Sunday, May 15, 2011

#3 The Inside Passage along BC's Coast

Monday Afternoon and Tuesday, May 9th-10th - Pruth Bay, Calvert Island, then Codville Lagoon.

First it's great to know that so many people are enjoying the blog.  For those of you (about 80 or so) that inadvertantly received that "Reply All" email response, and are wondering........ Ken's gall bladder surgery was a success!  He will only miss one week of poker......

On Monday afternoon we launched the dinghy and motored over to the Hakai Beach Institute. The Institute, which previously was an upscale fishing lodge, is now a nonprofit learning/research center. The resident chef give us a tour of the facility, which includes lodging, conference center, dining hall, and ocean research capabilities. Pat and I took a short trail across an isthmus to the beach, which opens to the Pacific Ocean. There we admired the various float'sem and jet'sem which is discarded or lost, then drifts across the Pacific to end up on the Hakai beach.

 Wild Blue anchored off the Hakai Beach Institute dock.

 Lodging is upscale at the Institute.

Pat hikes the beach trail. 

Basketball court in the wilderness? Good place for Kobe and the Lakers to practice, out of the spotlight!

The Hakai Beach is open to the Pacific.

Tranquility arrives in Pruth Bay.

Late this afternoon Z-Worthy and another Selene named Tranquility made it around Cape Caution arriving in Pruth Bay. As the wind piped up another coast guard ship and the yacht Spirit of Endeavor anchored here, seeking shelter from the forecast high winds.

Sometimes the anchor can be a drag. Such was the case at 1 am when the "beep beep beep" of the anchor alarm sounded, interrupting our snores. The wind had increased to a steady 18 with gusts of 25 or so, causing the anchor to drag.  This shouldn't happen, but that night it did. The alarm uses the GPS to alert you when the anchor is slipping. The chartplotter showed we had dragged about 100 feet. To correct the problem Alex let out another 50 feet of anchor chain and reset the anchor alarm. After that we slept soundly.

On Tuesday we met Rick and Pat from Tranquility over fresh baked cinnamon rolls aboard their boat. They too are headed for Alaska for the 4th year.  We will follow them for a couple days.

In the afternoon we pulled  anchor and headed north up Fitz Hugh Sound, then Fisher Channel to Codville Lagoon. Screw the cod, once inside the narrow entrance we set our prawn trap then anchored at the head of the Lagoon. This was a scenic and calm place.  

The Pilot House is all lite up on the way to Codville Lagoon.

Wednesday, May 11th - Ocean Falls

Today we celebrated Bonny's (of Z-Worthy) birthday aboard the Wild Blue with the crews of Z-Worthy and Tranquility. It was a surprise party and we had a surprise chocolate-chip cake that Pat prepared, candles and all. We also had a surprise in our trap, about 30 good sized BC prawns.

After prawning and partying most of the day we left at 630 pm for ocean falls, a 3-hour run, leaving the other 2 boats behind in Codville for more fishing. It was still quite bright at 930 pm when we pulled into the Ocean Falls dock.  Pat prepared those fresh caught prawns, and we stuffed ourselves with their sweet taste!

Yum these prawns are tasty!

During the peak of the tourism, lumber, and fishing booms in the 1950-1970s, as many as 5000 persons resided in Ocean Falls. Today the city is a ghost town with just about 30 year-round residents. We wandered the town, noting some fine architecture and taking a few photos.  Then we topped off our water tanks for the rest of the trip north.

 The courts do need resurfacing after 40 years.
 This home has a nice design, but needs some work.

Oceans Falls hospital, or was it the hotel?

The Wild Blue is the only visiting boat in this quiet ghost town.

Thursday, May 12th - Rescue Bay

This morning we left the ghost town behind and headed through Gunboat Passage, west in Seaforth Channel and then north up Mathieson Channel.  We hoped to make contact with our boat friends and watched for them on the AIS. You can think of the AIS as a "facebook" for cruising boats.  The chartplotter shows the names, size, location, speed and course of all the AIS boats within 10 to 20 miles.  You just "friend" another boat by calling him on the VHF. At about 8 miles away we saw Z-Worthy in Oliver Bay on our chartplotter. Shortly thereafter Ron saw and called us to say we should meet them at Rescue Bay. The three Selenes dropped anchor in a quiet bay just off the Inside Passage. Due to Rick's (of Tranquility) fishing prowess and prolific catch, Ron prepared fresh crab-prawn cakes and we all enjoyed the bounty of the BC sea.

 Anchored with Tranquility in Rescue Bay

The view from rescue Bay.

Friday, May 13th - Hartley Bay

Just after first light today we left Rescue Bay, Z-Worthy, Tranquility, and entered Jackson Passage. This is another narrow, shallow passage that connects to Seaforth Channel and points north. After a couple hours we stopped just off the Boat Bluff lighthouse north of Klemtu and attempted to connect to their usually speedy wifi internet. Unfortunately the wifi was turned off or maybe is no longer offered. We continued up Finlayson Channel and Princess Royal Channel. We passed an old cannery town called Butedale, but after 8-hours, only a very few fishing boats as we approached Hartley Bay.

Just one of the many scenic waterfalls along our route today.

Once the queen of the fishing canneries, Butedale continues its deterioration. 

Hartley Bay is a small native peoples village with a nicely protected harbor. We tied up for the night at no charge including free electricity. This compares to a typical charge of $100 a night. Of course there is no wifi and no night life, just many friendly native fisherman who wish to chat. The town is famous for rescuing 99 passengers and crew aboard the sinking Queen of the North, a BC ferry, in March, 2006. After touring this boardwalk village,  we spent a restful night. 

Pat strolls along the main boardwalk.  This is NOT your Monopoly Game Boardwalk!

Saturday and Sunday, May 14th-15th - Kluenuggit Inlet, or Baker Inlet, or Kumealon Inlet, or Prince Rupert

It's difficult to make up your mind to stop for the day when the weather is so great.  Sunny skies and a favorable tidal current pushed us north along Grenville Channel.  This channel is a 50-mile long, nearly straight canal.  It's so straight that it seems man-made!  

We had timed our departure to take full advantage of the tide push leaving at 8:45 am from Hartley Bay. We expected to stop and spend the night in Kluenuggit Inlet, but the the sun and current egged us on.  We have spent many days hunkered down in a cove or tied to a dock, waiting for decent weather to continue our journey.  I remember waiting out three stormy days in Prince Rupert where the crew threatened to fly home!  We continued on and decided to look into Baker Inlet.  

Peeking into Baker Inlet via Watts Narrows.

Grenville Channel was lonely today. We saw only 3 small boats and a tug with log tow in 60 miles.  We made it to Baker Inlet, peeked inside the skinny entrance, noted the sunny skies, good current, lack of wind, and pushed onward to Kumealon Inlet.  It's been a confusing BC weather forecast calling for 25 knot northwest winds, but it's nearly calm. The barometer is almost steady, just ever so slowly falling.  We get to Kumealon and, well it was just too nice to stop!  We entered Prince Rupert harbor at 6PM and anchored in the still waters of Pillsbury Cove, on the north side of the Harbor.  Glassy water, clear blue skies and bright sunshine ended the near perfect cruising day.

 The Port of Price Rupert is unexpectedly busy.  Could it be because it's two days closer to China?

This newer China Overseas Shipping Company (COSCO) vessel is equipped with a breakwater to keep the forward most containers from being washed away by ocean waves.

On Sunday, we moved the boat over to Prince Rupert Rowing and Yacht Club.  No worries, yacht club membership is not required, but Canadian dollars are!  Normally we would stay anchored, but the lazerette is full of trash and recyclables looking for a bin.  Plus how can Pat stay away from the shopping bonanza offered here in PR.  We enjoyed our first breakfast dining out at the Cow Coffee Cafe, and had a late lunch at Smiles Seafood restaurant.

Wild Blue on the end tie at Prince Ruppert Rowing and Yacht Club.

It been another good week of cruising north.  We are ahead of schedule and the weather continues to hold.  We'll try for the United States and Ketchikan early tomorrow, leaving at 4:30AM's first light.  Until Ketchikan......

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