Goat Island

So we decided to skip the First Nation ruins upon reading, “…there is a fee to accessing the village…”  We’d rather “discover” something instead of pay to see a fallen totem – which is apparently all there is to see.

So, instead we diverted to Goat Island.  There’re no goats, just a tiny island with one tree on it.  We anchored in a sweet little cove a hundred or so yards away and dinghied over to “claim” the island for Charisma (which means I peed on it).  Anyway, a fun little trip and the anchorage was stunning.  Very “tucked in”.  Good thing since once we got there it rained for two days.  We collected a bunch of water for the tank (10 gallons!), and got a lot of reading done, but not much else.  Tried some crabbing, but no joy, so just enjoyed the solitude.

Another Bear! (Oh My!)

Yup, bear encounter #2.  Fortunately WE were on Charisma and Mr. Bear was on the beach.  It was a different bear than before as bear #1 had a distinct gash above his right eye and this one did not.  We are being more diligent about bringing our noise maker (a can with rocks in it that Ann shakes vigorously as we walk) ashore as well as our air horn (like at Cal Games) that hopefully would scare a bear should we encounter one and pepper spray now that we have actually SEEN the bears.  We hope not to have to resort to the pepper spray since the directions are to, “wait unit the bear is 12 feet away before deploying spray”.  These bears are very big.

So…today, the sun came out a little and we moved all of a mile across Beware Channel to Dead Man’s Cove.  Nice.  This is where the Monk’s Wall is located.  After anchoring, we jumped in the dinghy with the requisite bear repelling equipment and went ashore.  Just in from the tree line we found the wall.  As the guide books will note, it was not actually built by Chinese Monks as was initially rumored, but by a couple who built a trading post here in the mid-1800’s.  Very cool nonetheless.  We also found some very old “stuff” on the ground – porcelain and iron items – and put them on a board near the wall where they belong.  The area actually encompasses several rock walls built to make a trading post. A house, yard and probably livestock enclosure.  It was impressive how many linear feet of granite wall was built – by hand.  A rough guess on my part would be about 200 yards of wall, over four feet high as well as the main trading post wall that was over eight feet high and wrapped around a footprint in the neighborhood of 30 by 40 feet.  Must have been pretty impressive in the mid-eighteen hundreds!  And all done by hand.

Tomorrow we hope to move about 8 miles north to a cove just outside of some native First Nation ruins.  We’ll report on that when we see it

A couple more days and we plan to be in Port McNeil on Vancouver island where hopefully  we’ll have a strong enough internet signal to post the many, many great photos we’ve been saving for these posts.  Cross fingers!

Still In Beware Cove

Spent the day here waiting out the rain. Turned out to be a very nice afternoon, after a very rainy night and morning. I fished (caught some small ones, threw them back), Ann paddle boarded and then the rain came back in the evening. Tomorrow should be better and we plan to move…somewhere. We’ll let you know tomorrow. As we say, our plans are written in the sand at low tide. Right now, it just turned high tide.

We’re kind of bidding our time for a few days and will then head to Port McNeil on Vancouver Island for a big resupply before heading back out into the wilderness.

Beware of the Bear!

Yup, just as we were very carefully inching our way into Beware Bay I spied a bear foraging at the low tide line.  A very large black bear.

We had initially planned to go to a spot on the other side of Beware Passage called Dead Point (what names!), but some stormy weather suggested we would be best to go upwind to the other side, so we pulled into Beware Cove on the north side of the passage.  Turned out to be a good choice as later in the day there were whitecaps driving down into Dead Bay and three or four very, very loud thunderclaps suggesting perhaps some more significant winds in the evening.

Beware Cove seems aptly named.  Beware the bear.  No hiking for us today.  But…a stunning sight to see such a majestic animal casually roaming the tide line – probably looking for crabs.  As we were preparing to anchor less than 100 yards from Mr Bear, we could easily see him casually knocking aside 70 ++ pound rocks as if they were play toys.  And he could have cared less that we were here.  Neither of us saw as much as a glance from him as we dropped anchor and put Charisma into reverse and backed down – usually a somewhat noisy series of events.

OK, we are in the wilderness.  Did I mention the eagles we watched building their nest?  Seems a little late in the season, but we saw both of a nesting pair carrying very large sticks across the cove to their nest.

I did some fishing and caught a couple of small sculpins.  As I understand it, if they are larger they are cabazone, which we used to treasure as “good eatin’” off the coast of Mendocino.  These guys were too small though, so back they went.  I put the crab trap out as well but in just a couple hours only caught a couple “little guys” and threw them back – well one might have been OK, but just as I was about to measure him he got ahold of my thumb.  Needless to say, he was flung some feet off the starboard side of the dinghy along with a yelp!  Anyway, put the trap back in for the night and will check it again in the morning.

I will also pay more attention to my thumbs in the future.

Uh, Oh…Beware Passage

A name like that HAS to get your attention.  Beware Passage.  Hmmm.  A look at the chart gives one pause.  Lots of rocks and shoals at the entrance from Clio Channel which is where we were at Lagoon Cove.

The sailing guide for the area (Waggoner Guide) suggests a torturous route through the rocks, shoals and kelp called Towboat Pass.  Not having any other option other than taking a 20-mile detour through Johnstone Straight, we decided to follow the recommended route.

In the mean time, just looking at some of the names of the landmarks in the area continued to provoke anxiety.  Beware Pass, Care Rock, Caution Cove, Dead Point.  I think you get the point.  Be very, very careful.

We left Lagoon Cove this morning at about 1000 and proceeded down Clio Channel for about 6 miles to Beware Passage.  As we approached the passage, there were so many shoals, islands and rocks you could hardly see beyond into the clear part.  OK, this was going to take some concentration.  The course called to take Nicholas Point close to starboard, then as Karlukwees came to our beam we turned to go through a narrow slot between Kamano Island and an unnamed rock (I almost just closed my eyes it was so narrow, just hoping we wouldn’t hit a submerged rock), then 250 degrees mag across the passage to the other side just behind a small island, where – we were told – we wouldn’t see the small pass we could go through until we were almost in it.  Yipes!  We did as told and voila!  the pass magically appeared.  But, it was very, very narrow.  About the width of a community swimming pool and…as it turned out not much deeper.  Not a lot of room for a 13 ton sailboat to squeeze through.  Going “dead slow” with Ann on the bow watching for rocks and kelp we inched forward.  24 feet deep – no problem.  18 feet, ummm….  15 feet, oooh, I don’t like this.  We went through the narrowest part of the pass with a depth of 11 feet.  As we used to say in Mexico, “No bueno!”  At the narrowest part Ann shouted a warning of kelp beds in front and to the starboard side, so a little to port, then a hard turn to starboard and we were out!   Phew!

All in a day’s work in the Broughton Archipelago.

Jean Barber

Jean is the 80-year-old owner of Lagoon Cove.  Or as noted below, the almost former owner now that Jim Ryan has bought the property and will run it as of approximately September of this year.  She and her late husband, Bill, acquired this property back in 1992 and have built it and the great reputation it enjoys today.

Ann and I had the very good fortune of being able to chat with her yesterday and learn a little bit about her life.  Jean insists that Bill was the entertaining one but we were mesmerized.

I can’t do justice to the whole story since I wasn’t taking notes, but we were enthralled.  So here’s a sketch of what we learned, with the caveat that it’s our interpretation, not a fact-checked bio.

Jean was born in Romania and emigrated to the US in 1951.  At the time – post WWII with the beginnings of the Cold War well under way, Jean’s father correctly realized that unless they wanted to endure under communist, or as Jean noted what they called at the time Bolshevik, rule they had better emigrate.  As Jean tells it, they left Romania  in 1946 for Switzerland from which they could seek the required sponsor who would give them the ability to seek citizenship in the US.  It took four years in Switzerland before they found a sponsor.

At the time of their voyage to the US, Jean was 16 years old and the only member of her family of eleven who spoke English.  So at 16, she became the family translator, getting them processed through Ellis Island, into New York, and on a train to Cincinnati where their sponsor lived.  We clearly understood Jean’s family’s good fortune when we heard her tell that her sponsors were from the Taft and Chase families.  Taft and Chase as in relatives of the former president and of the financial empire.

But the sponsors, while generous people to be helping immigrants who were looking for a better life, obviously weren’t providing long-term support.  For that of course her father needed a job and Jean told of going with him to job interviews where she translated between her father (who was a woodworker and builder) and the prospective employers.  In one such interview Jean told of the prospective employer’s objections. “Why should I hire you?  You use metric measurements and tools, and you don’t speak English so we can’t tell you what is to be done”.  His response, “You have blueprints don’t you?  I can read blueprints”.  After more objections her father finally said, “It is Friday.  You are looking for someone on Monday.  I will come in Monday with new tools and you give me the blueprints of what to build.  If at the end of the week you are not satisfied with my work, you do not have to pay me and all you will be out is for the materials I use”.  He not only got the job but he built a successful career there.

We heard so much other fascinating detail of a family who came here with nothing and built successful lives through hard work and determination, that we just had to get the thread of the story down so we can share at least a very small portion of a wonderful person’s fascinating story.  As Jean self-deprecatingly told it; “But, you know, everyone has a story”.

Getting To Lagoon Cove

Getting here looked like it was going to be another one of those “character building” voyages, somewhat like the rapids we have occasionally traversed on our way north.

On the chart, you can see a very narrow, three mile long traverse from Havannah Channel, where we were, to Minstrel Island and another very narrow channel called “Blow Hole” (more on that one in a minute) that drops you right in at Lagoon Cove.

The first channel is called Chatham Channel.  On the chart it is about 1/16″ wide  😉  and looks terrifyingly narrow.  Well, it turns out to not be as bad as it looks.  We went through a little before slack low tide with depths of around 24 feet (the current gets up to 5 knots at max tide – almost fast than Charisma can go).  Although you could see rocks and mud flats on either side, there are “ranges” at both ends and as long as you keep them carefully lined up, you have no problem although I still breathed a sign of relief as we exited the channel into deeper, wider water.

Then there’s Blow Hole.  Sounds much more ominous.  As we turned the corner from Chatham into Blow Hole we could see numerous rocks jutting out and a blast of wind hit as if a warning shot across the bow.  However after some light hyperventilation I settled down and worked our way through.  Again, not a big problem, you just need to pay attention.

Some character building navigation, but at the end, like the proverbial rainbow is the treasure of Lagoon Cove.


Lagoon Cove

Couple days ago we made the move from Matilpi to Lagoon Cove.  We wanted to get to Lagoon Cove because everyone we’ve talked to says it’s “classic Broughtons”.  A low key, family run establishment that exists because it caters to folks cruising in these waters.  The issue though has been that there have been rumors it is closing.

Let me be clear to any cruisers reading this.  LAGOON COVE IS OPEN AND DOING WELL.

Now that’s covered, here’s the news.  Jean, the 80 year old owner has found a buyer and is transferring ownership as I type this.  The good news is we have met the new buyer – Jim – and he is a wonderful man with a vision of carrying on here as it has been in the tradition of Jean and her late husband Bill.  And it’s going to continue to be family run.  Several of Jim’s children (in their 40’s) are going to live here and run it while Jim and his wife with stay involved as well.  And rest assured they are still doing a daily prawn feed and pot luck that everyone comes to at happy hour!

Ann and I spent an evening with Jim just talking about his plans and it sounds like this place is in very good hands.  An extra bonus on our evening – Jim and I played some music down on the dock with an audience of some of the cruising folks here (spoiler alert: those present said we should put out an instrument case so they could make donations for the entertainment so I guess we did OK)  Turns out Jim plays a mean banjo.  In fact he also made it himself.  It’s a beauty.  I won’t go into detail although it deserves it, but suffice to say, for the round body, he repurposed an old antique “grain measurer”.  Apparently this is a circular wooden box, joined with copper “clinch nails” that he cut in half to make two banjos out of.  It’s a work of art.

We didn’t play together.  Turns out his banjo is tuned differently that my uke and he is taught in an Appalachian style of finger picking (think the soundtrack to “O Brother Where Art Thou”).  He therefore doesn’t read musical chords.  I am too novice to play by ear, so we did the next best thing.  He would play a song from his repertoire (he’s been playing for something like 17 years) and then I would play a song from my songbook/binder I have put together and he would sing along with me.  Other’s joined in when they knew the words and we all had a good old time down on the dock in the twilight singing and just enjoying being out here in the land of eagle, salmon and bear.  And that’s what this is.  While there is a pier here with a dock, couple sheds and a house, most of the rest of the island is pure forest.  In fact, a sow grizzly was seen here with her two cubs a week or so ago, so we have been taking our noise-maker, air horn and pepper spray on our hikes.

Fun, fun, fun!


We moved all of about a mile today.  This spot is a former First Nation village, now abandoned.  The identifier is a “midden” beach.  It is bright white, sand looking from afar, but as you row closer you realize it is actually made of crushed clam shells from centuries of people living here on the clams that are so plentiful.

It has been a very blustery, cloudy and sometimes rainy day, but after our July 4th dinner of hot dogs and homemade potato salad (thanks Ann!) the wind finally died down and we rowed ashore about 8PM.  Bob explored and Ann stayed on the beach and picked thimbleberries for tomorrow’s breakfast granola.

Moving inland, I found the area to be largely grown over with berry and other bushes, but it was pretty obvious that the flat areas under huge cedars was where the village was situated.  Add to that a fresh water stream and you have a perfect spot.  Must have been good living at one point with the clams, salmon, berries and so many other foods available to forage and hunt.

We wanted to get in here yesterday, but it’s a very small spot – really only room for one or two boats at most and there was a small powerboat and sailboat already here.  They were likely the last of the Canada Day voyagers on the long weekend (their version of US’ July 4th).  Anyway, when we saw the spot was taken, we ducked in across the inlet – about a mile away – in Burial Cove.  A decent spot, but over-taken by a cabin on one side of the cove and a research shed on the other.  Also in the cove is a log dock – four 40 foot logs lashed together and more or less anchored.  We dropped the hook to windward of them, backed down to about a boat-length and crossed our fingers that they wouldn’t drift excessively.  We came close a few times as tide and wind played their games, but it worked.  It was fairly nice, but not nearly as beautiful as this spot.

So for tonight, we’re tucked in behind a tiny island off the midden beach.  One end of the inlet is too shallow to traverse and the inland side of the inlet is only about 75 yards wide.  We are tucked in between the beach and the island with just enough swing room to keep us off the rocks.

Tomorrow we pull anchor at 1000 and make our way through the very narrow Chatham Channel passage.  While we are technically in the Broughtons right now, the real archipelago in on the other side of this narrow three mile long passage.  Once through that we’ll take a left through the even more narrow “Blow Hole” passage and come out at Lagoon Cove.  We’ll tell you about that after we get there.  It’s supposed to be a hoot – but at this point in the season we may or may not be able to get a space at the dock.  Our alternate plan is to make a reservation on the Radio and go another five miles to Potts Bay and anchor for a night or so.  We’ll see.  Mostly we are anchoring out in quiet places, but there are a few spots up here that are “must visit” spots.  We’ll blog about them as we get there.  Lagoon Cove is one of them.  Stay tuned.



Still Getting Used To The PNW (by Ann)

Almost ten weeks ago we left Port Townsend on this leg of our great adventures full of anticipation ….bright eyed and bushy tailed. And we are still adjusting to the area. We never quite know what to expect.

We expected to see eagles and have been richly rewarded and miss them when we go for a day without seeing one. At least we hear their “chitter” —the best way we have come to describe their communications with each other — and know they are near. But no whales and no bears…only a pile of bear scat when picking cherries.

We expected berries but not all of the fabulous cherries! And salmon berries and huckleberries and thimble berries! And raspberries! We love to forage and snack for days on our haul. Yummy.

Today we have anchored in Burial Cove. Sounds eerie, right? Well, we had two potential anchorages in mind as we left Port Harvey this afternoon but unfortunately the smaller more intimate Matilpi Cove was already occupied by two boats as we came by. So we anchored in Burial Cove willing to be respectful of the potential spirits residing there. If only the guy on shore with the chainsaw and hammer had been as like-minded! Not sure how Bob napped through it but he did!

The other surprises have been the “marinas and resorts”. I put them in quotes on purpose. We actually like to anchor out most of the time but a nice “marina” with a shower and laundry is hard to pass.

The “resort/marina we were at last night, Port Harvey, was described as “rustic but welcoming”. We give them a lot of credit given that the two story building that housed the store, showers, laundry and pub was built on a floating dock that caught fire and collapsed into the water since last season. This year there is a large, welcoming tent with a generator run pizza oven. The proprietor and his dog could not have been more helpful as we docked. The pizza was pretty good, the happy hour enjoyable. Heck we even joined their yacht club to help support the rebuilding efforts. How could we pass it up…it was a one time fee for a lifetime membership! We are hoping it has reciprocal privileges up the road!

Compare this “Yacht Club” to our stop at Blind Channel Resort that had showers, laundry, a store with a fair selection of groceries, a well-stocked liquor store (always a plus) and a full serve 4-5 star restaurant! Oh, and tons of huckleberries and thimble berries on their paths. A nice family run operation for over four generations. Great docks, fuel, water….what you think of when you say “resort”.

But one of our favorites, and the one that held us the longest ( four nights!) was Shoal Bay with mandatory rafting and a pub. Truthfully there was never a need to raft up as just enough room was available on the docks for those that wanted it. At Shoal Bay you are not allowed to “check in”. As Marcos, the proprietor quickly informed us, “You come to Shoal Bay to check out. Relax!” And how could you resist…especially watching the dogs frolicking along the shore and the purple martens flittering around the dock posts. Lovely, relaxing, just missing the on-tap beer that was always just a day away. Maybe the fresh vegetable garden that you are allowed to harvest herbs and berries from distracted us. Or maybe the great hikes up the hill. Or the fun conversations at “the pub” and on the dock.

But we realize in all of these places, minus the bears and whales, we are meeting delightful people. Our story is very different than everyone that we meet but they are they sage veteran cruisers in these waters. We have lots to learn and we can entertain them a bit by confirming that we came up from San Francisco….via New Zealand. At every stop we get great new bits of information to enhance our travels. We may not have quite figured it all out but we sure are enjoying getting there….wherever there is!

Happy 4th of July, Fellow Americans!