Near the End

It’s been hard to begin this blog entry. Usually, I stew a bit while looking at the beautiful scenery around me while pondering the recent chapter of our adventure. But the last few weeks, although full, have been disjointed. And of course there is the melancholy of reaching the end of our great summer adventure. So it hasn’t come to me as easily.

After our last blog we moored in Pender Harbour and boarded our seaplane to fly back too Seattle for our 2nd Annual Family Business Assembly.

Travel by seaplane is always awesome and it was truly wonderful to be back in Seattle to see the Grandkids especially. Our Family Assembly Meeting was a lot of work, but a big success. We learned, played and grew together with the goal of nurturing and educating future generations.

Two weeks after flying home we were on the seaplane once again to meet up with our friends Carrie and Troy Shaw for our final excursion this year back into Princess Louisa Inlet. Carrie and Troy drove to Egmont and we left the Back Eddy Resort to cruise up Jervis Inlet to PLI.

Despite an iffy weather forecast the weather turned quite lovely. We shared 3 nights and 3 days in our favorite place by far in the Salish Sea. PLI feels like our true summer home. We walked trails, kayaked, paddle boarded, played scrabble, floated and even watched a movie. The last night the skies cleared and we enjoyed some fun star gazing complete with shooting stars.

Carrie paddle boarding!

Carrie and Troy headed home by water taxi from nearby Malibu Young Life Camp after taking a fun tour and enjoying lunch with Jim Troyer, Carrie’s old boss at the WA Legislature.

The barometer had been falling steadily for the 3 days before Carrie & Troy left and the clouds finally rolled in followed by a heavy evening rain. This is the first time we have been in PLI in late August. With most of the winter snow melted, the waterfalls were as small as we’ve ever seen them, the rainforest paths were bone dry and the trees seemed to be holding their breaths waiting for rain. So we welcomed the rain. The sounds of the rain and the waterfalls rebuilding echoed throughout the inlet and we woke to abundant waterfalls followed by mid-day clearing. Perfect!

Our final days in our favorite spot were spent doing what we love, kayaking, floating, reading and generally enjoying each other and the beauty around us.

But all good things come to an end especially as the summer begins to fade and I needed to get back to Pender Harbour for another seaplane ride home. Unfortunately, my sister Rachel had to have her second back surgery in 3 months and I wanted to be there to help her threw it. So we docked once again in Pender Harbour and I flew home while the Captain stayed with the True Love.

Rachel’s surgery went well, but it seems like it will be a slow recovery. Getting older can be a challenge sometimes, but as we all know it beats the alternative. Thanks to some family help from Brittany, Chad’s girlfriend and soon-to-be nurse, I was able to fly back to the True Love after only 3 days. Jasmine helped Rachel get home Monday from the hospital and Rachel is now in the good hands of Hannah, Rachel’s oldest daughter, who flew in from Colorado.

Anderson Bay south side of Texada Island

After arriving back on the True Love on Sunday, the Captain and I were both ready to leave the dock and we ventured to Anderson Bay, a little bay about an hour’s cruise from Pender Harbour, on the south tip of Texada Island. Anderson Bay is a little gem of an anchorage in a northwest wind (although it is completely exposed to a SE wind). I scavanaged up dinner from what was left in the fridge and we watched an old Star Trek movie before going up to the top deck to watch the stars come out.

Until our recent time in Princess Louisa the star watching this summer has been mostly blocked by clouds. But by the end of our trip we’ve had good weather for watching the last days of the Perseid meteor showers as well as watching the Summer Triangle (Vega, Deneb and Altair) appear in the Milky Way. We’ve seen several big shooting stars and lots of satellites.

On Monday and Tuesday, we cruised south, anchoring first at Montague Harbour and then Bedwell Harbour. The stars both nights were truly spectacular. And the views allowed us to see Saturn and Jupiter very clearly (including two of Jupiter’s moons with our binoculars). Because it was close to the horizon in the southern sky, Antares (in Scorpio) twinkled red, blue and green.

Last night in Bedwell Harbour was our last night in Canada. As I write this blog we are back in the USA, anchored at Sucia Island (in the northern San Juan Islands).

James and Robert can you see the face?

The sand stone formations around Sucia Island are very interesting. And Jim remembered that his Dad, long ago, found a dinosaur bone exposed here, lodged in one of the sandstone cliffs.

Tomorrow, we will anchor near Friday Harbor so we can prepare and repovision the The True Love for our final guests: Jasmine, David, James and Robert. The Captain and I love having the grandchildren (and their parents) on board and we truly look forward to sharing our final days with them. They are taking the Victoria Clipper fast catamaran to Friday Harbor where we will scoop them up before heading to Port Townsend for a couple of nights before cruising back to Seattle on Sunday, September 1st.

I’m planning to do a final “best of” blog after we get home. Thanks for sharing the journey with us!

We were treated to our best sunset of the summer last night!

The Captain and the First Mate of the True Love.

“They slipped briskly into an intimacy from which they never recovered.” F. Scott Fitzgerald

Orca Abundance, Friends & Ready to Fly Home

Our friends Laird and Carol arrived on their orca-themed seaplane (a good omen!)

The seaplane arrived about an hour late, but schedules are never precise when traveling by seaplane and it worked to our advantage as you will see later. After a yummy lunch at the April Point Resort we left the dock and headed north for Octopus Islands Marine Park enjoying beautiful weather. First we saw a humpback, then after about an hour out we encountered an Orca “super pod”.

How many can you count?

The baby

Can you see the two orcas?

Baby in the back

At least 10 orcas we think, maybe more. I only captured 6 in one photo. And there was a baby too! They traveled north with us for quite a while. We left them after turn into Okisollo Channel. We even tried some fishing, but the orcas kept coming up the channel towards us. We didn’t catch any fish but still had a lot of fun trying.

Octopus Islands Marine Park is one of our favorite anchorages and it turns out it’s a favorite of Laird and Carol too from their sailboating days. Our unusual semi-private anchorage was available so we dropped the hook and enjoyed two wonderful days of crabbing, kayaking and conversation. Although we’ve know Laird and Carol for years, we haven’t really had time to become close friends. Laird is our personal and corporate CPA. But we all so much in common including our love of both boating and Hawaii. They live east of Carnation so they are also rural people like us. The Captain and the First Mate truly enjoyed our time getting to know them better. As Humphrey Bogart said in Casablanca: “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

While anchored, we spotted raccoons and a deer foraging nearby at low tide, and a heron doing some strange sunning high up in the tree.

Jim, Carol and I are bridge players and we had the time to teach Laird how to play bridge. Given his CPA background he took to it very quickly. I think he’s hooked. He downloaded the app Bridge Baron and is already practicing for our next bridge gathering.

Laird and Carol even loved my morning elixirs. Of course, it didn’t hurt that we were splurging on cinnamon rolls as well.

Together we all learned something about crabs. Rock Crabs are well named. Cracking their shells is much harder than for Dungeness Crabs. Our crab appetizer was exciting with shells exploding everywhere as we devoured our two crabs. We definitely needed showers after dinner!

Funny story. The Captain and I picked a place to drop the crab trap, because it looked right, and didn’t have any other crab pots. We had no idea if it would be successful. By the time we picked up our crabs there was another pot and by morning there were 4 more. Everyone else had no idea that we really knew nothing about crabbing!

Unfortunately, during our adventures out around the Islands by kayak, board and tender, I lost the bottom fin to my paddle board. Note to self: avoid kelp. I came to a quick stop as it grabbed the fin. I didn’t fall off, but the fin did. Luckily the guys came by in the tender and gave me a ride back to the boat because a paddle board without a fin does not “track” at all so when you paddle, the board goes sideways instead of forward.

After Octopus Islands we headed through the tidal rapids at Hole in the Wall on our way to our final destination: Okeover Inlet for dinner again at Laughing Oyster. The Captain didn’t quite time the rapids correctly so we had a more thrilling ride through the 7 knot current than we were expecting. No problem though. On our way we encountered another Humpie doing some gentle cleaning. What fun!

That evening we tried out a new beautiful little anchorage in Isabelle Bay. It had been a hot day and we were all ready for a shower, some cocktails and some bridge before heading out to dinner at Laughing Oyster. Dinner was yummy, we even had live music! We got back to the True Love just as it was getting dark, but before the predicted rain started thanks to our speedy tender.

Laird and Carol met their seaplane for their flight home from Bliss Landing. We found a space at the dock, paid the requested $10 library donation for the privilege and enjoyed a light lunch before their plane arrived.

After waving goodbye, we left to head to our next anchorage at Garden Bay Marina. We stop at the Powell River area almost every year. But last year the docking at Garden Bay was heart stopping with the very strong S.E. wind blowing us away from the dock and toward the nearby rock breakwater. This year there was another SE wind, but lighter so it was not difficult to get tied up to the dock. The Captain did a marvelous job. Because we are leaving the boat in a couple of days for 2 weeks we are cleaning out the fridge and I had plenty of eggs so we enjoyed an omelette while watching the Democratic Presidential Debates on the satellite TV.

Yesterday we planned to head into Pender Harbour to do some laundry before flying home today. That didn’t happen though for 2 reasons. First, when we called to check on our reservation for dock space it turned out we were off by a day, so we decided to anchor in the nearby Harmony Islands before continuing to Pender Harbour. The afternoon was lovely as we floated in front of the falls before finding another unusual anchorage nearby.

We’ve gotten pretty good at anchoring in water over 100 feet deep by putting out 330 feet of anchor chain. This anchorage wouldn’t work at all for a windy, stormy evening but it was perfect for last night. Our plan was to wake up early and head to the dock in Pender Harbour before flying home on the 2:00 seaplane flight. Unfortunately, a big storm was predicted for the next 24 hours from the west and we received a text from Kenmore Air that all seaplane flights had been cancelled.

We called Kenmore Air immediately knowing that the storm would mess up a lot of people’s travel plans and were able to procure a late flight for tomorrow at 6. So we then quickly called the Painted Boat Resort & Spa and procured two massages. We know how to make lemonade out of lemons on the True Love!

The storm has arrived, but we’re massaged and showered and well fed, finishing our laundry and getting ready for a fun day tomorrow before (hopefully) flying back home. I change my first mate hat for Grandma and Family Council Chair. I can’t wait to see James and Robert. Then all the family gathers for our 2nd Annual Dick’s Family Assembly meeting at Suncadia in Cle Elum.

This isn’t the end of our True Love journey, but it is getting closer. We will return to the True Love in two weeks and then take our dear friends Troy and Carrie Shaw into Princess Louisa Inlet before making our way back home to Seattle.

The Captain and First Mate of the True Love

“They slipped briskly into an intimacy from which they never recovered.” F. Scott Fitzgerald

A 24 hour refuge at Dent Lodge But First Dolphins!

We are back to North Desolation and I’ve got to say, it is so pretty here! The mountains up north are very different as we have said, but beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We prefer the gentle slopping hill covered with green, leading to the snow covered mountains and glaciers in the distance. Of course, the fact that it is sunnier helps too!

On our way south we had another wonderful Orca encounter in Johnstone Strait. We may not see bears, but we’ve been Orca lucky! Listening to the whale watching chatter, they have been hard to spot this summer, but not for us!

Our first stop back in North Desolation was Erasmus Island, near Blind Channel Resort. Someone was in our usual spot so we anchored across the bay. It isn’t as protected, but the views of the snow-covered mountains are beautiful.

After anchoring we set the crab trap and did some fishing (but we didn’t catch anything) before dinner.

While we briefly had cell service we were also able to procure a reservation at the very busy and usually full Dent Island Lodge for the next night.

Before we lifted our anchor to cruise to Dent Island, we needed to check out some issues. We have been collecting some water in our bilge and the bilge pumps weren’t clearing the water although the indicator light on the helm shows them on and working.

First, we needed to figure out where the water was coming from. So while we were underway the First Mate checked the engine room and found that the sea water strainer used to cool the port engine was leaking water. Now this makes sense. I was relieved that the leak wasn’t coming from someplace else. I knew that we had cleaned out the water strainer before we left Campbell River a couple of weeks ago and when we put it back together in didn’t seal perfectly. Clearly, accepting an imperfect seal was a mistake. This was a relatively easy fix. We opened the device and had to spin the strainer slowly until it dropped down another 1/4 inch. We resealed it, ran the engine and voila! No leaking.

While we investigated the port engine sea water strainer I also noticed the watermaker seemed to be leaking a little bit, but we didn’t know where. So once again the First Mate watched the unit run and found the leak in a bolt. All it needed was a little tightening and voila! No leaking.

We had left the crab trap down overnight and went to gather it up after our repairs. This was clearly a mistake. The crabs ate all our food, but escaped! Score one for the crabbies! Clearly we need to pick up the trap before we go to bed. Oh well, no fresh crab for us for at least a few days.

Finally, before we left our anchorage at Erasmus Island, we took down, cleaned and stored the heavy, clear plastics windows that protect us from wind and weather on the top deck fly bridge. I particularly enjoy taking the plastics down and pulling the convertible top back to take advantage of the sun and the beautiful 360 degree views. But because the weather has been colder and wetter up north we have not been able to remove the plastic windows and take down the convertible top, until now. With all our chores complete we finally headed to Dent to enjoy the beautiful views, sunny weather, long showers, hot tub and a wonderful dinner “out” at the Dent Island Lodge restaurant.

Shortly before we went through the Dent Rapids we encountered the same friendly dolphin pod we spent time with in the same area a couple of weeks ago, this time at Dentham Bay. The Captain and I love dolphins, especially when they’re playing. And I got one of my best photos ever! It was so much fun watching them hunt as a group to catch salmon and then celebrate the meal with leaping!

James and Robert, do you see which of the 4 dolphins has a fish in its mouth?

Today we head back to Campbel River area to meet our friends Laird and Carol Vanetta.

But first we need to refuel and have Altech Diesel take a look at our stern bilge pump which appears to be running, but not expelling any water. This is only a crucial problem if we had a rare “leaking hull” emergency. In such an event we would cruise as fast as we can to reach help or “beach” the boat on shore; but cruising fast angles the bow up and drains all of the water inside the boat to the stern; so the stern bilge pump is crucial to keeping the boat afloat in that scenario. So just to be safe, we are going to take the afternoon to see if we can get the aft bilge pump fixed. It should be a simple fix, and we tried fixing it ourselves, but we didn’t have any replacement parts and it is in a very little space. Ridiculously, the stern thruster was installed just above the bilge pump leaving almost no space to get to the device. As I learn more about the True Love and it’s equipment I’m constantly amazed by some of the decisions that were made with no thought to future maintenance.

Altech came to our rescue once again (this time Keegan was our mechanic) and both the aft and forward bilge pumps are now working properly and the bilge is dry. During the repairs, the First Mate walked to the grocery store to re-provision. We now have plenty of food, the fuel tanks are full and we are tied up at the April Point Marina for a couple of days of downtime before our friends fly in by seaplane.

We’ve been out for 50 days now and I’ve had my eyes pealed the whole time for an eagle feather for James and Robert. I’ve had no luck, until today! Walking back to the True Love at the Dent Island dock I found a feather in the water by the dock. James and Robert, this is the first eagle feather I’ve ever found and I can’t wait to bring it back to you next week for you to keep with your other treasures. An eagle feather symbolizes trust, honor, strength, wisdom, power, and freedom, and soon it will be yours!

The Captain and The First Mate of the True Love

They slipped briskly into an intimacy from which they never recovered. F. Scott Fitzgerald

Another Crossing of Cape Caution to Summers Bay in Belize Inlet

What makes Cape Caution so difficult, other than the fact that it is open to the ocean? It’s the relatively shallow depth close to the point.

We did all the right planning and the weather buoy data was within the safe parameters, and most of the open-water cruise south was manageable, but we did encounter some really big waves (10 feet high or so) near Cape Caution. They didn’t bother us as much as they might have for two reasons: (1) the big waves were coming from behind us, not from the side, and (2) we were better mentally and physically prepared.

But shortly after we passed by Cape Caution, another boat, traveling in the opposite direction used the VHF radio to hail us: “True Love, True Love this is the Goodship”. We responded and settled on a working channel where in slow seaman’s talk he asked: “I was just wondering how the seas were . . . um, so close to Cape Caution? I had plotted a line further out in deeper seas and was just wondering . . . about the waves you encountered at Cape Caution?”

The Captain responded that the Goodship should continue on its path because the waves closer to shore were almost twice as big as the waves farther out.

In our brief conversation, we learned that the straightest line to your destination isn’t always the best. Because Cape Caution is so shallow near shore (sometimes only 40 feet deep) the waves get really big. It’s a matter of math and physics, of course. A 4 foot wave in water 300 feet deep has to grow much taller to convey the same energy in water that is only 40 feet deep. There is simply no place for the wave energy to go but up. James and Robert your Mom can explain that to you.

Oh well, another lesson learned experientially on the True Love. Later the Captain thought of a better response that he should have made: “We were just testing our new stabilizers.”

Other than our experience near Cape Caution, the cruise to Belize Inlet was pretty easy. On the way we spotted a two Humpback whales and a couple of porpoises. We did encounter some fog near the entrance to Belize Inlet, and in fact a different boater hailed us to tell us it was sunny and clear only a mile away from shore, which we really appreciated, but this time we were in the correct place to enter Belize Inlet. It’s nice to know many of the boaters around are looking out for each other. Our timing was perfect for the tides and the currents through Nakwakto Rapids, and we entered Belize Inlet about 12:30PM.

Belize Inlet is a 20+ mile long beautiful inlet with cascading large and small waterfalls everywhere and we only encountered one tug and two other boats exiting on our way in, and no other boats at all during the two days we were anchored. Trees grow everywhere even on very steep inclines. Here’s one that is quite amazing!

One of our goals was to find the Native Nakwakto pictographs dating back to the 1860’s and we did! They depict assaults with trading vessels. James and Robert, what do you see in these drawings?

We anchored at Summers Bay and the sun came out and it actually felt like we had cruised back to summer warmth. Our anchorage is surrounded by waterfalls filling our boat with lovely sounds.

After another long day we were pretty tired, but once again we felt a great sense of accomplishment. We enjoyed some steak and our previously caught crab with a nice salad and some gnocchis. A feast to celebrate our accomplishment of discovering a new area! Belize Inlet and Allison Sound will be the last new areas we investigate for the first time on this trip before heading back to the familiar waters of the Broughton Islands.

We’ve spent two nights here exploring the rest of Allison Sound by tender. Allison Sound is a northern turn off from Belize Inlet. We are not sure what makes a body of water a “Sound” versus an “Inlet”, maybe it’s depth. The dark-colored water of Allison Sound is almost more like a brackish lake. It’s very beautiful and peaceful, but there isn’t as much life. No eagles, just a few loons and ducks, very few fish and it just doesn’t have that salt water smell. All in all, we prefer our waters teaming with life and more blue. But, we did encounter some deer. One was swimming across the sound in front of us.

Can you see the deer in this picture?

This is only the third time we’ve seen this. The first time was outside of Pender Harbour and another time at Octopus Islands.

This area does have some deer fly issues, although strangely enough they aren’t a problem in the morning or at dusk. But it gave us a chance to deploy our handmade screen for the upper helm entrance and it worked perfectly as we cooled the interior of the boat with a good airflow and still escaped the flies during the sunny and warm afternoon.

Our satellite TV was able to get some signal, so we were able to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo moon landing by watching a documentary on the History channel. The moon landing was such a important part of our childhood. The fascinating part of the documentary was the fact that the people in mission control were so young. The average age was only 29 and most were the first in their families to go to college. The young man who was head of Electrical Engeneering, Steve Bales, was just 25. Before joining NASA he was going to be a Texas rancher. At Only 25 years old\ Bales made some crucial decisions on ‘go, no go’ issues. Truly incredible.

That entire NASA operation took new thinking, open minds and incredible stamina and energy. The other thing we didn’t know and learned from listening to Saul’s show on Friday was that Walter Cronkite was on air for 30 of the 33 hours to report the lunar orbit and landing. Saul’s Friday Show was excellent by the way and you can listen to it through the link to his podcast. It’s been our running joke on the connectivity side. We can’t make a call, or get mail, but we can download or stream Saul’s show!

So Sunday we continued our cruise south. We were a bit low on fuel, but we were able to reach Sullivan Bay on North Broughton Island and refueled. After fishing consultations on Monday morning we’ve learned that down rigger lines break often but there is a new kind of down rigger line that is more durable than steel cable. So we are off to Port McNeil to re-equip so that we can fish again. Although we passed Port McNeil on our way north we didn’t stop there, and we’ve since heard that most boaters prefer stopping at Port McNeil instead of Port Hardy. So we are also looking forward to investigating a new port!

The Captain and The First Mate of the True Love

“They slipped briskly into an intimacy from which they never recovered.” F. Scott Fitzgerald

We caught a fish!

Sunset from Colville Lagoon across from Lama Passage

We enjoyed our days at Shearwater and tried to learn from all the experienced fishermen and women. A fellow boater and fisherman approached me as I was looking at the lures. He whispered some tips on where to fish and that a particular lure seemed to be working well for everyone. It was silver and green with a small black stripe. The first mate was interested in another lure that had similar colors but also looked like live bait and had a little space to put in a slice of hearing so that it also had the smell of a live bait fish. John, the quiet gentleman who ran the Shearwater Marine store said the first mate’s lure was a good lure to try, so we bought that one. He has lived in Shearwater with his wife full time for over 20 years.

Using our new lure, we actually hooked a pretty big fish the next day, but while bringing it into the boat, the tip of the fishing pole broke off and the line tangled. The Captain did his best to pull the big fish in by hand, but it got away. Now we have another project for our stay at the Shearwater Marina near Bella Bella: fix our fishing pole.

The Shearwater area has limited cell and internet service, and it also has difficulty picking up the VHF radio weather reports. Luckily, we have a weather module on the Garmin GPS and our barometer. Interestingly, Jim and I have just finished reading the Harbinger fantasy series in which the main character “invents” a kind of barometer in their world.

It became clear watching the barometer and the data from the offshore weather buoys that a big storm was approaching, so we decided to stay at the Shearwater Marina to ride it out. Luckily, we made a reservation in advance, because it got very busy at Shearwater as many other boaters got the same idea and salmon season has officially started. As the barometer continued to drop it became clear that our decision to enjoy the safety of the dock was a good idea. We were snug, safe and able to sleep well. It also gave us the time to learn more from everyone else at the dock.

We asked John at the marine store to recommend a new pole and better line. John also fixed the tip of our old pole. We are using a better line now on both. It’s thinner and more pliable than the traditional clear plastic fishing line. Combined with our new lure, we are more confident.

Last night was our final night in Shearwater, we had dinner with a couple who had just brought their boat up from Sausalito (near San Francisco). They were pausing here before continuing north to Alaska. They had been at sea for 3 weeks to get to Shearwater. That’s a lot of long days!

Leaving the dock this morning we were ready to try out our new knowledge and equipment. And it worked! We immediately snagged a small salmon that we released followed by a respectable 21″ chinook. Woohoo!

I think we are beginning to figure it out. I was better playing the fish on the line to bring it in and the Captain did a great job scooping it up with the net. We can check off another big accomplishment! We tried again, but unbelievably the “strong” wire snapped on our fishing down rigger (the machine that drops the fishing line & lure to the desired depth, usually 50-100 feet below the surface). We lost our down rigger’s big 10# weight and connector. So no more fishing with a down rigger until we get it fixed. The equipment issues continue on a smaller scale.

The next step for the First Mate in our fishing experience is to clean our salmon following the directions in our salmon book. I really wasn’t worried about cleaning the fish and with the 4 easy steps, it was a breeze. It’s a white salmon too, which I look for in my fish store back home.

Today, we cruised and anchored at Pruth Harbour because a number of people told us it was so beautiful. There is a research center here and huge sandy beach. After we anchored and cleaned our fish, we put the head in our crab pot and set it in a nearby cove before heading into shore to explore.

The Hakai Research Center is lovely, with simple but beautiful grounds. A 1/2 mile walk to the ocean brings you to the first of a series of white sandy beaches.

Jim on the Haiki research center trail to the beach

Beautiful rocks on the beach

Two of me in a panorama photo (something I learned from Dani and Julie)

The sun came out, we took off our shoes and had a wonderful walk. A few hardy souls were actually surfing too.

We were hungry when we came back to the True Love and cooked up some of our salmon. It was delicious!

After dinner we took out all the reference texts and our charts for the next part of our journey. We needed to plot out the tides, currents, and timing heading south past Rivers Inlet and Cape Caution and to the entrance of Belize Inlet through the very strong Nakwakto Rapids. These rapids are almost as big and strong as the Skookumchuk Rapids near Egmont and we must only go through them at or near slack tide. Finally we needed to use the West Sea Otter Buoy just Northwest of us in Queen Charlotte Sound to report waves of under 2 meters with a dominant wave interval of more than 8 seconds for a comfortable transit. We didn’t use the right buoy coming north, but we found it finally on our satellite weather program. It doesn’t always load right away. This morning it reports a wave height of 5.2 ft and dominant wave period of 10 seconds with calm winds, so we are good to go.

We knew we were leaving early this morning so before we went to bed we went out and checked our trap. Our bounty from the sea continued and we had many crabs. We kept one big one for today.

This area has really grown on us. The Captain just said, “That’s what is great about the BC Coast, if you get tired of one area there is so much more.” And even we can catch fish up here. When we first got up here, I wasn’t sure it was worth the time and the fuel. But now I’ve changed my mind. It’s so vast and diverse, it just takes time and slowing down. Maybe not every year, but we will be back!.

Fjordland in The Great Bear Rainforest

At 7:30pm on July 9, 2019, the Captain and the First Mate of the True Love anchored in Culpepper Lagoon, the holy grail of Fjordland. We left the dock at the Shearwater Marina near Bella Bella that morning. After getting up pretty early we headed to the restaurant for breakfast. The day started out a bit foggy, but it was clearing, the barometer was rising and the sun came out as we were leaving, heading north. Before we left, we took a walk to the local garden shop in a small house up the hill with beautiful angel begonias that reportedly also had fresh blueberries. One of the drawbacks of leaving in early June on our adventure this year was missing out on the local berries and cherries of summer. Although we snagged some BC cherries in Campbell River, so far we had not found any local blueberries.

We hit the jackpot and bought 3 pounds of delicious sweet blueberries.

After our blueberry hunt we left the dock. Our revised plan had us taking two days to reach Culpepper Lagoon, but the weather forecast called for rain every day after July 9th, so we decided to make the long trek all the way so that we could see the mountains of Fjordland before the clouds and rain arrived. It was a delightful cruise with calm seas and winds all the way up Seaforth and Mathieson Channels. We even took a sweet little side passage, Reid Passage, to avoid the big ocean rollers of Milbanke Sound (where Seaforth Channel and Mathieson Channel meet). Generally the little passages are more interesting and this one didn’t disappoint. Of course we saw lots of eagles.

After entering Mathieson Channel from Reid Passage we actually passed a park ranger boat. Literally, this is first marine park ranger we have ever seen in BC waters after 10 years of boating.

As we approached our turn into Kynoch Inlet, the gateway to Fjordland, dolphins played in the front of the boat. What a great welcome! And in the distance farther up Mathieson Channel, we saw a ridge line along the east side of Mathieson Narrows that Jim said looked a lot like his childhood drawings of Tar, one of his childhood dogs. We have enhanced the photo so you can share in his vision. James and Robert do you see Baba’s drawing of his dog Tar?

After turning into Kynoch Inlet a very large waterfall appears on the port side. The surrounding mountains rise steeply like black monoliths over 3,000 feet high. The glaciers in the distance were not yet visible because of these very steep foothills.

To enter Culpepper Lagoon, we had to first pass through a short and narrow tidal rapid. It was clear in the reference text that we should only enter this rapid during the slack current that occurs when the high tide first begins to recede (“high tide slack”). Yet, there was some confusion about the time when that would occur. So we lowered the tender and split up with the Captain investigating the current and depth through the tidal narrows, while the First Mate stayed with the mother ship.

Although the current was still a healthy 5 knots an hour, the minimum depth was over 15 and the rapid was only about 100 yards long so feet so we were comfortable going through into Culpepper Lagoon without having to wait until the current was perfectly slack. So we switched places and the First Mate led the way through the rapids with the tender while the Captain followed on the True Love.

I explored possible anchorages with the tender, taking depth readings and investigating the surrounding waters, looking for hazards. Although we have charts and GPS for these out of the way places, sometimes they just aren’t that accurate. Especially when there are rivers nearby, the shifting silt from the rivers can change dramatically change the depths found years earlier that are shown on the GPS charts.

We tried one recommended anchorage, but were unhappy with how close we got to the shallow area when the boat was at anchor so I kept looking and found a perfect anchorage with good sound from a little stream nearby. Although the anchorage was much deeper (130 feet) than where we usually anchor, we put out almost all 300 feet of our anchor chain and our anchor held beautifully.

The sun sets really late up here at over 51 degrees north latitude, so it was almost 10pm when it started to get dark. But before the sun set we enjoyed an outstanding view of Culpepper Lagoon, which is about 2 miles long and a mile wide, with glassy calm water surrounded by snow capped mountains. And amazingly, we had the entire area to ourselves: The True Love was the only boat in Culpepper Lagoon.

Getting here despite all of our repair issues felt like a big accomplishment, leaving us feeling both proud and relieved. The area is vast and stunning. Because we made it up here in one day we saw all of the surrounding mountains and enjoyed a pretty sunset. Then the clouds came in as it got dark and as we were getting ready for bed the rain began.

Well, we are in the Great Bear RAINforest after all. Although it rained quite a bit that first night and most of the next day (Wednesday), we had a couple of sun breaks on Wednesday and headed out on the tender to look for bear. We met two other tenders also looking for bear. They came from two sailboats who didn’t brave the entrance to Culpepper Lagoon and were very impressed with our navigational skills, gumption and beautiful anchorage.

There were no bears near our anchorage, so we headed back out to see if there were any bear at the head of Kynoch Inlet. Fortunately, it’s easy to head in and out of the tidal rapids on the tender because of our 40 HP engine. Alas we didn’t see any bear. Clearly bear do frequent this area because the Spirit Bear Lodge leaves a special boat moored here at a private buoy for heading up the river. As we finished our first exploration using the tender, a rain storm entered the area so we had to head quickly back to the True Love.

It took us a bit to dry out and warm up. We had lunch, rested and let the rain fall. Another sun break appeared a few hours later and our new friends on the sailboat Concerto called us over the VHF radio to say that there was a bear on the shore near their anchorage. So we quickly put on our rain coats (and rain pants this time) and zoomed over on the tender. Unfortunately, the juvenile grizzly had moved on by the time we got there. Oh well.

Today we headed out of Culpepper Lagoon easily during high tide slack. The Captain figured out that the reference text had a typo and that high tide slack was at 20 minutes AFTER high tide at Bella Bella, not 20 minutes BEFORE. We will let the editors at the Waggoner Cruising Guide know of the typo when we get cell service.

Because of all the rain, Kynock Inlet was transformed from the day we entered. The towering black sheer rock mountains were now covered with little waterfalls.

And as we headed north to pass through Mathieson Narrows we had another wonderful humpback interaction. We know from last year that humpbacks sleep on the water. So we when found a humpback sleeping on the surface in the narrows, we just slowed down, turned off the engine and waited for him to wake up. When he did, our sleepy humpback friend lazily swam all around the True Love and we got some great photos and video!

Our stop for tonight is in Poison Cove at the end of Mussel Inlet, a bear and mountain goat sanctuary. We are anchored once again very close to an area that looks like prime bear terrain, with a little river, a big grassy area and a large drying shoal. After going for a really nice kayak, we returned to the True Love to watch for bear strolling down to clam but once again the bear stood us up.

As our day comes to an end, we are once again the only boat in a beautiful anchorage, and the promise of this morning’s rising barometer is being fulfilled with clearing skies. Dawn will arrive tomorrow at 5AM, along with a very low tide, which should be another great opportunity to see some bear. If we do, we’ll include some photos with this blog post. If we don’t, this will still have been a wonderful trek to Fjordland and the Great Bear Rainforest.

Our alarm woke us at dawn and we roused ourselves for our bear hunt. For those of you who have read our blog for years, you know we have not often been successful in our bear hunting endeavors. In fact, our only truly successful bear hunt was with Trapper Rick in the Broughtons. Now that was a crazy adventure.

But back to this trip. When we awoke we were immediately treated to eagles clamming while the seagulls dive-bombed them incessantly. Who knows why? The eagles were not threatening them in any way so we assume the seagulls were responding to some previous interaction. The sunrise was quite beautiful and relatively clear. No bear, but a humpback came right by our boat. Although we are not bear lucky, we are very humpback lucky.

After about an hour we took down the tender to explore the other nearby cove and river inlet, no bear there either. Oh well!

Now we are off! Heading back south out of Fjordland. On our way we checked out the largest falls in the area Lizzy Falls.

Finlayson Channel will forever, for us, be renamed Sleeping Humpback Channel. Around noon, as we were heading south, the First Mate spotted another sleeping humpback and then another and then another, along with a juvenile and a baby. Maybe they are all exhausted after their long trek here from Hawaii? Our sailboat friends from Fjordland caught up with us and then we all enjoyed a Humpie Watching party. Our friends had spent the night in the more traditional anchorage (Windy Bay) on Pooley Island and of course they saw another grizzly. Seriously 😳. So much for looking for bear in the designated park areas on the mainland side of the fjords.

As we continued our cruise south, we were close to the native village of Klemtu. This reminded Jim of the secret password from the old SciFi movie “The Day the Earth Stood Still”. Jim recalls it as something similar to “Klemtu, barrata, nikto”. There was a Seaborn Cruise Ship at Klemtu apparently touring the old native “big house” there. We avoided the stop although we loved reading about the restaurant in town that serves only the culinary essentials: “breakfast, burgers and Chinese food.”

After a very early start and a long cruise we finally entered Jackson Passage. The crew was super tired so we decided to go right to the nearest place to anchor and drop the hook. While the Captain was expertly navigating the shallow, curving Jackson Narrows I spotted a locally rare heron and captured one of my favorite photos of the trip. Now that is a lot of mussels! (In Seattle, there are 20 herons for every eagle; here, there are 20 eagles for every heron).

After dropping the anchor in Rescue Bay we lit the sabbath candles early, made a yummy steak and salad dinner, used the last of our champagne to toast our successful voyage to Fjordland and tried to stay awake until at least 9:30PM.

We understand this area now, and will definitely make it up here again. It is cloudier and rainier than BC’s Sunshine Coast of course. But it is warmer than we expected and the bugs weren’t bad at all. Although the glaciers are less visible up here, the mountains and waterways are vast and the seclusion is unparalleled. In our 5 days in Fjordland we saw only 4 other boats.

This morning we watched the women’s tennis finals at Wimbledon in bed at 6AM and then went back to sleep. There is no hurry to go anywhere. Before leaving Rescue Bay we went to go kayaking around the bay and encountered a huge brown bird that we learned is a Sandhill crane that we’ve never seen before.

And we Id’d the sound we heard last night and this morning coming from a pair of loon. Now we’ll head back to the Shearwater Marina near Bella Bella (the main hub up here) for at least one night and hopefully some fishing.

After that, we plan to head south through the Broughtons Islands and Johnstone Strait on our way back to the Sunshine Coast between Campbell River and Vancouver. However, we want to explore Belize Inlet south of Cape Caution first. The descriptions in our reference texts sound interesting and we have the time before meeting up with our friends Laird and Carol Vanetta in North Desolation.

The Captain and the First Mate of the True Love

“They slipped briskly into an intimacy from which they never recovered.” F. Scott Fitzgerald

To Port Hardy and Beyond!

July 4th was a busy repair day. The mechanics arrived on schedule with 4 brand new batteries. Then the electrician arrived and replaced the old isolator with a modern charger (1/5 the size but more effective). And drum roll . . . the battery alarm and siren no longer lit up or sounded. Hip Hip Hooray!

The Captain did some investigating of the tender that led to some cleaning and tidying of the bilge. He discovered that the fuel filter was not properly mounted but we easily found the proper screws and plugs in our newly organized equipment. Problem solved. Check!

After all the repairs were complete we walked again to the grocery store for our final provisioning for our trip north.

The local native dugout canoe went by our dock complete with chanting giving us our final blessing!

We ended our day with a needed shower, a good meal and fireworks on TV. We both feel ready. In fact, we both thought about Moses being tested by God in the desert. Thankfully, our test did not last 40 days! However, because of our boat problems, repairs and delays we have learned so much more about the True Love and her many systems. We’ve cleaned and organized everything. And now we both are ready for the adventure we had planned.

So we set our alarm for 6:30 AM and collapsed in bed excited for our True Love Adventures to come.

The First Mate woke up at 6 AM, anxious and excited and woke the Captain who would have preferred the extra half hour of sleep but rallied anyway, as we began our 100+ mile, 10-hour cruise north to Port Hardy, which is at the northern tip of Vancouver Island.

I write this about an hour south of Port Hardy. We hit the weather jackpot with calm seas, no wind and clearing skies. It’s sunny now although there are several thunder clouds in the distant mountains.

About half way to Port Hardy we passed Cormorant Island, named after the paddle sloop HMS Cormorant in 1864. About 1,000 people live on the Island and it has ferry service to other nearby islands and Vancouver Island. 60% of the people on the island live on the First Nation reservations there.

Watchful eyes are important because of all the debris in the water on this part of our cruise.

We passed some more dolphins fishing and pulled out our Whales and Dolphin book because they looked a little different than our last encounter. But it turns out they were both “Pacific White-Sided Dolphins”. Maybe we will also spot some Dall’s Porpoise or Northern Right Whale Dolphins on our trip. We hope so.

It’s exciting for both of us to be someplace we have never been before. And we saw another humpie!

The weather forecast for tomorrow looks good for our 50 mile crossing of Queen Charlotte Sound. Visibility is very good today and we can easily see the mainland which is comforting. According to all the reference texts, the key is to arrive at River’s Inlet during a flood tide.

Port Hardy was a bust. I’m sure it’s a very nice place, but there was no calm place to anchor and no spots available at the marina. However, just an hour northeast of Port Hardy there are several small islands with potential places to anchor. One in particular was recommended to us by our Seattle dock neighbors Mike & Kathy of “Rain Dancer”: God’s Pocket Resort. We called them and they told us where they were and said we could join them for dinner. Now “resort” is a very grandiose descriptor and most people would not include God’s Pocket in that category. It’s a very small inlet with an old collection of modest buildings that are colorful and rustic. What it does have is a sweet little “pocket” in the rocky shore that is protected from the big winds and waves that surround it.

The extra hour made for a very long 12 hour day, but the God’s Pocket Resort proprietor (Clouse) was making the final dinner for their weekly kayak guests so we anchored, showered, dropped the tender and joined in. Clouse met us at the “dock”. He is a 30-something former financier from England who had a number of amazing scuba diving experiences at God’s Pocket including one with a humpie. The original owners were looking to sell so he bought it!

At dinner he described his new experience as buying a “boat on land” as well as 3 other boats. It definitely is a “project” and we wish him and his partner the best of luck. Dinner was a feast and we enjoyed the company of the kayak group. One family was from Cleveland and another group was from Alaska.

Well fed, but pretty tired, we collapsed once again into bed ready to overcome our new hurdle: crossing Queen Charlotte Sound, passing Cape Caution and cruising on into Fitz Hugh Sound and Beyond.

The Big Crossing

We woke early to a foggy morning, pulled up the anchor and headed out. With our new batteries and charger the radar is working perfectly. Because of the fog it was calm. But cruising in the fog is intense. All eyes on deck is the rule of the day because there is a lot of debris in the water up here and the fog makes it even harder to spot the logs. Fortunately, the fog lifted quite a bit as we got away from the islands and into Queen Charlotte Sound.

Although Queen Charlotte Sound looks like crossing the Georgia Strait, it isn’t. As soon as we were out in the open the big ocean swells from the northwest appeared. It wasn’t choppy or windy but the swells were intense and they lasted for all 4 hours. Both of us got a little queazy. This is unusual for The Captain. Ginger beer helped and going below the top deck was something to avoid whenever possible: it was just too “rolely-polely” and not in the happy “Pokey Little Puppies” way.

We passed Cape Caution at almost the exact same time as the Columbia, the big open ocean ferry boat that regularly travels from Bellingham to Alaska and back. Jim took it with his family when he was a kid. It’s almost as big as a cruise ship.

After a long 4 hours we made it to our destination, Fury Cove on Penrose Island. Fury Cove is the first protected anchorage after crossing Rivers Inlet and entering Fitz Hugh Sound. Penrose Island has lots of little islets all around it, creating a variety of fun bays for anchoring and exploring by kayak.

After anchoring, I made my best imitation of our favorite “Raman Ya” curry noodle soup and we watched some Wimbledon on the satelite before taking a well deserved nap. We felt accomplished but, truly exhausted. Being adventure buddies can be tiring!

But to put our adventure in perspective, a group of kayakers arrived at the same time as us. They are kayaking the usually very rough waters all the way from Bella Bella to Port Hardy. Our good friend Robert DeWolf has done this kayak trip and we can’t imagine doing it ourselves. Our hats are off to the Robert DeWolf and anyone else who attempts such a challenge.

Our friend Alan Middleton, when he was much younger, sailed on a relatively small boat to Hawaii. After our 4 hours of swells, the idea of days in the big ocean is mind boggling to us. So while the Captain and First Mate of the True Love are also adventurers, our adventures are quite tame compared to others. However, I’m sure we sleep better and eat better than the folks traveling by kayak!

In the afternoon we used the tender to explore the beautiful white shell beach at Fury Cove and the surrounding small islets. While most of the trees in the forests here are small, there are a few big cedar trees.

After dinner we pulled out our reference texts and charts to schedule our stops all the way up to our final destination north, Fjordland’s Culpepper Lagoon on July 12th, before we head back south towards home.

It’s morning now at Fury Cove. We are very rested, drinking coffee, and enjoying our view of the cove with eagles flying all around. After pulling up anchor we’re heading to Rock Inlet for a couple of days to enjoy our surroundings and kayak. We’ve got high fog here now, but the weather satellite says that it should be clearer at our destination, which is about 25 miles north.

Fitz Hugh Sound was relatively calm today with light winds and following seas as we headed north. Cruising this new territory is fun as we follow along on the chart and investigate different inlets and bays along the way.

Our original destination for today, Rock Inlet, was a bit of a bust. The inlet is near Namu Lake and Namu River, the former site of a large salmon cannery. Although fishing boats were in the main bay, the abandoned large cannery complex is delapitated and badly deteriorated. Nearby Rock Inlet is definitely a 10 out of 10 for protection against winds and waves, unfortunately, it’s only a 4 for ambiance.

The Captain and the First Mate concurred that this was not where we wanted to anchor today so we consulted the reference texts again and picked out a couple of choices further north near Burke Channel.

This is how we discovered Fougner Inlet. And it’s perfect. Probably only a 7 in protection, but definitely a 9 in ambiance and we were the only boat here. As we slowly approached a narrow entry to our anchorage a mother and baby seal welcomed us. The fog lifted while we went out for along kayak around all the little nooks and crannies. The calls eagles and other birds are the high notes to the peaceful sounds of the breeze and the water lapping around us.

Our first few impressions of the BC coast north of Vancouver Island are:

1. It’s massive and would truly take months to explore fully. With so many islands, islets, clusters of islands and islets, there are hundreds of deserted bays, inlets, coves and other interesting places to explore.

2. The forest is different here, the best way to describe it is messy. Trees grow in all shapes and sizes and at all angels, but there aren’t many large old trees. There are lots of silver-colored dead trees in the forest that covers everything you can see. We are not sure if the silver-colored dead trees come from past fires or if they are the usual ways older trees transition here.

3. Fewer marine mammals. We saw one humpie in the distance as we got close to Fury Cove, but other than that we have only seen seals so far, and not very many.

4. The unprotected waters in Queen Charlotte Sound are definitely narly. And when you pass a channel that opens to the unprotected waters the large rolling waves come deep into the protected areas.

Tonight I made pizza on the grill (thanks Greg & Carolyn!) and it came out perfectly thanks to the Trader Joe’s pre-made dough for the crust.

As this late summer day comes to an end, we are sitting on the True Love positioned with an unobstructed view of the sunset listening to the final calls of the eagles and seabirds.

Cruise to Shearwater:

So far we’ve checked out another anchorage nearby, Humchitt Island and we prefer Fougner.

Then we spotted one, two, three eagles flying by and followed them to their destination: a big feeding party with all kinds of water fowl. I took lots of photos. Here are just a few. James and Robert, can you spot the eagle that has a fish in each talon?

And our cruise wouldn’t be complete unless we pass Gillian and Gubby In Caper! They went by just south of the turn to Lama Passage. Today is Gillian’s birthday! Happy Birthday to you🎉🎂🍾.

Shearwater:

And we have arrived in Shearwater: The landscape really opens up around us and we can see where we are headed next. Exciting. The True Love is at the dock and we have phone and internet. Tomorrow we leave for our Rescue Bay and our final destination Culpepper Lagoon in Fjordland.

The Captain and First Mate of the True Love

They slipped briskly into an intimacy from which they never recovered.

F. Scott Fitzgerald