welcome after three days of rain. Another cruise ship docks at 0800 to replace the one that sailed yesterday. This is followed by a smart Canadian coastguard cutter. The tide is extra low and the ramp down to the marina floats is alarmingly steep so we delay re-provisioning until the afternoon. The supermarket is a hike up the hill from the marina and they deliver our heavy bags to the marina for a small fee. During the afternoon we show Venture to three groups of people. Two are Australians from the cruise ship and another is an adventurer from a sail boat he has sailed here all the way from the Mediterra-nean via the Middle East, the Orient and Russia over the past 13 years. As I said
earlier in this blog, you just cannot tell from appearances who is moored next to you.
From here we head to the offshore islands of Haida Gwaii. There is a gale warning forecast for the coming weekend, so we have altered our plans to head straight for the more protected port of Skidegate rather than the exposed North Coast. Communications will be sparse once we reach Haida Gwaii so the next blog is likely to be delayed.