Friday, July 20, 2012

July 20, 2012
LaConner WA

We cruised into LaConner and our home slip in Shelter Bay yesterday afternoon about 1:00 pm.
We were 3 days short of 3 months on the water!!  Not bad.

Polkinghorne Islands
For the last legs of our trip we left Port McNeill on 7/10 and crossed Queen Charlotte Strait on flat foggy water.  We stopped and Gary fished and caught a nice salmon for our friends Bruce and Peggy Littlejohn who were joining us the next day.  We spent that Tuesday night in Polkinghorne Islands where and unpredicted 30 knot wind kicked up.  Fortunately Gary ALWAYS gets a good anchor set so we stayed right where we were supposed to.
The next day our friends joined us and we rafted together in Sutherland Bay in Drury Inlet in the Broughtons where we all enjoyed a wonderful salmon dinner. 
On the 12th we all made our way to Turnbull Cove and shared that space with about 8 other boats AFTER we pulled our prawn pots and got a nice haul again...we shared!
The 13th we continued through the Broughtons to Kwatsi Bay and had a bit of a happy hour on the dock with the other boaters who were there.  There was a Dutch couple there on a 78 ft converted fishing vessel who have been on the water for 5 years and plan 5 more years on their cruise around the world!

We then made our way south towards Johnstone Strait but heavy winds (greater than 40 knots)were being predicted and, discretion being the better part of valor, we ducked into Port Harvey.  We were pleasantly surprised.  You have to keep in mind that even the best of these little places is pretty rustic.
We were at Port Harvey several years back VERY EARLY in the season and were not too impressed but things have changed.  Very nice dock!  Gail and George who are the owner/operators are wonderful.  They have an unbelievable well stocked store, a nice little restaurant and hot fresh cinnamon rolls and coffee at 0700!!  To die for!  There were 4 boats there this night...all riding out the strong (near storm force) winds on the strait.  Johnstone Strait is like a wind tunnel.  It is narrow and long.  It is also one of the most beautiful bodies of water around here.  On a calm day I love it.
                                                       Johnstone Strait wind in our favor

A boat going the wrong way that day.  He got wet!
The next day the winds were still whipping but they were from the NW and we were heading SE on an outgoing away we went and had a very nice FAST ride down the strait.  A little bumpy but going our direction was just fine.  By the time we rounded Chatham Point the water was flat.  We made our way back into Cameleon Bay, dropped the prawn pots and settled down for the night.  The next morning we pulled up about 3 gallons of prawns and continued on to Campbell River (home of last summer's dreadful haircut!).  Did a bit of grocery shopping (fresh produce) and headed over to the Copeland Islands just about at the entrance to Desolation Sound.
Sunset in the Copeland Islands looking across the northern Strait of Georgia toward Vancouver Island
                                                              Sunset at Winter Cove
From the Copelands we continued south to Thormanby Islands and Buccaneer Bay.  It is a beautiful bay with an outstanding beach with WARM water.  Diesel actually waded chest deep in the water and acted like he liked it.  The bay does open to the north and a NW wind kicked up turning Buccaneer Bay into Buckaroo Bay.
  I slept through most of if and we got out of there early in the AM.  We thought we would be fine as again we would have a following sea and we did until we got back out into the waters of the open strait.  We were playing around with 5-6 ft seas.  I have learned over the years how to anchor everything down inside the cabin so that everything rides well.  We were happy when we got back into BC's Southern Gulf Islands and out of the wind which was supposed to have eased to light in the early morning but DIDN'T!!.
We spent our last night on the hook at Winter Cove on Saturna Island with about a dozen of our closest friends!!  There is a lovely Provincial Park there with a nice trail and a dinghy dock for your use.
From Winter Cove it was about a 6 hour trip home.  As I said we were 3 days short of 3 months out.
It feels good to be home.  I am glad I did the blog.  My goal was to take you along with us.  I didn't quite get to do it in real time because so many of the places we go are so remote that we don't have Internet access or phone ability for sometimes a week or more at a time.  But I think what I did was better in the long run than nothing.  I hope you have enjoyed traveling with us.  I have been astonished at the number of followers and viewers I have had.  I thank you.
If you have any desire to boat to Alaska or the remote BC waters Gary and I will be happy to share with you all the knowledge we have picked up on our 6 trips.  You can e mail me or contact me through Facebook.  Good luck in your boating adventures.  I has been my pleasure boating with you.
Signing off,
Channel Dancer

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

July 10, 2012  Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, BC
I always feel like we are in home waters when we make it this far back south.

After 2 totally useless, lazy days in Ocean Falls we headed south down Fisher Channel and into Fitzhugh Sound and found, happily, flat water.  (top photo...I hope to go in order).   Ocean Falls was once again kind enough to supply the boat with a hodge podge of flowering weeds to brighten our little ark.   We made our way down to Fougner Bay on Fitzhugh and dropped the hook there in perfectly calm water and awoke to find not even a ripple.  The photo that looks like a primevel totem is the reflection of the rocks on the water....rotated 90 degrees.  Now that is protected water!
As we passed Addenbrooke Island lighthouse the water remained flat and we spent the night in Frigate Bay...not quite so flat but still a nice anchorage.  Gary did have to work at finding a place level enough for the Diesel to go ashore but it all worked out.
Sunshine on the water as we started our always worrisome trip around Cape Caution.  Last time was 
a hold on tight kind of day.  This time we actually stopped about 1/2 miles south of the Cape and Gary fished the rocks.  Now that is a first for us!  Fishing Cape Caution...could be  a reality show.
We slid across Queen Charlotte Strait on what continued to be flat (flat water trumps EVERYTHING) water and into Clam Cove for the night.  Clam Cove (pay attention Emily and Lincoln) is a totally bombproof anchorage on Nigei Island at the north end of Vancouver Island.  Part of the island has been logged and there is an old logging road that leads about a mile inland to two lakes covered with water lillies.  Nice easy walk, good road, pretty rocks and sunshine made us ready for dinner.
Finally after all summer we had salmon on our plates.  Gary manged to catch 4 nice salmon out there in the open waters.  Kept one.  Yeah....salmon once again.
We headed south into Port McNeill and found Bruce and Peggy on Tomahra and Lynn and Duane aboard Emerald Star II.  Felt like a homecoming.  Steve at Port McNeill has built a party barge with Pierre's old tent from Echo Bay so we had a nice happy hour on the dock before going up for dinner.
We have done the laundry and reprovisioned the fridge and larder and dropped a couple of things off at the thrift store....the shoe goo patched rain coat, for one.  We may leave today...may not.
I love this kind of maybe we will, maybe we won't kind of boating.  Just a relaxing way to live.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

July 5  Ocean Falls BC
Cruised into Ocean Falls yesterday afternoon after a leisurely trip from Shearwater...only about 25 miles of flat protected water.  Ocean Falls is a truly interesting place.   It was once a bustling town of about 5000 people with hotel, dept. store, theaters, hospital, schools, swimming pool, mill, power plant.  Some years ago...'73 I think...the mill pulled out and there went the town.  The infrastructure is crumbling in one of the most beautiful, serene settings you can imagine.  The hotel is empty and chained shut.  The old Hudson's Bay Company is collapsing.  The pool has been back filled.  The mill is GONE.  There is still the power plant that supplies electricity to OF and Shearwater and Bella Bella so there are a few people here.  But all that aside they have the best water on the coast and they have new docks.  The moorage is cheap, the view fantastic and what people are here are friendly.  Nearly Normal Norman...the local usually intoxicated scavenger...brings fresh flowers to the dock every morning!!  Not to sell but to put outside The Shack...the little building on the dock which provides a nice shelter for evening happy hours and houses two complimentary computers if you forgot yours.
Once of the nice things about being here is that we don't have to consciously conserve water while we are here.  We carry 120 gallons of water and that will easily cover our needs for about 8 days, 10 if we are careful.  And that is showering daily and a lot of water usage for cooking.  But that means rinsing the dishes in seawater before the wash and rinse with fresh.  In the shower we wet down and turn off the water.  Lather and shampoo and then turn the water back on.  It is called a Navy shower.
You get used to it.  BUT this morning I stood under the shower and let it run....because we are in the land of plenty for today and tomorrow morning.  Showers a go go!!
There are two boats on the dock which were with us at Shearwater and another coming today....Scruples III ( Tolly friends) will be in today.  The "boys" have been out crabbing and prawning and are gathered on the dock admiring their haul.
I used this leisure time to clean out the bunk room.  We have two staterooms...ours with the queen bed and a bunk room on the port side.  The bunk room gets used for storage and after awhile starts to take on a life of its own.  That is all straightened out and "neated" up. 
I bought a new raincoat in Shearwater so I have packaged up the old one to give to the thrift store in Port McNeill when we get there.  The old one got a slit in the rubber in Ketchikan.  I didn't want to trash it because it has a quilted lining and is warm so we patched it with Shoe Goo until I could find a replacement that suited me.  Found a nice one in Shearwater that has a zip out fleece liner.  That should do the trick and make my brother happy.  He seemed mortified that I was wandering around Alaska and BC in a coat with Shoe Goo all over the front.  Hey, you do what works!!
Diesel got a bath yesterday at the laundry and Gary and I clipped him last night.  We put him on the fish cleaning rack on the back of the boat, ran the extension cord to the cockpit and fired up the clippers.  He actually looks pretty good.  Maybe a new Profession??????

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

July 3 late evening at Shearwater

We are afloat!!!!  We got back into the water about 5 pm.  There are no leaks and no vibrations.  So far, so good.
We plan to leave here tomorrow and begin the southward journey once again.
Again a thank you to the wonderful people at Shearwater Marine....both the marina and shipyard staffs.  They were wonderful!
Good night.
July 3, 2012
Shearwater, BC
So much in so few days!  Dixon Entrance was a walk in the park... a very long walk of 13 hours but still a walk across flat water with sunshine.  Life is good.  Into Prince Rupert to clear customs and have a lovely dinner in a RESTAURANT!!!! on the deck in the sun.  Mmmmm.
From PR south down Grenville....boring.... Channel.   We took the channel because they were predicting high winds along the outside in Hecate Strait.  But Grenville is narrow and steep to so there are many hours of views of water, granite, trees and sky.  That is it!  Sounds a bit whiney but the rest of this coast is so gorgeous that you tend to get a bit picky.
Spent the night a Lowe Inlet...there will be photos to follow but for now I need to get this all down while I can still remember it and load the photos later....very pretty place with a nice waterfall but not much in the way of crab or bears....getting pickier.
To Hartley Bay to try and get internet connection to pay a bill but it is SUNDAY,,,,and the office is closed.  On to Kiskosh up Douglas Channel.   A beautiful place of high granite ridges covered with huge snow cornices melting into plunging waterfalls of a couple thousand feet.  AND bears.  AND crab! 
The next day we cruised back to Hartley Bay, paid the bill on the internet and got some water and then moved onto Verney Passage...filled with more waterfalls.
Gary fished a bit but got nothing!  We moved on to Bishop Bay Hot Springs where we were lucky enough to get a place at the dock!!  That was a first.  There was only one other boat there and they had already had their long soak so we were good to go.  We both got relaxed and clean and then even Diesel got a nice soak.  He seemed to totally enjoy himself...actually just laid back and did a slow dog paddle in Gary's arms while he got a good wash down. 
Another boat came in from Port Angeles with some guys on board who are friends with Martin of Bar Harbor Restaurant fame in Ketchikan.  This is important because Martin...CIA trained chef gave me his recipe for his Calmari sauce.  I had to assure him that I would not be in competition with him. 
Left BBHS and made our way south to Squally Channel and the fishing grounds renowned for easy salmon.  NO THIS YEAR!  Nothing.  A nice night was spent at MacDonald Bay and then south to Emily Carr Cove on the west side of Princess Royal Island. What a gorgeous little, snug bombproof anchorage!!!  And close to good prawning in Holgate Pass.  We put the pots out and spent the night.
The wind was supposed to blow so we decided to stay another night in this gorgeous place.  We went out to check our prawn pots....saw EVIVA coming through the pass....and didn't get much so we left them to soad overnight and headed back into the cove.  The entrance is a tight little thing with a rock off the starboard side almost mid channel.  We'd been in and out 4 times already and just needed to go back in to fix dinner and WHAP!! WTH???   WHAR!~!!!  Which translates to WHAP!!  WTH????  We hit a rock!!!!  Well now we know what that feels like!!  And don''t need to ever repeat it again. 
We got through the entrance into safe water.  Gary flew down to the engine room and bilge area to see if we were taking on water.  We were dry.  When he came back to to try to put the engines in gear there was a terrible vibration from the starboard engine/prop...the side we hit. 
We spent a terrible night in a beautiful place.  Both of us guilt ridden thinking "if we'd only" about a bazillion times.  The next morning our bilge was still dry.  That is good.
Now the good news is we are a twin engine boat so we still have power but not a ton of it for many reasons.  They were still predicting 30 kt SE winds that morning in Laredo Channel which opens SE to Milbank Sound and the Pacific.  We decided to poke our heads out and check things out.  The water was flat so we decided to go for it.  There are a couple of anchorages along the west side of Princess Royal that we could duck into if the winds came up.  But the water stayed flat all the way to Meyer's Passage.  The next day we made Shearwater where there is a shipyard and mechanic and haulout but wouldn't you just know that it was Canada Day weekend and the shipyard took Friday off.
We headed to Discovery Cove just a few miles east of Shearwater on Troupe Passage.  Spent two nights there and pulled up a crab pot with 26 LEGAL crabs!  It was so heavy that Gary couldn't pull it into the dinghy.  We kept 6 and tossed the rest back.  We kept nothing under 7 inches!
Back to Shearwater Sunday night and spent it on the breakwater tied to a rotting "free" dock from which we watched the fire works that night in celebration of Canada Day.
Monday AM we were first in line for the haul out.  The starboard prop looled like a pretzel, the shaft was bent and the strut was bent and torqued.  They worked all day to get the strut off and then the shaft was no piece of cake either.  Finally it all came apart.
The good news is that we carry and extra set of props and a spare shaft.  They were able to straighten the strut and that is where we are now.  Still on the hard but it is 2 pm on Tues and they say we will float this afternoon!!  I hope.  Life on a boat is full of challenge and compromise at best when it is on the water.  On the hard is another story all together.  We were able to sleep aboard but the toilet is a salt water flush so that is not usable.  All gray water flows overboard so you can't really dump the contents of the show basin onto the ground below the boat AND the entry/exit up and down a 12 foot aluminum ladder is always a challenge.  And then there is the dog who has to be transported up and down the 12 foot ladder.  I hope we float today!!
But I have made many new friends.  The harbor master told us this morning that we have been added to the permanent role of island residents.  Yesterday  before we had power connected to the boat I thought it best if I just stayed out of the way so the dog and I went to the laundry with my book.  Warm and was raining....I spent so much of the day there that I am sure people were beginning to think that Diesel and I were homeless. 
I know almost everyone on the they all came to do their laundry.  Many offered to have me come and sit it our on their boats.  Very hospitable strangers.  As I was walking down the dock yesterday afternoon someone yelled "Carol".  I turned around to see Scruples III with Larry and Jan Schnetsky.  They offered us their guest stateroom for the night.  Very nice and most appreciated.
I'm going to stop here for a bit.  I think I am about to lose power and maybe...just maybe ...the travel lift will be sliding slings under us shortly.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Ketchikan, AK
I cannot believe that we have been on the water for over 7 weeks!  A new adventure every day and this year, in spite of the weather, the boat has not seemed to shrink at all!!! 
After leaving Craig we continued down the south west side of is a very large island..the largest of the hundreds, if not a thousand or so, of islands in SE Alaska.  We spent a couple of fairly uneventful days which is not a bad thing..........until we had to ride out a storm.  We had heard weather reports of an upcoming event and found a lovely anchorage called Mabel Bay where we would be sheltered from the predicted SW winds....and we were.  It rained horizontally and blew pretty hard in our little cove but we got mainly gusts that blew over the tree tops.  We did hear that night about 8PM that is was blowing at Cape Decision...20 miles to the 71 MPH.  Now that is a heavy blow and to think that we got maybe 40MPH gusts out of it.  Gary makes very good anchorage choices....I opt for scenic....he opts for safety!!!  We did not however score on the crabs there.  Gary says many of these bays have been "otter-sized".  The lovely little furry creatures are decimating the abalone, clam and crab populations.  We are sure they will slowly move south towards Puget Sound and then we will be out of crab as well.  But then, they are protected creatures.  Wish the bears were.
The next day all was calm and we continued on POW to a lovely place called Keete Inlet.  We were once again graced with the presence of bears.  A couple of them just grazing along the grassy waterfronts.  But then a third came along.  I was overjoyed until I saw that he was lame....actually badly maimed.  Missing his L front paw and the back L was barely keeping him upright.  No doubt he had been caught in a trap.  He probably won't live long and it made my stomach just flip for him.
This has been the first trip we have ever taken where we have had such bad bear sightings.  First was 5/15 with the hunters shooting the bear, then later on at Murder Cove where Gary found the bear carcass on the beach intact except for the missing HEAD and front paws and now this third badly crippled guy.   We have had Bad Bear Bay, Butchered Bear Bay and now Maimed Bear Bay.
Enough already!!
But the whale sightings have been quite good this year.   And with my new camera we are actually getting some fairly (OK not by professional standards, Chris) good shots of tails which is an improvement over the frustration of missing ALL the good shots in the past.  Whales in your water always makes for a good day.  Am anxious to get home to MY computer and my Picasa and get some REAL photos online!!! 
On south to Hunter Bay where we expected a good beach bear showing but got nada.  Instead we were treated to a breeding pair of Sandhill Cranes with babe in tow.  I guess they are quite rare in this part of the world.  I am not Audubon-ite but it was pretty exciting.  There are also several old dock "ruins" in this bay which was the site of a large cannery and a copper mine years ago.  It is amazing how heavy weather will quickly turn perfectly good buildings and docks into nothingness in a fairly short period of time.
Next stop, after an absolutely flat rounding of Cape Chacon on the Dixon Entrance, we spent the night in Hidden Bay on the EAST side of POW...finally made it around the south end.  Saw another couple of bear, a couple of dear and a beaver swimming in the water.  Hidden Bay is indeed hidden.  It is entered via a winding channel of rocks and drying reefs that make it a landlocked bay protected from all wind and things that go bump in the night.  Very pretty place.
OK, have made it to Ketchikan and will begin our slow journey south toward home tomorrow.
Have many more stops to make and a lot of salmon fishing to do in BC waters.  The Kings have already been through and the Silvers are not here yet!  For the first time ever, Gary has not caught a salmon in Alaska!!  On to BC where the salmon are easy.................
Now to try and load some photos!
I called him Two Dot

Beautiful Baronof Island

Cozy little stateroom

A whale of a day!
Perfectly calm Dixon Entrance!!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

June 12, 2012
Craig AK
My apologies!!!  Mea culpa!!  Sometimes internet connections are just impossible to come by.
We used to be able to just grab onto a "large" yachts' wifi but those days are over.   Even in downtown Juneau there was no internet at the docks.  But we have had a lovely two weeks since last I jotted down a few thought.  I'll try to bring you up to date on our travels and adventures.

After leaving Hoonah  we traveled east on Icy Strait where we spent a night at Couverden Cove (Swanson Harbor) where the city of Haines has erected two "refuge" floats for fishermen (mainly) to get away from weather and be safe at a dock.  Most anyone uses the floats...we were one of many pleasure craft tied there.  The bad news was that there were no crab in our pots!  We moved on to Admiralty Cove  on the north end of Admiralty Island for just a temporary anchorage while we awaited the tide to flood so we could access another anchorage for the night.  About 4 in the afternoon we left anchorage #1 and moved on to Oliver Inlet.  What a perfectly lovely and beatuiful place!!  Two photos above.  We were surrounded by beautiful mountains and by 5 bears!!  All big Grizz.  Just spectacular.  The only catch was getting through the narrows.  We should have had about 4 feet under the boat (by tide reports) when in actuality we had only 1.7 feet!!!!  We were holding our feet up with concern!.   And many parts of Alaska are so poorly charted, I guess because there are that many people here.....that the charts details only go down to 3 miles.  That is not helpful when trying to get into a tight space.  But we made it safely in without having a rock named for us and safely out on a much higher tide the next day.
We cruised on to Taku Harbor for a day.  Taku is the site of an abandoned cannery now in ruins.  You feel like you are in no man's land when suddenly a large ship passes by your little cove.
On 5/31 we moved on to Juneau where we met up with a couple of Skagit boating friends.  We rented a car, made the obligatory Costco run, Fred Meyers (they were both very happy to see us) and them moved on to Mendenhall Glacier, the Alaska State Museum and the Mt Roberts Tram.
I had posted on FB (while at the library waiting for the laundry to finish) that we had made it Juneau and received a message from Carl Heine ( a former ER doc at Skagit, now in Juneau) that he and his wife were in town and to call them.  Much to our surprise they invited Gary and me and our two boating friends to dinner!  We had a wonderful dinner of grilled salmon with to die for Brownies (made by Carl's visiting from NH mom) in a lovely home with a killer view of the Juneau downtown from high above the water.  They told us that they had bought their home from an artist who has an current exhibit at the Ak State History Museum (Photo of exhibit above)  I was much surprised to see the exhibit!!  Very large encompassing two rooms of the museum.  I felt almost I had dinner at "his" house last night!!
The next day we moved on to Windfall Harbor in Seymour Canal on Admiralty Island.  This may be one of the most visually productive anchorages of all of our trips combined.  We had bears on the beach, loons on the water, eagles in the sky and kayakers with tents on the beach.  The next morning we pulled big prawns from our pots and had whales in our water.  We had humpbacks and orcas as well as pacific white sided dolphins and sea lions and otters.  AND, the sun was out.  It was a sun in your face, wind in your hair, prawns in your pot and whales in your water kind of day!!  Perfection!!
Moving on past Admiralty and on to Kupreanof Island and again through Rocky Pass!! 
When we got back to Prince of Wales (POW) Island we stopped at Port Protection to see if I could find another former colleague.  To my almost immediate surprise I found Jubal ( the medic) at the grocery store.  I looks happy and healthy and told me to tell everyone that his is now a long haired hippy!!
Down the west side of POW and onto to a few more anchorages before making it into Craig yesterday.  Made it to the grocery this morning so we are once again provisioned.  Our current plan is to continue south around POW and then back up to Ketchikan for final provisions before beginning our southward journey towards home.  We have been out on the water 6 weeks!!  Seems like yesterday that we left home but it is time to think about heading south.  Gary would like to spend awhile fishing Squally Channel in BC....the fishing here has been non existent.  The kings are not in yet and the silvers are still out too.  Read this morning that Copper River kings are way behind this year too....they are usually at Haggen's by mid May!!  And since the otters are protected they are wiping out the clams and crabs in most of the little coves......we may starve....or be forced to eat chicken!
It may be a bit before I am able to post another update but I will as soon as possible. 
Thanks for reading this and traveling along with us on our little boat.  I appreciate all the comments.
Happy travels.