Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Migrating South

WHAT have we been doing for the past few weeks? We've been migrating south.

I realized the other day that I have neglected the blog, so here's a bit of an update. I'll do it as a list of 'ports of call' since entering the United States, with a couple of photos to accompany.

Prevost Harbor, Stuart Island
Roche Harbor, San Juan Island
Friday Harbor, San Juan Island

Popeye gave me a splash for my birthday!
Blind Bay, Shaw Island
Fisherman's Bay, Lopez Island

A sunset
Eagle Harbor, Cypress Island

A sunrise

LaConner WA
Oak Harbor WA

This 6-year-old sailor (son of a sailor) came along for a ride,
a little wilder than expected with 2-4 ft seas, but he was fearless!

Coupeville, Whidby Island
Jetty Island (Everett WA)
Eagle Harbor, Bainbridge Island

We will make one more hop today to Blake Island, and then tomorrow to Des Moines WA for the furthest south point we will achieve this year. 

There is a series of storms coming through, and it will be nice to have Viking Star tied to a dock behind a breakwater! Al and son Michael will be staying with the boat while I fly to Minnesota to attend a niece's wedding. My daughter Casey will be travelling with me from SEATAC.

Monday, September 19, 2016

The Last Canadian Photos

Here are some shots from our trip down the Strait of Georgia, the final stretch toward 'home'.

We are so grateful for the VERY smooth waters of this year's cruising. This is the Strait of Georgia, just south of Gorge Harbour, beginning our first day of two on this body of water.

In Tribune Bay, Hornby Island blocked our view of the sunset, BUT we were compensated with a wonderful moonrise.

Our second day on the Strait was just as gorgeous, but a little windier, so a little rougher.
As we approached Nanaimo we realized the timing was right to pass through Dodd Narrows, so we did and then continued about an hour to Decourcy Island. 

Ah, glossy water! And a heron looking for breakfast.

Another stop, and another moonrise! This one in Lyall Harbour on Saturna Island, home of one of our favorite coffee shops, Wild Thyme, which Al affectionately calls 'the Bus'!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Rebecca Spit

We spent two nights at Rebecca Spit, so that we could reprovision at Heriot Bay. Under threat of rain, we took the dinghy to the hotel dock, had burgers at Terry's Take-Out, and stocked up at the store.

In the afternoon we took a shorter dinghy ride, to the spit, for a walk.

On the 'inside', there is lest driftwood and the rocks are about an inch in diameter.
This is the 'outside' where there is lots of BIG driftwood, and the rocks are a good 6-8 inches diameter!

We stopped to talk to some people. They were visiting from England! And they offered to take our picture.

A fork in the road. Many of these photos have already been posted on facebook, and my sister commented 'I hope you went left -- everyone goes right.' I guess we think alike, since we HAD gone left.

This is the view we enjoyed.....

...from this bench!

Last morning, a lone fisher.

We have been reading labels on Canadian dairy products. In 2013 we had a lesson on 'modified milk ingredients', and we refuse to buy ice cream with them.

FINALLY we hit the jackpot! 
From Rebecca Spit we went to Gorge Harbour on Cortez Island. It is a good place for people watching (we're out of bear country now, though I think I heard a wolf howl one morning). We had Sunday Brunch at the resort restaurant. It was a lovely day and we didn't need jackets, even in the shade! We brought books and sat in lawn chairs and soaked it all in.

This morning we left with perfect conditions for two days on the Strait of Georgia. We are in Tribune Bay of Hornby Island tonight, and plan to go to Nanaimo tomorrow.

Cost to Cruise August 2016

I have a saying, “Cities make our wallets thin and our bellies fat”.  And you can see that in August.  Though not truly Cities, in August Kristi and I spent a lot of time visiting different marina’s as we began to wrap up our time in the Broughtons.  In addition to our monthly stop in Port McNeill to reprovision, we visited Sointula, Alert Bay, a couple of the remote marina’s (those that advertised Cinnamon Rolls were selected ---  see the connection here?).  All were enjoyed very much, and all took their toll to the budget.  As you can see here:

Viking Star, August 2016 Costs

If you ‘back out’ the fuel in July we had been running around $1,000 / mo.  this summer.  Visiting the ‘Cities’ raised that significantly, Oh Well….  It is a choice, and we did very much enjoy each stop.

(A side note:  I had to correct July, the health care insurance did not get added in.)

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Back to civilization – and the Summer Lost

On the West Coast there are a few ‘barriers’ boaters may have trepidation crossing.  From some it starts with the Juan De Fuca Strait, separating the central sound from the San Juan Islands.  They are not comfortable passing that body of water and spend their boating time in the Seattle area, or perhaps take the ‘back road’ through LaConner.   Haro Strait and entry into Canada is next with perhaps a bigger barrier being the Strait of Georgia  to get into the Desolation Sound area.   Next come ‘The Rapids’ separating the Desolation Soung area from the Broughtons and Cape Caution further north.  Each of these (as with any water) deserve respect, planning, and benefit from an open schedule to allow for calm passages.   But each of these also acts as a kind of natural filter, reducing the number of boats at each gateway. (Some of the popular guide books filled with massive words of caution don't help - bless them!)

‘The Rapids’ is perhaps one of the larger filters.   Not only for the effort needed to safely pass through them,  but also that it takes time to work through them and explore the waters above.  Many, and I mean MANY, boats do not have that – and remain in the Desolation area. 

Which is why we passed through them last May to head North.

But 'summer' (sic) is coming to an end, the weather is turning colder and wetter (well, not that we would really notice that – more later), and it is time for us to start heading back towards our wintering grounds.  With that, last week we passed through the southernmost Rapids heading South – and began our return.   That most southernmost rapids also marks what Kristi and I kind of call the ‘return to Civilization’.  Now the shorelines are dotted with homes, there are small boats buzzing around, and a large increase in the number of larger boats as well.  And the background sound we hear is no longer the wind, or the flapping of bird wings (seriously), but motors (cars, boats).  We are no longer ‘Out There’; we are in Civilization.  (And yes, I know the Broughtons are not really the ends of the world – but there is a striking difference between the waters above and below the rapids).

So we are back in Civilization, back to where each anchorage largely has access to places to thin our wallets and fatten our bellies.  And where we share each anchorage with upwards of 20-40 other boats…  It has been a fun summer and we are looking forward to our return to the area.  But if you have followed us over this 'summer' you will know it was also kind of a summer lost..  Why?  It rained.  I mean, it rained A LOT.  Except for a couple of marina folks at Port McNeil (who I expect had an almost pavlovian response to whiny yacht-types along the lines of ‘Well, this IS a rain forest’), all others we talked to agreed this summer was a bit dreary.  Yes, the Broughtons are a ‘temperate Rainforest’, and yes, we should expect rain – but this summer was rather exceptional.    Lots of rain, lots of no sun, very little being able to sit on the back deck (I think we enjoyed perhaps 4-5 ‘sun downers’ all summer).  LOT of hours on the generator and heater.    I pulled the record of our solar output from May through August, and you can see the evidence here:

So  in some ways this was a summer lost.  Few opportunities to sit on the back deck, bright-work maintenance left undone – along with some painting as well.  We did hear last summer was great though!  (Well, almost exceptionally great that is – well above ‘normal’ in the sunshine factor)  In the end, we are heading back.  Back to civilization, and the Lost Summer.  Will enjoy the fall and look forward to next year. 

But not to sound too down,  I am remembering one of my favorite reviews from Active Captain (a web site where boaters can comment about different boating locations).  It goes something like this:  “… after overhearing another boaters Admiral whine about the lack of amenities - a friend of my daughter commented ‘Suck it up Princess, you are lucky to be here!’ “   And so it is – Kristi and I know we are lucky to have been here, rain and all.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Minstrel Island to the Octopus Islands

A few more shots from Minstrel Island....

Fishies at the dock



From Minstrel Island we went down Chatham Channel. We poked into Call Inlet and explored the Warren Islands, scouting new anchorages for 'next time', and came across this shipwreck. Depths are pretty deep -- there are better options. We move on to Port Harvey.
 Port Harvey deserves more than a few words. George had some bad luck after last year's season, but he is working to rebuild. The dock was great, and the internet was fine. He told us of walking trails and we set off. I wanted to walk along the mud flats, but Al wanted to walk the forest trail. We had just entered the trail when Al said 'Ooooo, berries! Oh, the bears have been in the berries too!'

And Al saw me staring at the bear poo and said 'You're not going any further, are you?'
 Later, as we were eating the best pizza we'd had all summer (the only pizza?), we heard stories of cougar sightings. Glad I didn't hear about those before....  At supper George took orders for morning pastries -- cinnamon rolls, and bacon cheddar croissants. We got two of each -- and he earns our award for Best Cinnamon Rolls in the Broughtons!

From Port Harvey we went Johnstone Strait to Sunderland Channel, and anchored in Forward Harbor for three days of heavy rain. Ugh.

Then we set out for Blind Channel Resort, going first through Whirlpool Rapids and then to Green Point Rapids. The rain/mist/fog was coming in and out, and we were a bit grateful to follow a barge with a crane on it -- our radar went out early in the season.

Rounding Green Point, we coveted a cute house on the beach.

We arrived at Blind Channel Resort just as cinnamon rolls came out of the oven! And they had a gazebo where we could enjoy the view while we had coffee and our treats. That evening we had a fine meal at the restaurant. Pouring rain kept us from exploring any further, but this will be a definite stop in future seasons!

Our next stop was Lagoon Anchorage off Thurston Bay, Sonora Island. It is quite shallow, allowing entrance/exit only at high tide. Someone has kindly marked a rock with more rocks.

A RARE occurrence this season! Dry deck, bare feet, and a book on the back deck.

Here's that rock, with its marker rocks, at a lower tide. See the heron hunting on the right?
 Now we are ready to run the rapids! There are three, very close together -- Dent, Gillard, and Yuculta. We left our little anchorage early with the high tide, and stalled by exploring Frederick Arm and doing a 'slow bells' approach to arrive at Dent Rapids at slack tide.

Sea lions on Jimmy Judd Island in Gillard Pass.

The biggest drama was meeting these two at the narrowest point of Gillard. Not much we could do to avoid the huge wakes they were kicking up.

We were surprised to see a huge complex on shore. We had excellent internet through here, due to two cell phone towers on the hill. I was able to find out it was the Sonora Island Resort -- very upscale! They don't appear to cater to boaters at all (marina for resort boats only?). There was NO mention of this place in our (admittedly old) guidebooks.

Fall foliage?

Calm Channel
Hole in the Wall is off on the right. There is a rapid at the far end of that too, and we will not arrive at slack. But we are confused -- it still looks flat! So we approach with caution, but swirls and standing waves pop up suddenly around us, and we back off and retreat to anchor behind a hook to wait for the turn. Lunch and a nap before shooting through at the appropriate time.

We then spent a week anchored in Waiatt Bay. We had two gorgeous sunny days, and we soaked it up, which energized us for a few projects. The rest was quite rainy again, but Al was happy to learn that a problem leak appears to finally be repaired by that project!

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Turning Toward Home

While at the Pearse Islands, other than enjoying the sunshine, much of our time was spent in debating 'where do we go from here'. There was a good stretch of clear dry weather forecast. Did we want to take the time to go back up into the Broughton Archipelago and revisit a few places we had already been to, but this time hopefully in the sunshine? OR were we ready to begin a slow mosey homeward?

We decided we were emotionally ready to make the turn toward home. Though keep in mind, we had about 6 weeks before we needed to leave Canada.

We spent a few days in Beware Cove, watching bears. The ravens were strangely no longer screaming ( I speculated that perhaps they had been young ones, learning to call. Al read in one of the guide books that people anchored near the Indian villages have claimed to hear Dzunukwa. (

On our way through Beware Passage, Al called the patches of kelp 'Nature's ATONs' -- Aids TO Navigation.

Another abandoned Indian village - Karlukwees.
 We spent a few days in Potts Lagoon also, watching other boats come and go. Other than that we saw nothing new there. Until we left, and in Clio Channel there were two humpback whales, just floating near the surface. We saw an occasional exhale, or the peek of the dorsal fins, but other than that you wouldn't have know they were there. We suspect it was nap time, or a mother nursing a young one.

Here is some 'new water' for us.
The Blow Hole is a narrow, shallow passage between Minstrel Island and East Cracroft Island.

We had been to Minstrel Island on Memorial Day, just before heading out to go up Knight's Inlet. THIS time, I came off the boat to explore a bit with Al too.

Viking Star at the dock. There is a small adventure lodge on the point behind her, Sailcone Lodge.

A former resort and hotel are now in ruins.

Use the docks at your own risk. Al told me to 'follow the nails'. The nails are where the boards are nailed to a beam below, so theoretically it is more substantial there. It's a loooong way down to the water from this point.

Ooooooo, berries!!!

We made it to the beach. We were hoping to get around the point to where the gazebo used to sit, but the tide was coming in quickly, and our return would become blocked.

There is a large amount of glass on the beach. The kids would have a heyday here, though much of it is
'not baked enough' -- our code for 'too shiny'. 'Real' sea glass needs to be frosty, with sharp edges buffed smooth by the waves scrubbing the beach.

Cute Christmas trees

Maybe the listing has expired? Al searched this realtor's website and couldn't find it.

Getting some evening fishing done.