Monday, May 9, 2011

#2 The 2011 Alaska Cruise Starts

We've been cruising to Alaska on the Inside Passage for a week now and we've passed the northern tip of Vancouver Island arriving yesterday in Pruth Bay on Calvert Island. The weather's been pretty nice for British Columbia in May: bright sunshine, clouds and rain, then sunshine again almost everyday. The ocean has been cooperating as well with light winds and flat seas until Cape Caution and then only 3 foot rollers, well spaced apart. However tonight will be a different story as gale force 40 knot winds are predicted on the BC Marine Weather Forecast. But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Easter Sunday, April 24th - A Key Lime Pie To Die For

This year's cruise began on a Key Lime Pie high in Anacortes, Washington. Pat had not yet arrived at the boat so Alex was invited to Jay and Micky Field's home for Easter dinner.  Micky, Chef and co-owner of the Village Pizza in Anacortes, served the traditional roast lamb Easter fare, which was quite tasty.  However Alex's tastebuds came alive when Micky brought out her home made key lime pie!  Awesome would be in understatement. Let's just say Alex enjoyed more than one piece.  After savoring every morsel, heaping praise upon the chef, and swearing never to share it, Alex was able to negotiate just one handwritten copy of the recipe.  We have hidden it aboard Wild Blue and Pat agrees to only break it out when any crew brings along a good-sized bag of fresh key limes.

In the days just after Easter, Alex completed final boat preparations for long term cruising. The canvas top was installed, new equipment installations were completed, the engines were serviced, another coat of varnish was added, and the dinghy was readied for operation. Pat joined the boat on Tuesday and completed the food and beverage provisioning in one long day of visits to Trader Joes, Fred Meyers, Costco, and the Red Pie Barn. Lastly a large tanker truck with 1200 gallons of diesel fuel was delivered to the boat and the fuel was purchased at the highest possible price point. Ugh!

Thursday- Saturday, April 28-30, The Selene Rendezvous, THE Wedding, and THE Crown Succession Prediction

On Thursday we cruised from Anacortes to Roche Harbor San Juan Island for the 10th Annual Selene Rendezvous. The Rendezvous is a gathering of Selene owners and their boats. 30 boats and owners showed up to share ideas and enjoy camaraderie, but this year's event was less about the boats and all about THE wedding. 

The boat portion of the Selene Rendezvous

At 2 am friday morning 3 pajama clad women joined Pat in the salon of the Wild Blue to watch THE wedding live from London. Pat served english tea and fresh baked scones, while Alex enjoyed sweet dreams.

Thinking we would get back to the boats, surprizingly 6 more women and their husbands showed up Friday afternoon to watch THE wedding highlights. This time the husbands were compelled to watch, and most did quietly withholding critical comment. The discussion soon turned to the English crown succession. An official committee of eight Selene women, including 3 Canadians who grew up in school system that sang "God save the Queen" to start each day, was formed.  This Select Committee on the English Crown Succession, after a lengthy discussion, then developed their startling prediction: within 1 year Kate will become pregnant, and once the new royal is born, Queen Elizabeth, because of Camella Parker Bowles will skip Prince Charles, and Prince William will become King with Kate becoming Queen! There will be a new King of England by 2014!  Remember you heard it first on the Wild Blue Alaska Blog.....  Oh yes we did talk a little bit about the boats as well.

Sunday, May 1st - Butchart Garden pre-Color Explosion.

It was tulip time at Butchart Gardens again.  We left Roche Harbour and THE Select Committee on Crown Succession behind to view those spectacular gardens, just a 3-hour cruise into Canada.  This time of year 10's of thousands of tulips are usually exploding at the Gardens.  But this has been a colder than normal winter.  We anchored in Tod Inlet, dinghy'ed to and entered the Gardens though the exclusive boaters entrance.  We were early and so only every 3rd tulip had blossomed.  It was a pre-color explosion, but we did get a few nice photos and eyefuls of blooming tulips.

Monday, May 2nd and 3rd - Re-connecting in Downtown Vancouver

Today we pulled anchor and headed up Sansum Narrows against the current for Porlier Pass, the Georgia Strait (aka Salish Sea), English Bay, False Creek and downtown Vancouver, a 7-hour motor.  This favorite city port provides shopping and dining options.  We completed our liquor stocking at BC Liqour, added the final touches to food provisions at Urban Fare and the Granville Island farmers market. Alex installed a new backup battery charger as the older unit needed replacing.  West Marine and Stevestons Marine provided excellent marine parts for Alex to complete his installation.

Entering False Creek

The docks at Quayside Marina

Our choice spot Yaletown Vancouver

Wednesday, May 4th - The Secret of Secret Cove

We left the dock around 8AM under sunny skies bound for Secret Cove.  After an easy 4-hour run up BC's west coast, we tied up at the Cove.  Proprietor Scott greeted us again describing the pleasant winter he and his family had..... in Palm Springs!  We can never tell if Scott is a real Canadian, because he's always talking about Palm Springs.  Although he says he likes ice hockey, so maybe he really is Canadian.

Pretty Merry Island Lighthouse on the way to Secret Cove

At the dock in Secret Cove with Z-Worthy

Ron on Z-Worthy, a Selene 48, has been cruising along with us up the Inside Passage this past week.  He is single-handing his boat until Bonnie can join him in Port McNeil.  He says he really enjoys soloing the boat, because no crew ever questions or second guesses his commands!  Although he reaaly is looking forward to his crew joining him on May 8th.

Well it's early May in BC and that can mean only one thing: prawns (aka shrimp to non BCers).  Yes the prawns are here and we have observed many a prawn trap set.  Tomorrow the commercial prawn season opens, so get yours today, as they'll be scarcer tomorrow.  Prawns are the Secret of the Cove.

Miss Ella, a BC prawn boat, is stacked high with traps ready to stake out an area and start soaking them tomorrow at noon.

Thursday, May 5th - Gorge Harbour on Cortes Island

Our destination today is Gorge Harbour for a visit to the newly remodeled Resort.  From Secret Cove we go north along the east side of Texada Island, then northwesterly to the south side of Cortes Island.  Gorge Harbour has a narrow entrance but serene waters once inside.  We tie up at the Resort but nobody is home, yet.

Z-Worthy runs across the top of Texada Island with soloist Ron at the helm.

It's almost noon and this prawner is ready to begin littering the ocean floor with hundreds of traps.

Purple starfish march out to greet us at the Gorge Harbour entrance.

Skinny Gorge Harbour entrance looks meaner that it is.

The Resort has new docks, landscaping, outside BBQ, swimming pool, and many remodeled cottages for rent.  A small coffee house just behind Resort offers home made baked items, breakfast, lunch and special coffee in a "Jamaican" setting.  After our brief tour and forest walk, we retired to the comforts of the Wild Blue cottage.

Friday, May 6th - Lagoon Cove Prawn Feast

We left at 6AM for the Blind Channel Resort, but if the Johnstone Strait weather cooperated, we'd continue to Lagoon Cove.  Our route took us through snaky Uganda Passage, then Surge Narrows, where we expected 4 knot currents pushing us. We made our S-Turn through Uganda then approached Beasley Passage for Surge Narrows.  The current was quite pushy, so much so that Wild Blue and Z-Worthy were forced to make a sharp left turn coming out of Beasley Passage to avoid the current pushing us into the rocks! Surge Narrows was also boiling and pushed the boats around a bit as well.  Finally we made upper rapids when the current was pushing us at 5 knots, for a total speed of 13 knots. The winds and seas in Johnstone Strait were mild and with the current pushing us along we decided to stretch our day to Lagoon Cove.

The rapids were boiling today!

Seaducktress is a steel-hulled "Diesel Duck".  This Duck has cruised the Pacific from Hong Kong to Seattle.

Once out of the Strait, we headed up Chatham Channel.  Lastly we managed squeezing through the blow hole "short cut" to be happily greeted by Bill, Pat and Bob at Lagoon Cove. Bill, Lagoon Cove's owner, harvests fresh BC prawns by the bushel each day, then cooks them to perfection.  He chills and serves them each evening to his moorage clients at happy hour.  As always it was "all the fresh prawns you can eat" as we dined indoors at Bill's residence.  

Saturday, May 7th - Sullivan Bay, or Blunden Harbour, or Allison Harbour

After several mornings of 5AM-7AM starts, we slept in today leaving around noon.  The sun was out as we cruised through the narrow passages at the southern end of Queen Charlotte Strait passing the ruins of old settlements.  We decided on taking the direct route to Sullivan Bay across QC Strait in the less protected waters.  Once there, the seas were flat calm, the sun continued and the wind died, so we decided going further to Blunden Harbour, putting us closer to an easy Cape Caution rounding. After 5 hours of clear sailing, we decided to may hay while the sun shone, and continued past Blunden to Allison Harbour.  We dropped anchor in a picturesque setting with calm weather at 7PM.

Abandoned Ruins

Providence Passage to South QC Strait

Lone kayaker along rugged BC coastline.

Entrance Channel to Allison Harbour

Stay in the tree lane.

Sunday-Monday, May 8th-9th - Cape Caution Rounding to Pruth Bay, Calvert Island

At 5AM we awakened to calm weather and weighed the anchor for the rounding of Cape Caution.  The weather would be good until noon when the wind was forecast to blow.  Our anchorage at Allison put us in a great position to complete the rounding withing 3 hours and be at Calvert Island before noon.

Once outside, the ocean was rolling, but with only 3-foot, well spaced swells again, an easy ride.  The wind cooperated and no spray was aboard.  We took the inside route, cruising behind Egg, Table and False Egg Islands.  This route eliminates the ocean swell for periods, but puts us closer to rocks and reefs, and it pays to pre-route and watch the chart plotter!

Rounding Cape Caution

Soon the ocean swell dies as Calvert Island blocks it and flat water prevailed to Pruth Bay, our present anchorage.We arrived to see the Canadian Coast Guard cutter Gorden Reid anchored ahead of us with no other boats in the anchorage.  On shore we toured the Hakai Beach Institute and walked across the isthmus to the beach which is open to the Pacific Ocean. 

More later, it's time to prepare for some stormy weather.  Later.

Tree at sea.

Passing the tree at sea.

Arriving in Pruth Bay, Calvert Island

1 comment:

  1. Good to hear from you.

    This looks like another great journey and scenic voyage in the North West. Next year my Commodores Cruise will go to Santa Barbara, but Richard Mainland is discussing a possible cruise to the Pacific North West in his year.