We Didn’t Miss the Bus! (By Ann)

We left Vancouver early this morning and journeyed across the Strait of Georgia through Active Pass to Galiano Island. Our mission was to meet up with Karen and Jim on Raven (formerly of Sockdolager) who were meeting us carrying precious cargo…our friend Carol of Arnamentia…who is visiting from Great Britain!
Just as we cleared Active Pass the VHF cackled with our favorite British voice hailing Charisma! Carol, on board Raven, had just sighted us as they came within view of the pass. Perfect timing…Charisma Karma..call it what you like…we are just thrilled with yet one more “cruiser family reunion” (stealing a great line from Rich on Legacy). Pictures to come later.

Of course we were disappointed that John and Lisa on Figaro (formerly Orcinius) missed the reunion but it was their great info that guided us to a very unique bus ride…so I guess we were channeling them.
As recommended by the missing members, we caught the Hummingbird Bus to the pub! Who doesn’t like a free ride to a pub? This one included a very eccentric “motivational speaker” ( seriously the driver told us he travels the world giving motivational speeches!) who told stories and provided local knowledge about the island all while entertaining us with his drumming skills and loud music. And when he finally stopped to pick Jim and Bob up, initially he passed them up to have a “women only tour” but relented, allowed them on board and passed around tambourines. Silly songs ensued, a lovely dinner was enjoyed at the pub and we did a repeat coming back to the boats. On the return trip we found out that we had just enjoyed the last weekday ride of the season on the special bus…end of season! Thank goodness we didn’t miss it.

Silly as the driver was he clearly understood that life is full of blessings if we look for them. Certainly this very special cruiser family reunion is a blessing!

Hike Across Quadra Island

Well, we had stunning weather for our hike from Wiatt Bay to Granite Bay on the other side of the island. Even the 30 plus knot winds subsided by the time we got back. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and it was warm (last time we were here the water was “bracing”‚Ķthis time it was “brisk”) so Ann jumped in Newton Lake which is on the way back. A total of 8 miles, round trip, with one fairly strenuous hill. For those who may follow in our footsteps so to speak, one hint: the trail to Granite Bay drops you into a dirt road parking lot on the other side of the island with no signage of where to go from there, or how much farther to get to Granite Bay. Go right down the road to an intersection, then right again and you’ll find your destination. It’s about half mile past the parking lot.

Anyway, we did have one casualty of the high winds. While we were gone a gust blew one of the solar panels up off the strut (which I carelessly didn’t have the set screw engaged). It swung in on the hinges when it dropped and hit the hydro gen, cracking the glass top and almost punching a hole through it where it hit the gen. Total loss since the glass is all cracked, but I think it still works for now, so we taped the worst crack with clear mylar and will hope it doesn’t leak until we get back and can replace it. Oh well.

Today’s a rainy day so we’re just reading books, making banana bread and I finished the carving that we’re going to leave at the driftwood museum at the head of the bay.

Rapids!

Oh my! I totally forgot about the Upper Okisollo Rapids.

We came pretty close to a “problem”. Fortunately it pays to have good manners. As we were transiting an island group at Lower Okisollo Rapids, I made a VHF call to another yacht that was moving around us, to tell him we would stay on the “outside” of his route. We chatted a bit after the courtesy call and when I asked where he was going he said he was going to duck into Owen Bay to “wait out” the Upper Rapids. “Huh” I thought. Upon looking at the chart (really quickly) I was reminded that the “worst” of the two rapids was right ahead and we were heading right for them. Yipes! Long story short, his mention got my attention just in time to “re-plan” and duck into Owen Bay behind him. At the time, we were two hours before slack and the current had slowed us down to less than two knots speed over ground – and some of that was sideways!

So fast forward a bit and we’re here! Wiatt Bay, also known as Octopus Marine Park. It’s windy as all get out. As we were making our way around the rocks to get in here, I could see a dozen lenticular clouds above the hills. I mentioned to Ann that those cloud types usually brought high winds. Boy did I hit that. Just as we were anchoring we were being hit with 30 knot gusts. The good news is that we’re at the head of the bay so there’s no wave action, just the wind.

OK, so just wanted to check in. Hopefully the shortwave radio will send this since there’s no internets here and we’re going to be here for about four days. We going hiking tomorrow (Sunday) and then it looks like rain, sometimes a bit heavy Monday and Tuesday. The good news is that this is where the driftwood carving displays are and I’m in the process of carving our contribution! Pictures will follow – at some point ūüėČ

Now I’ve Seen It All! (By Ann)

When we woke up today it looked like it might not be a good day to leave Port McNeill…but as we have learned up here – give it an hour and check again. The wind that we could hear singing through the rigging was isolated wind coming over the hill behind us. As the day matured the fog lifted and blue sky peeked through…a good sign.

So we are now comfortably settled in our favorite anchorage which is ours and ours alone…Snuggle Cove.

Although the air had a brisk chill to it, the day was full of sun that tried to warm us. I was making lunch when I looked out the porthole just in time to see a big blow and a magnificent humpback whale swim past. But that was not the best part of my day. An hour later Bob alerted me to some splashing up ahead. All hands on deck…a very friendly white-sided dolphin played along side Charisma. I hurried up to my favorite viewing position on the bowsprit for the show and was rewarded with a delightful show…highlight by the rainbow that appeared as the dolphin blew! Yep…I have seen it all…dolphins that blow rainbows…my first rainbow of this season!

Bear Patrol

We went looking for bears today…from the dinghy. No sense in finding trouble. We will just watch them from the water, thank you very much.

It was a very peaceful and beautiful trip, but no bears. Seems they are all over the place when you’re not looking for them, but when you try you can’t find them for anything. Oh well. But we went up the head of the bay and shut off the engine and drifted for a couple hours. Such beauty. Such silence. You not only hear the birds call, but you hear their feathers ruffle with the wind when the fly. A heron that likely didn’t notice us since we weren’t moving flew by just a few feet away. Skimming along the water, gently flapping its huge wings it left a trail of gentle “touches”. Each time its wings stoked down toward the water it would stop just as the end most little feather on each wing barely touched the water leaving a tiny ripple like a raindrop. The sets of ripples were about five feet apart (the wingspan) and fifteen feet distance which is about how far the heron travelled with one complete stroke of its wings. Like magic steppingstones since in a moment as you marvel at their perfection, they disappear.

We’ve been anchored for a couple days in a lovely spot in Mackenzie Sound. We’re behind a little island called Blair Island, in a cove, in the sound end of the Sound in Burly Bay. There are some absolutely stunning views of jagged mountain tops in the distance and just across the bay from us is a monolithic, vertical granite face that rivals El Capitan in Yosemite Valley. Fortunately, day before yesterday was warm with not a cloud in the sky and we relished the day. The last two however have been foggy and occasionally rainy. A different type of beauty where the mists brush past the granite face giving the place a completely different look. Given the weather, we’ve just stayed put but tomorrow we are heading back to Sullivan for a resupply of a few fresh items, then we’ll start slowly making our way back. We get to see some new places on the way back south/east and also stop at a few of our favorites. It should take about a month to get to Vancouver where we’re meeting up with a friend in mid-September for a last two weeks of cruising for the season.

Who Names These Places? (by Ann)

(Please remember to replace the “_” with the letter between the w and y.) We left Jennis Bay and had a lovely overnight stop in Turnbull Cove. Obviously from the name, we had no e_pectations. What we found was a tight passage into a lovely bay marred only by an avalanche slash on the opposite shore. We had been warned so did not anchor over there‚Ķno need to find old logs pulled up by our anchor.

Instead we anchored on the opposite shore and dinghied over to the trail head/hike to a mountain lake. Steep, short hike to a dock into a large lake. The folks from another boat who had started the hike ahead of us said our bear bell was very loud. Good thing because they had seen a bear right where we parked the dinghy, just before they came ashore. They had waited for it to move further down the shore to come in with their dog. Good thing I had my bear bell!

Later we dinghied around the entrance point and were able to watch a bear foraging along the shore. We got close but not too close! All this bear e_citement was followed by a lovely evening watching some distant lightning (so fun when not on open water) and counting the seconds from the thunderclap…about 25 miles!

This morning we enjoyed two bear visits right behind us as we had coffee and breakfast. Maybe we should call it TurnBear cove…great spot.

We left this lovely spot because a glorious day of sunshine was calling to us. We ventured up MacKenzie Sound soaking in the sunshine and the jade green color of the glacial water. The best part of the whole trip was passing “Anne Point”‚Ķ.a granite masterpiece that rivals El Capitan‚Ķ.only spelled wrong‚Ķwho names these places? It should be Ann Point.

Anne's Point in the background.

But lovely just the same. And just further up the coast we found a mama bear and two cubs meandering along the shore line! Glorious traverse up a beautiful sound but no anchorages called to us‚Ķ.until we came upon Blair Island. No, we did not see any witches or symbols hanging menacingly in trees‚Ķinstead we saw a LARGE bear swimming across the bay in front of us! Wow! I do think Charisma scared him a bit as he kept looking over his shoulder but we kept our distance and reveled in the sight. His e_it from the water rivaled any athletic feat seen in the Olympics (I can say this because we have not seen any of the Olympics‚Ķbut this bear was so graceful!). So shouldn’t this be called Bear Island? Really‚Ķhas no one been out here?

Imagine our surprise as we entered Blair Cove...

...Imagine his surprise when we entered!

He was a big one.

Our paddle board around the area confirmed our desire to stay another day….we want to catch both low tides so we can watch the bears!!!! And we dropped a crab trap, to be collected tomorrow Рso what the heck…

When the fog clears the paddle boards come out!

Jennis Bay

The description of this place from one cruiser we ran across was, “don’t e_pect too much”. Yup, that about sums it up.

We’re in Drury Sound. The guidebooks make it sound like this is a rarely visited, off the track spot. Well, there’s a reason. There’s a lot of logging activity here! Even in this little bay, which would under other circumstances be a gem, the logging camp right around the corner makes it look industrial rather than wild. We’re here to support the owners of this nice little spot. The logging camp whose corporate office is no doubt in another state if not country and who could care less about the beauty of the place, will not be here forever, but we hope this little struggling marina will be. So, other cruisers, show up! Jennis Bay are really nice people. Support them. (Addendum: We have since found out the logging is done and they are cleaning up and pulling out. ¬†In that case, next year definitely worth a visit)

A nice spot to drop in. Lots of BBQs you can use on the dock.

We fished for four hours today trolling for salmon on the way here to no avail. It seems they are starting to come in though, as some folks have finally started catching, so we’re keeping our hopes up. I’ve been looking at the other boat’s rigs and they are using the same type of lures as us (“hootchies” – squid like rubber lures). The biggest difference is that the fishing boats have downriggers that put the lures as deep as they like whereas we only have diving planes which can only go 60 maybe 80 feet. As the salmon come in for spawning (some say in about another week) the depth should not be as big an issue. Cross fingers.

In the mean time I cooked the other half of the ling cod a new friend gave us. Yum! Now we just need to figure out how to catch one ourselves!

(sent via shortwave radio. All these islands are out of internet range.)

Eeentsy Beentsy…

..teeny, weeny – that about describes the little coves we have been tucking into when we’re anchoring here in the Broughtons. Right now we’re anchored in Laura Cove. It’s actually rather large in the main bay, but the depths are over 100 feet. You have to find a little hidey hole that shoals to a manageable depth for dealing with the anchor. In our case, there’s a little cove on the right side as you go into the larger bay. We’re in there waaaay back in the first little “covelet” on the way in. We dropped the hook in about 30 feet at mid-tide and backed down until we are in 20ish feet at the stern against the rock at the back of the cove. We’re tied by the stern to a tree. A low tide, we’re showing about 12 feet.

We came in yesterday afternoon after a warm, sunny day of motoring up from Kwatsi. We’re staying put another day just to wait out some cold, cloudy weather. We had some momentous thunder last night and the occasional lightning. The thunder really gets your attention here. With all the fjord type inlets with vertical granite walls, the thunder echoes more ominously than I have ever heard. It’s really eerie.

So‚Ķgood thing we decided to stay since a little while later another sailboat (or as we call them up here, “motor boats with masts”) came in and anchored nearby. While he was getting set, I went out in the dinghy to drop the crab trap and when I came back I dropped over there to say, “Hi”. They are a very nice couple from Idaho who leave their boat in Washington and cruise in the summers. We got to talking and as cruising would have it they invited us over for dinner. Turns out they caught some fresh crab yesterday, kept it in the water and cooked it just now. If I pull some crab later, all the better but our real contribution to tonight’s feast will be Ann’s famous ginger cookies fresh baked in about an hour.

So that’s our update. We’re going to try and move tomorrow to Greenway Sound where we hear there are some good hiking trails, then on to Sullivan Bay to resupply for our last two weeks up here. Yup, we plan to work our way back down into Desolation to revisit some of the places we enjoyed, hopefully visit some friends we made who live in Secret Cove (appro_imately across from Nanaimo) and then meet up with some other friends in Vancouver for a final last two weeks of September fling in the Gulf Islands just north of the San Juans.

That’s our update.

(sent via shortwave radio. Note: a certain key that seems to be broken and I can’t type anymore, but comes after the letter “w” will henceforth be denoted by an “_”)

In The Burdwood Group

The Burdwood Group are a group of islands in Tribune Passage, on the north side and west of Gilford Island. We’re tucked into a very tiny spot called “Twin Beaches”. It has a midden beach of shells from centuries of First Nation villages living here.

When I say, “tiny”, I mean it. We literally turned the corner about 20 feet from a rock the defines one side of the cove, turned down into the small cove until the depth sounder read 15 feet, then turned hard to port, out and dropped in 30 feet. Backed down to 20 feet – had a bit of an panic as we drifted toward the rocks waiting for the anchor to “bite”, but it finally did and turned Charisma upwind where we finally backed hard down to set the anchor. Then I took a stern line to the beach and tied to a tree to pull us into the little cove. There’s not enough room here to swing without hitting the rocks, so anchor out and stern line in keeps us lined up in the middle of the tiny cove.

Time to get the stern line out.

Nice and tucked in.

We did a bit of looking around in the dinghy at some of the other islands, then came back and went ashore behind Charisma where we found a lovely trail that wandered around the perimeter of the island – about a 45 minute hike.

Back on Charisma the wind came up in the afternoon as the was working its way in. During “Charisma” time, we watched as the wind and rising tide did their best to set us dragging toward the shore. I didn’t have enough scope out for the higher tide in the late afternoon and we found ourselves dragging anchor and almost on the rocks when we both realized we needed to move, NOW. OK, very rude to have to move during our cocktail hour, but‚Ķ whatever. So, we let go the stern line, hauled anchor and motored out to assess the issue. We decided we could come back in, get a little further in the lee of the cove, drop more scope this time and re-anchor in the same spot. And we did. I went in to shore, grabbed our stern line which was still tied to a convenient tree and brought it back to Charisma and now here we comfortably sit with more scope, not dragging. OK, more than the non-cruisers want to read, but our cruising friends will appreciate the angst and the effort.

Our benefit? We’re anchored in one of the loveliest spots you’ll ever want to see. It’s a bit of a tradeoff since we’re also about 30 feet from the rocks, but the wind is laying down and the fog’s coming in so it should be a nice night.

(Our only other issue right now is the “letter between “w” and “y” no longer works on our little computer that we use for the shortwave radio. So, please e_cuse us for not being able to spell certain words).

Still At Shoal Bay

OK, you might be bored reading about us staying here, but we’re having a great time. The little dock here is such a “family” and the Family that owns the place is sooo nice. We can’t bear to leave. Add to that the weather, although great here, is very rough up where we’re headed, so waiting here is very easy. Add more to that the fact that some really, really great folks that we’ve met along the way named Gordon and Glenda from S/V Rest Assured have been soooo much fun. We’ve forged one of those special bonds that you sometimes find with people. The folks up at the pub that we all have a beer with around 5PM told us today, “you guys seem like you’ve been friends for 30 years”. Yup, that happens sometimes and we feel very fortunate. The less fortunate is that we’re heading north and they are heading south at this point. We’re sure we will meet up with them again.

In the mean-time, we did the hike up to the overlook today with them, AND since we didn’t miss the trail and hike an extra hour through the bush this time, we weren’t too exhausted to go a little further up to the gold mine. Well, that was a treat! It took a little looking around, but after a bit we found it. Very cool! We brought a strong flashlight – good thing – and were able to confidently walk in not worrying about falling into a shaft, of which there were several. About 30 yards inside, there was a hole in the floor that dropped at least 20 feet to another shaft. Sidestepping verrrry carefully we went a bit further to another vertical shaft and could look down several layers below. You could see where the sides of the shaft were shored up with huge timbers and such, but we didn’t have ropes and such to explore safely, so retreated back to the light. But very cool to go inside an actual gold mine (decommissioned – nobody is actively working it)

Sooo, after a nice day, we had a few beers with all the locals, dinner aboard and then chatted with our friends Gordon and Glenda until 0130 – the sun sets late around here and you lose track of time – and we’re getting ready for bed and then a move to Blind Bay tomorrow. It’s only about 8 miles away, but should be a whole different type of experience.

Stay tuned…