Tuesday, May 4, 2010

#5 Blind Channel

By late Sunday afternoon the winds had built up from the Southeast. Reports had steady breeze above 30 knots all around Cortes Island. Thankfully Von Donop Inlet is nicely protected from southerly winds and we hardly felt any puffs 3 miles inside the Island at the end of the Inlet. The low was expected to be 1004 millibars passing through after midnight. Assuming he may be up later, Alex went to bed while Pat stayed awake to watch the weather.

The Wild Blue was anchored deep inside 3-mile long Von Donop Inlet.

Alex was awakened from a deep sleep around 2AM. Pat reported the barometer at 996 millibars, lower than forecast, and had to speak loudly to keep from being drowned out by the heavy clatter of rain on the boat. Not quite awake, Alex stumbled up the the pilothouse, wiping his sleepy eyes, straining to see the instruments, when suddenly he was jolted by a huge white flash and deafening explosion. Lightning and thunder next to the boat! After his heart restarted, he decided to stay below, and sleep a bit longer. The raucous lasted another half hour, and then the fast moving low had passed.

The barometer dipped to 998 millibars at 2am and was up to 1010 by 11:30.

By daylight the rain has stopped, the barometer was making a meteor-like rise, and the northwesterly winds were whipped up. The Inlet was not nearly as protected from that direction, and with regular 30-knot gusts, the boat sailed back and forth on its taught anchor chain. During lunch, Pat equated the meandering boat to dining in a revolving restaurant: the view was always changing. A special weather statement by Environment Canada warned of many waterspouts. We saw none, but the high winds lasted all day. By evening the wind was down to 15 knots and we were a enjoying a more stable view.

The big winds caused the boat to "sail" on its anchor.

The Benson's have a tradition of watching the same particular movie during each cruise. We've enjoyed "The Hunt for the Red October" at least 25 times aboard Wild Blue. With our sons aboard, boys out number the girls three-to-one, so as Sean Connery says, "Engage the caterpillar drive!" However, for this cruise it's one-to-one, and as you might guess, tonight's movie is "Pride and Prejudice" with Colin F i l t h. Oh well. We managed to absorb the first half of Colin and company, before turning in for another early start in the morning.

On Tuesday at 6:30AM we pulled anchor from an icy deck, bound for Blind Channel. We needed an on-time departure to insure arrival at the Yuculta Rapids at 8:45, 30 minutes before slack current. This would put us at the more treacherous Dent Rapids near slack current. Once outside Von Donop, it was clear we had experienced a large cold front: snow covered all the nearby mountains down to about 1500 feet.

Just one of the hundreds of newly snow covered peaks blanketed by the storm.

We arrived at Yuculta on time with only 1.5 knots against us and admired the many upscale oceanfront resorts glistening in the sun ready for another busy summer season. We continued through to Dent Rapids arriving near slack with .5 knots of current in our favor, our easiest rapids transit to date.

Dent Rapids was tamed by the slack tide.

One of the many ocean front resorts facing Yuculta and Dent rapids.

We keep coming back to Blind Channel Resort year after year. It's conveniently located just off Johnstone Strait, a required waterway when transiting the Inside Passage, and near all the tough rapids. It's a natural overnight stop. The resort has been operated by the same family for three generations, has all the amenities, and is not too pricey. With wifi, a convenience store and forest trails to be explored, we may stay two nights.

Wild Blue is the only patron at Blind Channel Resort. These docks are sold out each day during the summer.

Pat stands next to Canada's National Tree: a huge cedar tree with 16 foot trunk.

We walked the resort forest trails looking for the resident black bear. The owner says he's a bit shy so maybe we will bring him something to eat. He has just woke after sleeping all winter and must be hungry. We'll try again tomorrow. It's time for the last half of the Colin Barf movie. Good night.

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