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.

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…good 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 “_”)

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.

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… 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).

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?

Summer Is Here

So, now it’s time for jackets and our heater.  Seriously, the weather has turned cold and cloudy.  They say August is “Fogust”, but then what’s July?  Cold, I guess.

Anyway, we’ll stay optimistic – even though the weather charts are showing otherwise.  There is just low, after low, after low coming down the pike from Alaska.  Oh well.  We do have some time in the afternoons that is nice, so we’ll make the best of it.

Well, we haven’t posted in about a week.  During the last week we have been comfortably tied up at the dock at Port McNeiil.  Kind of a respite.  Enjoying new friends, some travel and in particular the evening BBQ at the marina dock.  It’s a nice spot to bring our Charismas and some dinner and chat with the others who are coming through.

We have also taken advantage of the local ferry boat to visit nearby Alert Bay and Sointula Islands.  Alert Bay is about a 40 minute ride and has a wonderful First Nation (native) museum.  The rest of the town is unfortunately largely falling down.  It’s too bad that they are not preserving some of the old buildings.  There is so much history just rotting.  Seems that there is no local government.  The only government is provincial and seemingly not local enough to organize.

Same with Sointula.  As with Alert Bay, it is a lovely island and there are some worthy sights to see – in particular some nice hikes – but much of the “bay-side” buildings are rotting to the water.  Too bad.  However, right off the ferry there is a tourism office of sorts and they have free bicycles!  Just one speed, but comfortable and in good shape.  And there are few hills on the island, so Ann and I had a really nice day riding to a couple of spots where we did some nice hikes to a lake and across to the other side where there’s a beach.

Back at Port McNeill, we also had a nice car ride afternoon one day, where we used the “courtesy van” the marina offers and went to Telegraph Cove with our new friends Allison and Jerry from S/V Kingfisher of Richmond Yacht Club in California.  Fun to meet people who we “almost” know from past lives.  We’ve enjoyed meeting with them several times over the past six weeks as our paths have crossed and the trip to Telegraph Cove was a lovely day.  Hint to other cruisers:  Telegraph Cove is very, very, very narrow.  Don’t plan to stop here unless your boat is very maneuverable and not too big – or like us you take a car!

So, this morning we left Port McNeiil with lots of supplies.  We think we’ll be “out there” for three or four weeks with minimal resupply opportunities and likely minimal internets, but we’ll try to keep posting if only via shortwave radio.  We are currently back in the no-name cove on the northwest corner of Hanson Island.  It’s a peaceful spot and just the right distance for a day run – about 15 miles.  Easy days.  And, we saw whales on the way here.  They first surfaced and “blew” about 100 yards away and we watched them over the next twenty minutes or so as they alternately dove to feed and came back up, until they headed out away from our route.

Anyway, we’re aiming to get to Echo Cove on Monday.  It’s another of those “have to see” spots up here.  Several local characters (Billy Procter, Pierre, etc), fun BBQs, etc.  We’ll keep you apprised.

So, other than resupply, that’s what we’ve been doing.

Orca Sighting

OK, it was fleeting.  We were en route from our little cove at Hansen Island to Port McNeiil.  About a 15 mile run.  We left our cove at 0600 because the winds have been very high for the past couple days and predicted same, still into tomorrow – but in the very early mornings, until about 1000 they are low.  We decided to chance it and make the dash to Port McNeiil where we had a reservation (good thing).  It paid off as we got here by 0930 and within half an hour it was howling.  As for the reservation, good thing on that too as it’s full here.  This is a smallish place by “real” marina standards, but it’s the only place around to resupply for the Broughton’s.

Port McNeiil sounds like a big place and it is – when compared to, um, the little islands with nothing on them.  Actually it has a couple docks and a ferry service, and the town has a IGA Grocery (like a Safeway), a marine store, a few restaurants and an auto parts store, but this is a place where you can walk everywhere (which we did today to start restocking Charisma for the next month) in less than half an hour.  It’s not very big.  Oh, yes and most importantly there is a liquor store!  Wine, beer and rum!

Also there is the ferry service to a couple of “touristy” spots we would like to visit that are easier to see via ferry than via boat.  Alert Bay on Cormorant Island purportedly has the best museum, art, etc on native culture and there is another small island (Malcolm Island) with a town called Sointula where Finnish settlers in the turn of the 19th century created a supposed utopian settlement to escape European turmoil.  Both will be interesting to visit.

Oh, yeah, the Orca – I was at the helm in the rain at about 0700 and we were motoring along.  Ann was making coffee down below and I just happened to be “zoning” off looking over to starboard at just the moment a female (short fin) orca surfaced momentarily right in my line of sight and then dove.  It was literally a four second kind of spotting.  I started shouting “Orca, orca!” to Ann and jumped to get my camera, but by the time I had camera in hand and Ann came up all that was left was a whirlpool where the orca dove.  Got a good glimpse since I was looking right at her – black, torpedo shaped, tall fin (but not as tall and narrow as the males) and big – estimate 20-ish feet.  Cool, but wish there had been a pod and a photo op.  We’ll keep hoping.

Anyway, we have pretty good internets here for the first time since I can’t remember when, so we’ll hopefully get some pictures posted in the next few days.



Hanson Island

It’s Wednesday, July 13 and we’re in a little cove on the north side of Hanson Island.  It’s only know as a “cove behind Spout Islet”.  It’s just to the east of Double Bay.  We will stay here today and tomorrow then jump to Port McNeiil where we have a reservation to stay at the marina on Friday.  As with most places up here the concept of marina is pretty basic.  They are mostly not much more than a single dock, but Port McNeiil actually has a couple docks and stores, a ferry, laundry, etc.  In other words civilization.  We haven’t been close to real civilization for a few weeks now, so it will be a nice change.

Importantly it’s a chance to resupply before heading further north.  This is likely the last place where we can do serious provisioning.  After this it’s “catch as catch can” which means there are a few places that you can get a few goods that come in by seaplane.  If you’re there when the seaplane lands you might get some fresh stuff, but if not…

Also from Port McNeiil I think we’ll take a ferry to Alert Bay where there is supposed to be an excellent First Nation museum/art that would otherwise be a pain to anchor/dock.  So, we’ll be at Port McNeiil enjoying civilization for a few days for the last time for a while – maybe a month or so.

Getting here today was interesting.  Another one of those tiny passes.  From Goat Island we went down Indian Channel (south and mostly west) to a pass called White Beach Passage.  If you look on the chart you can hardly tell there’s room to get through.  But we’ve learned to slow waaay down and watch the depth and stay in the middle and we can get through which is what we did.  It’s a little hair-raising though.  Once through it was an easy romp across Blackfish Sound to our little cove on Hanson Island.

A bonus – once we anchored Ann heard the distinct sound of a whale exhale and sure enough, there were whales swimming by our cove.  Fun to watch.  Then with a nice day of warm sunshine.  We took advantage of the good weather and paddle boarded around the cove.