I love Crease Island anchorage in the Broughton
Islands because I can look all around me at the
many small islands and passages and nooks and
crannies. The dramatic, high-bowled anchorages
of Southeast Alaska are wonderful and I enjoy
them. However, the open-landscape anchorages
are also very special to me. Crease Island is
great for that kind of luscious, panoramic view.
Among the many joys of anchoring is being able
to get in the skiff (or, for some cruisers, kayaks)
to go exploring. This is the scene I found in
Indian Pass. Wonder how that boulder manages
to stay upright.
We were joined at
the Crease Island anchorage by The Spirit of
Dan and Sally were having a grand time trying
out their crabbing and shrimping gear.
The Spirit of Balto
is a steel-hulled, custom boat that Dan and
Sally built together over the last eight years.
Their loving work shines back at them in the
bright reflection of them in the boat's smooth-as-satin
We were also joined
at Crease Island by Pegasus. Stew loves his
And their guests
like to kayak, too. Pat is making sure Jurgen
doesn't take an unplanned, cold bath. That
wouldn't be a good story to take back to Germany.
I got caught up
in watching them store their kayaks. So did
Ursula, apparently. Every cruising boat that
takes kayaks has their own storage method.
Here is their unique method. Float the kayak
alongside. Run lines to it from the two small
booms and pulleys. See the big hooks on the
side of Pegasus? That's the end resting point.
Start to hoist.
Wait for Pat, Stew! Together now.
Tuck it in.
Snug it down. All
ready to go now.
We slipped out of
the mainstream of the Broughtons and started
down Johnstone Strait. We had heard about a
new marina in Port Harvey Harbour (not Port
Hardy which is north of Port McNeill) so we
went to take a look. It's location in Johnstone
Strait is prime. For those going northbound,
it lies about 2/3 of the way up Johnstone Strait
and just next door to Havannah Channel - the
'back door' entrance to the Broughton Islands.
It will also be a good stop-over spot for those
going all the way up Johnstone Strait to Port
McNeill or Port Hardy.
The Port Harvey Marine Resort is located way,
way up at the head of the Port Harvey Harbour
- on the very end, towards the right.
This photo doesn't
readily reveal that the long dock you see is
(will be) 300 feet long. The owners plan a
second dock the same size, so there will be
well over 1200 feet of dock space. Power, water,
wifi, small grocery store, restaurant, and
very cordial, helpful owners.
I like the owner's positive attitude that is
revealed with the presence of a sun deck. A real
plus at this marina is that they will take moorage
reservations (250-902-9003; website under construction).
Reservations for the basic fare restaurant are
also appreciated; and, for now, anyone who anchors
nearby can also make reservations at the restaurant.
(Check out the details in next year's Waggoner
Cruising Guide. I'm sure
you'll find all the latest information there.)
I'm sure this will be a very popular marina
in the coming seasons. I have always heard it
said that there are three important issues when
it comes to real estate; they are: location,
location, location. These folks have the right
idea. Good location and good service; they should
do well. We plan to stop for a visit next year.
I thought I should tell you about our "Alaska
Smile." That would be the brown mustache-looking
stains you see on the hull at the bow. The tannin
(brown run-off from trees) in the water does
that. I'm usually the one to wash our fiberglass
hull with a robust cleaning product (I like FSR)
and then give it a good wax job in the spring.
I didn't get that done this year and it really
And do you notice the little tiny red flag on
the burgee staff? That's my wind indicator. Dave
and I dock the boat 50-50. When it's my turn
I always work from the flybridge. That gives
me the visibility I like and I can feel the wind.
(Once a sailor, always a sailor - at heart.)
Even at that, I wouldn't want to be without my
little flag. That sailor's flag is one of the
best tips I have ever picked up from another
cruiser. I can look at that flag and know what
the wind is doing right at the bow of my boat.
One last thing about the picture above. We
are big fans of anchor bridles for lots of
reasons. For example, the bridle arrangement
takes the load off the windlass and puts it
onto the nylon lines. The stretch in those
nylon lines allows the boat to 'bungee cord'
a bit against the anchor as opposed to a non-forgiving
chain making sudden, hard yanks on the anchor
that can pull it right out of its set. Using
this gear also helps to reduce the noise of
the anchor chain dragging across the rocks
all night long. If you want to read a great
description of how to use a bridle (and other
anchoring tips), read a sidebar called "Anchoring
Challenges in Southeast Alaska" written
by Capt. Brian Pemberton - in the Douglass Exploring
Southeast Alaska, 2nd Ed. (2007) book.
We made our way down Johnstone Strait, electing
to hold our departure time from Port Harvey until
both the wind and the current were moving in
the same direction. That's always our preferred
choice. Wind and current in opposite directions
mean snarky seas. I would even rather go against
the current and against the wind than have them
opposing each other and throwing us around. Fanny
Island is the wind and sea-state reporting station
that we pay lots of attention to in Johnstone
Strait. "Strong wind warnings" are
almost a given during the summer for Johnstone
Strait. You just have listen to the real-time
reporting - especially Fanny Island - and decide
for yourself when to go. You can always turn
back and re-anchor. We have done that a number
of times in our cruising history.
We were timing ourselves for the Seymour Narrows
slack and had to throttle way back because the
flood was carrying us so nicely. And it was sunny.
I noticed a few interesting things as we poked
our way along. The barge below is typical in
that it is dragging a long piece of cable - about
200 feet? If the barge parts from the tow that
cable is helpful for getting it back in control.
I know to always assume that unseen cable is
there and not pass too close behind a barge.
What I had not seen before is the orange float
at the end of the cable. I wish all barges would
use that float. You can just barely make out
the orange ball on the left side in this picture.
I could definitely see it while underway and
was glad I could.
I saw something
else I haven't seen in this section of water
before: a gill netter fishing in Discovery
Passage (just above Seymour Narrows) on a fairly
strong-running flood. I spotted him suddenly
turning hard around towards me and was at first
puzzled, although I clearly signaled that I
was getting out of his path by making a big
course change. We think that he might have
been trying to reposition his net and was having
a hard time doing it in the current. Look at
that port list.
Not much maneuverability...
It's a tough way
to make a living. I have been reading a great
(old) book about fishing the Inside Passage:
Alaska Blues by Joe Upton. It was written in
1977 but still rings true for today if you
want a real look at the work of a commercial
fisherman. There is a 2008 reprint out and
The Armchair Sailor in Seattle WA keeps it
Once I passed him,
I had to get down to business about just how
much ahead-of-slack I was going to transit
Seymour Narrows. I'm willing to "challenge" Seymour
Narrows (go a little early or a little late)
by about 30 - 45 minutes because we have done
this passage so many times. However, I'm not
willing to challenge it by two hours! We are
a 7-8 knot boat. I went through the narrows
one year (30 minutes early) and watched a tug
and log tow who had started through too early
transit the entire narrows SIDEWAYS. That isn't
going to be me.
So we kept slowing down. Based on what we were
experiencing when we arrived at the narrows (as
in: driving the boat in the real world), we went
through on this particular day one hour before
slack (flood to slack turning to ebb). The current
was running less than predicted so we were good
to go. We found a 2.5 knot flood as opposed to
the predicted 3.7 knots. And... seeing this sailboat
making its move northward meant they also were
driving in the real conditions.
A quick look back
at the little rip on the corner, then we continued
on for an overnight at Campbell River.
The next challenge
is making our way down the Strait of Georgia.
Many new Inside Passage cruisers worry about
the open-ocean stretches like Queen Charlotte
Sound and Dixon Entrance. They may not realize
it, but the Strait of Georgia is an 80-mile
long 'inland sea.' With a fetch like that and
the inevitable, occasional storm systems going
through, it can be a big, big challenge.
Let's see how we do.