Leaving Port McNeiil

We’re moving on today.  Heading to Hanson Island (Snuggle Cove) as a staging point for going south, back into Desolation Sound.  Depending on weather, we’ll either get there via Johnstone Straight in a day or two, or take the “back door” through the inlets over three or four days.  We’ll see.

In the mean time, here’s a couple pictures of our lovely hike (climb?!) to the Woss Lookout.

Getting there meant driving on a logging road AND crossing a train trestle. That one was a little nerve racking since it curved on the other side - not a lot of visibility.

The lookout is no longer in active use, but has been restored by the local community.

Ann up in the lookout.

Quite an impressive view.

Port McNeiil

So, we’re in Port McNeiil, stopping for a few days to resupply befor starting to “unwind” our trip back to Port Townsend. We’re going to take a month and a half now to get back, so we can revisit some of our favorite spots.

Tomorrow, we’re “borrowing” a car from one of the marina folks. A good deal-fifty Canadian dollars for the day-and we’ll see some of the area and do a hike to a supposed great view, etc. we’ll see. The main thing is to have a brief change of scene.

Yesterday, we drove the local marina car up to Port Hardy. It was fun, but a little strange driving after so many months of being away from the road.

More later.

A Glorious Day!

Saturday, August 13

So, we’re anchored at Wahkana Bay off Tribune Channel.  A twenty-mile day from Greenway Sound.  We came here hoping to see some bears and catch some crab.

We just anchored and we’re sitting 100 feet or so from shore and overheard sits an eagle watching from his perch and along the shoreline lumbers a big ‘ol black bear.  Wow!  We can see his muscles ripple just under his very ample coat.

But, that’s not the topper for the day, that’s just the dessert.  On the way here I saw an orca do a full-on breach with a huge splash.   Ann grabbed the camera with the telephoto and we proceeded to watch an incredible display for the next 30 or so minutes.  It looked like the orcas had herded some salmon into a small cove and were feeding.  They would slash through, circle, then one would do a tail splash and on it would go.  They were clearly very busy.  Then after half an hour they came out from the cove and seemed to relax; and both of us commented that they just seemed “happy”.  They were “goofing”.  I’m thinking they were fully fed and having a good time.  There was more tail slapping, and a couple of full out of the water breaches.  I caught one where the orca was full-on horizontal about 10 feet out of the water.

Comin' at ya!

Sometimes you get lucky.

Sometimes really lucky.

The Canadian trifecta; orca, eagle, bear….happy cruisers!


We were about 100 feet from the rocks at low tide.

They came in all shapes and sizes.

This one finally heard the camera shutter and had to take a look around.


By the way, the crab trap has been deployed and a couple of seals are swimming around it eyeing it very carefully.  There is an anchovy and some lingcod inside.  Crossing fingers for crab tomorrow!

Greenway Sound

Friday, 8/12

So, since last we wrote, we stopped by Sullivan Bay on Wednesday for a quick night of showers, laundry and re-supply.  We left Thursday morning for Greenway Sound.  We’re anchored in a little cove just inside Broughton Point on the West side of the sound.  This is actually in a place called Carter Passage that bisects North Broughton Island from South.

OK, so much for the geography.  It’s really lovely here and we’re the only boat around.  Today we took the dinghy for a 45-minute ride over to a bay just east of Greenway Point.  There’s a rickety, but serviceable dinghy dock there maintained by British Columbia Forest Service Recreation.  There’s a well-maintained trail that goes up to two different lakes.  Recommended!  The first lake is about a 45-minute hike and the second another 20.  At the second lake we saw very clear cougar tracks in the mud by the lake.  Looked like a good-sized animal.  With Ann’s bell though I think all the animals are well alerted of our presence so I doubt we will see any.  We also saw signs of beaver.  Several trees were clearly gnawed.  Once had been felled and the other was close to it.

Pretty fresh cuts on this tree.

Anyway, when we got back to Charisma we did some fishing and I guess it was the right time of the tides because we pulled up a flounder, two rockfish and a dogfish.  The first three were just a little small so we didn’t keep them, but nice to do some catching for a change.

Tomorrow we’re going 20ish miles east back to Wahkana Bay up Tribune Channel.  We went in there to look around a couple weeks ago, but while very wild and lovely, it was a very windy day and didn’t look too friendly.  Conditions should be a little tamer tomorrow and we’ve heard of grizzly sightings there and ample crab catching.  Of course if there are crabs I won’t likely find them, but we can dream.

Oh, and we saw the Meteor Shower last night.  Lovely.  Well, Ann said it was.  I fell asleep in the cockpit.  But at least I saw one!  She claims 10.  Foggy tonight though.  Maybe tomorrow.

We’re Still Here

We’re back in Echo Bay where there is at least marginal internets. We’re been in the wilds where even the shortwave couldn’t reach beyond the tall mountains. Can’t wait to be able to post some stories and pics. The highlights:

-Saw a pod of orca trap some salmon in a small cove. Watched them work the cove from about a hundred yards away. Wow! But the kicker was getting lucky enough to get a perfect, full orca breach. One pic shows the orca leaping clear or the water. The second shows it twisting to a full horizontal “belly shot”, but about five feet off the water. Yowsa!
-Had a 20 bear weekend. Yes, we were anchored in a tiny cove just 100 feet off the shore and watched 20 bears parade past Charisma over the two days, including one mama with three little fur-ball cubs.

Having an amazing time, will post more when we’re closer in a few days.

Crab and Ling Cod

As much as we can eat!  Too bad we didn’t catch any of it.  But also lucky, since it meant we got to meet some really nice new people!

Yesterday a boat pulled into our cove and anchored not too far from us.  After I went out in the dinghy to drop a crab trap I stopped by to say, “hello” and before too long Ann and I were invited to dinner.  Turned out they had caught some crab and needed some help eating it.  Good news since when I went back in the afternoon to check our trap, we only had a little undersized crab.  Our contribution to the meal though was special.  Ann’s ginger cookies!

Today we were heading to another cove when some new friends we met at Kwatsi, on M/V “Inside Passage”, came past (while we were unsuccessfully fishing for salmon) and called on the radio.  They said they were going to Sullivan Bay and invited us to crab dinner with crab they had caught this morning.  Since you can never, ever, have too much fresh crab we changed plans and headed to Sullivan.  Now in two days we have made two really good new cruiser friends and feasted on lots of yummy fresh crab!  Fun!

Nice spot. Good to resupply, but come on a Thursday morning when the supply boat shows up.

While we were on our way here, still trolling for salmon, a 20–something foot motorboat carrying a large pirate flag pulled over toward us.  Ann said, “Bob, I think they want to talk with us”.  I stood up and one of them shouted over, “Catch anything?”  “No”, says I.  He said he hadn’t either and we commiserated on the general lack of salmon action, and then they took off.

Fast forward to our crab dinner tonight.  We were in the flybridge of M/V “Inside Passage” when the folks from the motorboat that asked if we had caught fish came by and knocked on Charisma.  We saw them from our perch on the “second floor”, I waved and the other folks shouted up, “You want some Ling Cod?”  Well, does a dog want a bone?!  “Yes!!” came our reply and we were gifted about 6 pounds of fresh ling cod.  Turns out they caught it later in the day after passing us.  We split the bounty with Inside Passage and tomorrow…ling cod fried in spiced Panko crumbs.  Yum.

Life in the Broughtons.  We like it here.  Tomorrow, we’re off into Drury Inlet to Jennis Bay.  We hear the salmon run may have started.  Several salmon have been caught and Orca have been sighted.  Cross fingers.

Burdwood and Kwatsi Bay

Local legend Billy Proctor says in native tongue, “Kwatsi” means “Pisspot”.  He and other fishermen back in the day would call out and say to “meet at ‘The Pot'”.  So I guess you can say we’re at The Pot.

Anyway, it’s a pretty remote spot.  Huge mountains going vertically 2000 feet right from the water, ring the little bay.  Surprisingly in a spot this remote, there is a little “marina”.  As with others, the concept of marina here means one very old and decrepit dock.  Watch where you step or you might fall in a gap.  To be fair, they are repairing the really bad boards with new ones and the people who run it are delightful.  So are the guests.  Everyone here is really nice.  It’s pot luck night tonight, so we’re looking forward to having a chat with the other boats.  With us here, the “marina” is close to full – with about 10 boats.

View of Kwatsi Marina from the trail to the waterfall.

Last night was “fun”.  We anchored around the other side of our little island at the Burdwell Group in order to avoid being on a lee shore with the increasing wind.  OK, the good news is we tucked in another tiny spot that just had room before dropping off to over 100 feet.  The not so good was that we had to tie off to a tree to keep from swinging into the very shallow water.  Some kayakers who showed up congratulated us and told us that the last time they saw a boat try to anchor there it spend two hours and then gave up and left.

Looking forward from Burdwood anchorage.

View out the "back door".

Tucked in tight.

Couldn't resist one more of our view in this lovely spot.

OK – fast forward to after dinner.  Ann decided we needed to go ashore and bring s’mores to the kayakers who had a fire going on the beach.  I brought rum and shot glasses for sipping.  Needless to say we were very well received and had a wonderful time talking with this crew from Vancouver.  What nice people!

Good times with the kayakers!

Time for bed.  It’s high tide, but I knew we were pretty close and when the wind went down we might not be pushed as far from the shallows as we had been sitting all day.  So, I left the depth sounder on and went to sleep assuming I’d have a look when I got up in the middle of the night.  Only problem, I didn’t wake up.  Fortunately Ann did and looked at the depth sounder.  12 feet.  She went to the head and came back – 10 feet.  She watched if a few minutes and saw 8 feet (we draw 6), that’s when she woke me up!  I stepped outside and shined a flashlight into the water on the shallow side and right under us I could see starfish.  Very clearly.  I could almost count the little barnacles too!  I heard Ann call “five point eight!”  Ooh, a little too close.  I think we might have even bumped very gently, while I was checking things out, but no matter, I took in about ten feet of chain, tightened the stern line a bit and voila we moved back out into a solid 12 feet.  It was only one more hour until max low tide, so we were good to go and went back to sleep.

Another day in the islands.

Pierre’s At Echo Bay and Billy Proctor’s Museum

“You Can Take My Picture, But Just Don’t Send It To Me”

Ahh, the wise sage of the Broughton’s, Billy Proctor.  He’s one of the “must see” characters of the area.

Ann and Billy at the museum.

One of dozens of displays inside; this was a couple of molds for making lead weights and for hammering out spoon lures.

72 years young, he was born here and working at fishing and logging before he was 10.  “Lived here all my life – never went to school”.  He may not have been schooled in the formal sense but he’s lived a great life here and has become an influential environmentalist.  He still commercial fishes his boat (“not as much as I used to though”), has written at least three books, which we bought and had him sign and loves to chop wood.  His huge wood shed is so full he’s giving wood away to his neighbors.

The other fun thing about Billy is he has a museum of “stuff” as he calls it, that he’s found over his 70 some years.  Old opium bottles from the Chinese logging camps, arrow heads and stone axe heads from the First Nations people, old pictures, well you get the idea.  An amazing history of this area to which he’s added immensely with his books that describe the characters he’s known (old timers, as he calls them) many of which are long gone, but with Billy around, not forgotten.

We had a chance to sit a bit and chat with him and take the obligatory picture.  Of course we asked permission which is when he told us about all the people who take his picture and then clutter up his email sending it to him.

Oh, and besides the museum, he also built – entirely by hand – a cedar shake cabin that is a replica of what the old trappers lived in right down to the split log flooring and bunk.  The cabin was made from one cedar tree and he did all the splitting with a froe which is a tool kind of like a really long axe.  You put it on the end of a log and then whack with with a wooden mallet.  I have one and I can tell you, it’s a lot of work to split boards this way.  Really a cultural experience to sit in the little cabin and imagine living so remotely.

Logger's cabin replica.

Inside the cabin.

We’re at Pierre’s at Echo Bay (Billy’s is a short hike over the hill).

A really nice respite and place to resupply.

The nicest little spot around.  We went for a bit of a hike today and saw bear scat and cougar scat (had fur and large bones in it).  When we got back someone confirmed that yeah, both have been sighted in the last week.  We’ve taken to attaching a large “jingle bell” to Ann’s hiking stick, so we make a lot of noise when we walk through the forest.  Don’t want to surprise the wildlife.

Looking at Pierre's from the trail to Billy's.

Pierre cooks the best prime rib you've ever had (and the biggest slice on your plate you've ever seen).

Toughest decision here is which color chair to sit in for cocktail time.

Anyway, that’s where we are.  Tomorrow we head back out to the wild to explore a small island group called the Burdwood Group.  It’s a group of islands that once was home to First Nations people.  Weather permitting, since the anchoring opportunities are pretty exposed the Queen Charlotte Straight and the associated weather.  Probably will lose internet, but will try to post with short wave.



OK, you’ll have to look up the technical description, but it’s what we’re doing right now.

We’re holed up in a tiny unnamed cove on the west side of Gilford Island, just south of Health Cove. It’s so small only one boat can fit in here. That’s OK because there’s no one else around!

We’re just sitting in the cockpit watching the fog roll in over Bonwick Island to the west of us, from Queen Charlotte Straight. It’s sooo quiet.

Tomorrow we head to Echo Bay.

Snuggled By A Whale!?

We’re anchored in a little unnamed cove off Blackfish Sound (aptly named). Last night Ann woke around three AM to a “grinding” sound on the side of the hull. She asked me if we might be aground, so I got up to check – no, we were still firmly anchored in 35 feet. There wasn’t a whisper of wind or a ripple of wave. Flat calm with a moon playing hide and and seek through the clouds. Then a huge, “WHOOSH”, not a hundred yards away. So loud it echoed on the trees along the cove. A whale spout! It must have decided to take a tiny detour in and around our cove. Maybe, just maybe, it decided Charisma could be its friend.

We’ll never know for sure, but the whale continued spouting outside our cove for the next fifteen minutes or so. Hoping Charisma would come out and play perhaps?