At the end of the Princess Louisa Inlet there’s a single dock that can accommodate a dozen or so boats. Most of the rest of the inlet is so deep you can’t anchor although there are a few spots where you can drop you anchor and stern tie to the cliff. The locals do this all the time, but we’re still pretty new to that, so the dock it is. There are only three other boats here right now this early in the season, so it’s pretty peaceful. Yesterday there were more and we had a nice dock party. (Apparently Ann’s idea but surprised us that everyone was ready to make it happen!)
The real attractions though, besides the sheer breathtaking beauty are Chatterbox Falls and the Trapper’s Cabin.
We’re sitting here looking at the former (and its roar dominates the landscape), but for us, the day’s adventure meant hiking up to the Trapper’s Cabin. Hiking is a bit of a misnomer – it’s almost a climb. At times pulling ourselves up rocks and tree-root “ladders” embedded in the soil, this “path” climbs some 2000 feet in less than ¼ mile from shore. When I say, “up”, I’m not kidding! It’s billed as a two–hour hike up and we did it in exactly…2 hours. There is a sign at the trailhead near the dock stating that the trail is “not maintained, slippery, very dangerous, etc”. They weren’t kidding. Fortunately it WAS well marked. Even with frequent “blazes” of pink tape tied to trees, we still frequently missed the trail (which was non-existent in many places) and had to back-track.
Anyway, we made it. You know you’re there because the trail terminates at a huge waterfall with THE view out over the sound. Another bonus is wild salmonberries! You have to look them up. Near as I can tell, the name comes from the color, but we can attest they are delicious! We spent an hour today just gobbling them up. Yum. Can’t wait until huckleberry season in another month or so!
Beautiful hike to the "cabin".
The beauty of this place practically left us speechless.
This is for those who have been here. The cabin is about gone, but the view....
...well, the view will never go away. You can see how far we've hiked up from the water level...
Turns out we had more of that Charisma luck or mana because the day was gorgeous and pretty warm. All day today has been rainy and cold. This is one of those trails that is slippery from moss and such on a dry day. We never would have/could have done it when wet. Lucky us!
From Pender Harbor we went another 15 or so miles up one of the inlets toward our “real” destination, Princess Louisa, to literally the “last” place we could tie up and rest before the final push; Egmont Harbor. It turned out to be a cute little place, although a very tight spot to dock in.
Egmont Harbor. A lovely little spot.
Another view of the little harbor at Egmont.
ARGHHH MATEY’S. We’re at Pirate Cove! On DeCourcy Island, about 15 miles SE of Nanaimo on Vancouver Island.
It’s a lovely spot. Here’s a few pictures to describe it.
Very appropriate "X" marks the spot to get in. It's a very shallow, somewhat tricky entrance. You have to line up the "arrow" painted on the rock, with the "X" in the tree in order to find the channel.
Once you find the channel it's very narrow. About fifty feet wide between the starboard side red mark and the reef on port.
Once inside it's quite lovely.
OK, I can never show enough shots of Charisma at anchor.
...And there's a Treasure Chest!
Time for a little sightseeing...
...a little hiking...
...and of course, Eaglecam!
I thought of many titles for this blog as I went for my second hike today on the stunning island of Sucia….”A Week In The San Juans”, “Closing In On Canada”….. but the chipmunk thought kept coming back to me as I reveled in the beautiful hiking.
My friend Linda, from SV Bright Angel, once commented as we prepared to leave New Zealand for Fiji that she couldn’t wait to get back to the tropics where she could reunite with her inner mermaid. That thought has always stuck with me. And I thought about it today as I hiked along Echo Bay looking down on Charisma.
No Charisma, but still lovely.
Hikes in lovely wooded areas feed my soul…like Linda’s mermaid. Only I knew it wasn’t a mermaid in my case. I finally decided it must be my inner chipmunk that was being channeled. Chipmunks always make me remember growing up in the Rocky Mountains and catching a chipmunk with my brother, Gerald. We were 9 and 10 and very determined. And we won. We caught the cute little chipmunk….only to bring him back to Denver where he deftly escaped.
The Pacific Northwest is so very different than the South Pacific. The water is a different set of blues…but stunning shades of blues to greys. Unlike the South Pacific that has so much teal and turquoise. And the shoreline here is so rugged! I love seeing the eagles and blue herons roosting in the tall trees. I am amused by the geese and their gosling broods.
Grove of Aspens, what a surprise!
I am blessed with a husband who appreciates this love of hiking. I overhear him in discussions with locals questioning them on the best places to go. He always says that one of the big requirements is that there must be access to hiking. Boy did he hit the jackpot on Sucia Island. Lucky me.
The best part of sharing this with you, our readers is that for most of you it is someplace you can get to. You don’t need to fly thousands of miles to the South Pacific to experience this area. The San Juans are stunning. And I am told that the scenery is only going to get better as we head further north…well, there are Orcas to see….wow!
Charisma anchored in Echo Bay.
We are back on Charisma…in our own 37-foot world. And as soon as I get used to this weird, constant rocking motion I will get to work organizing and storing items we brought back. If only I could remember where I put the things we left behind. Our conversations go like this:
“Hey don’t we have some honey on board?”
“Yes, I am sure we do.”
“Where is it?”
“Hmmmm, don’t know but am positive we have it on board.”
“We need more AAA batteries.”
“No, I am certain that we have some on board.”
“Hmmm….not sure….put them on the shopping list and when we find them we can take them off the list….if we find them”
A little disconcerting. Trying to remember where certain pans are, warmer clothes, fire starter for the grill….you get the picture. Makes me laugh because I KNOW they are exactly where they are supposed to be. Probably stems from spending so much time in other peoples’ kitchens and trying to put things back where I found them so I would not give them reason to swear at me when I was gone!
Anyway…we are back and will be doing more blogging soon!
PS- Charisma looks fabulous. Very little sign of any mod or mildew. Dry inside. A little bit of yuk in the scuppers but nothing a little water from a hose nozzle won’t solve. Thanks to Jim Huemann, our friend from Sockdolager for taking such great care of her while we have been gone.
Position: 48 degrees 22 minutes north; 125 degrees, 34 minutes west 94 mile day
Rain, fog, 3 meter seas and winds 30-40 knots kept us very busy last night. Not fun.
OH, no bueno!
Finally eased late morning and the day has been OK, but we’re really racing a gale coming down from the north so have decided to stop just inside Strait of Juan de Fuca on the US side at Neah Bay. It has a marina and fuel so a much safer choice than the extra 40 or so miles to Victoria in what will be deteriorating conditions.
Ahhh, passage making. You never know, three weeks earlier when you leave, what you’ll get when you get there.
On a more inspiring note, Ann saw so many whales today that she lost count. If you know Ann you know she never losses count, so that’s a lot of whales! We are in the “seamount” area off Vancouver Island where the water goes from thousands of feet deep to more like 400 or so. This makes for a very rich feeding ground and we passed through literally multiple pods of whales as the afternoon progressed who were oblivious to us as they were in a virtual feeding frenzy. We had to alter course several times to avoid sailing into a pod of five or six whales that were feeding. Crazy!
Position: 48 degrees, 21 minutes north; 127 degrees, 55 minutes west 148 nm day
Definitely still a couple hurdles though. Rain and fog are in the forecast.
Rainbow leading us to port.
And the wind is also forecast to drop. If it goes too low and we have to motor while still off the coast, fuel will become an issue. We’re down to what we need for the 50 miles down the Strait of Juan de Fuca, but not much more. Oh well, we’ll see.
The last 12 hours has been great sailing. Blue sky, blue water and plenty of wind from behind us, so fast going. Since late morning though the wind has swung in front of us (again!) and we’re now close hauled and trying to keep our course to the strait. The wind should lighten and back in the early morning, so cross fingers, but fog! Yuck! And right outside one of the busiest shipping channels on the west coast.
OK, the good part: last night the sky was almost completely cloud free and the moon came up just before sunset, affording us a stunning view of the almost full moon on one side and a beautiful sunset on the other. Ann had a cloud free watch and enjoyed infinite stars and a nearly full moon. She was one happy camper as I came up for my watch.
Today marks three weeks, twenty one days out of Hawaii. Whew, a long time. I’m very ready to be tied up to a nice, stable dock! We’re hoping for a Sunday afternoon arrival pending all the usual “what ifs” that arise to keep plans flexible.
Position: 47 degrees, 54 minutes north; 131 degrees, 28 minutes west 135 nm motor-sailing
It is 11 am on Thursday and I have just finished taking a shower. Not just a shower but a luxurious shower. You are probably scratching your heads or chuckling to yourselves thinking how can a shower on a moving boat be luxurious. How? You get to use a whole tea kettle of hot water and the sun is shining and warm! So warm that I did not have to shower as fast as possible and hide quickly under my towel. Nope, I even stood naked in the cockpit and let the sun and gentle breeze dry me off.
Luxury is also Charisma time!
Two days ago I was using cleaning wipes to try to clean some of the collected odors off of my body. I had even changed into clean clothes afterwards pretending that I had showered. That felt wonderful. I even washed my hair in the sink using two water bottles of warm water. I was feeling good. But today I luxuriated in the ability to enjoy getting clean. Not just performing a function. And now I smell really good.
Luxurious is always relative. I would normally classify the bathrooms in the Westin suites complete with a Jacuzzi tub (ok, who really uses those when you have the choice of the beach, a few swimming pools and a couple of hot tubs) as luxurious. When we were cruising the islands luxurious was being able to suds up on the side of Charisma and then jump in the water to rinse. Even more luxurious was getting to use the warm water nozzle off the back of Orcinius after floating lazily in tubes. I felt spoiled then. (No boat envy here, but I do have to say that Orcinius made landfall two days ago even though they left Hawaii at the same time…lucky dogs…those bigger boats move faster.)
The weather today is what we had hoped for on this passage. Clear blue skies. Just enough sun to stay warm, not melt. (Too bad we are motor sailing and have to hear the engine but hopefully the wind will fill in from the south tonight as promised.) Last night was full of stars twinkling their hellos and encouraging us ever onward. The layers of clothing have been slowly peeling off. No longer do we feel like kids going out to play in the snow when we go into the cockpit.
So today luxurious is a full tea pot of warm water in a relaxed shower. Soon it will be a hot shower in Victoria. Kind of like food porn only cleaner!
Evening update: Bob caught and landed our first fish of this passage! Albacore.
Yay! We have had several jump our lines on this passage and have been frustrated. No longer. Five minutes after I closed my eyes for my afternoon nap Bob wiggled my leg and proclaimed, “Fish on!” And we got it reeled in and finely filleted. Sashimi at sunset with Charismas graced by an almost full moon rising as the sun set to an electric green flash. As the clean shirt I am wearing proclaims….Life is good!
Position: 47 degrees, 05 minutes north; 134 degrees, 41 minutes west 125 nm day
Last night we entered the center of the low and ran out of wind.
Motoring through the center of the low...
...hard to believe it's so smooth and calm in the middle of the Pacific.
So, around 0330 I started the engine and we’ve been motoring since (it’s now about 2000). I expect we’ll motor another 12-24 hours if the weather stays true to the forecast. Then (again, if the forecast…) we should get some south winds to drive us into the BC area.
Today was a nice day for a change. The sun even cooperated for a few hours, so I had a chance to take a bath in the cockpit. Nice to get clean! Also nice to have a relatively flat sea/calm winds after the last days of squall, after squall, after squall, each bring high winds and often rain.
So, the plan here – hoping the weather holds as forecast – is to motor another day through the low and pick up some south winds on the other side. These are from a new low coming down from Alaska. It will likely bring some poor weather with it, so we’re racing to get in before it gets here. Cross fingers please!
Position: 47 degrees, 26 minutes north; 137 degrees, 49 minutes west 123 nm day
Guess what? I had a night watch with a glorious moon and stars sprinkled all over! How I had missed them. I was set for a great watch. The winds had calmed enough to make it pretty comfortable 85% of the time. But when we rolled back and forth just enough the “Tayana River” would produce a new tributary. That is the water that rushes from one side of Charisma to the other through a hole in the cockpit combing. The net effect is that unless you notice the roll at the very start you are going to end up with a wet butt. Wet butt cold body. No bueno.
And then there were those rogue waves that come barreling across the water like a freight train, slam into the side of Charisma and leap up into the cockpit. But they are rogue and don’t happen THAT often. Because of these 15% occurrences I decided to “stand watch” last night. Literally, I stood in the companionway on the stairs and did my 360 lookout from there. If anything looked more interesting I would step out into the cockpit and study it further. Not much happened.
Until it did. And I think I need some research assistance here (JHamm?). At about 12:45 Hawaii time (we don’t change our clocks until we get into port…too confusing) I was standing looking forward when a spotlight lit up from behind. My first thought was that the moon had come out from behind some clouds but I quickly dismissed it when I recalled that the moon had set an hour earlier. I turned to see a light that looked bright enough to be a ship about to run us down directly behind us. LOOK OUT! And then it exploded and fizzled downward to the ocean with a green glow. HOLY MOLY! I was trembling.
What was that? Did any of you see it? Of course we were 600 miles off of the coast so maybe you missed it. No, I did not get visited by a small boat transporting little green people later, nor did Bob on his watch. I turned on the iNavix application on the iPad to see if an AIS signal from a passing ship would show up. Nada. It did not look like the meteors we had seen a week ago. It exploded and fizzled and was green.
I was still pondering this event when I woke Bob at 2 am for his watch. He laughed at my iNavix thought. I babbled non-stop for about 10 minutes…the pent up adrenalin pouring out of me. Poor Bob was still breaking through the sleep haze. Maybe he thinks he dreamed it.
Well, please let me know what research says. It was at 12:45am Hawaii Time at about 48 north latitude, 140 west longitude. Meanwhile it is so very nice to see the stars and moon and today, the sunshine again. It’s like reconnecting with old friends!