Cruising Southeast Alaska - 2009

By Linda Lewis


19. Queen Charlotte Sound - the Southbound Crossing


We had to put aside beautiful scenes like this seen in Culpepper Lagoon...

and make our way through some stormy waters trying to get to Fury Cove in the next three days.

As we left Kynoch Inlet to head south, we were hit by a sudden squall and had to turn north again. We had to backtrack for 10 miles and head towards Sheeps Passage (again). We anchored - appropriately enough - in Windy Bay.

We were willing to put in long hours for the next two days; and we did. We went all the way from Windy Bay, through the Bella Bella/Shearwater area, to Fancy Cove in Lama Passage that second day. We haven't anchored in Fancy Cove since 2001 so it was definitely time to re-visit. And it was the best location for our take-off the next day. I like the pretty little island just outside the nook at the head where we prefer to anchor. Not much swinging room, but shallow and good holding and very protected. And such a wonderful view.

The next day we pushed all the way to our goal. It was a tough day with 3 foot squared-off seas that yanked the skiff around. But Dave's new rigging held fine. This was our destination: Fury Cove on Penrose Island.

It's a jewel of a spot. It looks out onto Queen Charlotte Sound so you can see the weather as well as hear about it.

When we listened to the weather the next morning at o-dark-thirty, the West Sea Otter buoy was reporting 4 K west winds and westerly sea swells of 1.8 meters (six feet) with a light chop on top. YES. It's a go. Six foot swells certainly sound like a big deal, but we believe that as long as the wave action on top of it is minimal, it's actually quite doable. We don't have stabilizers, so I'm not downplaying the issue; we don't go if it's too rough at the start and the forecast is bad. But this was an OK start situation for us and the forecast was for things to get better as the day went along.

This is Egg Island. Those are 4 foot swells with a light chop on top that you're looking at. A bit hard to see.

This series of photos should create a better picture for you. That's the Cape Caution marker in the background. (We elected to go past it at about a half mile out.) See the sailboat heading northbound?

Now look at it...

Where'd she go?

But you can see that the chop on top is light. It never got higher than about a foot all day. The swells were there most of the day, but the angle was good and the sun started to shine!

Even this barge was putting on a show.

Down she goes.

By the time we got to the Deserters Islands area, it was piece-of-cake time. Bait ball! No, Dave, we can't stop and go fishing. I can taste the dock at Pt McNeill.

He loves to complain about all my techy things on the boat, but he also loves to use them. Here he is doing Sirius radio with the headphones, wearing his Bolle's. The blurred hand is his effort to block this picture. Nah nah.

We managed to get to Pt McNeill just in time to get the next-to-the-last dock space. When I had a chance to look up, I was delighted to see the M/V Spirit of Balto just across the way. I know Sally through an organization called Northwest Women in Boating. Sally and Dan built this custom steel trawler and there is a fascinating story behind the name. Yes, it's related to the Iditarod dog, Balto, who helped save lives - and Dan is from Nome, Alaska and a third generation gold miner.

The couple and the boat were written up in Passagemaker magazine (Oct 15, 2007 issue). They said a friend who also built a custom boat gave them a piece of advice not long ago: "You need to leave the dock." And so they have, traveling up the Inside Passage.

It's August 26 and we're glad to be in Pt McNeill - a real cruiser-friendly location. From here we're going to go play in the Broughton Islands for awhile and make it to our first pig roast at the newly configured "Pierre's at Echo Bay." Stay tuned.




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