EXCITEMENT AT ANCHORAGE

I didn’t catch any fish last night but got plenty of bites – mosquito bites.  This morning I was away at first light, which is not that early nowadays.  The idea was to catch the flood tide to the centre of Grenville Passage and then the ebb tide from the centre outwards.  The tactic worked perfectly and I carried a good tide all day.

Northern Expedition in Grenville Channel. Photo Ray Penson
Northern Expedition in Grenville Channel. Photo Ray Penson

Today was a movement day, we motored for 12 hours, there was no wind, just overcast, mist, rain, fog and just a glimpse of sun in the late afternoon.  I don’t like Grenville channel and wanted to get it behind me in one day.

I saw quite a few humpbacks feeding and one group of three were doing coordinated bubble netting, all coming to the surface at the same time with mouths gaping open.  I watched for a while then moved on to leave them in peace.

This evening when I came to drop the anchor I went through my usual routine.  First walk the anchor out for dropping, then find the right spot to drop.  Then, before going forward to drop the anchor I put the engine astern so that the chain pays out nicely and we snub up to set the anchor.  This evening I dropped the anchor and realised we were not stopping but still going ahead – quite fast!  I ran back to the cockpit to see why the engine was running ahead.  The gear lever was astern but the propeller was still going ahead.  Amidst very nasty noises from the anchor chain at the bow as it tried to pull the capstan out of the deck I pulled the engine stop.  After a minute all was quiet again and time to see what the problem was.

I found that the cable from the gear lever to the gear selector had broken.  Just what I needed tonight after a long day.  I suppose it could have happened in a marina full of super yachts so it’s better to happen in an open anchorage.  Realising that I couldn’t do anything with the engine still hot, I cracked a beer and put the fishing line out.  I caught a small rock cod but didn’t have the inclination to deal with him.  The guy on the other boat in the anchorage pulled in a large halibut.  With the problems I had the last thing I wanted was a 30 kg halibut floundering around the cockpit, so pulled my line in.

I found a length of brass strip and drilled a hole to take a bolt to fasten it to the gear selector, the brass was too bendy so I lashed it together with a steel threaded bar.  After a few modifications it works fine as a simple push pull gear lever.  I can reach the lever through the companionway, just have to leave the engine box open when I want to use it.  A good enough fix to get me to where I can buy a new gear cable set.

I hope the night is quiet, don’t need any more drama.  I have a few route options tomorrow, not sure which one I will take, just know that I have to go through Hiekish Narrows on the morning ebb tide.    Total voyage distance 519.9 miles.

FAREWEL PRINCE RUPERT

My intentions for an early start evaporated when John produced a pot of fresh coffee and muffins straight from the oven.  We sat in the cockpit of Caro Babbo chatting and eating happily until late morning.  It was almost mid-day by the time I heaved the anchor from the mud and motored out of Russell Arm.

As I departed from the harbour I had one last look back at Prince Rupert.  I don’t suppose I will ever be back.  I first visited Rupert when I was at sea as second mate, back in the pre GPS days.  Rupert was a regular port of call as we were in the Pacific run taking Canadian grain to China and a welcome stop after the rigours of the North Pacific and Bering Sea.

Once out of the harbour the forecast wind didn’t show up so I motored and caught the tide down Arthur Passage and into Grenville Channel.  I hadn’t really wanted to go down Grenville Channel again but the weather really made the decision for me.  This is the classic inside passage route and I suppose I will meet some commercial traffic taking this sheltered route north and south.

This evening I have anchored in Kumealon Inlet, just off Grenville Channel.  Tomorrow if the wind and tide is complaisant I will try and transit the channel without another stop.  I think I will try a little fishing tonight.

PRINCE RUPERT – THIRTY YEARS ON

I woke up this morning and it was still pouring with rain, damp and cold. No hurry this morning and no point in getting out of a warm bed so I rolled over for another hour kip. When making tea this morning I got a drip of water on the head, there is a small leak on the overhead skylight.

Cow Bay and Prince Rupert Yacht Club. Ray Penson
Cow Bay and Prince Rupert Yacht Club. Ray Penson

I will get some materials in Prince Rupert and make it good again, also the one on the other side as a precaution, when we get some dry weather. We set off just after nine from Lawson Harbour towards Port Edward. There was telephone reception so I called ahead enquiring about a berth. The guy gave me a whole load of drama about how busy they were and I would probably have to raft up. I then called to Prince Rupert Yacht club

and they said there was a berth available. So Port Edward was bypassed and we continued on to Prince Rupert in the rain.  The reception at the Prince Rupert Yacht club was very friendly, the guys turned out to help me tie up. They have put me in a berth head in to a small space. It’s going to be challenging getting out without hitting anything. Hopefully it will be calm on Sunday and I can turn the boat around by hand so its pointing in the right direction.

Its 30 years since I had last been to Prince Rupert. We used to load grain here for China. The locals were always friendly and our stays were always pleasant and good fun. The stevedores used to fish from the side of the ship and bring up big halibut and were always generous in sharing it about.

Prince Rupert Grain Silo's.Photo Ray Penson
Prince Rupert Grain Silo’s.Photo Ray Penson

Back then Prince Rupert was a small place – it has really grown to quite a big town. It has a shopping mall and Walmart store so its arrived. The grain silo jetty, where we used to load is still there, the old concrete silos have been replaced with modern steel structures.

This afternoon I had a quick walk around town and the luxury of a hot shower for the first time in two weeks. This evening I will head out to find a fish restaurant and sample some halibut. I already found the local brewery (by chance) and sampled their Gillnetter Pale Ale – nothing to write home about, but as my mate Jim says – ‘there’s no such thing as a bad beer’.

Fresh Caught - but not caught by me.Photo Ray Penson
Fresh Caught – but not caught by me.Photo Ray Penson

Total voyage distance 651.4 miles.

Logged 26th May 2016

GRENVILLE CHANNEL – BREAK OUT

Today it was my intention to have an easy travel up the Granville Channel and stay overnight at Kumealon Inlet.  We had a five o’clock start to get the ebb and made good time.  The weather was cold, overcast with low cloud and drizzle, but there was no wind and absolute calm.  When we arrived at Kumealon. I decided to continue and make the most of the calm conditions as north westerly winds had been forecast again.

We carried on and Arrived at Gunboat Harbour on Gibson Island at the top of Granville Channel where we anchored.  I had lunch and a siesta was needed after such an early start.  An hour later I was woken by a bunch of fishermen who were also using the anchorage for rafting up and doing fishy stuff.  As it was still calm and the tide was turning in our favour I decided to make a hop over to Lawson Harbour just off Porcher Island and anchor there for the night.

Today was cold again, its four days since we have seen the sun.  I was passed by an American sailor today, he had full cold gear on including woolly hat and gloves.  I feel better now, I thought I was being a wimp and needed to harden up.  But other people are feeling the cold as well, its not just me.  I will look for some gloves at the next port call.

We did eight and a half hours motoring today, there is no option when there is no wind.  We are now clear of Grenville Channel and into more open waters again.  Options for tomorrow are either Prince Rupert or Port Edward.  I may try Port Edward first as I have to clear out from Prince Rupert anyway. Total voyage distance 632.2 miles.

Logged 25th May 2016

GRENVILLE CHANNEL – CONTINUED

We caught the tide up Grenville Channel this afternoon from Lowe Inlet where we passed a comfortable night at anchor.  We anchored just inside the entrance to the inlet on a bank and I expected to be disturbed by the wash from passing ships, but it was all peaceful.  I have only seen two cruise ships so far, its still early in the season.

A dark gloomy day going up Grenville Channel. Photo Ray Penson
A dark gloomy day going up Grenville Channel. Photo Ray Penson

It was a good job we had the tide behind us today as the North Westerly wind and chop were on the nose and it would have been very heavy going without a push.  This is the last time I will come up Grenville Channel so am making the most of it with three stops planned.  Today we passed the narrow section and a couple of big waterfalls, particularly spectacular is the waterfall at Saunders Creek as it spills from a mountain lake high above.  There are quite a few bald eagles along the Channel, some flying very high, don’t know why they fly so high.

The weather was gloomy today, overcast with the odd rain shower.  The wind was bitterly cold and I had full thermals and multiple layers and still felt the chill.  My thermometer says it was ten degrees, it felt like minis ten.  I expect it will start warming up next month as we get into summer.

Ray Penson

This evening we pulled into Klewnuggit Inlet.  The anchorage that I targeted was, as the book said, spectacular.  High mountains and sheer granite cliffs on three sides.  The problem is that high mountains mean an early sunset and late sunrise.  Its gets cold after sunset and I didn’t fancy a cold night so moved out to another anchorage.  Its hard to find shallow water here to anchor in, I am in a bay very close to the shore where I found some water less than twenty meters deep, just have enough room to swing and clear the rocks.

Tomorrow I expect to overnight at Kumealon Inlet on the north shore of Grenville Channel.  Total voyage distance 599.9

Logged 24th May 2016

HUMAN CONTACT AGAIN

Curlew Bay proved to be a nice quiet anchorage and I had a good sleep.  A bit of a late start today, we are heading up to the village of Hartley Bay and it’s not far so no hurry.  The wind was very light from the south and we sailed under the jib slowly up to Hartley Bay.

Approaching Hartley Bay from the South. Photo Ray Penson
Approaching Hartley Bay from the South. Photo Ray Penson

Hartley Bay is an Indian village and the last populated place before Prince Rupert.  There are two other yachts in the harbour this evening, both are American.  Bill off the yacht Nayeli helped me tie up which is always welcome when single handed.  Bill and his wife are also headed up to Glacier Bay and will be travelling North on a similar schedule to me through Grenville Channel.  The other American yacht is going south to Seattle from Sitka.

These people were the first humans I have seen and spoken to since leaving Klemtu last Sunday.  Just by sailing west for a day off the inside passage route, I took myself to a part of BC that is uninhabited and quite remote.  I saw Seals, River Otters, furry animals in the woods, Bald Eagles, Whales, Dolphins, a gruesome Jellyfish, multiple species of Ducks and heaps of trees.  But no bears yet!

Nothing much going on in Hartley Bay on a Sunday night.  It’s a dry village so no drinking alcohol allowed – I will sneak in a tot in the cabin.  Tomorrow I will start up grenville Channel, just need to figure out the tides and current first.  Total voyage distance nautical 556.2 miles.  (That’s 1,030 Km in metric).

Logged 22nd May 2016

GRENVILLE CHANNEL

Hartley Bay is an interesting place, I went for an explore last night.  it’s a small Indian community with access by boat, helicopter or seaplane.  There is no road access and in fact no roads.  The village is connected by raised wooden boardwalks upon which ATV’s, quads and Polaris whiz around.  The ground is quite wet so buildings are elevated off the earth and connected by bridges to the boardwalks.

Hartley Bay, Image Google map
Hartley Bay, Image Google map

This morning we caught the tide up Grenville Channel, first we sailed, tacking up the channel against the wind.  We covered quite a distance from side to side but didn’t make much actual progress up the channel so Mr Yanmar was called into action, his mighty 24 horsepower soon has us scooting along, helped by the current.

Grenville Channel British Columbia
Grenville Channel British Columbia

I have been up and down Grenville Channel in the past on big ships, navigating between Prince Rupert and Vancouver.  I must say, after a few transits on a big ship the channel is quite boring, just water and trees on hills.  The perspective from a small boat is quite different, I am now happy that the weather forced this route on me.

This evening we are anchored at Lowe Inlet which is the first anchorage northbound on the channel.  Only one other yacht, the American boat from Harvey Bay, came up the channel today.

A number of local fishing boats have popped into the inlet for the night as well.  Tomorrow will be a late start to get the lift of the ebb towards Klewnugget Inlet where there is supposed to be the ‘most beautiful’ anchorage.  We will probably have to motor again as the wind will be blowing down the channel towards us.  Total Voyage distance 582.2 miles.

Logged 23rd May 2016

Image: bcmarina (Grenville Channel British Columbia)

 

 

A LONG DAY AND SLOW SAIL

Up bright and early today to beat the forecast gale.  Beautiful daybreak and flat calm in Gillespie Channel, the water was like glass.

Six in the morning and clear of Gillespie Narrows. Photo Ray Penson
Six in the morning and clear of Gillespie Narrows. Photo Ray Penson

Up bright and early today to beat the forecast gale.  Beautiful daybreak and flat calm in Gillespie Channel, the water was like glass.  Getting out through the narrows was very exciting with the water rushing out at a rate of knots.  Once committed there is no turning back and no place for indecision, just power on to keep steering control and pop out the other end.

I wanted to sail up Principe Channel and enter approach Prince Rupert from the west rather than the usual route up Grenville Passage.  But the prospect of a thirty-mile tack into a building headwind deterred me.  So I headed off up Otter Channel and towards Grenville Channel.

Captain Ray Penson
Captain Ray Penson

The forecast gale didn’t arrive and instead the wind was from the South and fluky.  We sailed for nearly 12 hours and only made 30 miles progress.

To compensate for the slow sail the weather was brilliant, not a cloud in the sky and visibility forever.  Great scenery all the way back to the snow covered mountains inland.  I didn’t see any sea life at all today and thankfully not many logs after a small bump this morning.

This evening we have anchored in Curlew Bat which is on a small island about five miles south of Grenville Channel.

Not sure if I will start up the channel tomorrow, I will see how I feel in the morning after the efforts of today. Total voyage distance 544.8 miles.

Logged 21st May 2016