Sunday, May 2, 2010

#4 Secret Cove, Grace Harbour, Von Donop Inlet

On Friday we rose early for the cruise to Smugglers Anchorage or Secret Cove. The forecast called for high afternoon winds so after yesterday we were motivated to get away early. The two coves are a 3-hour motor and just a mile apart. So if the weather is good we would anchor in Smugglers (and drink from our stash of smuggled American whiskey); if not we'd tie to the dock in Secret Cove and have a warm Canadian tottie.

To stay out of Vancouver's nasty ocean as long as possible, we proceeded north from Snug Cove, over the top of Bowen Island. After 40 minutes we entered unprotected water with 15-knot winds and short 2-foot chop, easily manageable by boat and crew. However, today's forecast caused us to be cautious mariners. Expecting the worsening conditions we were surprised by dying breeze and flattening seas! It was a quiet cruise to Secret Cove where proprietor Scott Rowland welcomed us once again to his home and marina 10 months out of the year, (He spends two winter months each year in Palm Springs).

Since it's the beginning of May in British Columbia, the commercial spot prawning season is about to open. Many prawn fish boats were amassing at Secret Cove, ready to saturate the ocean with traps just as soon as BC Fisheries gives the green light. On past cruises we've bartered with prawners for choice fresh prawns. Our experience has taught us to bring extra provisions of Wisers Whiskey, a powerful bartering tool! Can't wait for the season to open.

In Secret Cove we ran into the new owner of Joya del Mar, a beautiful Selene 55. The owner is a Scot and has renamed his boat Albanic. He has big plans to take Albanic down the west coast of the Queen Charlotte Islands. Wow!

Saturday we moved northward towards Lund, BC. Lund is the last town on Canada's Highway 99, which the extension of US I-5. As we passed Pender Harbour we were once again surrounded by Selene trawlers returning from a 2-day Princess Louisa Inlet expedition. There was the Selene 53 Horizon headed for the Gulf Islands; then Selene 59 Koinonia headed for Nanaimo, and then the Selene 53 Duesie headed for points north. We heard the Selene 55 Molly II was in Pender Harbor and we spotted the Selene 59 Raindancer crossing the Georgia Strait headed north. That is the most pleasure boats we've seen yet on any day cruising, and they were all Selenes!

The Selene 53 Horizon off Texada Island with the mountains of Vancouver Island in the background.

At Lund we didn't like the moorage arrangements, as there was no dock ramp to the floating moorage. So we continued north into Desolation Sound, ending up anchored in Grace Harbour, a peaceful setting. While there Alex did some engine maintenance: replaced the cooler zincs, cleaned seawater intake strainers and checked the oil. In doing so he noticed a small drop of rust emerging from the shaft of the main engine seawater pump. He plans to order a spare pump when in Port McNeil.

Skinny entrance to Grace Harbour in Desolation Sound. Actually there was one other boat.

The galley refrigerator seems to be misbehaving. Runs great when on AC power, either from the generator or when cabled to the dock. On 12 volt DC power the unit stops cooling. The DC motor starts for about 10 seconds then shuts down. On Monday, We'll be calling the manufacturer, Sea Freeze in Bellingham, WA, to see what they recommend. If there is no easy solution, we can always re-wire the refer to the AC Inverter circuit and run it that way when off the grid.

Propane delivery to a remote home in Desolation Sound.

Grace Harbour was quiet and the expected 30-knot winds, if they materialized, did not penetrate this anchorage. Today, Sunday, with yet even more wind expected, we set our course for Von Donop Inlet which cuts deep into Cortes Island from it's north shore. The guide books say Von Donop is a bomb proof anchorage in any storm. BC Marine Weather broadcast calls for 40-knot southeast winds tonight. We'll see.

Being anchored out, away from phones and the internet, is nice and quiet. Of course we do get DirecTV and have been following news and the Lakers. But Alex's habit of picking up the iPhone for email is slowly being broken as there is no service in these remote anchorages of British Columbia. Of course there is always "War Boating" to allow us to connect to the world. "War Boating" is "War Driving" from a boat: you cruise along looking for open wifi signals. Today we located a good connection in Squirrel Cove on the east side of Cortes Island. Once connected, we drifted around for 30 minutes while answering emails, making Skype calls, Googling for Sea Freeze manuals, and reading the local news. This mode is really catching on as many of the BC lighthouse offer free wifi as a service to passing boaters.

Thank you to the community of Squirrel Cove for leaving your wifi open to passing boaters. We read the news, email and got our Google fix for the day.

Desolation Sound is just that. No other boats today!

This seagull is also waiting out the storm.

We are hunkered down here, deep inside Von Donop Inlet, anchored in 30 feet of water with 150 of chain out ready for the big winds, if they happen. Have a great rest of Sunday.

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