DRIFTING WITH HUMPBACKS

Nice soft continuous rain from early morning to around nine.  Then it cleared up but was cloudy all day.  I went to explore the ruins of Deweyville this morning.  The Suzuki outboard is humming along nicely now and is a happy starter.  I couldn’t find the ruins, I found a couple of old sheds but they had plywood in the construction and I don’t think Dewey had access to plywood.  I looked for young undergrowth and other sign of a town.  After fifteen minutes, being nice and wet by this time, I decided that I wasn’t really interested in seeing the ruins anyway.  I have seen plenty of ruins before and even sailed on a couple.

Whaler Bubble Curtain. Photo Ray Penson
Whaler Bubble Curtain. Photo Ray Penson

When time came to depart the anchorage I had trouble getting the anchor up.  It was fouled on something pretty solid.  After a combination of heaving and motoring ahead and astern I managed to get the anchor up to the surface and found it was fouled with a heavy steel cable.  I got a line around the cable, hung it off and freed the anchor.  The cable is now back on the seabed waiting to catch some other unfortunate sailor.  That was my morning workout.

From Deweyville we headed around El Capitan Island to visit the small Indian village of Tokeen.  When we arrived dock space was pretty tight so we carried on, it didn’t look very interesting anyway.

This detour to visit Token meant we had to use Skookumchuck pass to get back on our route south.  On entering the pass a large whale blew right in front of the boat.  I stopped the engine and drifted with the current through the pass.  For the next hour I was treated to a whale show with at least four humpbacks, one blew very close astern, a great explosive exhalation and plume of fine spray.

Flipper Beating Whale. Photo Ray Penson
Flipper Beating Whale. Photo Ray Penson

The pass is quite narrow and the whales were diving very close to the shore, just a few meters off the rocks.  They were also doing the bubble ring thing but not surfacing through the bubbles.  One of the humpbacks was raising a fin and bringing it down on the water with a loud thud and splash.  The sound of their blowing is awesome when there is no background noise, it’s a funny feeling to know such massive creatures are swimming just under the boat.  A truly magical experience and so unexpected.

After the whale experience I didn’t want to use the engine so sailed in a fickle wind for the next couple of hours.  We didn’t make many miles but enjoyed the sounds of the eagles and otters without the engine blocking everything out.

Winter Harbour Anchorage, Prince of Wales Island. Photo Ray Penson
Winter Harbour Anchorage, Prince of Wales Island. Photo Ray Penson

This evening I am still on a high from the whale experience.  To be drifting in complete silence with them was something I never expected.  I tried getting some photos but missed the real close up ones.

Tonight we are anchored in a place called Winter Harbour.  It has a gravel road running down to it and I went for a walk in the early evening.  Didn’t see much apart from trees.  Tomorrow I set off early towards Craig, the largest town on Price of Wales Island.  Total voyage distance 923.6 miles.

Logged 9th June 2016

EL CAPITANO PASSAGE

We anchored overnight in Marble Bay, where there is a mine, marble I guess.  The day started flat calm and the sun shone.  The air was cool but by nine in the morning it was warm enough for shorts and t shirt.  Taking advantage of the warmth I opened up the boat, all hatches, carpet and bedding out in the sun, a good cleaning and airing and now everything is fresh again.

Prince of Wales Island.
Prince of Wales Island.

Also did a bake, had fresh bread with cheese for lunch, sitting in the cockpit, with a Lighthouse Special Bitter Ale.  Perfect.

Today was an afternoon sailing to transit El Capitano Passage.  This passage is little known and has a seven foot depth for a twenty meter width.  It seems a lot less than twenty meters wide but its well-marked, we transited at high tide so there was plenty of water.

Along the passage are numerous bays and islands with Sea Otters and Eagles everywhere.  We were the only vessel in the passage and I only saw one other boat, a fishing vessel, all day.  I really enjoyed this passage, a very beautiful and magical place, its one of the highlights of the voyage so far.

El Capitano Passage, Dry Pass. Feels less than 20m wide. Photo Ray Penson
El Capitano Passage, Dry Pass. Feels less than 20m wide. Photo Ray Penson

It was another motoring day, what little wind there was came from ahead.  This evening we have anchored in Sarker Cove, off a long abandoned gold mining town called Deweyville.  From the boat I can’t see much of the town, just a couple of rotten huts.  I will explore further in the morning.

Deweyville Anchorage where I hooked a wire. Photo Ray Penson
Deweyville Anchorage where I hooked a wire. Photo Ray Penson

When coming into the anchorage I was just about to anchor when there was a great commotion just astern.  A seal had got a fish on the surface and an eagle was trying to get it.  I am not sure who got the fish first, the Eagle I suspect.  Whatever, the seal won the prize and the eagle took off and perched in his tree just astern of where we anchored.

There are deer on the edge of the trees, they come out and munch on the grass by the shoreline and then retreat back into the woods.  I saw them doing the same thing in the early evening in Red Bay a few days ago.  Total voyage distance 904.3 miles.

Logged 8th June 2016