Saturday, July 30, 2011

Day 17 - Shoreside Excursion to Port Alberni

Saturday,  July 30, 2011.
I ran the generator in the morning to get a good chill on the refer and a charge on the batteries since we’ll be away from the boat all day.  We took showers and did some other preparations to visit Port Alberni by car.  We parked the Zipper over on “C” dock in Nanaimo Harbor.  This is the place where “officially” you are supposed to park your dinghy when temporarily visiting.  I paid for moorage for the day - $13.30.  We then found the car where the new forthcoming crew for the rest of trip had left it and proceeded to Port Alberni.  I can say it was very odd for me to be traveling by car while the MV Independence is still in Nanaimo Harbor.  I didn’t like the rush and stress of driving, everybody was hurrying not like the boat where you are just easily motoring along.  The drive was quite nice although it was so very odd to be traveling so fast.  The down-side is that there is no autopilot, you have to stay in the lanes, and you have to sit and can't wander about. The only up-side is that there's no waves.  I don't think the dogs like being stuck in the car either.

The trip to Port Alberni was not about boating but about hockey.  My son is a counselor at a hockey camp and I thought I would take this opportunity to see what a hockey training camp was all about. We spent the day watching ice hockey and going out for supper in Port Alberni. It was all very interesting. By the way, if you are ever in Port Alberni, the Clam Bucket restaurant serves great clams and fish and chips. Only fish we ate on the trip – another oddity.  Unfortunately the whole time I kept on thinking about the Zipper (it was parked in with a bunch of commercial fisherman and commercial boats), but it in the end it was fine.  An interesting day.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Day 16 - Ford Cove to Nanaimo

Friday,  July 29, 2011.
Chrome Is. Lightstation
I got the crew up at 0630 in prep for the second half of the Georgia Strait crossing. We left the “washing machine” at Ford Cove at 0704.  I doubt I’ll ever stay here again.  In fact I doubt I’ll ever come down this side of the Strait again. Options are just too limited. 

Passing Chrome Island the seas were rippled with light winds but as we traveled E (down the Strait) the winds and waves picked up.  There was a 2’ chop on top of a low NW swell which made for a few 3-4’ waves here and there.  The weather was clear and sunny and we were making good time.  We had the wind, the waves, and a good ebb pushing us along at over 6 knots and at times even 7+ knots.  I plotted a course to go to Cottam Reef, skirt by Schooner Cove, and go E of Maud Is to give us a periodic relief of the following seas and that was achieved.  It also broke up the monotony of cruising down the Strait. I typically use this route just for getting out of the NW wind and waves and it works just great.
Click on chart to enlarge

Just past Maud Is I laid down and let the crew take the helm until I awoke as we were just nearing Clarke Rock.  By now the seas were almost a 3’ moderate and the MV Independence was easily surfing down the NW waves and swell.  As we got into Nanaimo it was nice to get out of the slop. 

View from Newcastle Hbr. looking N
We pulled into Newcastle Harbor and found a mooring buoy well E of where we normally anchor, in fact its in a spot we’ve never been before.  We have an excellent view between Newcastle and Protection Is.  We tied up at 1314.  We had a leisurely afternoon and went for a short walk to the east side of Newcastle Island.  All of us, including the dogs, were happy to be across the Georgia Strait.

The new mooring buoys in Newcastle Harbor cost $12 a night.  You can pay in advance or the ranger will visit your boat each evening.  You can use a credit card if you pay at the small Newcastle Island snack shop.  Most buoys are for boats 30' and less and there's about 14 buoys for boats over 30'.  The downside is that you'll have to look at each buoy to determine if it's right for your boat.  Also, each mooring buoy has a warning which states they're only rated for winds less than 30 knots.  We chose to stay at a buoy because the forecast for tomorrow - Saturday - is for SE winds 15-20 knots.  This way I don't have worry about dragging - although I never have dragged at anchor in Newcastle Harbor.  When you go to shore BC Parks has signs that explains why the mooring buoys were placed there because the bottom was getting ruined by so many boats anchoring there all the time.  I can understand that. There's still plenty of room to anchor if there's no buoy available.  And, there's still plenty of boaters who permanently moor their boats in Newcastle Harbor.

Stats: Ending engine hours: 6164.5, elapsed engine hours: 6.5, 37.9 nm, average speed 6.1 knots, 6:14 hrs motoring.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Day 15 - Plans Change - Von Donop to Ford Cove

Thursday, July 28, 2011.
Very calm night.  Woke to clouds and cool temperatures.  Our last lazy morning here in Desolation Sound.  We pulled up anchor at 0945 and started the long motor out of Von Donop towards our next intended stop Rebecca Spit.  As we were motoring down Sutil Channel I listed to the VHF weather radio and the forecast for Friday and the northern Strait of Georgia was not too good – NW winds 15-20 knots for Friday and SE winds 15-20 knots for Saturday.  This was a change from what we heard yesterday.  The discussion was now about should we or should we not change our cruising plans.  Currently northern Georgia Strait was like a lake with only light and variable winds - cruising down the Strait would be easy.  However tomorrow we might be in heavy following seas slogging down the Strait.  My concern was that it was a bit late to start such a cruise (1100) and I had lost the best part of the ebb.  For most of today's journey we would be fighting a flood.  However the lure of calm cruising versus slogging was just too great.  It was decided we would take advantage of the calm seas and go down the Strait today.  Just before the Subtle Islands I turned the MV Independence to course 175 degrees and headed down Plunger Passage. So much for Rebecca Spit and another day in paradise. 
We motored past Marina Island keeping it port and a good distance from its shallow and rocky shores.  I then set course to pass just west of Mittlenatch Island.  Just past Mittlenach Island we spied a large pod of orca.  They were spy hopping, breaching, flapping their fins and just swimming around.  Was this a good omen on our decision to go down the Strait?  We didn’t change course but watched them as long as we could.  We cruised right by the Sentry Shoal weather buoy on our way down the Strait.  As far as you could see the Strait was calm, this was a good day to tackle "the Monster."

The decision now is where to stay tonight?  The mooring options on this side of the Strait are very limited.  The choices are Ford Cove on Hornby Island, Comox, Tribune Bay, or maybe Deep Bay in Baynes Sound.  All of these possible spots are many hours away and I have no experience with any of them.  I felt bad for the dogs since they hadn’t been to the beach since about 0700. It was going to be a long day for them.  Georgia Strait from Mittlenach Island to Cape Lazo is open and boring, and I don't like it.  I poured over the cruising guides I had, and accessed the Internet about where to stay tonight.  We tried calling Ford Cove via cell phone and VHF all to no avail.  Cruising guides all warn of crossing the Comox bar because of shoal water.  One guide said, "finding the range markers during the day is difficult, but align yourself with Powell River pulp mill and the mountains above Comox and you'll be in the channel."  This didn't sound too reassuring to me.  Also the thought of staying at a marina in a city didn't sound too inviting.  Anchoring in Tribune Bay was an option, but it is completely open to the SE and what if those SE winds came early?  So, we decided on Ford Cove.

As I looked at the chart, another option was anchoring just behind Shingle Spit on Hornby Island.  As we motored by I studied it hard but it didn't look like a lot of shelter.  I also didn't know what kind of bottom it was and would hate to find myself dragging in the middle of the night.  So I nixed that idea. We finally made Ford Cove at 1845 finding an open spot on the outside of the breakwater float.  The little harbor was packed - not only at the docks but even in the limited anchoring area.  We found out later that there was a music festival in town so that’s why the docks were so packed.  I was a bit concerned being on the outside of the breakwater that we would be too rocked by the forthcoming NW winds of 15-20 kts that were supposed to blow around midnight.  So I tied up the boat really well.  The crew took the dogs to the beach while I made a simple supper of grilled Bavarian Smokies and home fried potatoes.  I was very leery of being here – for now its okay, but we’ll see what the winds will bring.  I nervously enjoyed my evening whiskey ration, going through in my mind of different options if it got too rough tonight.

Just before midnight as forecast the NW winds came roaring through at about 15 or so knots.  We were somewhat in the lee of Hornby Island and so the waves were less than a foot, but as they crashed against the hull it sounded to me as if I was inside of a washing machine - "ka ploosh, ka ploosh" went the waves against the hull..  I got up and checked all the lines and moved the Zipper farther aft of the boat as it was rocking pretty good.  This made things quieter.  All the other lines looked good so I returned back to my berth.  As the night wore on the winds abated until around 0500 they were calm.

Stats: Ending engine hours: 6158.0, elapsed engine hours: 9.7, 50.3 nm, average speed 5.6 kts., 9:02 hrs motoring.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Day 14 - Squirrel Cove to Von Donop Inlet

Wednesday, July 27, 2011.
Woke to clear skies but then some morning clouds came in.  We pulled up anchor around 0930 to go to Von Donop Inlet.  The anchor and rode were very muddy and it took some time to clean them from that awfully sticky, stinky Squirrel Cove mud.

As we motored out of Squirrel Cove we had received an e-mail yesterday from a friend which told that the local Klahoose tribe wants to put in a marina in the western side of Squirrel Cove that would serve over 380 boats.  The marina would have a store, shops, bakery, restaurant, and other marine services.  The tribe has petitioned the Canadian government for the necessary permits.  The eastern, or inner portion, of Squirrel Cove would have mooring buoys placed around the bay.  Oh my!  This would absolutely ruin this gem of an anchorage.  I seriously doubt that considering the current economy that such a large marina could be financially feasible.  I know that I would not patronize this marina if it were built, preferring to anchor somewhere else.  I hope it never comes to be.  It amazes me how greed destroys so many special places.

Looking N up Lewis Channel
We motored out around Boulder Pt, then around Junction Pt, up Lewis Channel, rounding Bullock Bluff and then down into Sutil Channel.  All this time cruising at about 1700 rpm.  We had a good NW breeze blowing against us in Lewis Channel which completely subsided when we rounded Bullock Bluff and went into Sutil Channel.  We came down into Von Donop Inlet being careful to avoid the mid-channel rock (you want to hug the western shore).  We motored under slow bell and noticed that the inlet was not too crowded with anchored boats - at least not like years past - we only saw about a dozen boats or less.  We dropped the hook in the far south “hook” of Von Donop Inlet in 18’ of water on a rising tide at 1233.  There’s one other boat anchored here with a shore tie just N of us.  We had a quick snack and then went on a hike. 

We walked 2.0 km towards Squirrel Cove and then returned on the same trail.  The trail was not like other trails we had recently hiked but a gentle path with no steep climbs.  You could tell this trail was well used.  At the start of the trail there was even a menu of the restaurant (The Cove Restaurant) at Squirrel Cove tacked to a post.  The trail goes through second growth fir forests and older maple glens.  The trail is well marked.  While we were walking this trail I was hoping to meet up with the trail we hiked the other day (Day 7) from Squirrel Cove.  Until I got back to the boat I realized why the trail never met up with the other trail.  The dogs loved the walk.  Rocky ran the whole time up and down the trail and as usual probably covered twice the distance we did.  We didn't walk the whole way to Squirrel Cove, but turned around because the day was getting late.  I was concerned about how the Zipper was tied up to shore because there was a very high tide late this afternoon.  Sure enough when we returned to the Zipper it was a real challenge to get to it because of the high tide.  I had to bush whack through the trees and brush along the shore just to get to the painter.  Once I had the painter, I had to fight my way through some low hanging trees just to get in.  Once again, the dogs loved rumbling through the brush and must have thought this was great fun.  Hank at one point just stopped and stood belly deep in the warm water.  He looked at me as if he seemed to say, "Dad, this is oh so refreshing."  We finally got in to the Zipper a little scratched up.

Sailboats at anchor in Von Donop Inlet
We came back and took a sun shower out on the swim step from the water we had gathered the other day.  It was very refreshing.  I hoist the sun shower bag off of the boom.  Then you stand on the swim step and take your shower.  There's no clean up and it feels great. The only down-side is that shampoo and soap suds get into the bay.

For supper we made a grilled Vindaloo chicken dinner and sat out on the back deck.  Vindaloo is an Indian dish that has some curry spices in it with a lot of onions.  It is sweet and spicy.  The walk, a good supper, and wonderful weather made for a gorgeous evening.  The waters were very still - not even a breath of wind.  I too tried to match the stillness and quiet of the evening gently sipping my evening whiskey ration and thinking about days past and days to come.

Stats: Ending engine hours: 6148.3, elapsed engine hours: 3.3,17.0 nm, average speed 5.0 kts, 3:23 hours.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Day 13 - Squirrel Cove

Tuesday, July 26, 2011.
We enjoy Squirrel Cove so much that we decided to spend another day here rather than move on.  The weather is cloudy but warm with a few light and variable breezes.  We spent the day really doing much of nothing but reading and relaxing.  I ran the generator from 0930 to 1440 to put a bit of a chill in the refer and a charge on the batteries.   

During this time I thoroughly planned our trip to Nanaimo which we will start on Friday.  Right now the thought is to do it in one long day.  Normally we travel down the east side of Georgia Strait and then cross over by end of Texada Island.  The benefits of this trip are that there are more places to stop and get out of any weather that may arise - Grief Point, Ballet Bay, Pender Harbor, or Jedediah Island; and believe it or not it's shorter by 7 nautical miles than going down the west side of the Strait.  The down side is that there's more traffic; you've got to deal with Area Whiskey Golf; and if there is a NW wind you will have a bit of beam sea once you get out of the lee of Lasqueti Island.  The other alternative is to go down the west side of Georgia Strait.  According to Environment Canada the long range forecast for Friday is light NW winds 5-15 knots.  The forecast for Saturday is SE winds 15-20 knots - ugh.  So now, the plan is to go tomorrow to Von Donop Inlet, then to Rebecca Spit on Thursday, and down to Nanaimo via the west side of Georgia Strait on Friday.  That way we avoid Area Whiskey Golf (which is supposed to be active), take advantage of a following sea, and ride the ebb current down to Nanaimo.  I do not want to be out on Georgia Strait with any kind of 15-20 knot SE winds.

I decided to thoroughly check the engine today in preparation for Friday's down Strait trip.  I looked for any drips, checked all fluids, and looked for any problems.  I added about 1/2 quart of transmission fluid, cleaned the raw water strainer, checked both ends of the oil cooler for debris, but other than that all checked out okay.  I think we're ready to tackle the monster.

We called some of our boating friends from Port McNeill on the cell phone.  We reached them while they were out on Taylor Bank out on Queen Charlotte Strait halibut fishing.  I let them know I was envious, but they said not to be because the fishing was quite poor for both halibut and salmon.  They even complained that getting prawns was a bit more of a challenge.  The only halibut they had caught were very small - less than 5 pounds - and had thrown them back.  I reviewed past logs and remembered how many fish, both salmon and halibut, that we had caught in past years.  I wondered if the decline in fisheries was due to over harvesting, or global warming, or a combination of things.  One thing is for certain the fishing is definitely not as good as it was.

The Squirrel Cove store had a nice selection of meats - chicken, steaks, pork, sausages, and various smoked meats from a local Cortes Island butcher.  One of things I spied was Mennonite sausages.  I have never eaten Mennonite sausage and so I bought them and will grill them for supper tonight.   They’re a bit different but very tasty.  I made a German Potato salad to go with them - a German evening.  We enjoyed our evening supper with a couple of cold beers up on the flying bridge because it was so nice out.  I finished the evening with a cigar and a tot of whiskey.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Day 12 - Toba Inlet to Squirrel Cove

Monday, July 25, 2011.
Our visit to Toba Inlet was the zenith of our 2011 trip.  For the first time in so many years, I believe 19 years, we will not be going through the Yuculta's to points farther north.  I blame work schedules and fuel prices as the main culprits.  The urge to go farther is strong, but it will not happen this year.  Now it is time to start thinking about heading back.  Yesterday's Zipper trip up to Brem Bay left an indelible mark on me that will remain for a long time.  I love the mountains, the sights of snow on high, waterfalls, steep cliffs, and green seas.   

We untied and left Toba Wildernest Resort at 0830 to go back to Squirrel Cove for a couple of days.  Again we thought about many other options but the thought of weather, tides and currents, and how were we going to tackle the monster (Georgia Strait) going south.  We have to be back in Nanaimo for a crew change on Sunday, July 31.  That meant we had to be in Nanaimo on Saturday, July 30.  That leaves us only five days and two of them were reserved for tackling the monster so that left us three more days here in paradise.  One option is the Octopus Islands but since they are between two sets of rapids (Lower Rapids & Surge Narrows) the timing presents a problem.  The currents didn't favor us, that is  slack is not until later in the day and going in the wrong direction.  Another option was Prideaux Haven and Laura Cove but I really not in the mood to deal with crowds and it puts us too far away to get a good start on Thursday morning to go down Georgia Strait.  We are somewhat low on meats, fresh vegetables, bread and liquor and we know we can get that in Squirrel Cove.  We also want to continue with our plans of taking more walks.  So on to our old friend Squirrel Cove.

Weather is mostly cloudy but it is clearing.  We motored at 1700 rpm down Pryce Channel into Deer Passage and then down Lewis Channel and into Squirrel Cove.  For most of the way we took advantage of a nice flood current that pushed us nicely along.  In Deer Passage and Lewis Channel we were making good speed of over 7 knots while only at 1700 rpm.  I could tell slack at the Yuculta's was coming as we met so many boats going north.  I wished I could turn and join them.  The winds were light about 10 knots from the NW which also helped as a following sea pushing us along.  The skies are clearing and it looks to be warm today.  

After yesterday's dramatic scenery the cruise down Deer Passage and Lewis Channel was definitely anti-climatic.  The last big mountains and glimpses of high waterfalls were seen in Pryce Channel but quickly faded to rolling low hills.  Raza Island rises like a big pyramid but the northwest portion of West Redonda island is comprised of low rolling hills.  We passed Redonda Bay to our port where you could still see that a logging operation is taking place.  It didn't look too inviting as a possible anchorage and most cruising guides don't mention it at all.  

We came around Junction Pt. at the end of Lewis Channel, made a turn to starboard towards Squirrel Cove.  We could see that many boats were leaving Squirrel Cove.  We avoided the rocks just off of Boulder Pt. and turned to go into Squirrel Cove.  We motored to our usual anchoring spot in the far NW corner of the inside bay and dropped the hook in 20’ of water at ½ tide rising at 1200. 

Squirrel Cove gov't dock and store
We took the Zipper into the town of Squirrel Cove to get some additional provisions – meats, whiskey, ice.  I wanted ice so I could make some Caesars.  And, we dropped off the garbage that we had been accumulating from being out so long.  We walked to the store from the main government dock and found the store busy with people.  I noticed that the store and most of the town of Squirrel Cove was for sale.  We got an ice cream to go and headed back to the MV Independence.  

The afternoon had definitely turned nice and so I made some Caesars and we enjoyed a relaxing afternoon.  We enjoyed a delicious Pho for dinner.  We used the left over pork I had BBQ’d earlier with some beef broth and carrots.  A solitary passing cloud sprinkled some rain on us but it was only for a few minutes. It turned out to be another nice Squirrel Cove evening.

Stats: Ending engine hours: 6145.0, elspaed engine hours: 4.6, 20.0 nm, average speed 5.7 kts., 3:30 minutes motoring.
Independence Boat Pho
  • 1/4 C yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 T vegetable oil
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 1 T Bicks Red Pepper Relish, or a few canned pimentos
  • 1/4 C sake
  • 1 t fish sauce
  • 1/2 t ground ginger
  • 1/4 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t Cajun seasoning, or Cayenne pepper, or white pepper
  • 1 can beef broth
  • 2 C water
  • 1 package Soba noodles or a package of Top Ramen (don't use seasoning packet)
  • 2 grilled pork chops, cut in to pieces or strips
  • 1 T fresh basil leaves, tear leaves into pieces
Over medium high heat saute onions with oil until they just start to brown on the edges about 5-6 minutes, then add the  julienned carrot and cook until almost tender.  Next, add the red pepper relish, sake, fish sauce, and spices and cook for about 1 minute.  Add the beef broth, water, soba noodles and left over grilled pork and simmer for 5-10 minutes.  Finally, add 1 T of fresh basil and serve.  Enjoy.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Day 11 - Roscoe Bay to Toba Inlet

Sunday,  July 24, 2011.
Pendrell Sound from Waddington Channel
Woke to a gorgeous clear day with light winds.  We pulled anchor at 1045 and motored up Waddington Channel unsure of where we would stop for the night.  I thought about Allies Island, Doctor Bay, and Walsh Cove - all places I've motored by but never anchored at.  I even thought about Attwood Bay in Homfray Channel.  After some discussion we decided on Toba Wildernest Resort in Toba Inlet just behind Double Island.  Once again, a spot that I've heard of but never have been to.  I radioed them on VHF 66A and asked if they had available moorage.  They said they did and I told them to reserve us a spot.  We continued slowly motoring up Waddington Channel drinking in the beautiful mountain scenery.  The seas were very calm not even a breath of wind.  There were a few boats anchored at Allies Island but I was glad we chose not to anchor there.  Doctor Bay didn't look too interesting - again, glad we chose not to anchor there.  Walsh Cove looked scenic and there were about 4-5 boats already anchored there, but I was happy where we were headed.  We motored through the narrow gap by Dean Pt where West and East Redonda Islands are just separated by less than 100 yards.  We crossed Pryce Channel over to the Toba Wildernest Resort admiring all the mountains around Toba Inlet, Homfray Channel and Pryce Channel.  We certainly picked the right day to see all these majestic mountains since there wasn't hardly a cloud in the sky.  We got to Toba Wildernest Resort at 1300 after again slowly motoring at just 1700 rpm.  It’s a small resort marina with guest cabins, a small dock that will fit maybe 6-8 boats.  There's just moorage and water - no electricity and no store.  Moorage is $1.25 per foot.  The friendly staff helped welcomed us at the dock, helped me tie up the boat and explained all the features of Toba Wildernest Resort.  The marina gets it's power from the raging creek that flows through the resort.  It's actual quite an ingenious power system that the owner has developed and he is very proud of it.  Oh and one other feature of this marina, they've got hot showers.  Just after arriving we took the dogs for a quick hike – it’s hot out.  To cool off we decided to do a Zipper ride up to Brem Bay in Toba Inlet about 11 nautical miles away.   

Several years ago I assisted a boater with a MayDay call in Brem Bay.  They had backed down on their dinghy painter getting it caught up in their prop and shaft.  The owner thought they could simply dive it wearing only a swim suit and ended up with hypothermia.  I used my scuba gear and dry suit to dive the boat and untangle the line while the Coast Guard assisted the hypothermic boater.  While diving I remember the water temperature was about 40F - that's cold water.  Fortunately all turned out okay.  I remembered how beautiful Brem Bay was and decided to return under more favorable circumstances.

We enjoyed light winds all the way up to Brem Bay in the Zipper.  We took lots of pictures and ehecked out the logging camp float where we could’ve tied up to a small dock for free.  Unfortunately the horseflies were vicious and numerous.  Fortunately the horseflies preferred to bother the dogs versus us.  The poor dogs spent the whole time constantly turning and snapping at these pesky things as they tried to land on them.  Meanwhile, I checked out the bottom of Brem Bay using the Zipper's depth sounder for maybe a future anchoring spot.  As is typical with most of these fjords, the bottom goes from well over a 100' to 10' in less than 10'.  There's no possibility for a shore tie since shore was about 100' away.  So forget anchoring here.  And, because of the horseflies I think the crew was happy to not anchor or stay here.

To get away from the many horseflies we moved and went a bit up the Brem River looking for fish.  We saw no fish but did see a lot of seals who were enjoying a fresh salmon meal. I don't think the seals were too happy with us invading their space.  They were peering intently at us and then would violently slap the water with their flippers creating huge splashes in the water. Add to that there was a lot of very thick brush on either side of the river which would very easily hide a grizzly if one was near by.  We were only 10-20' from the river's edge and would hate to be suddenly charged by an angry bear thinking we were interfering with their supper.  I took a couple of sips from the absolutely clear river water - the taste was deliciously sweet and cold.  And, the air coming down with the river made it oh so refreshingly cool on a hot day.  We didn't want to leave but then decided to move on.  We went farther out into Brem Bay and had a nice lunch snack while enjoying the dramatic mountain scenery all around us.  For me this was the highlight of the trip. 

We then slowly made our way back down the N side of Toba Inlet towards Toba Wildernest exploring various nooks an crannies that were along this great and beautiful fjord.  We would motor the Zipper about 10-20' inside of these little nooks and crannies only to discover a wonderful little micro climate that probably doesn't see much sun.  Moss and ferns hung from the steep rock walls. Trees and plants grew out of almost every little crack in the rocks. And the temperature was about 10F cooler than just 20' farther out into the fjord.  The water had the color of mint chocolate chip ice cream without the chocolate bits.  Some places the rock walls were so steep that they were vertical, and they went up for hundreds if not thousands of feet.  As we slowly motored down the inlet not only did we see peaks and snowfields, but numerous waterfalls high up and a few right along the fjord shore.  We stopped at a couple of these waterfalls that pour right into the fjord – very nice and very scenic.  We traveled about 19.8 miles in the Zipper  

Toba Wildernest has done a great job in making a bunch of trails that take off from the resort.  One of them is to a waterfall, which we wanted to go see.  Unfortunately the trails are all poorly marked and there are no maps.  I ended up going on a wrong trail that lead us steeply up the mountainside.  Not only was the trail terribly steep, it was full of mosquitoes - and they were hordes of the vicious little blood hungry beasts.  I think the only enjoyment of this trail was by the dogs who romped up and down the trail so happy to be on terra firma. We finally turned around when the trail got even steeper.  As we came down the mountain I found the right trail to the falls but it was getting late and we never made it to the falls.  Instead, I sat on a wooden bridge over the creek just below the falls and enjoyed the cool breeze and mists coming from the raging creek.  We were all exhausted and this was oh so refreshing.  The breezes and mists besides cooling you off had the added effect of keeping any mosquitoes away - it was heaven. When we got back to the boat, I grilled Bavarian Smokies and made home-fried potatoes for supper.  I then enjoyed a long hot shower.  It was our first stay at a dock since starting the trip.

Stats: Ending engine hours: 6141.4, elapsed engine hours: 2.5, 11.8 nm, average speed 5.3 kts., 2:14 hrs. motoring

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Day 10 - Roscoe Bay

Saturday,  July 23, 2011.
One of the nicest things when you are on "holiday" is that if you don't have to go, you don't have to go.  That's what we decided today.  We decided another day at this beautiful anchorage is definitely in order.  Yesterday's hike partially up the Mt. Llanover trail had us still tired and muscles sore.  So instead of getting up we decided to sleep in. 

We started the day out quite lazily.  The morning skies were cloudy, but you could tell the day was going to be a beautiful day.  After breakfast I ran the generator for several hours to put a good chill on the refrigerator and give the batteries a charge.  Since leaving Olympia on July 14th we haven't stopped at a marina where the batteries could get a good charge.  The refrigerator was cool, but there definitely wasn't any ice.  The solar panel also helps with charging the batteries, but when you only do short trips and stay days without motoring you're totally relying on your batteries.  So running the generator a bit is a necessity.

We decided to hike the trail from the end of the bay to Black Lake and then venture a bit farther than the first swimming hole.  The Black Lake trail meanders along the far eastern end of Black Lake but then moves up the hills on the north shore of the lake.  Unlike the Mt Llanover trail, this trail is not so steep but gently follows the northern hill side going up and down.  You can take some side trails out to some high rocky promontories to get some beautiful views of Black Lake.  The trail then drops to the far northwestern shore and you walk for quite a distance right along the lake.  Access to the lake is not easy because of heavy brush.  When you do get to the lake it would be hard to swim because of downed trees and a mucky lake bottom.  I very much thought about it, but decided against trying to go swimming.  The day was turning hot, the dogs were panting heavily, and so we didn't walk more than an hour out and then deciding to turn around.  The shady spots in the woods were very cool.  We took our time and began to notice the many small wildflowers just off of the trail.  Funny, we didn't notice them on our way out, but now we very much noticed them.  On the way back we considered to stop and go swimming but by then the two or three really nice beach sites were packed with kids and families.  Of course there was plenty of yelling and screaming of children having fun in the warm water.  There were even small boats out on Black Lake that people carried up the trail.  We were not in the mood for a big commotion, so we just returned to the Zipper and took another cooling shower in the small waterfall that pours into Roscoe Bay.  We were hot from the hike but the water was very cold but oh so refreshing.  We noticed that today the water was not as plentiful as it was yesterday.

We than came back to the boat and warmed up by sitting on the flying bridge in the sun enjoying a cold drink. Like yesterday there wasn't as many boats as I would have expected.  And, most of the boats that arrived yesterday were still here.  I guess many folks had the same idea as us.  Come to Roscoe Bay and stay for more than a day.

While enjoying the afternoon up on the flying bridge a small trawler - a Camano Troll - came into the bay and made quite a show of trying to anchor.  He would motor about, drop his anchor down, then put the boat into reverse to set the anchor.  The issue was that he was going so hard in reverse and had so little anchor rode out that unless he snagged a submerged rock or tree he was surely not going to set the anchor.  He would drag and drag only to get too close to shore or another boat, then pull it up and try again.  He tried for about 40 minutes in one area of the bay and then moved to another spot and tried again.  I could tell many other anchored boaters were getting worried if he tried to come too close to them.  Finally after over an hour of him trolling up the bottom of Roscoe Bay his anchor finally held in a spot down the bay west of me.  I could tell his wife on the bow was very relieved that this anchor setting ordeal was over.  He then rowed over to shore and tied a stern line.  He yelled over at me to inform me that this bottom was the worst for holding ground and how could I be comfortable being at anchor without a stern line.  I simply waved.  I knew my anchor was firmly set.  I think everyone anchored in the bay was relieved that he was at anchor.

I came down to prepare supper – a soy, sake, ginger marinaded pork chop which I later grilled.  Kim made an excellent fried rice to compliment the asian style grilled pork .  We enjoyed a beautiful evening supper out on the back deck watching the sun set on the mountains to the east of us.
Evening in Roscoe Bay

Friday, July 22, 2011

Day 9 - Grace Harbor to Roscoe Bay

Friday,  July 22, 2011.
Cruising up Malaspina Inlet.
A very quiet night.  Woke to mostly sunny skies.  After considerable discussion based on my research yesterday, we decided to go to Roscoe Bay on West Redonda Island.  Roscoe Bay is a great protected east-west anchorage but there is one challenge, about half way into the bay, there is a drying shelf which dries at a 0' tide.  Which means that the inner portion of Roscoe Bay is isolated at a low tide.  I checked the tide tables and saw that if I entered Roscoe Bay at about 11:30 AM, I would be entering just before high tide without having to worry about the drying bar.  It's about 14 nautical miles from Grace Harbor to Roscoe which at 5 knots would take just about 2.5 hours.  So, we raised the anchor at 0940 to go on to Roscoe Bay.  We had a nice slow cruise up Malaspina Inlet and out into Homfray Channel.  Winds were light.  Again we cruised slowly at only 1700 rpm which was just about 5+ knots.  Just as planned we arrived at Roscoe bay just about 1130.  We ventured into the far western end of the bay and dropped the hook in 21’ of water at 1145 at near high tide.  We crossed over the bar to Roscoe Inlet with at least 7’ of water beneath us.

Shortly after we anchored a converted troller came in and anchored very closely to us.  He came barreling into the bay and seemed to act as if he owned the place and we were all intruding in "his" bay.  Much to my pleasure he left after a short while only to be replaced by another who had to come farther into the bay and anchor close by.  It seems there is a sport of who can anchor farthest into the bay.  I started to notice it over in Grace Harbor and the "farthest in anchor game" was definitely going on here in Roscoe Bay.
Roscoe Bay. - Green marks the trails we hiked.

Shortly after anchoring we decided to hike up the trail to Mt. Llanover.  The trail is very steep and challenging (it's a real "lung burner") and follows an old logging road and creek up until it meets up with a beaver pond.  Whatever thought we had of hiking to the top of Mt. Llanover was dashed because of how steep the trail was.  We came to a beaver pond and a flat area and stopped to have a snack.  It was late in the day, we were both exhausted, and decided to say "no more" up so the beaver pond became our zenith.  We relaxed in the cool shade along the shore of the beaver pond for quite awhile before heading back down.  Again, did I say the trail was challenging?  I fell on the way up – no problem, but on the way down I fell again this time scraping myself just below the elbow.   Finally we made it back to the trail head.  I was so hot and tired that I needed to cool off.  Just on the north shore of Roscoe Bay a small waterfall that pours directly down into Roscoe Bay..  I motored the bow of the Zipper into the waterfall and I took a shower in the waterfall - how refreshing.  In addition to taking a shower I filled up a 5 gallon bucket with water from the waterfall to fill up the sun shower for a later shower.  
At anchor in beautiful Roscoe Bay
The evening was beautiful.  We were all exhausted from the hike.  For supper we grilled chicken – a medittereanean style with lemon, fresh basil and spices – and ate out on the back deck.  My evening whiskey ration was especially welcome, it helped relax my tired muscles, and it tasted oh so good.  We weren't up too long before we all - dogs and people - retired and went to bed.

Stats: Ending engine hours: 6138.9, elapsed engine hours: 2.3, 10.7 nm, average speed 5.0 kts., 2:09 hrs motoring

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Day 8 - Grace Harbor, Desolation Sound Marine Park

Thursday  July 21, 2011.  .
Peaceful Squirrel Cove morning
Woke to a beautiful partly cloudy morning which turned into a very sunny day.  I simply sat, sipping coffee, and drinking in the Squirrel Cove scenery around me.  Yesterday evening it was snotty with wind and rain and this morning it is absolutely gorgeous.  I felt I was truly in paradise.

One of my successes for so many years of successful cruising is paying attention to necessary engine maintenance.  The MV Independence has a 120 HP Ford Lehman engine which is common among many boats built in the mid-seventies.  One of the key items is to change the injector pump oil every 50 hours.  So, I changed the injector pump oil at 6134.3 hours.   

After breakfast we pulled up anchor at 0940 to go to Grace Harbor – a place we’ve never been to before.  While Squirrel Cove was calm, Desolation Sound was anything but calm.  The wind was blowing hard from the NW through Desolation Sound making for about a 1-2' chop.  We went round the W end of Kinghorn Island which put us in the lee of this breeze and chop, which made the ride much more comfortable.  We then pointed the bow to go down into Malaspina Inlet with our destination being Grace Harbor.  There’s some rocks about half way down Malaspina Inlet that you have to pay attention to, particularly by Josephine & Beulah Islands and again to avoid Rosetta Rock, but other than that it’s a pretty simple cruise.  We turned to port out of Malaspina Inlet and thought about anchoring behind Jean Is. but it seemed too shallow so we went on to the main anchorage in Grace Harbor.  I'm glad we did, what a pretty bay is Grace Harbor.  There’s 12 other boats anchored here and we found a spot in the SW corner of the bay in 37’ of water at high tide.  We did a slow cruise from Squirrel Cove to Grace Harbor cruising only at a lazy 1700 rpm.  We dropped the hook at 1137.

Grace Harbor is well within Desolation Sound Marine Park.  It's a "bomb-proof" anchorage in that it is completely protected from all winds.  The wind continues to blow briskly from the NW but it really didn't affect us here.  The bottom holding was good of thick heavy mud.  There's a bit of a "hump" in the middle of the bay that will save you from putting out too much rode.  You can also anchor in either of the small nook at the north end of the bay or at the east end of the bay.  We chose to anchor along the west shore of the bay.  There's also a small camping site for kayaks that has an out house too.

Grace Harbor looking south
We took a short walk after lunch to the small beaver pond/lake that's about 5-6 acres in size just about 1 mile north of Grace Harbor.  You'll need to wear boots because the trail is quite muddy since it follows the creek from the beaver pond.  The trail is mostly flat and easy walking.  Once at the lake, there's a nice little beach where you can sit on some rocks and swim in the peat colored water.  The water was very warm.  We had the place all to ourselves so I took a quick swim - it was oh so refreshing.  We threw the stick in the water for the dogs so they too could cool off and go for a swim.  Hank actively went after the stick, but Rocky after his two falling in mishaps is much more reluctant about going into the water. After the swim we picnicked and just enjoyed the beautiful day.  I was surprised how long we had this spot all to ourselves.   After returning to the boat I ran the generatov for a bit to give the batteries a charge and put a bit of chill in the refrigerator.  We sat, sipping cold drinks, reading, and watching boats come and go all afternoon long.  Grace Harbor is a popular place. 

I spent more of the day looking at my charts for the area and all the anchoring possibilities in the Desolation Sound.  Hmm, we could go to Prideaux Haven... beautiful but crowded.  Laura Cove... beautiful but crowded.  Mink & Curme Islands... never anchored there, looks interesting - maybe.  Galley Bay... lots of possible nooks to anchor in.  Tenedos Bay...? Or, on further down Malaspina Inlet to Okeover Inlet... maybe.  Or Theodosia Inlet?  There are so many anchoring and exploring possibilities.  This was our 21st year traveling up the coast but for so many years past we simply hurriedly past through these waters on our way to points farther north.  We couldn't explore them all this summer but we'll have to pick a spot or two.  The crew was wanting a place to walk, maybe a swim, and some mountain scenery.  I didn't want a place too crowded - that might be hard to do.  Either way, that started to narrow down the possible anchoring spots.  I finished off the day with reading some older cruising guides and pondering where will we go tomorrow.  The weather was looking very promising for the next few days with no rain and warming temperatures. I'll think about it overnight.

For supper, we made a nice meal of couscous with tomatoes and cucumbers along with some grilled asian style pork chops.

Stats: Ending engine hours: 6136.6, elsapsed engine hours:  2.3, 10.5 nm, average speed 4.9 kts., 2:09 hrs motoring.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Day 7 - Squirrel Cove

Wednesday, July 20, 2011.
An off day – no motoring as we decided to stay put anchored in Squirrel Cove.  We had a lazy morning, sleeping in, enjoying a croissant, some coffee, light conversation, some reading, and generally doing nothing.  We were on holiday.  The weather was quite nice, even some sun for the morning and early afternoon.  

I took the dogs to “Dog Poo Is.” where I think Rocky got tangled with some hornets.  He's a pup and very curious.  He came scurrying back with his tail between his legs and would periodically stop and roll around on the ground only to get up and quickly scurry on.  I noticed a bunch of black things on him, but I wasn't going to get near him since I didn't want to get stung.  He flew into the Zipper without waiting for me to call him into the boat.  If Hank, the older dog could talk, I think he would have been laughing and saying, "See I told you not to sniff that."  Although Rocky was having a crisis Hank continued to take his time enjoying terra firma. Rocky meanwhile was looking quite anxious with that look, "C'mon, hurry up, do your business Hank.  I want to get the heck out of here and back to my mom."  I thoroughly checked Rocky out and judged he was okay, but you could tell he wanted to get the heck off of "Dog Poo Island."

Zipper tied up for the walk to Von Donop.
At 1430 we decided to go for a walk/hike on the trail to Von Donop Inlet – that was fun.  For so many of the years that we've enjoyed Squirrel Cove I have never taken the time to do this walk.  The tides were very conducive to letting us tie up the Zipper to the beach for a long walk.  First of all, the afternoon tide was very high and the ebb was only about 3' less than the high.  This meant that I could tie up the Zipper to shore without having to worry about the boat being high and dry.  The first part of the trail is very steep up a ridge and then down where it joins another trail to Squirrel Cove.  The trail is well marked with flagging so it would be hard to get lost.  However it's not an easy trail in that its filled with rocks, roots, and uneven ground - so you've got to be sure-footed.  Once the trail meets up with the Squirrel Cove - Von Donop trail it was more well worn and smooth making for easy walking.  The trail winds through deep second growth cedar and fir forests occasionally mixed with patches of alders and maples.  It sprinkled a bit while we were walking although it was quite warm and comfortable.  I was surprised that the bugs - horseflies and mosquitoes - weren't that bad considering the warm, moist weather.  We made it to the beach at Von Donop Inlet and had a snack.  The anchorage at Von Donop looked similar to Squirrel Cove - not too crowded and very quiet.  After a short while we started our hike back to Squirrel Cove - "the north gravel beach."  Don't get confused if you decided to hike this trail with Squirrel Cove the village.  The dogs loved the walk and probably walked twice the distance we did by running up the trail, then back to us, and then back up the trail.  The whole time the looks on their faces was, "Would you guys hurry up?"  All in all our hike took about two hours and we never met anyone else on the trail.  It seemed that we had the whole place to ourselves.
Hank & Rocky on the trail to Von Donop Inlet.
Shortly after we got back the weather really changed to some rain and lots of wind from the SE.  Just as the weather radio had forecast.  I listened to the weather stations and "ooof, was there SE wind."  Grief Point recorded SE winds of 18 knots with gusts.  I was really glad we decided to make the trip up yesterday and not today.  It would have been a very uncomfortable slog of a trip.  Fortunately I anchored in Squirrel Cove where I was in the lee of Dog Poo Island and so it wasn't too bad.  The wind was about 10-15 knots and the waters in the cove were only rippled.  We were tired from our hike and so while it was stormy outside we relaxed inside.  I took time to plan what we were going to do and where were we going to go for the next few days.  The weather radio said the weather was improving after this front moved through tonight.  I had decided that this trip was going to be a greater exploration of Desolation Sound.  For too many years we simply motored right through this archipelago on our way farther north.  Time to discover new places in Desolation Sound.

Because of the weather outside, we decided we wanted something warm and comforting.  We had some left over grilled curry chicken from yesterday's supper, so I decided to make a Filipino curry.  A Filipino curry is a creamy curry that has some fish sauce mixed in with your coconut curry sauce along with carrots, celery and potatoes.  The boat was filled with wonderful aromas as dinner cooked, tonight's supper was delicious, the dogs were dead tired from their walk, and so it made for a very peaceful and enjoyable evening.  My daily whiskey ration was particularly enjoying this evening.  I was in paradise.