Log of Baidarka 2000

In Under 100 Days, Baidarka—a New-Generation Small Trawler—Completed a 4,000-Mile Shakedown Using Just Over a Tank of Fuel.

 

As two young seniors who don’t sit still very well, we were ready for another cruising adventure. We wanted to test the limits of Nordhavn’s new design in small, long-distance cruising boats. But this was not to be a vacation. We wanted to take out this new boat, put it to the test in less-than-ideal conditions, and collect research for our line of cruising guidebooks along the way.

We set off from Dana Point, California on what was to be a fast-paced 4,000-mile shakedown cruise in calm or high seas, through good weather or bad, and we accomplished this on just over a tank of fuel. We moved quickly up the California coast on our way to Alaska picking up family and friends who shared the adventure with us. We averaged 42 nautical miles per day in our brand new, well-designed and outfitted boat, Baidarka. This trip gave us more variety in the weather, scenery, urban areas and isolated wilderness than any other trip we’ve made in our more than 150,000 miles of cruising. We had our ups and downs, but overall, the boat handled exceptionally well and we were quite pleased with its performance.

A cautionary note: While Baidarka's voyage shows that the crew and vessel quickly learned how to work together in all conditions, this kind of high-paced and high-risk shakedown should not be undertaken without a truly seaworthy boat and appropriate safety and navigation systems—in addition to an adequately experienced crew.

Our 95-day adventure unfolds in the following log. . . .

(Conclusions about the shakedown cruise, the trip highlights, and a day-to-day itinerary can be found at the end of the log.)

DAY 1: Tuesday, June 6 With our boater son-in-law Jeff Mach from Juneau, Alaska, and our grandson Joshua Douglass from Arizona aboard as crew, we spent much of the day collecting data at Catalina Island for use in the upcoming cruising guide, "Exploring the Pacific Coast, San Diego to Seattle." A brisk breeze came up in the afternoon and we deployed the paravane stabilization system with great success. By late evening we anchored in the lee of Santa Barbara Island; a stiff breeze continued throughout most of the night.

DAY 2: Wednesday, June 7

At 0500 Baidarka left for Anacapa and Santa Cruz Island. A small craft advisory was broadcast for the Santa Barbara Channel. The paravane system was deployed all day until we found refuge in Fry’s Harbor where the wind blew strong all night. Weatherwise, a 1,009 millibar low near Las Vegas and a 1,028 millibar high, 1,000 miles west of Pt. Conception, have created some angry seas in the windy lane on the north side of the Channel Islands.

DAY 3: Thursday, June 8

After another early start at 0500 hours, we had a comfortable crossing, with stabilizers deployed, to Coho Anchorage in the lee of Pt. Conception, known as the Cape Horn of California. There are gale warnings north of Pt. Arguello so we are happy to find a convenient anchorage this afternoon. The boat has been performing wonderfully and the crew is starting to get its sea legs. We look forward to reaching Moro Bay by tomorrow night, weather permitting.

DAY 4: Friday, June 9

We left beautiful Coho Anchorage at 0300 hours in hopes of rounding Pt. Conception before the forecast gale winds hit. At Pt. Arguello just as the seas built and became confused, Baidarka snagged a crab pot float on the stabilization system. The crew had its first potentially serious emergency drill, but was able to retrieve the fish and cut the crabpot line without damage. We are now 20 miles south of Pt. San Luis and are experiencing telltale signs of gale winds (white stripes of foam forming straight lines on the sea surface with seas of 7-10 feet). We may have to hole up in Pt. San Luis and try for Moro Bay tomorrow, once again, weather depending. At 0950 hours we are 34° 49.80 minutes north, and 120° 41.95 minutes west.

We decided to push on around Pt. Bushon and try to make Morro Bay which we did at 1800 hours. North of Pt. Bushon we started seeing sea otters and marveled at their comeback from near extinction. We surfed into Morro Bay across its shallow bar and were glad to get out of the chop. We had to pull up our paravane outside of the bar and we quickly realized how much stability they have been adding in the 25-30 knots of wind.

We docked at Morro Bay after dodging a long string of crab pots in 15 fathoms north of the Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant.

DAY 5: Saturday, June 10

We decided to take June 10 as a layover and, with the help of a friend, re-provisioned the boat and made minor repairs. Réanne and I were members of the Morro Bay Yacht Club when we set sail for the Great Southern Ocean. It was good to be back as it is a perfect shakedown or cruising destination along the Central California coast. We are fascinated by the almost tame 40-lb. sea otter who lives off the mussels and crabs along the piers near the Yacht Club. After pounding, tearing and eating the shellfish stacked on his chest, the sea otter takes a quick roll to the left and the water washes his "table" clean of debris.

DAY 6: Sunday, June 11

We leave Morro Bay at 0610 and reach San Simeon at 1115 as seas build to another northwest gale. Engine hours equal 64 hours. Tomorrow more gales are forecast so after listening to the 4 a.m. weather we decide to stay another day in this lovely, scenic and undeveloped shelter. Soon 3 yachts and 20 fishing boats also seek shelter from the gale.

DAY 8: Tuesday, June 13

As we head north, winds at Cape San Martin are 25 knots gusting to 30 but the seas are down so off we go. We check out emergency anchor sites at Lopez Point and Point Pfeiffer. Lopez is marginal and rolly at best. Pfeiffer Point offers fair protection behind a reef with a large kelp bed. We are unable to receive any weather reports along this part of the coast and Coast Guard coverage from Cape San Martin to north of Point Sur is very spotty. Baidarka is reacting well to the rough seas and we decide to duck into Stillwater Cove in Carmel Bay and spend the night. We anchored behind Pescadero Rock and had a rolly night.

DAY 10: Thursday, June 15

We leave at 0605 with the weather forecast sounding like it’s improving. Record heat wave is hitting the Bay Area with lots of fog along the coast. We tie up at Pillar Point Harbor at 1745 where we meet FineEdge book designer Melanie Haage and enjoy pizza and beer while we work on the final draft of the second edition of GPS Instant Navigation. Half Moon Bay is becoming a major destination for cruising boats and live-aboards. Pillar Point Harbor has a low-key approach compared to Southern California; it has a major fishing fleet and an easygoing flavor. We find this quite refreshing after the Southern California high-security marinas.

DAY 11: Friday, June 16

Anchor up at 0610 and, with the wind backing to the south, we fly north and spend the morning shooting photos of Baidarka under the Golden Gate. We encountered intense turbulence from spring tides and foggy, fresh breezes combined with heavy, confused seas in Bonita Channel (the north shortcut across the Potato Patch) and are at how well our Nordhavn takes the beating. Visibility was less than 100 yards and our commercial Furuno radar, Nobeltec and Ocean PC software have proved invaluable in navigating these treacherous waters in the sharply reduced visibility. We saw nothing from Golden Gate Bridge until we were inside Bodega Bay, however, the winds and seas are moderating with the arrival of the fog and we intend to take advantage of it and get as far north as possible. The marinas in Bodega Bay are at the head of a long, dredged channel cut through mud flats. It is extremely quiet here. Migrating birds love the habitat and we saw a number of Snowy Egrets and White Pelicans with their bright, yellow beaks. Tourists love the beach camping and the hillsides are furnished in upscale golf-course chic. There is a good-sized fishing fleet here but the ice plant is temporarily shut down and things are pretty slow. The high-pressure ridge is breaking down so we have fog and light south winds which makes going north about as good as it gets. We hope to be around Point Arena tonight and stay in Fort Bragg on the Noyo River. Just now we enjoyed watching a grey whale heading north accompanied by six dolphins.

DAY 12 - 20: Saturday, June 17 to Sunday, June 25

Webmaster's Note: From Bodega Bay to the Columbia River the Douglasses spent their time at sea holding on with white knuckles during the day and resting while in port. Hence, they did not file a log until 6/27/00, 20 miles north of the Columbia River. They were sorry to say goodbye to their son, Jeff, whose vacation came to an end and he flew home to Alaska from Eureka, CA.

Réanne and I now know what slogging up the West Coast is like if we didn’t before. As the north Pacific high fully developed and the corresponding thermal lows over California’s central valley heated up, the pressure gradient became extreme and the summer prevailing northwest winds hit with a vengeance. We have had small craft advisories every day for two weeks with gale warnings a good third of the time. The gales were a challenge. We had 12-15 foot seas with occasional 20-footers which made life aboard pretty exciting and miserable. The Leishman Brothers are correct. Baidarka can take more than her crew. We buried the bow twice and the boat behaved amazingly well. We did throw a lot of spray in 30-knot winds and when the gusts reached 40 knots, the spray flew right over the top of the boat.

We have learned the value of slowing down when it gets really rough. On the bad stretches we averaged 2 knots and Baidarka pitched up and down 30-45 degrees every 10 seconds. This was a real hobby-horse ride.

North of Eureka the weather caused the entrance bars to be restricted or closed due to high-breaking seas. We left Coos Bay, Oregon at dawn with some threatening––but not breaking––seas and within the hour the entrance bar was closed to all pleasure craft. We wondered when and where we would get back into an Oregon port. We made it into Yaquina Bay, Newport, Oregon, without a Coast Guard escort but at Tillamook Bay, the next day, we gladly accepted their offer. These small Coast Guard stations are happy to help small vessels, particularly if they know its your first approach to their harbor. They frequently ask you if you would like an escourt across the bar.

The result of all this pushing up the coast every day with strong breezes on our nose has allowed us to make up time for our late start. We have caught up with two larger boats with professionally skippered that left Dana Point before we did. We have also passed a 67-foot Ocean Alexander and other boats that decided to return to port several times or to stay put for more favorable weather. One large Hatteras which was pushing to get north 100 miles ahead of us, was nearly lost and her professional crew rescued by helicopter after taking a bad pounding off Trinidad Head, losing all of its forward-facing windows and steering.

Our plan of leaving at or before first light every day in rugged but slow vessel has paid off and we are usually tied up in a safe port (or well-sheltered open roadstead) by early afternoon. We have spent only one night at sea so far. (We have re-learned a lesson we knew—that a strong ebb current meeting opposing swells heap up with little warning.) I made a poor decision to leave Eureka in predawn on a 3-knot ebb current. The winds were calm, but in the dark sizeable seas were running outside which put our Nordhavn on her ear a few times before we could beat our way offshore. Once leaving the protection of the jetty where seas were breaking halfway across, there was no turning back. It was a foolish mistake which again taught us a good lesson. The West Coast river bars can be treacherous. We were so cautious crossing the Columbia River bar last night and again this morning that we went out of our way to get the timing of the currents right, and consequently, with improving weather, experienced a non-event.

Other than dodging crab pot floats (we have now snagged 4) and Réanne’s discomfort with rough water, the trip up the coast has been quite interesting and relatively easy. We have been able to get some good photos and collect a storehouse of local knowledge. Subsequently, our Pacific Coast book–-out next spring––should be one of our best.

Snowy peaks of the Olympic Peninsula are visible on the horizon. We’re happy to be back in the high latitudes with inside waters only a few days away.

DAY 21 - 25: Monday, June 26 to Friday, June 30

Greys’ Harbor, north of the Columbia River, on June 26 was our second stop in Washington. Like Ilwaco Harbor, half of the slips are empty due to the decline in fishing. We enjoyed the exhibits of whale bones at the old Coast Guard Station Museum in the community. As we worked our way north along the Olympic Peninsula, we were happy to return to the magnificent Northwest coastal scenery—isolated rugged rocks, haystacks topped with tufts of trees, and the snowy Olympic range as a backdrop.

The night of June 28 we stopped in tiny LaPush where we had to circle around outside the entrance for thirty minutes while the Coast Guard rounded up the Harboumaster and obtained his permission for us to use the mostly-empty village floats. The floats—new four years ago—retain a rustic appearance without any maintenance or facilities. Tucked into the outlet of a small river and surrounded by islands and rocks, LaPush has one of the most dramatic settings along the entire Pacific Coast. Just 8 to 10 pleasurecraft per month call here during the summer but it is a paradise for sea kayakers year round. Heavy driftwood of interesting shapes and sizes lie on the beach, along with native dugouts below the village school, provide nice photo opportunities.

The waters north of LaPush require careful navigation because of dangerous rocks and reefs, particularly Umatilla reef which extends several miles offshore. Along this stretch of the coast we sighted our first puffins. Passing inside Tatoosh Rock we rounded Cape Flattery and were finally inside Juan de Fuca Strait. We anchored the night of June 29 in well-protected Neah Bay, along with two sailboats. Neah Bay has a new marina run by the tribe, however rates tend to be higher than those of other commercial marinas along the coast.

With the beginning of smooth waters, Réanne regained her appetite and enthusiasm for cruising. A long day’s run from Neah Bay to the San Juan Islands took us to Watmough Bay close to our home base in Anacortes where we stayed for 5 days and from where our grandson returned to Arizona.

The trip from Dana Point to Anacortes was approximately 1,200 nautical miles. We put 253 hours on the engine consuming a little more than half our fuel capacity. The only wear and tear was the need to tighten a small engine oil gasket and a transmission oil cooler connection.

The real standouts for the first third of our shakedown have been the Nordhavn 40’s rugged, well-designed hull and propulsion system that gave us great confidence during offshore gales. The Nobeltec Visual Navigation Suite and Ocean PC flat screen, along with Furuno DGPS, provided precise positioning information. These systems are major breakthroughs that make navigating simple; however we did use our paper charts when 7,500 route marks temporarily overloaded the computer. The passive paravane stabilizers added a significant amount of comfort as we bashed into 20- to 40-knot headwinds, with seas of 16-18 feet. Other than snagging four crab pot floats off the coast we had no problems with the system. The paravanes cut severe rolling as much as 75% in cross seas, almost eliminating items from flying around the cabin and allowing the crew to move about freely most of the time.

DAY 26 - 29: Saturday, July 1 to Thursday, July 5

Layover in Anacortes.

DAY 30 - 39: Friday, July 6 to Saturday, July 15

We left Anacortes late afternoon July 6 and spent the night at Warren and Laurie Miller’s on Orcas Island. At Nanaimo, our check-in port for Canadian Customs we loaded up on Don’s favorite Okanagan port and Nanaimo bars. Passing through Dodd Narrows on nearing Nanaimo gave us some excitement. We were attempting to pass a slow-moving boat in the middle of the narrows at a full 6-knot ebb. The small boat began weaving dangerously back and forth sideways, and Don had to use a whirlpool in the turbulence to do a 180-degree turn and wait until the small boat had cleared the narrows. Our next anchor site was Helmcken Island in Johnstone Strait. We had a good test of our Proven Cruising Routes that 16-hour day, averaging better than 6 knots by autopilot in 100 miles. We stopped for a few hours the next day to visit with friends at Port Neville then continued in smooth waters to the Walker Group, 20 miles south of Cape Caution, where we were surprised to find six other boats anchored. The next night we renewed our love affair with Kisameet Anchorage in FitzHugh Sound; the bird calls, the sound of the small creek and the stillness made it difficult to haul anchor the next morning.

After a short stop in Bella Bella to provision and meet with Wilfred Humchitt—executive director of the Heiltsuk Tribal Council and a tribal chief from magnificent Roscoe Inlet—we checked out the new fuel facilities and filtered water system at Shearwater, then continued to Rescue Bay in Mathieson Channel where we anchored at twilight. We had fresh red snapper caught just an hour before by friends aboard Blue Ice.

At dawn, July 12, we transitted intricate Jackson Narrows (60-foot wide fairways) on a zero tide without a problem then spent several hours exploring the unnamed lagoon behind Wallace Bight. We entered at high water where we found two great anchor sites. The extremely narrow entrance shoal carries just one foot of water at zero tide so this lagoon will not be overly used! This winter, watch our web site for updates on this and other new areas. We anchored that night in Coghlan Anchorage at the south end of Grenville Channel after a short check on the sad deterioration of Butedale.

Smooth conditions continued all the way up Grenville Channel and across Chatham Strait into Prince Rupert, one of our favorite stops for provisioning and dining out. We were happy to encounter a number of old friends at the Yacht Club including publisher Robert Hale and his wife, Marilyn.

We left Rupert at 0500 hours July 14, crossing an unusually benign Dixon Entrance and arriving at Ketchikan at 1700 hours. On July 15, the Ketchikan Brewery (its first in 40 years) supplied a batch of unusually delicious spruce-tip beer for a get-together on Baidarka of the crews of Sundown, Puffin, and Dixie III.

DAY 40: Sunday, July 16

It's 0630 hours as we depart Ketchikan City Floats. We phoned last night to tell the Texaco dealer at the north end of town that we would need fuel. They volunteered to open at an hour convenient to us and we had the fuel dock to ourselves at 0645 with ample time to check the sight gauges on each tank which still remain a small mystery to us. The inherent list to the boat depends on fuel- and water-tank management and will take time to get used to. However, we do like the idea of seeing actual fuel levels rather than some remote secondary indication.

It takes over an hour to fill up on fuel and water. We took onboard 738 gallons of fuel, our first since leaving Dana Point California 40 days earlier. We had 355 elapsed engine hours for a fuel consumption of 2.08 gallons per hour. Don calculates that we can easily reach Lituya Bay without refueling—our trip destination highlight—a distance equivalent to between a 2400- and 2600-mile-range, enough for most trans-oceanic routes.

It's good to be back in Alaska, and all systems are "go" to pick up Herb and Wendy Nickles (our Webmaster from Deerfield, Massachusetts) at Gustavus and steel ourselves for one of the most notorious anchor sites on the Gulf of Alaska: Lituya Bay.

Lituya Bay is one of the most geologically active areas and the site of giant tsunamis, tidal waves that have deforested the shoreline for hundreds of vertical feet. In 1786, French explorer, La Perouse—the first European to enter and explore the bay—lost 20 of his men as they tried to cross the bar.

The weather is favorable, so we run the entire length of Clarence Strait and pull in to Salmon Bay at the north end of Prince of Wales Island at 2130 hours. We renew our love for this shallow indentation that offers welcome shelter, sharing it with a father and son on a small sport fishing boat.

Earlier in Snow Pass, we stopped to watch a pair of gray whales patrolling the tidal interface of the narrows and obviously enjoying the pickings.

DAY 41: Monday, July 17

Up and off to an early start to catch high water in Rocky Pass—one of our favorite places in Southeast Alaska. A passage is so much easier now with the three-dozen navigational aids in place. For years we saw no boats, now six in one day. The number of vessels using this labyrinth of islets and narrow, shallow channels surprises us.

Between Devil's Elbow and The Summit, for some strange reason our cell phone starts working after days without any reception, so we drift around for an hour or two to make a few important phone calls. We contact the factory rep for Robertson/Simrad in Seattle because our autopilot has been acting up. He helps us start trouble shooting the components.

We are able to receive a call from Deanne and Charles Anderson on Friday's Child—a 53-foot sailboat in Tracy Arm—who want to rendezvous with us for our attempt on Lituya Bay. We’re happy to have a big, well-equipped boat join us. Their satellite phone, weather fax, and other high-tech gear that we don't have will be welcome in an area void of VHF radio coverage.

We tuck into Honeydew Cove after maneuvering through the lovely and intricate Keku Islands. This pleasant, secure cove has unusual rock formations.

DAY 42: Tuesday, July 18

We awaken to thick fog and are thankful for Nobeltec, GPS, and radar. However, we find it difficult to maintain a straight course without the autopilot which is almost useless now.

We pull in to Warm Springs Bay on the east side of Baranof Island, along with the beautiful North Sea Trawler charter yacht, Explorer and are happy to see our Anacortes friends on Miniship, and to meet author Mike McConnell and his photographer wife, Mim, as well as other new boating friends. And, of course, a soak in the Hot Springs, is the quintessential Alaskan experience.

DAY 43: Wednesday, July 19

We cruise to Tenakee Hot Springs—another famous site for hot baths—a small roadless community where the dress code in the spa reads "No bathing suits allowed" and women and men have their own posted hours.

We enjoy a feast of fresh crab aboard Northern Traveler with new boating friends.

DAY 44: Thursday, July 20

Small craft warnings for Stephens Passage motivate us to leave Tenakee at dawn. Our daughter, Dawn Mach, was supposed to join us in Tenakee for the trip to Gustavus but her flight was cancelled due to heavy fog. We have an easy trip across Icy Strait and anchor along the north side of Pleasant Island by early afternoon. Friday's Child crew joins us and we have dinner on board their boat.

DAY 45: Friday, July 21

We pick up our "A" Crew—Herb and Wendy Nickles—at the Gustavus pier at 0630 hours. (Herb has been on every boat we've owned in the past 30 years.) Herb and Wendy had airplane connection problems and didn't receive their luggage in Juneau until 0230 hours this morning. They were exhausted but happy to get acquainted with our new research vessel.

After talking by radio with Chuck Young—Chief Ranger at Glacier Bay National Park—about our plans, we take the shortcut behind Cape Spencer—our first pass through on a zero tide—and again find it a smooth-water route around a normally bumpy cape.

We anchor in Murphy Cove in Graves Harbor after charting a new route inside Graves Rocks. Graves Harbor is within Glacier National Park on the Gulf of Alaska side. The Baidarka crew has a "council of war," a discussion with the Andersons on Friday's Child concerning the deteriorating weather. We all agree to minimum standards for trying to cross the bar at Lituya Bay. We plan to head out the tomorrow at 0500 and get a first-hand reading outside the harbor while Charlie checks all the weather faxes and talks with Walt, his weather "guru" on the East Coast

DAY 46: Saturday, July 22

We call Charlie and Deanna at 0530 and hold "council" on Channel 09. The consensus is that present conditions outside are marginal. Visibility in fog and rain is just one mile; winds southeast 15 to 20 knots and increasing wild seas 6 to 8 feet. The 35-mile cruise up the coast to Lituya Bay with no alternative anchor sites until Yakutat (a 60-mile run to the north of Lituya) does not sound like a risk anyone wants to take. The conditions fall at the limits we agreed upon, so we turn around, return to Graves Harbor and retreat into Mosquito Cove for a weather layover. All four crew go back to bed.

Friday's Child comes alongside in the afternoon to tell us that their interpretation of the weather faxes is not positive. Their weather router told them not to go to Lituya Bay for the next six days, so they are pulling out and heading for Elfin Cove while they can. [Neither of us knew, at the time, that three miles from Elfin Cove, they would lose their engine to a failure of its water pump. Fortunately, they were able to sail onto the float in Elfin Cove and rejoin us in Sitka a week later.]

DAY 47: Sunday, July 23

Baidarka leaves shortly after dawn for a solo try of Lituya Bay. According to Francis Caldwell, (Land of the Ocean Mists), the fishermen's formula for crossing the bar is 1.5 hours after Sitka low tide, so we have timed our departure accordingly. We are hand-steering because our autopilot is still inoperative.

(Note: See sidebar story on the right.)

The weather has improved, and we're thrilled with the sight of the grandiose La Perouse Glacier which comes to within 50 feet of the Pacific Ocean for over a mile.

Conditions at Lituya are a "go" and we fly through the 150-foot-wide fairway on a 3-knot flood, staying mid-channel by "reading the river" and staying in the center of the fast water. Range marks provide essential help for lining up to cross the bar.

After carefully circling around, we anchor along the south shore in case southeast gales, forecast for Thursday, develop early. For a while, we are the only boat in the 6-mile-long Lituya Bay. The wild and raw setting beneath glacier-covered peaks is breathtaking—everything that's been written about it is true!

We launch the dinghy and spend all afternoon exploring the three glaciers at the head of the bay. Only North Crillon glacier remains a saltwater glacier, and we decide that Chart 16762, issued in 1990, is based on a 1928 survey. It is totally inadequate with respect to the changes caused by the 1936 and 1958 tsunamis. We learned just enough to want to return for several days of serious adventuring.

DAY 48: Monday, July 24

The day dawns with a spectacular tease of multi-layered clouds, as a series of mountains of differing levels, fiords and glaciers appear and fade into the frequent mist of the Mount Fairweather Range. An unnamed 6000-foot ridgeline rises immediately above the head of the bay; behind are Mt. La Perouse (12,000 feet), Mt. Lituya and other unnamed peaks that lie in the shadow of Mt. Fairweather (15,400 feet—the fourth highest mountain in North America).

We deserve a layover day. The beautiful unfolding panorama inspires us. For the captain, it is as stunning as the Patagonian channels.

The high-latitude summer sky is never dark, and even at midnight, the summit of Mt. Fairweather a few miles due north, is backlighted.

DAY 49: Tuesday, July 25

We leave Lituya Bay at 0800 hours on a Sitka high tide and are surprised to find the narrows in slack already, not the thirty-minute delay observed by fishermen, as reported by the skipper of Lea of Juneau. With no well-defined stream to indicate the narrow channel we depend on the range marks behind us and note that the electronic chart and GPS data seem to be more accurate than in many other narrow channels of Southeast Alaska.

We scan the horizon a mile or two ahead, watching for those breaking swells that have brutally capsized so many pre-history canoes and every kind of fishing and coastal vessel since La Perouse's time. Luck is with us and, although the barometer is down, the seas are essentially flat calm. To increase our speed, we decide not to use our paravane stabilisers as we did coming north.

The Baidarka crew is happy for the calm seas and under the spell of Lituya Bay and the Fairweather Range which Caldwell mentions—each of us trying to assess what this special place means.

(Note: See sidebar story on the right.)

South of Icy Point we head for the spectacular arch in Boussole Head for some quick photos. Trees grow on top of the 95-foot arch and we promise to come back some day to find out how deep and wide the water is inside the arch—crossing under the arch would make a terrific photograph. The entrance is quite narrow and large rocks guard its south entrance.

No need for us to hide behind Cape Spencer in Dicks Arm to await proper sea conditions in Cross Sound, so we choose to follow the outside of Yakobi Island and scout out the entrances to some fishermen anchor sites the Andersons described to us. The southeast winds forecast are not developing with any determination, so we push on to Mirror Harbor, another favorite on Chichagof Island with the promise of a layover day to spend at White Sulphur Hot Springs. We anchor in twilight and are thankful for such a productive day.

We arrive at the tricky dog-leg to highly protected Mirror Harbor near sunset and find that the bow thruster really helps us make the tight 90°-turn. We have the anchorage to ourselves and sleep soundly.

As the barometer continues to fall, rain and fog close in and visibility decreases to a spooky hundred yards or so.

DAY 50: Wednesday, July 26

Another calm day with showers greets us, so Don repairs the small hole in the hard bottom of the dinghy which we got while exploring Lituya and North Crillon glaciers. We load our backpacks with Dubonnet and Scottish shortbread cookies for a long afternoon's soak in the covered natural pool at White Sulphur Springs. The hike from West Bay takes 35 minutes each way and boots are required for the muddy spots. Most of the trail is built upon raised timbers above the muskeg terrain and is a wonderful way to visit the interior of the rain forest.

Near highwater in an evening rain squall, Don takes the dinghy to explore the uncharted sea-level slough east of Mirror Harbor. He returns at dark, drenched but excited about the recreational potential of the labyrinth of small, pristine lagoons in which you can see the sandy bottom and be totally sheltered. He wants to scout the entrance that connects with Davidson Bay to determine if this is a small-boat anchor site. However, since we need to exit Mirror Harbor at the 7-foot highwater in the morning, the sea-level slough is added to our future list of "must-be-explored."

DAY 51 and 52: Thursday, July 27 and Friday, July 28

Leaving Mirror Harbor and executing the dogleg, we don't need to use the bow thruster. We would have liked to try Dry Pass, but with a deeper-draft boat and insufficient tide level, we decide to pass west of Hill Island and enter the smooth-water route to the south via Imperial Passage. In scenic Surveyor Passage, we explore Black Bay via its narrow, but deep, north channel. The bay is totally landlocked but a bit deep for convenient anchorage, except along its margins or off the mud banks at the head of the bay.

We haven't seen another boat for two days when we get a call from Friday's Child, two hours behind us. They describe their engine problems which they were able to repair in Elfin Cove with parts flown in by air. We arrange to meet for dinner at the Channel Club in Sitka on Saturday night.

We're delighted to see that the sea otter population in Ogden Passage is still going strong and we wish we could spend more time here. We stop for a couple of hours to look for an abandoned Indian village but find little other than trails and several iron pot-bellied stoves and a modern tumbled down shack.

In the long twilight we decide to look for a place to anchor in Piehle Passage below Khaz Head. The anchorage turns out to be quite smooth in the moderate southeast wind and, during the night as the front passes through, we get only inconsequential gusts. We let out 200 feet of chain and holding is good at 9 fathoms. At 0500, on a negative tide, Don wakes everyone. We're too close to the north shore, so we haul up anchor and reset it closer to the south shore; we let out 300 feet, set a second small snubber on the chain and go back to bed. We're awakened two hours later by a noise that sounds like a dinghy has run into us. Don races to the foredeck to discover that the small snubber is completely missing. It uncleated itself and flew off the chain. We have no explanation for this, unless something the size of large sea mammal such as an Orca or a whale got caught in the 16-foot loop of chain on the main snubber and darted off partially entangled.

South of Piehle Passage we have two hours of bumpy southwest seas in the open Gulf of Alaska and decide to duck into Kalinin Bay as 10 other vessels have done. We clean up the boat and prepare for our re-entry into civilization in Sitka Saturday noon. Our trusted crew, Herb and Wendy will fly home. We pick up Jean and Joel Gillingwators, long-time friends from Upland, California as we complete our northerly leg and start south.

Two-thirds of our 4,000-mile shakedown cruise is now behind us and other than our autopilot, all systems have been functioning flawlessly. Réanne and I are used to cruising on a tight schedule and, while we look forward to a less challenging "downhill" run south, we are quite amazed at how easy the overall trip has been with our new Baidarka.

DAY 53: Saturday, July 29

We arrive at Sitka with our sight gages still reading full all the way from Ketchikan. We have now accumulated 443 engine hours since leaving Dana Point, California, without missing a beat. We've put 22 hours on the gen-set and the Furuno radar has been in standby mode 50 hours, transmitting 49 hours.

DAY 54 and 55: Sunday, July 30 and Monday, July 31

We work on Baidarka's autopilot and spend most of Monday going around in circles attempting to calibrate the system. The technician from Sitka electronics lab is critical of the flux-gate compass operation and installation and tells us he can't do any more for us without starting from scratch. The unit appears to hold a course in the auto mode, but won't work in the navigation mode, and the headings drift. We opt to go exploring and leave Sitka southbound at 15:30. We thread our way through the beautiful archipelago of hundreds of small islands that give protection on the first leg of the way toward Cape Ommaney.

With the help of local knowledge that we received from Ken Helem in Sitka, we thread our way through the critical dogleg, immediately east of a cubic-shaped rock, into Kliuchevoi Bay on the north side of Goddard Hot Springs. We find excellent shelter in 3 fathoms, mud bottom with good holding, northwest of some old cabins on shore.

DAY 56: Tuesday, August 1

We spend all morning having a good soak in the new tub that replaced the westerly tub that burned down recently. Joel and Don scout out the trails and beach campsites for a future edition of the Southeast Alaska book. After having shown Scott and Debra on S/V Rambling Rose the way into Kliuchevoi, we have a nice visit and learn that they're going to settle in Southeast. We continue southward in late afternoon and anchor in Scow Bay—one of our favorites along this coast.

DAY 57: Wednesday, August 2

The Gulf of Alaska proves clear and calm, so we continue down the west coast of Baranof Island to Réanne's Terror. Once again, we find foam across the north entrance, but after assuring ourselves that it was just swells breaking on the island and bluff, we scoot in and anchor in Réanne's Relief. South of Rakof Islands, there are no more navigational aids before Cape Ommaney and few signs of man's intrusion. We enjoy the high peaks surrounding Réanne's Relief and are happy that the area has been included in the wilderness.

DAY 58: Thursday, August 3

South of Réanne's Terror we sight spouting whales and a number or puffins. North of Cape Ommaney, the swells pick up, affecting our new crew members so we deploy the paravanes, then duck into Port Alexander in Chatham Strait to get some relief. We note that—since our last visit—the town has made an effort to improve its welcome of visiting boats; it has also installed a water filtration system. We were happy to have a visit with our friends Sonny and Starla of Osprey.

With a freshening wind blowing between Cape Ommaney and Cape Decision, we elect to leave Port Alexander at 1300 hours and head across Chatham Strait to Sumner Strait. Within an hour, strong southwest winds, 6-foot chop and fog hit. We again deploy the paravanes and slow our speed to prepare for a radar transit of narrow Decision Passage where there are strong currents and many drift logs. We manage to avoid the large logs, but hit three smaller logs—8 inches in diameter and 10 feet long which must now have blue bottom paint on them.

Rounding Cape Decision, we head north into Affleck Canal and find near-perfect protection in the southwest corner of Kell Bay. The southern portions of both Baranof and Kuiu islands which are seldom visited by pleasure vessels, abound in solitude. With calm conditions, Jean has provided us with gourmet meals.

Again, with calm seas, we try to unravel the mystery of the autopilot—but without success. The crew concludes that the user booklet was written by idiots who have never tried to follow their own directions.

DAY 59: Friday, August 4

Reluctantly, we leave Kell Bay, but we enjoy the sight of more whales as we cross to Shakan Strait. We anchor inside Entrance Cove at the north end of El Capitan Passage. We were disturbed to see that the huge loading facilities for the limestone quarry have completely destroyed once-lovely Marble Creek Cove.

DAY 60: Saturday, August 5

We transit El Capitan Passage—a beautiful smooth-water route on the west side of Prince of Wales Island. We tie up at the small Forest Service float below the entrance to El Capitan Cave. West of the float Baidarka bounced across what is supposed to a one-fathom shoal, but which is more like a one-FOOT shoal! Our bow crew noted that visibility through the water is only about two feet. The chagrined skipper was scouting out the situation at the float with the binoculars and will note Baidarka Shoal with a diagram in our next edition.

We enjoyed a two-hour tour and climb through wild El Capitan Cave—Alaska's largest cave system. You cannot help from being inspired by this place. It is a formation of limestone known as Karst which is also found on Dall and Long islands and has over 12,000 feet mapped to date and many, many more feet to be mapped. Archeologists have discovered indications of human habitation dating back 10,000 years, and this region promises to be a center of intense exploration in the coming decades. Fortunately, a strenuous climb of 370 wooden steps will prevent this wild cave from ever becoming a Disney attraction. The hard hats provided by the USFS guide are a must.

DAY 61: Sunday, August 6

We stop for lunch in Bob's Place and watch a black bear turning rocks in search of crustaceans. We anchor in Garcia Cove at San Fernando Island. Joel and Don work on a new diagram for this good anchor site which has been poorly charted.

Outside the cove, we sight blowing humpback whales and harbor porpoises. Inside, ravens chortle while we try to determine where all the rocks are located.

DAY 62: Monday, August 7

Michael Kampnich—Craig harbormaster and author of the piece on page 463 in our Southeast book—greets us as we dock behind Friday's Child. We're delighted to learn from Mike that pleasure craft calls have increased from almost zero five years ago to several per day during the summer season. Craig is a community of welcoming individuals and we enjoy our visit, stocking up on smoked salmon from Klawock and visiting the totem park.

DAY 63: Tuesday, August 8

Joel and Jean catch a flight to Ketchikan in the morning. Don works with Charlie Anderson trying to figure out the autopilot problems with several more phone calls to Simrad in Seattle.

DAY 64: Wednesday, August 9

We try the latest recommended experiments with the autopilot, give up in exasperation and decide that we will take the flux-gate compass and motherboard back to Seattle when we fly home from Prince Rupert. Réanne interviews septuagenarians, Bob and Joyce Brown, handicapped boaters from Seattle who have been cruising in Alaskan waters for several decades.

We head for Dall Island's west coast to further explore Diver's Cove and spend the night in another classic anchor site: Hole-in-the-Wall.

DAY 65: Thursday, August 10

This morning we find the Gulf of Alaska waters and Meares Passage kicking up and making visibility poor. We also discover that our Raytheon VHF 210 has stopped functioning so, with the prospect of trying to transit Cape Muzon in foul weather without an autopilot or VHF, we decide to return to Tlevak Narrows and continue south in Tlevak Strait. The weather in these protected waters is calm, and we overtake and pass within 100 feet of a whale that doesn’t move an inch on our approach.

Dall Island is poorly charted and extra caution is required. Don surveys the east arm of Reef Island Inlet so we can add a diagram that shows how to enter this tight waterway; we also check out Windy Bay with its tricky entrance. Late in the afternoon, we witness the best demonstration of mating whales we've ever seen—continuous flapping of fins, spy hopping, somersaults, etc. that continued for an hour. This is truly a spectacular event in the natural world.

We drop anchor in Elbow Bay, along with Bagan—a 57-foot Nordhavn—and Friday's Child. In the evening we kayak around the bay with the Bagan crew.

DAY 66: Friday, August 11

Friday's Child reports to us that their weather analysis looks good for crossing Dixon Entrance, so we all leave at 0500 hours. We put our electronic charting to good use as we transit the short cut through Egg Passage and find ourselves off Point March at 0735 hours. Friday's Child heads for Banks Island and Hecate Strait, while we turn east to the south end of Dundas Island where we anchor in tiny Edith Harbour at 1700 hours.

DAY 67: Saturday , August 12

We elect to take a layover here to be able to dismantle the autopilot parts and the VHF radio. Fortunately, we have two VHF hand-held radios that allow us to start picking up Canadian weather reports near Celestial Reefs.

DAY 68: Sunday, August 13

Leaving Edith Harbour in pre-dawn light, Don got excited about taking a photo of a fishing boat anchored in the center of the entrance fairway. In attempting to pass behind the boat, Don forgot that we had our paravane poles down. The tip of our poles made contact with the fishing boat's poles, turning us slowly toward them and nearly colliding. It was a rude awakening for the fishing boat’s naked crew who came running up on deck. After verifying that no damage had occurred, our intrepid skipper apologized profusely and we continued across Chatham Strait, through the intricate Maurelle Islands to Prince Rupert.

DAY 69 – 77: Monday, August 14 to Tuesday, August 22

We flew home to Anacortes via Vancouver carrying our non-functioning equipment, and leaving Baidarka at the Prince Rupert Yacht Club (engine hours to date 522 hours). We were happy to meet several couples at our Seattle Boat show presentations who had been following the description of our 4,000-mile shake-down cruise on our website.

DAY 78-79: Return to Prince Rupert and layover

DAY 80: Friday, August 25

Moored to one of the six buoys in Larsen Harbor on the northwestern tip of Banks Island, we are waiting for a southerly gale to blow itself out before we cross Hecate Strait to the Queen Charlotte Islands. Banks Island—named after Botanist Joseph Banks who accompanied Cook on his round-the-world voyage in 1768-1771—lies between Hecate Strait and Principe Channel. The coastline along Hecate Strait has few surveyed anchorages, and even Larsen Harbor with its kelp-encumbered entrance looks daunting. However, inside Larsen, surrounded by low-lying, treed islets, protection is good.

Our frenetic schedule this summer has given us very few layover days and we're taking advantage of the time to read, work on the computer and re-organize gear hurriedly stashed away on our return to Prince Rupert from the Seattle Boat Show at Shilshole Marina. Our schedule has also prevented us from adding any personal comments to the Baidarka log we've sent to the Fine Edge web, so I (first mate) am taking the time now to add a few comments of my own.

Last week, I was explaining to a friend (a professional delivery skipper) that our autopilot had quit functioning. He laughed and said, "My dear, I've had to hand-steer on many deliveries. . ." No sympathy from him!

When I hung up the phone, I realized that most of our readers probably feel the same. Why is an autopilot so important to us? Our previous 32-foot Nordic Tug didn't have one. Why should we make a big deal of not being able to use it?

Why? Because this is a new heavier boat and when a piece of new equipment fails it's frustrating, it's disappointing, it's time-consuming. Don spent hours and hours on the phone with the technical experts at Simrad in Seattle (at cell phone roaming charges from Alaska and Northern B.C.); he and our friend Charlie Anderson from Friday's Child, an electronic expert, spent hours trying to determine the problem, and Don and I, together, spent hours trying to figure out, then dismantle the system—some of the time in rolling seas!

Why? Because when it's calm, I need to be able to work on the computer—to be able to update our information and add new data as we do our research. When I'm on the computer, the autopilot allows Don to take my watch without becoming exhausted.

And because, frankly, we're getting older—we have to admit it; it's more difficult for the two of us to handle a much heavier boat than it was to handle a boat eight feet shorter!

What was the problem with the autopilot?—it was the flux-gate compass installed by an Orange County firm. A flux-gate compass works on the horizontal component of the magnetic flux lines that circle the globe. Over most of the world, the magnetic field is horizontal to the earth's surface, but as you near either the north magnetic pole (located in Northern Canada, near Baffin Bay) or the south magnetic pole (in Antarctica, southwest of Cape Horn), the magnetic force becomes nearly vertical.

M. W. Freeman—an autopilot expert—noted in 1978 that this magnetic force-line, commonly called Northern Turning Error (in the Northern Hemisphere) and Southerly Turning Error (in the Southern Hemisphere), increases with latitude. In Egersund, Norway, Latitude 58°N—the same latitude as Juneau, Alaska—two-thirds of the magnetic force-lines are made up of vertical components which means that a flux-gate compass has much less sensitivity to heading changes as you go toward a magnetic pole.

During our circumnavigation of South America in our 42-foot sailboat, Le Dauphin Amical, Don and I noticed how difficult it was to steer toward Cape Horn because our main compass card tipped about 45 degrees and responded very sluggishly.

Before purchasing our Nordhavn, we had heard that, in order to compensate for this effect, we should install a rate-compass which partially overcomes the dip-angle problem. (A rate compass has sophisticated acceleration circuitry and increased damped response. In large vessels and aircraft, a gyro-compass is used to overcome these problems of high latitude.) However, the Orange County firm dismissed our need for a rate-compass, telling us that they never installed them and that we didn't need one—despite the fact that we explained we use our boat for research almost exclusively in high latitudes and needed a system we could rely on. Orange County (Latitude 33°N) is a far cry from 60°N, and the advice we took from this firm was an expensive lesson in wasted time, energy and money.

Over the last six weeks, we've talked with electronic technicians who install autopilots for the fishing fleets all the way from Anacortes and Bellingham, Washington, to Prince Rupert, B.C. and Petersburg and Sitka, Alaska. They have assured us that the standard flux-gate compass is a poor choice and bound to cause the problems we experienced as we approached Dixon Entrance and continued north in Southeast Alaska. Talk with these people if you plan to spend much time in high latitudes.

One of the problems we noticed as we headed north was that, every time the fresh-water pressure pump went on, the autopilot veered more than 15 degrees to the east. Simrad's head-technician in Seattle examined the flux-gate compass and motherboard, which we returned for checking, and quickly determined that there had been several problems with the initial installation: 1. That the flux-gate was not mounted in an appropriate area of the boat, free of magnetic interference. 2. That the flux-gate compass-shield and motherboard grounding system had not been connected to the ship's grounding system. 3. That our high-latitude usage (compounded by using Nobeltec to dynamically drive the boat) required a more sophisticated and damped compass than the standard flux-gate compass.

Boyd, of Sontronics in Prince Rupert, spent a day searching for the proper place to install the rate-compass and going through the calibration procedure—again and, this time successfully it appears. After leaving Prince Rupert we are happy to note that the system followed Don's route from PR to Principe Channel following the preset courses in Kevin Monahan's Proven Cruising Routes from Seattle to Ketchikan.

Jim Leishman at Nordhavn says that having an autopilot problem is similar to having serious crew problems. He contacted Sontronics on our behalf and they did a yeoman's job of completing the installation. We want to thank Simrad Seattle, also, for taking our calls and for working with us on a tight time schedule to resolve this problem.

The problem with our Raytheon VHF 210 turned out to be a poorly soldered joint in the power supply. They repaired the problem quickly, in time for our return to Prince Rupert.

The good news is that we've apparently solved our autopilot and electronic navigation problems. The bad new is that, in scouting out anchorages in Beaver Channel and in entering Larsen Harbour on a strong southeasterly, Baidarka's GPS position on electronic Chart 3747 put us a few hundred feet west of our actual position. It turns out that many West Coast charts such as #3747 were surveyed prior to the adoption of the NAD 27 horizontal datum and, in this case, our paper chart corrected with Notice to Mariners through 1993 does not indicate any horizontal datum. We found that, with our GPS set for NAD 83, our track into Larsen Harbor crossed all the rocks and islets west of the entrance light, rather than the fairway we traversed visually. When we changed our GPS to NAD 27 it seem to correct some of the error, but it still doesn't read correctly to us. Very puzzling! Once again we note the limits of the new GPS and Electronic Charting. As wonderful as these systems are, they now exceed the accuracy of many of the older charts (and some new ones as well) so beware. Always be ready to use your own judgement and quickly take the helm any time things don't look correct out the pilothouse window.

Older charts for the Queen Charlotte Islands do not have any reference for Horizontal Datum, either. Not having cell phone coverage from this area, we are unable to check with Kevin Monahan, our GPS expert, or the Canadian Hydrographic Service. Once again, this demonstrates that, in a poorly charted or unsurveyed area, you should take nothing for granted. Use a good pair of binoculars and good judgment!

Captain's note 9/27/00: I contacted MDI Digital Ocean chart office and they verified that chart #3747 had an improper offset in the first version of the electronic chart and subsequent versions will be correct.

DAY 81: Saturday, August 26 — Griffth Harbor (layover day)

(By the Skipper) It may well be that the North Pacific high-pressure weather system is breaking down a few weeks early this year; it seems a series of low pressure fronts are stacked up west of Queen Charlotte Islands. We have taken another layover day and decide to explore Griffth Harbor the intricate archipelago of hundreds of islets and rocks called the Borrowman Group northeast of Bonilla Island. There is a high-water, small-boat passage from Larsen Harbor that leads between Banks and Larsen islands, and we find that it dries on a 6-foot tide and that, with the 14 foot spring tides we are enjoying, we have several hours to cross in our dinghy before we are high and dry.

This is a primitive area with no trace of human-kind, past or present. We made it as far south as Paralane Islets which have tons of driftwood and storm-swept, south-facing rocks. We note once again that it doesn't take much of a lee to provide protection to small boats from the strong winds blowing outside. It looks like any number of small unnamed coves formed between the islets could provide anchor sites; however, entering from Hecate Strait and avoiding the many charted and uncharted rocks would require masterful navigation or uncanny luck. The west coast of Banks Island, as well as all the other major outside islands from Dixon Entrance to Vancouver Island, are an explorers dream and a sloppy navigator's nightmare.

DAY 83: Monday, August 28

Yesterday (Sunday August 27) the weather was beautiful, and we made it from Larsen Harbour to Geodetic Cove on Trutch Island down Principe Channel. We expected to leave this morning and transit Meyers Passage at high tide at 1400 hours. But the low-pressure systems hit regularly and, during the night, a southerly kicked up, rain pelted Baidarka, and this morning Estevan Sound looked like a minefield of whitecaps heading north. Across the sound, Campañia Island faded in and out of sight. Neither of us had the desire to pound into these seas for 45 miles. So we didn't. We had another layover day, I made coffee-cake, did laundry, we worked on the boat and read. Don has been catching up on a year's deprivation of book-reading: Ice Blink; Lost at Sea; Nights of Ice; the Riddle of the Ice. He finds that his latest—Hungry Ocean by Linda Greenlaw of Perfect Storm fame–has some of the best descriptions of a skipper's responsibilities. He identifies with Skipper Greenlaw. Good thing she's on the East Coast—I'd have big competition!

Of the twenty books we brought aboard at Dana Point, our schedule was too tight to allow reading time until we left Sitka–with one exception: Francis E. Caldwell's, Land of the Ocean Mists about Lituya Bay and the Mount Fairweather Coast—which Herb, Wendy, Don, and I each read—fascinated—before we reached Lituya.

This is my kind of cruising but, frankly, I think the captain's rather bored, although he's not letting on!

DAY 83: Monday, August 28 (continued)

Back to Geodetic Cove to cover a few details we didn't have time to mention. Geodetic—a narrow slit in Trutch Island approximately a half-mile long and 100 yards wide—faces north onto Estevan Sound. Old growth evergreens hang low along the shore. A family of river otters plays in the water along the rocky crevices where they live. The resident kingfisher flies from tree to tree, scolding sharply. Balls of foam float out of the cove toward the sound from a year-round creek that empties into the cove; the air smells earthy.

Studying Chart 3742, you wouldn't think any boat could find protection in this slot. With virtually no depth information on the chart, it's enough to discourage even the most intrepid boater. However, it's perfectly protected from southerlies like we've been having today. We barely even feel the wake of the cruise ships heading to and from Juneau in Estevan Channel. We can't imagine this cove will ever become a popular stop for pleasure craft, but just in case . . . there's room for about two small boats in the inner basin. Vessels longer than 35 feet may want to stay in the outer basin, north of the one-fathom shoal in the narrows. To restrict swinging room, it might be a good idea to use a stern to shore. (We didn't use a shore tie because the wind and small creek kept us facing south most of the time.) See sidebar on left.

DAY 85: Tuesday, August 29

(Yes, we discovered a discrepancy in our numbering.)

Anchor up, we head out of Geodetic Cove into Estevan Sound southbound in solid fog, using radar, with visibility no more than 100 feet. All we can see are patches of kelp, but the sound is flat and glassy.

An hour or so later, half way across the sound, we leave shrouded Trutch Island and find sun. The world beyond the bow is green and grey and silver and blue.

In Laredo Channel we encounter three northbound cruise ships within four hours, but still no recreational cruising boats. We notice that many of the cruise ships now avoid Grenville Channel which; good news for the smaller pleasure craft that depend on the narrow, more direct channel.

We transit the shoals in Meyers Passage without a hitch. Princess Royal Island lies on the north side of Meyers; Swindle Island to the south. Approaching from west, you have a view of the ridge of beautiful cone-shaped peaks that rise to over 2,000 feet where Swindle Island makes its L-shaped curve to the north. What a treat to have a sunny day!

We recheck our data on "Meyers Narrows Cove" where there is very little current and agree that it is the best storm anchorage in the vicinity.

We turn north and, at 1810 hours, head into Alexander Inlet. Although poorly charted, the inlet is definitely worth visiting. Spectacular granite peaks rise from the water, their vertical or overhanging faces bear tiny trees and plants that struggle for life. No evidence of logging is visible here; it's lovely and unspoiled. We chart the depths through Bingham Narrows and find 4 1/2 fathoms minimum, 40 feet off the west wall on a one-foot tide. The rest of the channel is choked with a dangerous and uncharted submerged reef. This reef nearly closes the channel at low water.

Within an hour we anchor at the head of the inlet in 5 fathoms. The stream from a fresh-water lake flows into the head of the inlet. The air is permeated by an earthy, decaying scent.

DAY 86: Wednesday, August 30

Under overcast skies, we leave Alexander Inlet and head south down Finlayson and then Milbanke Sound to Seaforth Channel. At the Boat Bluff Light Station we watch the Coast Guard unload gear and building materials from a long boat while the "Bartlett" stands by outside at the tip of Sarah Island.

Rolling is minimal in Milbanke Sound, so we don't bother to deploy the stabilizers. By the time we're inside Seaforth Channel, the seas are building and we have gentle rollers pushing us eastward from astern. It's 1820 when we tie up at the Shearwater dock, just in time to give the first mate a dinner leave. Engine hours now read 562.9.

DAY 87: Thursday, August 31

We leave Shearwater at a leisurely 1055 hours to catch high water in Gunboat Passage, managing to tie up in Ocean Falls by 1505 in time for a walk around town and a visit with local friends and boaters. We're happy to report that half of the old paper mill is being cleaned and repainted for occupancy of possible new businesses and that a new trail along the Martin River is in the offing.

DAY 88: Friday, September 1

We pack a lunch and head off on mountain bikes provided by Jo-Anne and Don of The Shack. Our goal is to bicycle the 20-mile round trip to and from Shack Bay (no reference to the previously-mentioned business!) on Roscoe Inlet. Pavement ends at the south end of Martin Valley and from there it's a body-jarring ride on a 4-WD dirt road paved with rocks and stones. Blobs of bear scat in the center of the road occur about every twenty yards for the first three miles, causing us to make lots of noise. About two miles south of Martin Valley, the road turns northwest and follows the shores of what are locally known as Twin Lakes (Ikt and Mokst lakes on a topo map). We make it to the second of the two lakes after noon, find a clearing on shore and break out our sausage, cheese and biscuits. No man-made sound destroys the quiet. The sun shows itself momentarily. We've hit the perfect day, but our desire to continue for three miles on this road has waned. We decide to turn around and head back and make it a 14-mile round trip, instead.

I've been cycling on what we begin to refer to as a tricycle—too small for my long legs, my knees practically under my chin as the pedal tops. "Would you give me a turn on your bike, just so I can remember what it's like on a normal bike?" I ask Don.

He relinquishes his bicycle for the rest of the return trip and I take off, flying, happy to be cycling for the first time in over a year. We return the bikes to The Shack, buy a double ice cream cone, pick up the bread Jo-Anne set aside for us and head back to the boat. Don hits the sack at 1800 hours and sleeps through a raucous three-hour visit with Jo-Anne and Don and Serge and Kathy from Raison d'Etre. I call it quits at 2300 hours and just as I'm dozing off there's a knocking on the boat . . . See sidebar - Medical Emergency in Ocean Falls.

DAY 89: Saturday, September 2

Ocean Falls to Duncanby Landing. [See Sidebar for early morning details.] With the ebb current we make good time down Fisher Channel and Fitz Hugh Sound and head up Darby Channel by late afternoon. In the lee of Walbran Island, Darby Channel is well protected from southeast winds. Lack of debris, tree limbs that hang straight out over the saltwater at high tide and clear green quiet water make this channel a nice alternative for reaching upper Rivers Inlet. We visit a notch in what locals call Beaver Cove to update the files for the second edition of our Exploring the North Coast of British Columbia. Although its east shore was clearcut years ago and ugly scars still remain, the buffer along shore hides the evidence once you're anchored inside the cove. The air is perfumed with the scent of evergreens. This is a perfect spot to wait out any storm.

In between his customers, we visit with Rob at Dawson's Landing and are happy to be able to load up on some fresh tomatoes, lettuce and milk.

At 1950 we tie up for the night at Duncanby Landing and, over a glass of wine in the pub, catch up on the news with owner Ken Gillis. Niki Verzuh who ran a B & B in Bella Bella for several years has been chief cook for the pub all summer. She gives me a taste of her clam fritters and salmon rolls-ups and wraps a couple of them for us to take along. I freeze them to save for hors d'oeuvre later. (Watch for the recipe in the second edition of North Coast!)

With the downturn in commercial fishing, Ken is catering increasingly to transit yachts and this friendly place is the first fuel stop north of Cape Caution. (Since Dawsons also has fuel, these two places make the Rivers Inlet area convenient for small vessels and gas guzzlers that can't make it to Bella Bella or Shearwater before refueling.) Duncanby's proximity to Fury Cove on Penrose Island, to the many small islands at the entrance to Rivers Inlet, and to Goose Bay, with its wonderful variety of birds, make the area a real draw for pleasure craft and kayak exploration. It's the Central Coast's equivalent of Vancouver Island's Broken Group and, except for small fishing runabouts that zip out to the sound in early morning and return in early evening to their lodges, the area has little traffic.

DAY 90: Sunday, September 3

A touch of autumn crispness causes me to pull on my fleece pants for the first time since the Gulf of Alaska. Nature has been good to us for the past four days. We leave Duncanby at 0720 in clear weather and hit Slingsby Channel in rare, smooth waters. As we head down Queen Charlotte Sound, we spot a ketch heading the same way.

"That might be Raison d'Etre," I tell Don. "I'll call on Channel 16 and see if it is."

Kathy answers my call and we switch channels. She tells us that they got prompt help in Bella Bella and that Serge has a figure-8 bandage keeping his shoulders pinned back and aligned so the broken bones don't rub. With regular doses of Tylenol 3, he's been doing pretty well.

We tell them we're headed for Blunden Harbour for the night; they are, too, and we decide it would be fun to get together for happy hour once we're anchored.

By 1535, our two boats are anchored, along with three others. The shore of Blunden Harbour, once the site of a thriving First Nations village, has perhaps been overly visited by boaters. A new sign on shore reads "No Trespassing. This is the traditional territory of the Nakwaxdaxw People. It is regularly monitored by guardians. No camping or digging."

Kathy and Serge motor over to Baidarka in their dinghy and Serge comes aboard without too much discomfort. We spend the next five hours catching up on news, hearing about their sailing experiences in the South Pacific for the past three years (they sailed from Hawaii to Alaska this summer), and comparing cruising notes. Happy hour runs into dinner: Kathy and Serge's homemade spaghetti sauce, canned on board, and a joint-effort tossed salad. Great fun.

Kathy told me she bought my book Cape Horn: One Man's Dream, One Woman's Nighmare for Serge expressly to discourage him from going to Patagonia. "Well, did it work?" I ask her. "No. Reading your book made him want to go more than ever."

DAY 91: Monday, September 4

Up and away from Blunden by 0800 and into flat Blackfish Sound and Johnstone Strait. We have been lucky! The weather reports keep warning of a low-pressure system heading south from the Gulf of Alaska and we keep saying, it's the calm before the storm. So far, we've managed to stay ahead of forecast "first major gale" of the autumn season.

We had planned to spend several days in Port Neville visiting friends and working on the computer. However, with the storm forecast for tomorrow, we decided to push on to Helmcken Island "North Cove" and try to remain ahead of the low.

I'm at the helm as we near Kelsey Bay, and I do regular and frequent checks to be sure there's no traffic behind us. Suddenly, I see a mega-yacht (vessel shall remain nameless), coming up on our stern, hell-bent at full speed. Before I took over the helm, I set the table in preparation for dinner on our arrival at Helmcken Island. Potatoes were simmering in a pot on the stove, and a bowl of salad was sitting on the galley counter. Traffic has been minimal so far, and the strait so calm, that I figured there was no need to secure everything.

"Don, take over the helm," I yell. Got to get stuffed stowed. Look at this idiot to starboard!" He jumps down from the pilot berth, his nap rudely interrupted, and I rush below. Too late. A Seattle mega-yacht passes 150 feet to our starboard, without slowing one rpm. Its wake sends 5-foot waves crashing across our stern, and I watch, too late, as our dinner flies across the salon. Books that didn't budge in 15-foot gale seas along the coast of California and Oregon spew out of the bookcase.

I'm livid. Earlier in the afternoon I heard a radio conversation between this skipper and another vessel and knew that he was a professional skipper. I'm astonished that anyone with that lack of courtesy can qualify as "professional." The owner, as it turns out, was on the flying bridge at the time, but was oblivious to the behavior of the amateur he hired to pilot his yacht.

I have the urge to call him on the radio and sarcastically thank him for being so "courteous." I have the urge to report him to the Coast guard. I have the urge to report him to the company that he works for in the winter. But I don't. I just stew in my own anger.

Fifteen minutes later, we see him backing out of Kelsey Bay. Obviously he hasn't read the available source books--the harbor was too small and had no fuel available.

DAY 92: Tuesday, September 5

We get an early start before dawn to be able to catch slack tide at Seymour Narrows. By 0750, we're off Ripple Point and before 1100 hours we "sail" through Seymour and ride the rapids on the south side of Ripple Rock. "Why don't we forego Campbell River?" Don says. "We've got a six-knot current with us. What do you say to spending the night in Comox?"

"Sounds fine to me."

By mid-afternoon we decide to forego Comox. We're still ahead of the 982 millibar low that's been heading south from the Gulf of Alaska, and we want to keep it that way. We decide that it's too late to try and make Nanaimo tonight so, instead, we head for Nuttal Bay where we set anchor for the night at 1950 hours.

DAY 93: Wednesday, September 6

We have a lazy morning before raising anchor and leaving for Nanaimo where we dock by 1330. Time to do laundry, re-provision and visit with friends on the dock whom we've seen earlier in the season.

We have dinner with Carol and Winston Bushnell and Winston's sister Judy. (Winston was the skipper of Dove III of Arctic Odyssey). Winston and Carol have the most amazing stories to tell of their around-the-world-cruising. We share the dubious distinction of having survived a pitchpole. However, their disaster occurred in the southern Indian Ocean with their two young daughters aboard. They managed to jury rig their sailboat and limp into Cape Town where it took Winston six months to make repairs. Their story needs to told, and we keep urging Winston to record their experiences. But he's forever off on a new project; the latest—his eighth sailboat—is a 36-foot steel hull so he and Carol can take off in a year on another cruise.

DAY 94: Thursday, September 7

We leave Nanaimo at 1210 with the rest of "the fleet" that wants to catch slack tide in Dodd Narrows. Within twenty-five minutes we hear a staticky May Day on Channel 16 from Comox Coast Guard. We barely catch the name Beverly K, the name of a boat that was tied up across from us yesterday. See sidebar - The Sea Dictates its Own Terms.

The gale we've been outrunning has finally reached the South Coast. The barometer which dropped 10 millibars during the night continues to descend and, once through Dodd Narrows, the predicted southeasterly hits us directly on the nose. The oncoming-fetch up Trincomali Channel causes pitching and bouncing, and some of the boats immediately head off for nearby shelter. These are the first bumpy seas we've experienced since Principe Channel. We pass a small motor vessel, admiring its classic lines, then notice it falling directly in behind our stern.

Immediately afterward we get a call from Derrick on M/V MyJo and switch to Channel 09.

"This chop is too much for me. I'm taking on some water when my hatch flies open. I can barely make headway. Do you mind if I draft? And where are you headed for the night?"

Don tells him we're heading for Montague Harbor, about three hours away, and directly into the wind.

Derrick is single-handling. His forward hatch has opened twice in this rough water and MyJo is taking on heavy spray. We agree to his drafting us and, following about 50 feet behind us, things calm down considerably for MyJo.

We continue to Montague, making between 4.5 and 5.5 knots without any problems. By 1713 hours, both boats are safely anchored in the lee of Galiano Island, and Derrick rows over for a visit. Here, near the end of our shakedown cruise, with 25-knot winds on our nose, the three of us are happy at how well Baidarka handled the chop.

DAY 95: Friday, September 8

When we leave Montague at 0655, the barometer registers 1002 millibars—its lowest to date. Are we in for a rough crossing of Boundary Pass? No, the worst has passed. We’re at the tail end of the low-pressure front and find just a minimum of residual chop in Boundary Pass. A nice thing about the Inside Passage is how quickly the surface calms down with these thousands of islands, rocks and quick-flowing current.

Earlier this morning, as we left Montague Harbour in the dim light, we passed a beautiful old clinker-built long boat being rowed with determination by ten oarsmen and a coxswain—part of an Outward Bound group beating south to get home to Anacortes. We gave them a mighty BRAVO as we passed, and they sang back in unison, "Ahoy Mate." What marvelous stamina and courage!

As we cross the unmarked international boundary into the States, we find ourselves back in the land of the high-speed demons. Passing by just 50 yards away, doing 20 knots, their wake creates more havoc than nature does. Motoring through the San Juans at our usual 6 knots, Don yells out to no one in particular: "More horsepower than brains, you idiots!"

The innocuous chatter on Channel 16 annoys us both, and we realize we’re suffering from culture shock. We appreciate the camaraderie in Northern B.C. and Alaska, the courtesy, the helpfulness, and the quiet beauty of the wilderness. To us, the Inside Passage represents the best in cruising of anything we’ve seen in over 150,000 miles of world cruising.

Rosario Strait is a dream and we pull into Cap Sante Boat Haven by 1335. Home at last after 4,000 miles! Captain's additions:

We have now completed 626 net engine hours since Catalina Island which adds up, as close as we can tell, to 4,004 nautical miles over the ground.

As we unloaded and cleaned the boat, Réanne and I were both a little reluctant to jump into our car and race home, only 15 minutes away. When we do finally get home at 1700 hours, we find the electrical power out in our area. Heavy winds in the afternoon must have knocked out some power lines.

We report the outage to the power company which has no estimated time of repair. We look at each other. "Let’s go back to Baidarka," Réanne says.

"Good idea!" I say. "We can listen to the wind in the rigging and feel the gentle rocking one more time . . ."

Conclusions about Baidarka’s shakedown cruise:


In our 95-day, 4,004-mile shakedown cruise from Dana Point / Catalina Island, California to Lituya Bay, Alaska and back to Anacortes, Washington, we averaged 42 nautical miles a day. We spent one night at sea (Cape Mendocino); otherwise we tucked safely into a marina (53 nights) or anchored in small, intimate coves, usually by ourselves (42 nights).

Over all, this trip gave us more variety in weather, scenery, urban areas, and isolated remoteness than any comparable trip we’ve made in over 150,000 miles of cruising. Both Réanne and I feel we travelled in more comfort and safety than at any previous time. While we had intense physical exertion coming up the Pacific Coast due to the weather and rough seas, our overall exertion was lower than average, thanks to the electric windlass, the bow thruster, electronic navigation and autopilot-steering, and other improvements in technology and cruising equipment.

The boat was exceptionally dry. Winds to about 25 knots created side spray. We took spray on the pilothouse windows in 30-knot winds. At 40 knots spray washed clear over the pilothouse. We took green water on board just twice when we fell off 15-foot waves under too much power. The Portuguese bridge deflected the water effectively, and the foredeck drained quickly.

While the pace of our trip was unrelenting, our schedule proved doable and within rather easy reach of experienced and motivated boaters. We felt no need to engage professional crew or weather routers. We were able to explore several new anchor sites, update our previously published data, take time for a four-day family get-together in Anacortes in July and fly to the Seattle Boat Show in Shilshole for public presentations in August.

The primary statistics: We accumulated 625.7 hours on the engine; 55 genset hours; radar was on standby 60 hours, transmitting 55 hours; over a total distance of 4, 004 nautical miles we averaged SOG (speed over the ground) of 6.4 knots. Trip fuel consumption totalled 1,165 gallons, for an average of 1.86 gallons per engine hour (peh). This number includes fuel for the genset and a cruising rpm of 1500. We started from Dana Point with full fuel tanks and refueled (738 gallons) only in Ketchikan, Alaska on the northbound leg, than again at the end of the trip in Anacortes (427 gallons), our winter port. Average fuel consumption for the entire trip was 1.86 gallons per engine hour (including genset). From Dana Point, California to Ketchikan, consumption was 2.08 mpeh; from Ketchikan to Lituya Bay and back to Anacortes consumption was l.57 mpeh. The effects of beating to windward up the coast are apparent.

With a total trip length of 4004 miles and, consuming 1165 gallons of fuel, we averaged 3.44 nautical miles per gallon of diesel. Considering that there is about a net of 900 useful gallons of fuel on board, Baidarka has a range of approximately 3100 nautical miles under these conditions. This is enough range to be able to cross many of the worldwide oceanic routes.

We experienced no major problems; and the autopilot problem was corrected by Nordhavn and Simrad in Prince Rupert on our way south.

We took six layover days for weather and were still able to maintain our original schedule. We had no problem in reaching pick-up or drop-off points for crew who assisted us for a total of six of the fourteen elapsed weeks.

Trip Highlights that stand out for us:


1. The superior design and construction of the Nordhavn gave us strong confidence in a tough, go-anywhere boat, while allowing us to enjoy more creature comforts than we have experienced in our previous sail and power boats.

2. A small but very functional and comfortable pilothouse, correctly positioned amidship, with excellent visibility, and safe, useful aluminum doors and windows.

3.The 3000-mile fuel range and adequate water capacity. Large engine room with simple and reliable layout.

4. Vessel speed and power were sufficient for our pace; the single, protected prop was a blessing at high latitudes where logs and debris can easily damage a dual-prop boat. Baidarka attained 8 to 9 knots through the water when we applied full power in some rapids. We made 7 knots speed through the water in calm conditions at normal cruising—1500 rpm. This dropped to 6 knots with moderate wind (15 to 20 knots) and 2- to 3-foot chop; 5 knots at 25-knot headwinds, 3-foot breaking seas (Inside Passage).

With 30-knot headwinds and 8- to 12-foot seas (outside conditions), we could attain only 4 knots and had to slow down on breaking crests. In gale conditions (30 knots with 40-knot gusts), with forward-breaking seas, we attained only 3 knots and had to decrease rpm to 1200 or 1300 at 2 knots to reduce pounding. We frequently had to bring power back to idle and slow completely at the top of steep waves. On occasion when we had to heave-to in a gale to be able to rest, we did roughly 1 to 2 knots on autopilot about 20 degrees off the wind at around 1000 rpm.

We would carry extra power to 1750 or so rpm to reduce exposure to certain sea conditions and to 2000 to 2200 rpm in emergency conditions where acceleration was needed. Deploying the paravane stabilizers added greatly to crew comfort in a seaway and reduced SMG [speed made good] by about half a knot. In the Inside Passage (two-thirds of trip mileage), we used favorable currents wherever possible; we found 1 to 2 knots most of the time and, in some rapids 4 to 7 knots. Average SOG (speed over the ground) along the Pacific Coast (1/3 of trip) was 5 knots or less; in the Inside Passage (2/3 of trip) SOG was 7 knots or more for what we consider a trip average of 6.4 knots, overall.

5. The Nobeltec navigation software and electronic charts, the Ocean PC computer, and the Furuno differential GPS coupled to autopilot made simple work of navigation and steering. These features make it possible for a couple to drive a boat without exhausting themselves. Never before have we felt the amount of confidence that we did on this trip—that of knowing precisely where we were, at essentially all times.

We sorely missed ease of navigating when "bugs" developed—such as those noted with the flux gate compass, with charts of unknown horizontal datums, old charts of questionable accuracy, minor quilting problems in the software, saving too many waypoints in memory, etc. On more than one occasion we were happy that we had a full set of paper charts to consult and the ability to use dead reckoning. Overall a good, relatively simple electronic navigation system like we have aboard Baidarka is a major breakthrough in small-boat navigation. From the start, we had every electronic chart stored in memory for the entire Pacific Coast and we found the convenience most helpful.

6. We had the full support of the major manufacturers when we needed it. Some, such as Nordhavn, Nobeltec, Ocean PC, and Furuno, were partial sponsors for our undertaking and we cannot thank them enough for their assistance. If you want more information or wish to take a test drive, please see Pilothouse Postings on www. FineEdge.com or email Don and Réanne at office@FineEdge.com or contact Frank Durksen, the Northwest Nordhavn rep, at aaayacht@anacortes.net

Itineraries day by day:


Starting from Dana Point, California, 0500 hours, Tuesday, June 6, 2000
Day 1 anchored Santa Barbara Island, Ca, after a day visiting Catalina Island
Day 2 anchored Fry’s Harbor, Santa Cruz Island, Ca
Day 3 anchored Coho Anchorage, Point Conception, Ca
Day 4 tied up Morro Bay Yacht Club, Ca
Day 5 layover
Day 6 anchored San Simeon, Ca
Day 7 layover
Day 8 anchored Stillwater Cove (Pebble Beach,) Ca
Day 9 tied up Pillar Point Harbor (Half Moon Bay), Ca
Day 10 tied up Bodega Bay, Ca
Day 11 tied up Fort Bragg, Ca
Day 12 tied up Noyo Harbor via Shelter Cove, Ca
Dau 13 at sea, rounding Cape Mendocino, Ca
Day 14 tied up Eureka-Humboldt Bay, Ca
Day 15 tied up Crescent City, Ca
Day 16 tied up Brookings/Chetco River, Or
Day 17 anchored Port Orchard, Or
Day 18 tied up Charleston Boat Basin, Coos Bay, Or
Day 19 tied up Newport, Or
Day 20 layover
Day 21 tied up Garibaldi, Tillamook Bay, Or
Day 22 tied up Port Ilwaco, Columbia River, Wa
Day 23 tied up Westhaven, Westport, Wa
Day 23 tied up La Push, Wa
Day 24 anchored Neah Bay, Wa
Day 25 anchored Watmough Bay, San Juan Isls, Wa
Day 26 tied up Cap Sante, Anacortes, Wa
Day 27 layover
Day 28 layover
Day 29 layover
Day 30 layover
Day 31 tied up Orcas Island, San Juan Isls, Wa
Day 32 tied up Nanaimo, BC
Day 33 anchored Helmcken Isl, Johnstone Strait, BC
Day 34 anchored Walker Group Islands, BC
Day 35 anchored Kisameet Anchorage, BC
Day 36 anchored Rescue Bay, BC
Day 37 anchored Coghlan Anchorage, BC
Day 38 tied up Prince Rupert Yacht Club, BC
Day 39 tied up Ketchikan, Ak
Day 40 layover
Day 41 anchored Salmon Bay, Ak
Day 42 anchored Honeydew Cove, Kuiu Island, AK
Day 43 tied up Warm Springs Bay, AK
Day 44 tied up Tenakee Hot Springs, AK
Day 45 anchored Pleasant Island, Glacier Bay NP, AK
Day 46 anchored Murphy Cove, Glacier Bay NP, AK
Day 47 anchored Mosquito Cove, Glacier Bay NP, AK
Day 48 anchored Lituya Bay, Glacier Bay NP, AK
Day 49 layover
Day 50 Anchored Mirror Harbor, Chichagoff Island, AK
Day 51 layover
Day 52 anchored Khaz Head, Piehle Passage, AK
Day 53 anchored Kalinin Bay AK
Day 54 tied up New Thomsen Harbor, Sitka AK
Day 55 layover
Day 56 anchored Kliuchevoi Bay, Goddard Hot Springs, AK
Day 57 anchored Scow Bay, Baranof Island, AK
Day 58 anchored Reannes Terror, Baranof Isl, AK
Day 59 anchored Kell Bay, Kuiu Island, AK
Day 60 anchored El Capitan Passage, AK
Day 61 anchored Sarkar Cove, AK
Day 62 anchored Garcia Cove, AK
Day 63 tied up North Harbor, Craig AK
Day 64 layover
Day 65 anchored Hole-In Wall, West Coast Dall Island, AK
Day 66 anchored Elbow Bay, Long Island, AK
Day 67 anchored Edith Harbour, Dundas Island, BC
Day 68 layover
Day 69 tied up Prince Rupert Yacht Club, BC
Day 70 layover–fly to Seattle for boat show presentations
Day 71 layover
Day 72 layover
Day 73 layover
Day 74 layover
Day 75 layover
Day 76 layover
Day 77 layover
Day 78 layover; fly back to Prince Rupert
Day 79 layover
Day 80 anchored Larsen Harbour, Banks Island, BC
Day 81 layover
Day 82 layover; visit Borrowman Group and Griffith Harbour
Day 83 anchored Geodetic Cove, Trutch Island, BC
Day 84 layover
Day 85 anchored Alexander Inlet, BC
Day 86 tied up Shearwater, BC
Day 87 tied up Ocean Falls, BC
Day 88 layover
Day 89 tied up Duncanby Landing, BC
Day 90 anchored Blunden Harbour, BC
Day 91 anchored Helmcken Island, Johnstone Strait, BC
Day 92 anchored Nuttal Bay, Vancouver Isl, BC
Day 93 tied up Nanaimo, BC
Day 94 anchored Montague Harbour, BC
Day 95 tied up Cap Sante Anacortes, WA

ALSO OF INTEREST

Pan Pan


Heading out of Graves Harbor at 0530 hours, we hear the following call on Channel 16:

"Pan Pan, Pan Pan, Pan Pan. This is United States Coast Guard Juneau. The 35-foot sailing vessel Free Spirit with green hull and white sails has had its crew removed and is drifting. The derelict is approximately 10 miles west of Sitka and is considered a hazard to navigation. All vessels should use caution in transiting the area."

487 Quebec

1125 hours, Channel 16: "Calling the fishing vessel off Icy Point; this is 487 Quebec."

"This is the research vessel Baidarka 1/2 mile southwest of Icy Point. Could you be calling us?"

"Baidarka, this is 487 Quebec. Go to Channel 14, please."
"Baidarka standing by on one four. Do you copy?"

"Baidarka, this is 487 Quebec. We're the float plane that passed over you a few minutes ago northbound. We're sitting on the water off La Perouse Glacier with fuel problems. Copy?"

Fortunately, the seas of the eastern Gulf of Alaska were glassy calm at the time. Don responded that we copied them fine, requesting their lat/long and asking how we could assist.

"We're at 58°28.745'N, 137°20.650'W. We're having a problem with leaking fuel in the ockpit from the line that connects the fuel tank to the fuel gage. Can we borrow a wrench?"

Don radioed that we were 7 miles south and that it would take us an hour to reach them. He asked what size plane they were in and how many people on board.

"We're a Cessna 185 with four persons aboard. We will keep working the problem and keep you informed."

At 1145 hours a call came back: "Baidarka, this is 487 Quebec, Channel one four. We have pinched the fuel gage line so should have no more problems. We're starting the engine and taking off."

"Roger. Please call when you are airborne and on your way."
At 1150 hours the call came back: "Baidarka, this is 487 Quebec. We are headed for Yakutat. Everything okay. Thanks for standing by. We appreciate that."

Don replied with a "Roger" and wished them a good trip.

 

Monday, August 28, 0530 hours

Rain hits the deck like shrapnel. Below, in bed, we snuggle and watch the rain drops form patterns on the hatch cover glass that look like a Rorschach test. We're reluctant to be up and on our way.

Gusts of wind knock the boat to starboard and a strange moan alternating between a low and high frequency continues under the bow. Could it be a huge seal and his mate in courting behavior?

Don crawls out of bed, goes on deck naked and stands there—in the rain, temperature in the low 50s—listening.

"You'll freeze!" I shout from the warmth of our berth.

He comes below, dries himself off with a towel and crawls back into bed.

"It's beyond me. I can't figure it out."

It's now 0630. "Could we be in Meyers Passage by high tide?" I ask.

"Hmm, probably not. But we might be able to anchor outside the narrows."

Neither of us makes a move. "Let's listen to the weather," I suggest.

Don gets up, goes above to retrieve a hand-held VHF radio. Through a great deal of static we manage to decipher what we've already noticed visually—a southeasterly blowing straight up Estevan Sound. White caps roll north and curve like surf onto a sandy beach.

"Well, maybe we should head south and get a little taste of misery," I say. "It's been a while."

A dark purple cloud passes overhead. Rain pelts the deck again.

"I'm losing my ambition," I tell Don.

"Do you mean you have no goal for today?"

"Yeah, exactly. Once I get up, I can drive myself to accomplish what needs to be done, but I'm so comfortable here, I don't really want to get up."

"Then let's not," says the captain.

 

Medical Emergency in Ocean Falls

At 2320 I awaken to a frantic knocking on the boat. I hop up, naked, and go to the stern door. Kathy from Raison d'Etre is standing on the float in the pitch dark; Serge is hunched over in shadows behind her.

"Serge has broken his neck or his shoulder. Please help me."

"Come on board and just ignore my birthday suit," I say, calling to Réanne to come help. We get Serge sitting on the salon settee, obviously in great pain, and I start the genset.

Réanne grabs a wool blanket, covers Serge's shoulders and I turn on the electric heater and move it close to him. Kathy and I remove Serge's shirt carefully and I do a digital exam on his neck and shoulder. It appears that he's broken his left clavicle which is protruding.

"We were just coming back to the dock on our bikes from Saggo's. Serge was ahead of me and I called for him to slow down. He turned around to look for me, hit a pothole and went flying. As I went by I heard a voice calling, 'Help me!'"
Réanne says, "The locals monitor 06. See if anyone's on; it's their self-help channel."

From the pilothouse I call over VHF. "Anyone in Ocean Falls. This is a medical emergency. Baidarka on Channel 06."

Silence. I go back down to check on Serge. He's grimacing from pain and asks for a sip of water. Réanne helps him drink and I head back up to the radio and repeat the message.

A voice responds, "What kind of emergency?"

"With whom am I talking?"

"This is Mark, a resident."

"Mark, this is Baidarka at the Ocean Falls Yacht Club float. We have an injured person on board with what appears to be a broken left clavicle. He needs help. Can you advise us on procedure or tell us if there's anyone in Ocean Falls who can assist?"

"Give me a few minutes to make some calls," Mark says. "I'll get right back to you."

"Roger. Baidarka standing by on 06."
Within minutes, Mark responds:

"Baidarka, Rick Andrews from the Power Station will be down in a few minutes."

I turn on the spreader and cockpit lights; it's extremely dark outside. At 2335 we see three people coming down the gangway. As they come aboard, we brief them. Rick asks Serge a series of questions and does a visual and digital exam. Fiona—the community health nurse for the Bella Bella region who just happens to be in Ocean Falls for her regular monthly visit—follows Rick with more questions and another digital exam. Their consensus: fracture to the left clavicle; local pain around the protrusion; some numbness in the arm, but feeling in the fingers.

"This doesn't require a Medivac," Fiona say, "but he does need to go to Bella Bella hospital to see a doctor and have an x-ray."

Serge wants to leave at once, in the pitch dark. Jim Nyland, Administrator of the O.F. Improvement District, and Réanne explain in French that it's risky and unwise to attempt a transit through reef-infested Gunboat Passage at night.

Kathy says she doesn't want to go through Gunboat Passage; she'll take Lama Passage, the route they used to get to Ocean Falls. We all gasp.

"It'll take you at least eight hours," Fiona says. "Going through Gunboat in daylight is a lot safer and shorter."

I volunteer to lead Raison d'Etre through Gunboat at first light, just five hours from now. Serge is overruled. In the meantime, it's important to make him comfortable for the rest of the night.

Rick shows Kathy how to roll a towel and put it between the shoulder blades to minimize the rubbing of the broken bones and Réanne gives Fiona a couple of Tylenol for Serge. We all help Kathy take Serge back to Raison d'Etre and get him settled.

At 0530, we get up to warm up the engine and help Kathy prepare to leave at first light. At 0605, we let off the lines for Raison d'Etre. Kathy gets underway and circles around, waiting for Baidarka. It's barely light, so we use radar and electronic charting, to make our way down Cousins Inlet. We keep frequent contact with Kathy on Channel 06 who follows closely behind Baidarka. Serge is reasonably comfortable, but she's concerned about docking alone at the Bella Bella float and getting him safely ashore and to the hospital.

Once we're out of deep Cousins Inlet in Dean Channel where VHF reception is better, I call Prince Rupert Coast Guard, explain the situation and ask if they can arrange help. In turn, they call Rescue Center in Victoria who arranges for the RCMP to give docking assistance and alert the hospital personnel.

By 0840 Baidarka and Raison d'Etre have safely transited Gunboat Passage at mid-tide and, at Manson
Islet, Kathy says she can make it the rest of the way to Bella Bella on her own. We "hand off" Raison d'Etre to Prince Rupert Coast Guard on Channel 22, turn around to re-transit Gunboat and continue on our way south through Fisher Channel. We hear Coast Guard tell Kathy that an RCMP fast-response vessel is on its way to put a man on board their vessel if needed, that all boats have been cleared from the Bella Bella fuel dock, and that officers will take her lines.

At 0955 we hear the RCMP in Bella Bella in communication with PRCG on Channel 22: "Raison d'Etre has been docked in Bella Bella and the injured man is on his way to the hospital." Réanne raises her arms and shouts "Yahoo! . . . The good ol' Canadian Coast Guard does it again!"

 

The Sea Dictates its Own Terms

As Baidarka transisted Dodd Narrows, we were startled to hear Comox Coast Guard Radio broadcast a Mayday relay for the Beverly K, in imminent danger. Kurt Grimm is a geology professor at University of British Columbia and the new owner of Beverly K. He had helped with our dock lines as we arrived yesterday in Nanaimo and we got acquainted while he was tied up across from us.

Radio conditions were marginal, but we managed to hear that Beverly K was off Lesqueti Island in a howling southwesterly. Don called Comox immediately to ask for the position, volunteering to assist. It turned out that Comox CG had already dispatched a quick-response vessel to the rescue Beverly K—good because she was five hours north of us and we already had our hands full in the strong southeaster in Trincomali Channel.

A subsequent phone call to Kurt explained the following sequence of events.

Kurt had recently acquired a nice looking wooden troller to use in gathering research material on bottom sediments as they relate to a changing natural environment. He and his crew member were going over the anchor rode, making repairs and marking its depths. They also changed the oil and filter in Beverly K’s engine before setting out northbound that afternoon.
As it turns out, Kurt did not change the rubber gasket with the new filter (an easy mistake for a new boater to make) and this lead to a series of critical events the next day. In a southwest gale off Lesqueti Island, while Kurt and his friend were heading for cover in False Bay, the engine lost oil pressure. [The engine pumped out the engine oil through the poor filter seal.]

While lying ahull off the entrance, he attempted to use his dinghy to move the boat into some shelter, but without success. He issued a Pan Pan, giving the Coast Guard his position and his hook over the side, as the wind and chop increased.

It became apparent that the anchor wasn’t holding so, with the immediate danger of being bashed against the rocks he upgraded his urgent situation Pan Pan to an imminent, life-threatening Mayday, part of which we heard on Channel 16.

The rapid-response vessel reached the Beverly K shortly after we heard the last broadcast that she was in 3 meters of water and needed help immediately.

All is well that ends well and we thought this story might be a good example of how a single boating event can escalate into serious proportions very quickly. It also illustrates what Kurt said to me—"The sea dictates its own terms!"

 

 


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