On June 28th, we
left Campbell River headed for the 1030 slack
at Seymour Narrows. I couldn’t
resist this picture of a gorgeous ketch we saw
as we were coming out of Discovery Harbour Marina
this morning. What a beauty. And what a lot of
work to maintain.
David was at the helm as
we went through the fabled Seymour Narrows. The
picture says it all: yawning about a non-event.
That's the way you want it. At full run, Seymour
can be running 15 K. At slack, it's a non-event
worthy of a yawn. That means you did it right.
Here is what Seymour Narrows
looks like at slack.
We would have liked to stick with our normal
routine of starting the day very early because
the rule of thumb is to expect winds to rise
in the afternoon. Today, the late afternoon winds
being forecast were for Gale Warning with 25-35
K winds. Since we had to start out late, we at
least wanted to be up the road and anchored before
too long so we had several contingency anchorages
I was at the helm when at 1245 the winds markedly
and steadily increased. Dave was reading a book.
So I just started bleating, like a Billy Goat.
As in... my vote is to stop and anchor up in
Billygoat Bay on Helmcken Island. He heard my
pathetic sounds and looked up with a laugh. He
agreed and we actually anchored up in the cove
just beyond Billygoat Bay, called North Cove.
It's a bit bigger and gives pretty good NW-winds
protection (not great for SE winds). We're glad
we stopped. An hour later someone joined us in
the bay who had tried to proceed north. He encountered
nasty seas so he turned around and came in to
As I actually am
writing this note (June 30th – 1640),
the “estimated wind in Johnstone Strait” is
38 K with gusts. Chatham Point is seeing 28 K
and 5 foot seas. I look out the window and see
a very ugly Current Passage on the north side
of Helmcken Island just beyond our little bay.
But we are very snug here.
Wait. Enjoy the birds, the animals, the boat
rocking, the time to breathe and smile. I once
wrote a song with the title: “Don’t
Push the River”. (Yes, I stole that title
from a book.) But the message is still relevant
for someone who used to live in a river town
in the midwest and is now going with the flow
along the Inside Passage. I’m singin’!
is the moon at “Neap Tide” at
Helmcken Island, B.C. I have a great “Spring
Tide” photo (full moon) I took at Tribune
Bay from a previous cruise. But this is my best
half-moon photo. I’ll use this shot in
my navigation classes to demonstrate the time
in the moon’s cycle when (relatively speaking)
the tide range is smaller and the currents don’t
run quite as fast (compared to Spring Tides).
About the weather reports: VHF Radio vs a Smart
The every-four-hours forecasts are the same.
However they are much easier to hear on a phone
using a published phone number by geographical
One of my experiments has been to compare (Canada's)
weather conditions’ reports (wind and sea
state) via VHF radio versus Environment Canada
marine weather online – which I can access
using my smart phone (www.weatheroffice.gc.ca/marine
then dig into the menu). So far the phone wins.
I can connect by cell phone a lot more often
than I can do a wifi connect. Of course an “air
card” (cell phone connection direct to
laptop) would be nice, but that was beyond our
budget this year. So this is a low-budget experiment.
the "hourly" weather
conditions (wind and sea state) turn out to reveal
a bit of a twist. The VHF hourly weather conditions
are reported on the half hour; the online reportsare
on-the-hour. Anyway that has been true for
the Fanny Island reporting station that is
so critical for cruisers transiting Johnstone
Strait. I have been able to test this out for
two days now since we are holding at anchor.
I'm not sure this will be true at all stations,
but it sure has been consistent here. Although
the cell phone has non-signal locations in
B.C. (while underway), when it's up, it's really
Even Dave, my resident technophobe, has become
a fan. Yesterday he said: "Get on your magic
phone and see what the wind is doing at Fanny
Island." My next step will be to get him
to take the phone to the master stateroom at
night so we can dial up the 0400 weather from
our cozy bed. Just dial and listen - then roll
over if we don't like what we hear.
Dave likes to grouse about me looking at the
computer, so he insisted upon this picture.
However, I am also a nut about the need to be
looking outside the window, checking the depth
sounder, checking the markers, checking the
landmarks, checking the traffic and hazards,
and in general operating the boat in the real
world rather than driving a video game. These
days boaters need to remember to boat outside
the window - as well as use their technology
wisely. I'm a big fan of doing both.
I was delighted to see Dave screaming along in
this skiff he built. He calls it - aptly - the
Green Devil. He said he needed to run it hard
to give the battery a boost. I think he also
got a boost; he looks so happy.
After two nights at Helmcken Island we poked
our nose out into Johnstone Strait and got our
heads handed to us. The Green Devil (our 18’ skiff
that we tow) was trying to turn itself into an
airplane, so we turned back and decided to go
up through Whirlpool Rapids to Forward Harbour,
then make another try the next day via Sunderland
Channel. Of course, we arrived at the rapids
at full run (5.9 K) so we put the anchor down
and waited a few hours for slack. We are a 7-8
K boat so we don’t try to go when a current
is running much more than about 3 K.
We had lots of company in Forward Harbour: 17
boats! Everyone was waiting for better conditions
in Johnstone Strait.
Poseiden was with us the next day so we started
out at dawn. Here is Fanny Island as we passed
it under better conditions.
And here is a tug pulling a fishing camp lodge.
He was struggling a bit to keep it on track.
We had a great run all the way up Johnstone Strait
to Pt McNeill, our favorite spot for making the
jump across Queen Charlotte Sound.
It was my turn (Linda) to dock and I snuggled
the Royal Sounder in between the two boats right
in the middle of the photo.
There is a new Harbor
at the top of the dock.
Hilge, the Harbour Manager (the foxiest dock
master in the northwest - according to Dave),
is still hard at work. I caught her at a rare
moment in the office as she is always down on
the dock where the action is. If she says you
can fit into a space, trust that you can.
We’re going to make the jump across Queen
Charlotte Sound tomorrow. The forecast and the
pattern of the wind and sea state conditions
over the last 48 hours make it likely we’ll
get at least part of the way across – if
not all the way. If necessary, we’ll anchor
in the Walker Group or Shelter Bay or… we’ll
Dave is happy as a clam in his matching Ray
Troll t-shirt and cap. That’s my guy.