Port Neville…

…jewel of Johnstone Straight. Well, cubic zirconium anyway.

It’s a reasonable spot to duck into when the wind comes up, which it did today. We had the most wind we’ve seen since the start of this voyage. It was gusting 25 which isn’t such a big deal offshore, but when it goes against a current AND you’re towing a dinghy (dumb) it gets a little dicey. We were very glad to tuck in here to wait out the breeze and tide.

The Johnstone Straight route is a shortcut of the route we took to get north. Back in late June, we went “inside”, taking the inlets and their respective “Rapids”, instead of the more direct but sometimes volitile Johnstone Straight. Well today’s run has already saved us three days of inside passage making, but it’s downwind, so even when it gets windy, it’s not so bad. Not the same going the other direction – of which there were zero boats. In fact we were one of the very few on the water today.

So, we’ll wait here for better weather. I actually think this wind will calm tonight and we’ll have another window tomorrow. In fact, 25 knots is nothing for us going downwind. The big issue is the dinghy. With engine on it can capsize with all kinds of obvious problems. So…tomorrow, the engine comes off until we get back in the protection of the inlets. We have one more 25 mile leg down the straight. About 6 hours at Charisma speed in an ebb tide (the tide ebbs constantly in “The Straight” around a full moon). Then we’ll officially be back in Desolation Sound for a couple weeks of goofing, before turning south.

Oh, and Port Neville? Well, we’re tied up at the “Government Dock”. It’s a decripit, falling down dock that you tie up at you own risk. No charge. In fact no one’s here except another sailboat that came in as we did to wait out the wind and waves. But, they say there’s a grizzly mama bear with cub that cruises the beach in the low tide. Let’s hope!

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!

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.

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…no 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”….a granite masterpiece that rivals El Capitan….only spelled wrong…who 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….until we came upon Blair Island. No, we did not see any witches or symbols hanging menacingly in trees…instead 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…but this bear was so graceful!). So shouldn’t this be called Bear Island? Really…has 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 – so 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.)