Wednesday, August 17, 2016

2016-23 Single-Handing Around Cape Caution

Sunday, August 14:  Shearwater, Around Cape Caution, to Allison Harbour

Alex saw the Gray Clan off this morning as they boarded the Shearwater to Bella-Bella shuttle.  The shuttle meets a van at the Bella Bella pier for transport to the airport.  After securing the tender aboard Wild Blue, with the help of Bill from the Selene 55 Amavi, Alex shoved off for points south at 10AM. The goal is Port McNeill on northeastern Vancouver Island but first one needs to round Cape Caution, a cape on mainland British Columbia that's open to Queen Charlotte Sound's ocean.

The next crew meets the boat later this summer in Port McNeill.  The plan is to moor there for a couple weeks.  Normally we always have at least one crew with Alex, but sometimes single-handing is necessary.  It definitely helps polish one's docking and anchoring skills.

Alex has a mid-week flight reservation out of Port Hardy airport.  When pressed for time, the deal on the Cape is always keep going, if the going is good.  Environment Canada's afternoon-evening marine forecast called for light North-westerlies, and 1 meter seas.  So Alex motored late into the afternoon down Fitz Hugh Sound.    By 4:30PM the boat steamed into dense fog.

Everybody's favorite cruise ship.
The Wild Blue and Disney Wonder seem to cross routes
here in Northern BC about the same time each summer.
Even famous stars like Donald Duck have to do crew work.

We have 32 miles to cover in about four hours to make Allison Harbour in the daylight.  With the excellent sea conditions we push on into the fog.  The visibility drops to 1/4 miles then to less than 200 feet.  It lightens then thickens along the way.  The radar shows just one commercial target ahead.  Prince Rupert and Comox Vessel Traffic report no other traffic near us.  At Kelp Head, the southern point to Rivers Inlet, we move close in along the eastern mainland shoreline, passing inside of False Egg, Ruby Rocks, Table and Egg Islands, our standard inside route.  Passing close to islands and measuring the distance on the chart-plotter, allows us to re-calibrate our visibility at 100 yards. We pass without seeing the Cape turning east towards the Slingsby Channel outlet.  The current is near slack, there is calm water at Slingsby as we cross it, and eventually enter Allison Harbour.  The power boat ItsAFisher shows up on AIS inside Allison.  At last the fog lifts and daylight fades, as we enter the anchorage.  The anchor is set on the south-eastern edge.

Entering Allison Harbour as the fog lifts.
Monday, August 15, 2016:  Port McNeill

It's so good to have a working windlass, especially when single-handing!  The anchor is secured and the Wild Blue is out of Allison and into the fog, once again.  To save fuel and time, we shortcut by skirting the BC Mainland, passing east of Southgate and Knight Islands to find a gaggle of sport-fishers just next to us as we enter Queen Charlotte Strait.  Conditions are good, eventually the fog lifts, and the boat is secured to the dock at Port McNeill by noon.

Canadian Coast Guard checks us out.
The gravel loader from Orca Quarry located a mile inland
between Port McNeill and Port Hardy on Vancouver island.
Who would think that with all the granite in California
the State would need to import and and crushed rock from Canada?

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