Shoal Bay

Just a quick note on Monday night. We got into Shoal Bay yesterday after a short jaunt up from our lovely spot at Handfield Cove. We trolled most of the way, but no luck on the salmon. Got here around 1300 – which was a good time as it was in between the rapids on either side of us, so some boats had left and the new group had not come yet. We slipped right in. There’s only room here for a dozen boats. After that it’s either side tie or anchor off. Anyway there’s a great and eclectic group at the dock and we’re really enjoying getting to know some of these folks who have been cruising up here for years. In many cases when you ask someone how long, they will say they’ve been doing this – coming up to Desolation/Broughtons for 15 or more years.

Here at Shoal Bay there is a tiny community of a dozen or so people. The run the “pub” where you can get a beer or glass of wine between about 4 and 8PM. As the season progresses they expand a bit and do a weekend pig roast and/or fire up the outdoor pizza oven, but this is basically a very tiny, family owned kind of stop.

Yesterday we went on a fairly monumental hike up to the overlook on the mountain above the pier. It should have been about 45 minutes up, but we overshoot the “Y” in the trail and proceeded about 45 minutes further up a very sketchy trail until we realized we had either gone waay too far, or didn’t care if we ever got there because the trail was so bad. We were as close to lost as I’ve been in a long while but worked our way back down to familiar territory, found the trail we missed and got to the overlook. Can’t wait to be able to post the pictures because the view across the sound and up the inlet to the glacier at the end is stunning.

So that’s where we stand. Hope to get some internet, but probably not too soon.

Foragers Part II

That’s us! Day two at Handfield, we are just chillin’. Did a lot of reading this morning and drank a lot of coffee just enjoying the quiet and beautiful surroundings.

After lunch, time to explore some more. Off we went in Mr. Dinghy – heading toward the cherry trees. The difference today…I made a cherry picker. A cup with a half top and a “V” slit in it on a 12 foot PVC pipe. This way we can get to the cherries that no one else can pick and thus not worry about taking more than we should. Well, it not only worked, but we found several more trees of different varieties. All had very ripe cherries many feet off the ground. Not reachable by normal human beings, thus no worries from our perspective about leaving some for others.

And, each tree we found had different varieties of cherry. As the first explorers in this region (sic) we have now created new Latin names for these varieties. Cherrimas Mostredest, Cherrimas Lightredest and Cherrimas Palest Redimos. OK, so we’ll wait for the names of our new discoveries to be recorded into the biological books. In the meantime, we are eating them as fast as we can. About a gallon worth. Delicious! We also found some blackberry like things that were excellent, but not enough to gather, and bring samples. We just ate them. We are tempted to stay here until the end of cherry season, but go on we must!

I think a bear had the same idea as us. Even though we were on a little island about 50 yards off the main shore, I found some bear – looking scat. It had a very light crust, but was still very soft underneath suggesting maybe less than 12 hours of so old? In any case, we kept a keen eye out for Mr. Bear. I think since he didn’t have a cherry picking contraption (TM, circle c, copyright Bob Johnson/Ann Adams) that he was after the huge number of blueberries on the island. OK, we’ll keep the cherries and give the bear the blueberries. Symbiosis!

And…double bonus for today…three legal crabs in the crab trap. Wow, did we eat well today!

We’re moving tomorrow toward Shoal Harbor. Weather and other things permitting, we’ll cross fingers and troll a bit for salmon.

Stay tuned.

The Foragers!

(Still no internets, so still on email via shortwave radio) That’s us today. We finally had some decent weather and moved from Wiatt Bay on Quadra Island. We left at 0630 to make the slack water at Upper Rapids. Even at slack, Charisma was being buffeted from side to side from the “boils” in the water. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near them in a full keel boat in other that slack.

Anyway, on the way, we tried some fishing but had no luck. Rats! Looked like a canned chili beans night (which is not always a bad thing, but…) Our destination was 18 miles to Chameleon Bay off of Nodales Inlet. Once inside the bay, we found a lovely and very secluded spot just outside Handfield Cove. We’re tucked into a nice spot in about 25 feet of water right off a little point of land. Spectacular views and very protected from all but south wind (there’s none in the forecast).

First thing when we anchored was to get in the dinghy and set the crab trap using the salmon carcass from the fish we caught last week. It’s been frozen in a baggie and was in great shape (for a carcass!). Anyway, dropped that in 70 feet around 1300, then Ann made a nice lunch. We were both beat after getting up early for the last two days in anticipation of having to time the rapids, so after lunch Ann lay down and next thing I knew, she was snoring (a very gentle lady-like snore). I took the hint and got in my hammock and thus we held until 1500.

After our rejuvenating naps, it was time for a little exploring. Ashore we went. The first spot was a bust. No trail and dense underbrush. Time to retreat! Next we headed into the little cove at Handfield. After tying the dinghy to a rock, the first thing I saw was a cherry tree! Full of really, really ripe, very large cherries! Bonus! We emptied Ann’s water bottle and proceeded to fill it with beautiful, luscious, wild cherries. We also found another tree to perhaps plunder tomorrow.

Back on Charisma we grabbed a bucket, gloves and our “crab measurement device” to make sure if we were lucky enough to catch a crab we could ensure its legality. So….we pulled up the 70 feet of weighted line and….YES! Crab! Two legal red rock crabs. Whoo Hooo. Fresh food for dinner.

It’s a lot of prep to cook, clean and shell said crabs, but worth it. Fresh crab in crab omelettes and we are very happy campers. Now for the just picked wild cherries for dessert. We even found wild blueberries, but they were disappointing. Kind of mushy. We’ll keep trying those, but so far not so good. Now that my fingers are stained purple with cherry juice, I’m breaking out one of the cigars and the chocolate porter I brought to celebrate a good day. This has been one.

Stayed At Wiatt Bay

We had planned on leaving today, but rain all night and into the early hours (0530) when the alarm clock went off left us thinking it might be best to stay put. Good choice! The rain never let up all day long. Well, maybe for 20 minutes…but that is all! Tomorrow looks better and the weather forecast suggests (it’s never better than a rough suggestion of things to come) the rain should stop “by noon”. We may still leave in the rain, since we have to leave here at 0630 to pass the Upper Rapids at slack water, but the latter half of the day looks more promising.

Our plan is to head north and west to Discovery Channel, then a hard left to the northeast up Nogales Channel to a spot called Chameleon Bay. Inside Chameleon Bay is a small cove called Hanfield that was recommended to us by some folks who have cruised up here a while. That’s pretty much our strategy. We plan one or two days ahead and change plans when we talk to folks we meet who have actually cruised up here and change our plans to visit their recommended spots. It’s worked so far!

Now that we’re getting up to an area that’s much more “exposed” to the weather on the BC coast, I spent much of today’s rainy respite inside Charisma organizing “weather products”. I sourced good weather faxes/times from the Kodiak, Alaska weather station as well as got more serious about listening to “Victoria Radio’s” weather forecast on the VHF. Now, even if we don’t have the internet I’ve been relying on, we have good weather resources to ensure we hunker down if rough weather is coming our way – a distinct possibility up here.

Other than that, we got some good reading done. A chill day. And most importantly in the grander scheme of things – Ann made some of her most famous ginger cookie dough. To paraphrase my daughter Christine, “Charisma smells of happiness” with the joyful smell of just-cooked ginger cookies!

Still In Waiatt Bay

(Still no cell coverage – sent by shortwave radio)

OK, it rained all morning so we weren’t in a hurry to try and leave. Besides we have to time the next rapids and slack water today was at 0600. I don’t think so. It’s not too far away, but tomorrow looks like better weather and a more reasonable time. Even then, we’ll have to get up at 0530 to have time to work our way out past the rocks into “safe” water and then a couple miles up to “Upper Rapids” which have been called “terrifying” when not at slack water. We’re getting used to this.

Today’s entertainment was two-fold. First was the eagle that sat on a rock, unperturbed, while we dinghied by him about 30 yards away taking pictures. Wow, what a huge and majestic bird when you get that close!

The second (which was the reason we were in the dinghy) was a trip to an island that had the driftwood sculpture museum. This is a little one room cabin in the Octopus park area that was actually used as a vacation spot for a family at one point. They used to have guests who started making driftwood sculptures to commemorate their vacation stays with the family. Over the years this grew to include folks who visited from boats and in later years as the family stopped using the cabin, cruising boats who stopped by would continue to add to the collection. The property was finally sold some years ago and the new owners of the island have kept the cabin intact and it is now a shrine of sorts. It is open – there are no longer windows or a door – and the inside is crammed with driftwood sculptures left by all the boats that have visited. The oldest we saw, just casually looking around, was from 1996. There are literally hundreds in this little 20 foot by 20 foot cabin. Some were extremely creative with extensive carving and shells for teeth and such things. Others were pieces of driftwood brought alive with marker pen drawings. Only have a faint idea of what the place was about and not knowing exactly what we would find there, we brought an American flag on which we wrote our names and voyage route starting five years ago in Berkeley, California. We pinned that up, left a marker pen and a note to ask future American voyagers to go ahead and add their names, etc. to the flag. Now that we know, next time we visit we will carve something to leave.

On the way back to Charisma we stopped to visit with new friends Gordon and Glenda(who told us about the Mariner’s Shrine) on S/V Rest Assured. We met them back in Heriot Bay and are looking forward to seeing more of them along the way, as they too are heading north into the Broughtons. In the mean time we were treated to a beer and some good conversation. In fact, we lost track of the time and didn’t get back to Charisma “for lunch” until 3:30PM.

A serendipitous cruising day.

Day Two At Octopus Marine Park

(We’re still well out of cell contact, so again, this is posted via shortwave radio)

Hiked five miles (round trip), got up to Newton Lake and jumped in the cool water for a swim. Climbing back out onto the warm granite rock to dry off and warm up, we heard the soulful sound of a loon on the other side of the lake congratulating us on braving the cool mountain water.

And so it goes on day two in this quiet and lovely spot. We’re actually in Waiatt Bay adjacent to Octopus Marin Park, in the NE corner of Quadra Island, which is – if you’re trying to figure out where the heck we are – about halfway up the east side of Vancouver island across Johnstone Strait from Campbell River. At least I think, on a regular map that will show where we are. It’s a whole series of inlets in the area known as Desolation Sound.

Anyway…this morning, we had a nice calm day so we dropped the paddleboards in the water and paddled ½ mile or so up to the Octopus series of little coves – they call the little coves, “tentacles”. Gorgeous spot. We stopped by a couple of boats we have met along the way to say, “Hi”, but didn’t stay ’cause we were planning the afternoon hike to the lake for a swim. By the time we turned around to head back, a ten knot, gusting fifteen knot breeze had kicked up, fortunately to our advantage and we paddled downwind in the developing chop back to Charisma. Had some lunch and then we re-launched in the dinghy this time in the other direction to the end of Waiatt Bay to the trail up to Newton Lake. The hikes here are just beautiful through forests with 100 plus foot trees, ferns, moss you could just curl up and go to sleep in and lots of huckleberries! We always snack along the way.

So that’s our update. Clouds and rain came in this evening and it looks like rain through tomorrow, so we’ll likely stay put for another day at least. The weather here is very hard to predict. The forecasts by the weather service very rarely hold true for longer than 12 hours, so we check frequently, watch the barometer and cross our fingers. That has worked so far, but our next leg takes us north and west through what are known as Lower Rapids, Upper Rapids (we’re going to avoid that by going around an island that blocks it) and then a portion of Johnstone Strait. Johnstone Strait can be very rough and most everyone we talk to “whispers” about tiptoeing through the strait in very quiet weather. So…we’re looking for some very quiet weather to make our move.

Also just a side note: There’s another boat in the “neighborhood” named Finesterre. Ann butchers the name every time she tries to say it, so it has now become known as, “Fred Astair” I’m hoping to meet Ginger Rodgers, but, whatever…..

Summer Solstice

6/20/16 By Ann- (via shortwave radio – we can’t get any cellular signal and might not for some days) Aww…Summer is here…starting with the longest day of the year. It is 8:45 and we are in shadows but see sunshine behind us. We have been trying to stay ahead of the summer crowds as we work our way north. Today we left Heriot Bay and transited the Surge Narrows/Beazley Pass – another of those passes that are violent at full tide, but passable at slack water. Our timing was great. Especially given that we wanted to stop and get fuel in Heriot Bay before we continued further. After fueling first thing at 0800 we were able to get up here with 20 minutes to spare to go through at slack. While we were back at Taku Resort/Marina, we scoped out the Heriot Bay fuel dock in anticipation of stopping here. Docks like this are just scary. This one is right next to the ferry dock which means that if you are fueling when the ferry arrives or leaves you can expect to get roughed up against the dock. And these docks need some work. The woman who runs the dock confirmed that there are plans to replace the docks in Heriot Bay but it was not possible to coordinate all of the necessary parties to get it accomplished this year. It made us very glad that we went over to Taku Marina and Resort. Good docks, fabulous views of Desolation Sound and Rebecca Spit. As feared, the ferry came in as we were half way done fueling. Fortunately we had many fenders out so Charisma was protected. However, it is nerve wracking for the captain. The first mate had a fun time talking to folks on the dock, as usual. Our departure from the fuel dock set us up perfectly for the Beazley Rapids. We arrived 20 minutes ahead of slack…in time to see the line that indicated the change in water levels through the narrow passage. We waited, we transited, we arrived! We are now in the Octopus Islands Marine Park. Our entry to the park took us through some very narrow spots. How do you determine the entrance…when the two bald eagles are in alignment, turn left! Seriously, right at the rock where we needed to turn were two bald eagles sunning themselves! We passed alongside the eagles about 20 yards away as we turned into the very narrow pass into Waiatt Bay Once anchored and “lunched”, we decided to go for a little hike. Our short hike ashore was magnificent. The “beach” is a rocky shoreline, but about 20 yards up the path you enter into a cathedral of tall, stately trees. We both sighed heavily as we stepped into it. Really magical. Life, death, regeneration….it abounds. I asked Bob how tall he thought these trees were. I was thinking maybe 100 feet or more. His reply, “3 or 4 Charismas….even though at first I thought 100 feet.” Yes, they are about 125-150 feet tall. And straight as an arrow. The fallen giants sometimes stretch across the path providing an over/under climbing experience. This area was obviously logged many years ago and the trunks of the harvested trees range between 5 to 8 feet across. And they now support a new life. So what else do you do to celebrate the summer solstice? A nice long nap in the warm sunshine! And we both took advantage of the opportunity – Ann in the cockpit and Bob in the hammock on the foredeck. The sky is clear at the moment and Charisma is anchored in perfect alignment to see the full moon rising above the mountain at 10:46 PM. Happy Solstice!

Tomorrow, we hike to Newton Lake (weather permitting) and go for a fresh water swim!

Salmon Day!

Oh yeah! Ann and I have been yearning for some fresh fish and today didn’t disappoint us.

We left Roscoe Bay about an hour before high tide. It wasn’t as high a tide as when we came in so we had a couple moments of anxiety when the depth sounder showed 6.8 feet. That would be from the waterline, so about 8 inches or so under the keel. Whew!

Once out into Waddington Channel we set up our fishing line hoping for salmon. We were rewarded! Caught a small salmon, but big enough for dinner for two. Then we proceeded up Waddington Channel. As many of the inlets around here, it’s almost fjord-like. Sheer, vertical cliffs go up 1000 feet on either side. While it was stunning, the pictures don’t do it justice because it was a cloudy, flat day. Oh well. At the end of the channel – about six miles from Roscoe Bay is a little island group called Walsh Cove. We tucked in there for the night. The chart and guidebook showed it as a 30 foot deep cove with mud bottom. Should have been easy anchoring. BUT, it wasn’t! Actually it was more like 70 feet and solid rock. Anyway, after looking around at a couple spots, we settled for a spot where we dropped in 56 feet and backed to the cliff, where I went in on the dinghy and tied a stern line to a tree. After we pulled Charisma up to the cliff and tensioned the anchor chain, we are only about half a boat length from the rocks. Oh well. The water’s clear so we can see the bottom drops out and even though we can almost step off to shore, we still have about 30 feet under the stern. Crazy to be so close!

Once we settled in, I remembered there are supposed to be some First Nation petroglyphs around here, so off in the dinghy to explore. We got lucky and found them! Here they are – you’ll have to decide what they depict (when we have internet to send pictures)

On going back to Charisma, the tide was low enough for some oyster pickin’. On went the gloves (now that I know how damn sharp they are) and we got a dozen for cocktail hour.

Just picked oysters and fresh salmon. Our communion with this spiritual area, surrounded by petroglyphs draw by ancient people who no doubt also respected the spirit that makes this such an amazing place.

Roscoe Bay

Sent via SSB. We have no internet – will post pics later

We went over here yesterday. This is an interesting place for two reasons. To get to the inner bay you have to transit over a mudflat that dries at zero tide. That means at high tide, we need at least 6.5 feet for Charisma to get into the bay. Luckily for us, the high tide here is around 10 or 12 feet, so “theoretically” we can get into the bay with a few feet to spare. Yeah, we’ve heard that before.

We left Prideaux Harbor (Melanie Cove) about an hour before high tide. We were four miles away, so at six knots, we should be able to get here before high tide. We did indeed reach the outer cove before high tide. We very sloooowly went over the bar with a one knot current sucking us inward. Very carefully we watched the depth sounder go from 50 plus feet to 20, 15, 10 then 9 feet – which means less than three feet under our keel – not a lot of room for error, but we did it. Once past the shallow narrows, we saw 20, then 30 and we were in. Whew! Such a lovely cove inside. We’re very glad to be here. Once anchored and settled, we lauched Ann’s paddleboard and she set off to explore the cove.

Roscoe Bay – Second Day

(from shortwave radio – will add pics when we have internet)

So, it rained all the first day we were here and all night. We decided to stay an extra day so we could climb the mountain – which is what we did today. 8 mile round trip and 2200 vertical feet. Was very worth it though. Amazing views from the top. To the south we could see all the way to Texada Island and Naniemo, to the west – Vancouver Island and Cortes Island. North and east were mostly blocked by trees, but we could see some bits of Waddington Channel and northern Vancouver Island. Definitely a fun hike/climb. Very steep at points. At the top there was a cairn with a couple jars stuffed with scrapes of paper with people’s names and notes who made it to the top. The oldest we saw dated back to 2011, but that was just from the tops of the jars. Anyway, we added our names and took a few moments for a nice snack, then back down. 4 hours round trip and the bonus – the cherry trees at the bottom. We collected a Tupperware full of beautiful, ripe, wild cherries. YUM!