A DAY OF TWO HALVES

As they say in football – today has been a day of two halves.  From midday to midnight we romped along, reefed down, in twenty knot winds doing a comfortable six knots.  At midnight, we had clocked seventy plus miles and all was good.  After midnight we ran into a rain squall (probably a front) and after a brief flurry the wind disappeared.

Since midnight we have been ghosting along and now have the jib poled out to port and doing three to four knots in glorious weather but not much breeze.  The forecasters wanted to give us twenty knots again today – oh how wrong they got it.

It looks like this light weather has blown our planned ETA for the 21st in Neiafu, we will most likely arrive on Tuesday now.  Just another day to wait for a cold beer – maybe I should drink an extra one to compensate.

Last night we watched ‘Men in Black 3’ in the cockpit.  Great movie – they don’t need to make any more MIB’s.  The weather is still hot but absolutely no complaints.  Two fishing boats turned up last night, the first vessels we have seen since leaving Christmas Island.

At lunch time today we used the last of our eggs.  One was a floater so went over the side to Davie Jones.  Fresh food is almost finished now, all that is remaining is a large onion from Honolulu.  It still looks in perfect condition so suspect it has a similar upbringing to the atomic (never go ripe) tomatoes I experienced in Alaska.  Total Voyage distance 1,130 miles.

SAILING INTO THE TROPIC OF CANCER

Looking at the log book for last night I see I was having a hard time.  Sails up and down, in and out, tacking, gybing and engine on.  Sometimes reducing sail as going too fast and others just no wind.  I was surprised to find we had covered 109 miles noon to noon, a commendable effort in such trying conditions.  It must be good for you, good exercise in the fresh air.

Since midday it has been easy street.  Sailing with just the jib poled out to port, making a steady five plus knots in sparkling weather directly towards our destination.  Also, an opportunity to catch up on some sleep from the night before.

Waikiki beach, Hawaii. Photo Ngozi Penson
Waikiki beach, Hawaii. Photo Ngozi Penson

Today we crossed the imaginary line into the Tropic of Cancer.  This line marks the furthest point north the sun will get before heading back to the south again.  If you stood on the line at midday of the summer solstice the sun would be directly overhead at noon.  The word tropic is derived from a Greek word meaning to turn (that’s what we learned in navigation).

The Greeks were quite good at maths and figuring out what the planets were doing.  The ancient Brits were also up to speed on all that stuff – just that being illiterate they couldn’t write it down – they had to explain it in big stone circles

Entering the Tropics. Ray Penson jpg
Entering the Tropics. Ray Penson jpg

This time last year Truce and I were in Sitka Alaska.  Sitka was a really nice place, one of the best towns in Alaska.

What a contrast sailing into Hawaii.

I am getting quite excited by it all now and really looking forward to getting ashore in Hilo, only three more days to go.

A small rum and coke will be appropriate for sundowners today, we are in the tropics after all.

Voyage distance 1,816 miles.

BACK IN NEW ZEALAND

I have been back in New Zealand for ten days now.  So good to see family again, but It’s difficult to transition from being a freewheeling sailor to the role of domestic slave, taking orders from the ‘Boss’ wife.  The creature comforts of home are however a welcome change, having a hot shower on tap is a true luxury.

Milford beach, North Shore City. Auckland
Milford beach looking out to Rangitoto. New Zealand

Truce is sitting on the hard in Canoe Cove Marina.  I put her to bed as best I could as I was hindered by my cracked ribs.  Everything is stowed away but I am concerned about the damp that may get into the boat over the winter.  When on the hard I will get a few maintenance works done so come spring we are in good shape to go again.

My health is excellent after the trip, I feel fit and relaxed but have lost about 6 Kg in weight and now weigh around 77Kg.  (170lbs).  I ate very well on the trip so my weight loss seems to be caused by three things, being overweight in the first place, burning up calories in cold weather doing physical stuff and not eating processed food and sugary snacks.

I suffered from some distress to my hands before they hardened up to sailing and a few aches and pains from using muscles not normally pressed into service.  My fall and cracked ribs I take as a (painful) lesson to plan better and complete one job at a time when single handing.

Now I am back in New Zealand I am looking forward to the summer and some warm weather and catching up with all the little odd jobs and other tedious bureaucratic pains of shore life.  Houses (like boats) need maintenance and there is some of that to do as well.  I also need to do some paid work and harvest some money for the cruising coffers, I will look for some ship delivery work which I enjoy.

Next I will post some thoughts about my trip to Alaska.

 

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

PRINCE OF WHALES ISLAND

I didn’t get much sleep last night.  The selected anchorage looked promising on the chart but turned out to be a wind funnel and we were hit with gusts all night.  The rain continued all night and into the morning but took a break this afternoon.  Its back again tonight.

I am on Prince of Wales Island now.  I fancy a look down the west side, it looks interesting and off the usual tourist track.  To get to the west side I will have to go over the top of the island.  It may mean doubling back to get up to Glacier Bay, just have to see what the wind brings.

We sailed up from last nights’ anchorage and had a nice free wind all the way.  I didn’t bother with the main as we were doing above five knots with the jib and we didn’t do a great distance.  No other boats out and about today, there was a small craft advisory issued so they probably stayed tucked up somewhere.

There is a big weather system out in the Pacific bringing warm moist air up from the south.  As this hits the mountains and colder water its turns to heaps of rain.  So this wind is good for sailing, just need to soak up the rain.

This evening I have found a nice sheltered anchorage, a bit tricky to get into at low water but once inside it’s a nice sheltered basin.  There is a stream entering at the end and three areas of meadow where the grass comes down to the shore.  Looks like bear habitat to me.

Once anchored this evening I launched the pig.  She obviously didn’t like being disturbed and took a chunk out of my ankle.  It seems impossible to launch it without suffering some sort of personal damage.  Now the pig is off the deck I will light a fire tonight and warm the boat through.

In Ketchikan I bought a new spark plug, some petrol and two stroke mix for the outboard motor.  I will have a go at getting it going later.  Total voyage distance 782.2 Miles.

Logged 1st June 2016

PRINCE RUPERT – SOCIAL SCENE

Rain pissed down all day today, heavy in the morning and light in the afternoon and now what a local refers to as Scotch Mist in the evening.  A busy day doing chores as this is the first port call for a couple of weeks.

Real time location. Yacht Truce.
Prince Rupert Stay over. Real Time

Garbage disposal, two trips to the launderette, ship chandlers, Library for internet access, Canadian Boarder Protection Services, provisions, and general housekeeping.  All good fun and great exercise.   Last night I had a fish dinner, Lemon Sole, very nice fish and fresh.  All washed down with the local brew.  Needless to say I slept well.

This evening I met up two groups of people I had met a couple of times before, they are also travelling the same direction.  We had a good night in the pub swapping tales.  Parked next to me tonight is an American boat I met at the Bella Bella fuel dock – It’s a small world.  Another rest day tomorrow and a bit of touristy and cultural stuff if I can fit it in.  Should sleep well again tonight.

Logged 27th 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

OTTERS AND JELLYFISH

The weather blew all night and into today.  A gale warning in place so I decided to sit another day in the cosy anchorage and carry on doing bits and bobs.  The sun came out and the weather was beautiful out of the wind.  I completely filled my day with activities and the time flew by.

River Otter
River Otter

I spent some time watching a River Otter fishing around the boat, he came very close and didn’t see me in the cockpit.  I wanted to take a photo but knew if I moved he would be gone.  There are also some weasel like creatures running around in the woods.  I don’t know what they are but there entertaining.

The mother of all jelly Fish turned up, never seen anything like it.  It looked disgusting, like a big blob of putrefied matter, the colour was yellow changing to orange and red with long thick dark red coloured tentacles.  The thing was very mobile and swimming around not like the usual blobby Jelly Fish.  Just the one.

Some Jellyfish. Photo Ray Penson
Some Jellyfish. Photo Ray Penson

I bought some petrol in Bella Bella to try running the outboard.  Hey presto, it ran this afternoon.  I now need to check the gear oil and get some two stroke oil and I will have a motorised pig.

It’s a full moon tonight and a near five-meter tide.  I reckon that means the weather will be calm tomorrow morning before the forecast North Westerly gale sets in.  If it looks good I will get away early and make some headway before the headwinds kick in.

Logged 20th May 2016. Image: http://www.mnn.com

INTO SPIRIT BEAR COUNTRY

Another grey, wet overcast day in BC.  First excitement of the day was passing through Meyers Narrows between Swindle Island and Princess Royal Island.  It’s a very pretty narrow pass that is really not that difficult.  This pass allows us to get on the west side of Princess Royal Island and away from the main Alaska Inside Passage highway.  This area is quite remote; I only saw one other sail boat today.

Spirit Bear With Fish In Mouth. Photo Spiritbear.com
Spirit Bear With Fish In Mouth. Photo Spiritbear.com

Today I saw two cruise ships heading north.  They were the Zaandam followed a few miles later by her bigger sister the Noordam.  Both ships flying the Dutch Flag and looking very shipshape.  I also saw the first dolphins of the trip, don’t know what they were, just came up quickly some way off and disappeared.  I am surprised not to have seen more dolphins.

Philip Narrows on Princess Royal Island - very narrow
Philip Narrows on Princess Royal Island – very narrow

After a couple of false starts the southerly breeze finally set in and we managed to sail for over 4 hours today and give Mr. Yanmar a break.  It wasn’t fast going but we were in no hurry so everything was relaxed.  Unfortunately, there were hundreds of logs floating around so a good lookout had to be kept and frequent dodging to avoid them.  We sailed up the Laredo Channel to Kent Inlet.

Entry into the inlet is through a narrow passage called Philip Narrows.  The narrows are very narrow, only a couple of boat widths wide, not enough room to turn around so I took it slow in case we ran out of water.  The chart said there was an obstruction to the passage but I managed to find the deep water alongside the north bank and got through without touching anything.

Tidal Waterfall in Kent Inlet - Princess Royal Island.Photo Ray Penson
Tidal Waterfall in Kent Inlet – Princess Royal Island.Photo Ray Penson

Kent inlet is a magical place.  Its part of the Kitasoo Spirit Bear Conservancy area.  The spirit or Kermode bear has a light coloured coat and is endangered.  They only appear on princess Royal Island apparently.  The inlet is totally enclosed and has a tidal waterfall that leads to a large lake, looks interesting.  There is another waterfall in the inlet and we are anchored close by it.

Its raining again this evening but if we get fine weather in the morning I will take pig and head over to the tidal waterfall and trek across to the lake inside.  Who knows, I may meet up with a spirit bear.  Total voyage distance 479.6 miles.

This evenings parking space with waterfall. Photo Ray Penson
This evenings parking space with waterfall. Photo Ray Penson

Logged 16th May 2016