Friday, August 2, 2013

Viner Sound Gathering

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Approaching Viner Sound
I finished a letter I was writing just in time for the seaplane to whisk it away. It’ll probably take ages to arrive, but I enjoyed the feeling of making the once-a-week pickup. Another dead calm day, perfect for our shortest move of the cruise, 4 ½ miles to Viner Sound. Someone had put out 4 buoys there. Colene and I set the, so far unlucky, crab trap next to a slew of commercial crabber pots that seemed untended based on the amount of weed on their lines.

Jarana and Shatzi across the end of 
Viner Sound from us

We were napping when a loud knocking on the hull awakened us. Lo and behold, it was Bill and Kathi Cuffel in their dinghy. Their boat Jarana now occupied a nearby buoy. The water in our tiny cove was a bit scummy and the sun hot, but their location had a gentle breeze. After a little visiting we were on our way for the first swim of the trip, a wonderful couple of laps around Jarana. Later, Later our friends the Werners aboard Shatzi joined the fleet. We all mobbed the Jarana dinner club for BBQ lamb. Lovely.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Fishing Success at Echo Bay

Echo Bay Marina in typical grey morning calm.

Monday, July 15, 2013
The classic drippy, foggy morning gave us time to read and write a bit. When it brightened we motored about 6 miles to Pierre’s Echo Bay marina, stopping on the way at to talk with Chris Bennett at Blackfish Lodge where they do salmon fly fishing charters.

Our destination for the day was Billy Proctor’s famous museum, a short woodsy hike from Pierre’s. When we arrived, Billy was in a sort of cranky mood, but he warmed up as he told us about his efforts to restore local streams destroyed by logging. He and other volunteers ran a salmon hatchery for about 20 years and at the same time he collected all sorts of arrowheads, carving tools, Japanese fishing floats, bottles and lures, etc from the beach around. In his younger days there was a much bigger community. The school at Echo Bay had 30 kids but it closed in 2008 due to lack of pupils and now most of the local houses are only occupied in the summer.

We really enjoyed our visit with Billy and bought the book called Dynamite Stories from an excellent selection of local literature at his little store. He himself has written several books, most well known being Full Moon, Flood Tide. Unfortunately our copy is sitting at home.

Colene cleans the rockfish she caught. Bill stands by to carry equipment.
Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Seven sea stars in the crab trap!
This day Colene and I mostly spent fishing. Bill and Charlie went out in the pedal kayak. By the end of the day we had come up empty, but Colene talked with Mike, the dock manager at Pierre’s marina about fishing spots. He recommended going outside Sally’s Rock and drifting downwind and current. Sure enough that did the trick. Colene hooked a large rockfish. Yay!! Saved from eating sausages.

Our crab trap was out in a little cove where we had actually seen crab on the bottom. Colene struggled with the weight as she pulled it up. Instead of crab it was covered inside and out with sea stars, very slimy and prickly to remove. We could see a sac of some sort bulging out of one. 
Might this have been a seastar reproductive orgy?? 

Could this sac be a reproductive organ?

Alert Bay

July 13 & 14, 2013

Alert Bay harbor looking toward Vancouver Island
Largest Totem Pole
Our friends Colene and Bill planned to arrive via Kenmore float plane at Port McNeil and take the ferry to Port Hardy. Our trip up Johnstone Strait to meet them coincided with sunny conditions, a favorable current and light wind. We counted our blessing, docked at Alert Bay's public dock and made a shopping foray. Bill and Colene arrived a bit tired from their 5 a.m. awakening but rose to the occasion of an after dinner walk to the old burying ground at the end of the waterfront. We wandered through the totems in various states of repair guessing which animals were represented. The Kwakwakawakw philosophy forbids maintenance due to the belief that all matter will eventually fall apart and revert to earth and that human creativity will always be producing new things to replace the old. Somehow I felt the message in my own bones and wrinkling skin. No matter how hard we try to stay young as we were with fresh paint and new joints, the forces of time ferry us along to the end. It's a good message.

On Sunday we all wanted to revisit the U’Mista center at Port Hardy where we had seen the treasures confiscated from the Indians by the Indian Agent back in the 1920’s and repatriated 50 years later. 
Saint Michael's Indian School
We hitched a cab ride with a local woman who told us more about the center and St Micheal’s, the Indian boarding school next door. It has a lot of bad feelings locked up. Native kids were sent there, almost jailed, to keep them from talking their language and learning their culture. Priests have been sent by the Catholics to expurgate the local bad spirits twice, but no one is sure that the cleansing worked.
Halibut mask used for ceremonial dance in excellent U'Mista video.
At U’Mista we admired the works of Doug Cranmer, a well known artist whose wooden panels grace the entrance, then walked back via the tribal big house and the tallest totem pole in the world.

Back at the marina Charlie paused to take a couple of photos with his iPhone, then turning, bumped the rail, phone in hand. Splash. The phone took a plunge! He ran down onto the muddy low tide beach where the phone had landed in about 2 feet of water. Soon, rinsed and patted dry it was ensconced in a jar of rice.
Colene and racing canoe 

Leaving Alert Bay we crossed Queen Charlotte Strait and sailed with favorable current to the back side of Seabreeze Island. It was gorgeous weather, good for sleeping off the torment of being phoneless in Charlie’s case.
 We eased our way into a narrow cove where the strong wind was still blowing. Colene and I did a little rowing around the kelp and rocks, pulled up a couple of young lingcod too small to keep, and retreated for a Tasty Bites dinner.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Surprise Encounter

July 12, 2013

Grizzly Bear anchored at Shoal Bay
We departed at 7 this morning, early for us, admiring the schooner Grizzly Bear anchored near the dock. The flat water and favoring current made progress easy. In less than an hour we were transiting the next rapids at Greene Point and then off to Whirlpool Ropids where we saw speeds of over 11 knots. Great ride!

By elevenses we were passing Fanny Island and entering Johnstone Straits where the westerlies notoriously blow hard and cold. In fact the Straits were having a mild day with only small waves and minor whitecaps. The sunny conditions helped us enjoy powering into the wind for 20 or so miles until we could turn into Havannah Channel and roll out a jib for a bit. We arrived in Port Harvey about 1. 

Sister ships Gratitude and Lucia. Bob was the first Malo
owner in the USA!
On the radio we heard a call from Lucia, our friend Bob Charlson’s Malo 36. We stood on the dock waiting to catch his lines and enjoyed catching his double take as he realized who his helpers were. After a great dinner at the “Red Shoe” dining room over the little marina store, we exchanged boat tours and admired Bob’s clever new woodworking projects including a galley knife rack and some vertical storage in the forward cabin which opens into a workbench!
Bob Charlson and Charlie catch up.

Galley improvement: Bob's knife rack

Bob's tool cabinet and workbench in forward

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Through Yuculta Rapids to Shoal Bay

June 11, 2013

Our departure was scheduled for right after the morning boaters net. When cruising it’s rare to be on a timetable but today we had three rapids to navigate before we’d be able to pull into some anchorage and as the old saying goes, “time and tide (well currents) wait for no man.”

A fleet of boats approached the rapids with us.
The first was Yuculta Rapids, about 20 miles from Cortes Bay. Fortunately for us, the cycle of tides is at a neap or less extreme period. We expected currents of no more than 5.5 knots. Still, due to slopes and shoals of the bottom, eddies and whirlpools exist in these passes. We wanted to time our arrival for the end of the ebb, just before slack tide, while a favoring current was still carrying us through the narrowest places.

We hit the narrows where Yuculta Rapids starts just before noon and found ourselves accelerated to 10.1 knots over the bottom. The water was moving fast, but not too swirly. Next was Gillard Rapids where at the spring tide currents can run to 13 knots. It turned out to be just about at slack as did Dent Rapids, the third in line. We zipped along and arrived at the long government pier at Shoal Bay by 1:30. Another day with plenty of time for playing ashore.
Shoal Bay from the lookout to the east. Gratitude is on the end of the outer dock.
Other cruisers at the dock told us about climbing to an outlook on the neighboring mountain for a great view. We thought that would be fun, but after getting lost on a logging road and circling back around to the wharfinger’s house, Charlie decided to give up on hiking. However I really wanted the exercise. Finding the trail entrance, really a stream bed, was a struggle. The trail is muddy and rough below, rocky and steep higher up but the view was great. This is beautiful country, unspoiled by ivy climbing up trees or laurel and blackberries choking out the native plants as in Seattle.  It’s empty too, no one else on the trails but us.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Happy Foraging at Cortes

June 9, 2013

Another long push awaited us, about 45 miles to reach Cortes Bay, but first we had to return to the government dock since, enraptured by rowing, I had forgotten to refresh the wine supply. The dock had room where we could back in, but a small homebuilt cabin cruiser was in the way, drifting just off the far end. An ancient man stood stooped on the foredeck trying to throw his painter or anchor rode, a line of all uses I guess, to people on the dock. When all efforts failed, I suggested we tow him. Charlie backed up and I took the line. It was very short. Gratitude’s engine pulled him close enough for someone to take the line. When we returned, pushing a heavy shopping cart to the dock, we found him carrying a pump. Later it turned out he’d called the coast guard for assistance with his sinking craft!

Once past the entrance to Pender, we settled in for one hour on duty, one hour off, up the long passage off Texada Island. It was dead calm again, Malaspina Strait as flat as an ironing board. Having cruised other waters for the past 8 years, we were astonished at the number of new houses and little developments along the mainland coast.

We arrived, as at Garden Bay finding ourselves the only sailboat at Cortes Bay SYC outstation. Charlie looked forward to unloading a large crated computer that’s planned for an AIS (automatic identification system, that is, it identifies ships that send out signals with their name, speed, and size) information relay from here. 

The new Cortes managers have instituted some good ideas including a whole new system of recycling and composting. Heather also has a lovely garden fenced off from the deer with a nice area growing peas and greens for cruisers to harvest! For dinner we immediately fell on the fresh lettuce. 

July 10, 2013

Part of Bruce's antenna farm next to SYC water tower.
The day started cool and windy. We were busy with laundry and a meeting with Bruce Jacobson, the next door neighbor who has agreed to help the club with setting up the new AIS relay and maybe a repeater for HAM radio. Bruce proved to be a most fascinating individual. He took us to his basement, also a ham shack and wine cellar, where he entertained us with descriptions of several projects including the current tracking collar with homemade beam antenna for locating his wandering cat! Having owned his place since 1968, prior to electricity let alone the SYC outstation, he is a fund on information about the history of Cortes Bay. He fought the building of a 35 house development on the point and was delighted that SYC bought Red Granite Mountain, really a hill above his house, to keep it from future development.

Picnic view

As we had never walked out there, we made sandwiches and took the trail to the top for lunchtime views. Maybe someday there will be a repeater on one of those wind dwarfed trees at the height of land.
Panorama from the top of Red Granite Mountain. Which tree should host the repeater antenna??

Lettuce and peas in Heather's garden for us cruisers.

Lacking proper tools Charlie knocks oysters
off rocks with traditional digging stick.
After lunch the tide was nearing low. We were informed that the shellfishing ban had just been lifted so off we went with our little bucket. Charlie chipped oysters off rocks while I burrowed through beach rocks looking for clams. We both were successful though I was fooled by several mudclams. Dinner was oysters on the half shell for him, chowder for us both and garden salad. It’s been years since we foraged for dinner!
Paint scraper turned shucker worked pretty well.

Garden Bay Jaunt

July 8, 2013
Early morning view of Cascade crags north of Vancouver. The snowy ravines don't show.

Charlie was not looking forward to rushing from one harbor to the next on this cruise. Originally he hoped to make the long foray up Jervis Inlet to Princess Louisa Sound and the beautiful Chatterbox Falls. In order to have a more sane transit he decided to forgo that side trip, well to postpone it, we hope. When we made that choice we knew we could spend two nights at other places on the way. Our next stop, the SYC outstation at Pender Harbor’s inner sanctum known as Garden Bay, would be only for one night. I must say it turned out to be almost as good as a two day stopover.

The trip up went fast due to favorable currents and flat conditions. We arrived about 2, amazed to find that we were not only the only sailboat, but also by far the smallest boat at the docks. The rest averaged about 68’ long and 4 stories tall.  Garden Bay’s name really suits the outstation. It has more flowers in bloom than anywhere I’ve been.

On the dock I noticed a small skiff turned upside down. It turned out that this boat had been donated about 4 days prior to our arrival by a member who thought others would use it more than he would. It had beautiful lines and pristine curved sweeps for rowing. No one else had used it yet! I jumped aboard with shopping bags and rowed, a glorious row in the little cockleshell all the way to the government dock. The IGA is just up the hill and across the schoolyard from the dock! Shopping finished, I contemplated getting the dinghy rigged for sailing to explore other nooks of the bay, but instead went about email. Later we cooked our sausages on the BBQ, enjoyed the view and swapping stories with Chuck and Pam Lowry by the smoke of citronella candles as the sun went down.