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