We had planned to stay at least two nights, but after a rocky evening tied to the bouncy docks at Prince Rupert Rowing and Yacht Club, we were ready to move. PRRYC is exposed to passing boats on their way to and from one of several marinas in Prince Rupert Harbor. Unlike most harbors, PR does not have a speed limit so the Yacht Club docks are continually subjected to large boat wakes. There's really no advantage to staying at these docks as the power is marginal. Our 30-amp circuit kept tripping the breaker at 20 amps. The only reasons to moor here is for good fresh water and shoreside business access, otherwise it's not worth the $100 US per night, in our opinion.
Even though there was plenty of empty dock space, it took some yakking with the PRRYC harbormaster to allow us to stay 60 minutes beyond the 10:30AM checkout. We raced to the town's Safeway and did our final provisioning for 20+ days and made it back to the boat, avoiding an additional $5 per hour charge. We then pulled away for our next destination, Pillsbury Cove just 3 miles across the Prince Harbor. Here the waters are calm and we enjoyed a peaceful afternoon. The Canadian Coast Guard Ship Arrow Point also joined us in Pillsbury Cove. Later we launched the tender and took a cruise to town so Alex could mail in his ballot back to SLO town. That night the waters continued their calmness and we slept soundly, all for a great price!
Our Route across Prince Rupert Harbour to Pillsbury Cove
Canadian Coast Guard Neighbor in Pillsbury Coce
Tuesday, August 9th, 2011: Pillsbury Cove, Kinahan Islands, Hunt Inlet
We've already crossed the Dixon Entrance so we have extra weather days to spare and decide to visit on a local anchorage, just 15 miles south of Prince Rupert. The commercial fishing fleet is arriving as we exit the Harbor. We plan on Lawson Harbor which should be in cell phone range so Pat can stay in contact with her mom as she recovers form health issues. Later the evening forecast calls for strong winds so we opt for Hunt Inlet on the northern edge of Porcher Island, in the same vicinity as Lawson Harbor. Hunt provides excellent protection 1.5 miles deep inside it's shallow waters. But for now the winds are light and seas are flat. We stop the boat and rig for salmon trolling near the Kinahan Islands along our route. After 90 minutes without a bite, we anchor inside the Island for lunch.
The Route from Prince Rupert to Hunt Inlet
Later we head for the Inlet arriving in the late afternoon and note the several homes that line the coast. We want to anchor deep inside but a narrow channel with just 7-foot depth keeps us pondering. Finally we add our 9-foot plus tide and line up in the passage. It's an uneventful entry into the Inlet's inner sanctum. We drop anchor in the flat calm waters, ready for any big wind.
Hunt Inlet Anchorage
Hunt Inlet Neighbors
Wednesday, August 10th, 2011: Hunt Inlet to Baker Inlet
We awoke this morning debating routes south: inside versus outside. The outside route offers many remote anchorages we haven't yet visited, but the inside route down well-traveled Grenville Channel offers us Hartley Bay's cell phone coverage by tomorrow. Alex has a meeting Thursday at 1PM which he plans to attend via tele-conference. Only lack of cell phone or internet access prevent him. The native village of Hartley Bay has cell, so the inside route it will be, with tonight's stop at Baker Inlet. It's an easy motor in flat seas amongst the commercial seiners working their nets across the top of Porcher Island. We pass Lawson Harbor then notice two police boats, a Coast Guard Ship, helicopter and a Canadian warship intermingling with about 10 commercial fishing boats. Not sure what the beef was as we minded our own business. Let's hope it was some kind of joint exercise?
Canadian Warship #709 cruising up Grenville Channel
After 10 miles of cruising into Grenville Channel we arrive at Watts Narrows, the skinny entrance into Baker Inlet. We've timed our arrival for slack current at 1PM. Next we point Wild Blue east into the Narrows, announce a Securite call over the VHF to alert any outbound boats and begin our entry. All is well except our GPS plotter has the boat out of Watts Narrows, off course, running over land! This occasionally happens when the GPS signal is blocked by high mountains, so occasionally, even we computer geek captains have to use our eyeballs.
Watts Narrows Route
Baker Inlet Route
Once inside we maneuver to a spot about 275 feet deep and launch two prawn traps. We'll soak them overnight and see what shows up tomorrow. We anchor at the head of Baker Inlet, alone amongst the cedars, spruce and hemlocks. It's a pretty site.
The Wild Blue at anchor in Baker.
Thursday, August 11, 2011: Baker Inlet to Lowe Inlet
Alex needs to get Hartley Bay cell service by 1PM. He's up early gathering the prawns traps then loading the dinghy on to the boat deck. Finally we're off at 7AM. It's a 5+ hour motor south down Grenville channel. We've moving along OK with a good chance of making it when the current reverses. Suddenly instead of 9 knots, we're making just 6 knots. We realize Alex will miss his tele-conference by an hour. Oh well, we can always reschedule, and we pull into Lowe Inlet to wait out the adverse current.
We passed 5 Wave Runners traveling north at high speed. It took 8 exposures to get one with a subject in it.
There are three other cruising boats waiting as well and after a couple hours the Inlet is boat free, as the others continue their journey. No longer in a hurry, we reset the anchor at the foot of Verney Falls at the head of the inlet and begin watching many huge salmon jumping up the falls, some into the mouth of a large black bear. Soon a sportsfishing boat arrives, motors inside the 'no fishing zone” at the base of the falls, and starts reeling in huge salmon after salmon. Alex spies the ubiquitous “Buzz Bomb” fishing lure on the fisherman's pole, and begins to gear up!
Anchored in front of Verney Falls
With the tender launched, Alex packs the “Buzz Bomb” and “Apex Hot Shot” lures, pole and net, as well as other essential salmon handling gear (fillet knife and rubber mallet). He positions the tender outside the “no fishing zone” but where many salmon are repeatedly leaping from the liquid. He does not have a good casting pole but manages to fling the weighted “Bomb” far enough to get a short troll. The Bomb's weight takes it deep, under the many huge salmon lingering near the surface. After numerous casts without bite, he switches to the “Hot Shot”. This lure is light and stays near the surface. It has great action and can be seen for a good distance. It's lightness makes it too difficult to cast with the stiff fishing pole, so Alex devises his own “motor casting” technique. As the tender is motored across the salmon zone for 100 yards or so, occasional line tension is applied to keep the lure near the surface. The boat is stopped and the lure slowly reeled in. Bingo! A huge salmon attacks the lure and cleanly breaches the surface some 50 yards away. The fight is on and after a few minutes the big beast is alongside. It takes a bit of learning to land big salmon singlehandedly, but after losing one, the second is hooked on the next troll. Within 40 minutes three out of five hookups are in the box. These Coho salmon range from 30” to 36”. One thing is for sure: salmon fishing is a hoot!
Verney Falls at high tide with sports fisher inside the "No Fishing Zone"
The ubiquitous Buzz Bomb lure.
The Apex Hot Shot did it's job!
This 30-incher was the smallest of the three fish.
Pat is dreaming about salmon dinners.
Pat's fresh tomato, garlic and mushroom pasta sauce
Fresh Baker Inlet prawns with Orecchiette del prete in Pat's pasta sauce.
Back at the Wild Blue the fish cleaning process begins. Having never cleaned and filleted a salmon before, Alex learns it takes a bit to become any good at this. But after hacking away for longer than it took to land the fish, and spewing fish guts and blood here and there, Alex is able to create some 15+ pounds of salmon fillets. Pat says she is impressed and adds “Now clean up the boat!” She retreats to the salon for shrink wrapping and deep freezing, exclaiming “Fresh prawn pasta tonight, and fresh salmon tomorrow”. Okay!
Friday, August 12, 2011: Lowe Inlet, Hartley Bay, to Chapple Inlet
We're on our way to Hartley Bay by 10AM. A large BC Ferry passes up in the Grenville Channel, requiring us to move a bit so the big ship can pass. We get to Hartley Bay by 1PM, feast on cell service and fill our fresh water tanks. Then it's off to a secure anchorage for the night as 30-knot southeast winds are forecast for early tomorrow AM.
Route from Lowe Inlet, to Hartley Bay, to Chapple Inlet.
Wild Blue moves over for BC Ferry.
Wild Blue moves over for BC Ferry.
We're back on the outside route passing Gil Island, very near the site of the 2006 sinking of the BC Ferry “Queen of the North”. The villagers of Hartley Bay were the heroes who rescued 99 passengers and crew after mid-night on that fateful March evening. Wiki “Queen of the North” for the latest theory on why the ship ran into Gil Island.
We cruise down Campania Sound under gloomy skies and light rain. We're open to ocean swells but there are none. A good anchor spot is Emily Carr Cove but the tide is too low for us to enter. Chapple Inlet is described by the guide books as a “bombproof” anchorage so we wind our way up the 3-mile inlet, squeezing through two shallow narrows to keep our hearts a pumping. Finally we drop anchor at the Inlet's head in 40-feet, with 5 to 1 rode, and set the depth and drag anchor alarms. The rain intensifies but so does our appetite as we savor fresh salmon fillets, grilled to perfection. Yum!
Exiting Chapple Inlet is exciting!
Saturday, August 13, 2011: Chapple Inlet to Penn Bay
This morning the big breeze has been pushed back until late morning, another typical outcome for BC weather prediction. The wind in Chapple Inlet hasn't surpassed 12 knots but outside reports winds in 25+ range. We delay our departure for another reason: we want high water to sooth frazzled nerves when re-crossing those shallow narrows. Finally at 2PM we start the engine for a 90-minute run up Surf Inlet to Penn Bay.
Penn Bay is the only real anchorage in Surf Inlet. It's protected on all sides and has a deep water entrance, something we seem to like lately. We may visit the abandoned hydro-electric plant at the head of the Inlet as well, if the sun comes out.
Penn Bay turns out to be awesome with multiple creeks and a racing low waterfall at it's head. Outside the cabin house, the aroma of fresh trees fill the air. Hemlocks and fir smells remind you of a Christmas tree lot. The wind never exceeds 5 knots but it continues to rain lightly. Pat says put Penn Bay on our highly recommend list, so we will! Best to view the video and photo and make up your own mind.
The Penn Bay Waterfall
Tomorrow we will run down Surf Inlet, south along Laredo Channel, into Myers Passage, arriving at Meyers Narrows at 2PM high tide and slack current, then on to Klemtu for the evening. We hope to have wifi to get these updates to the Blog. See you there.