Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Day 6 - Crossing the Monster to Squirrel Cove

Tuesday, July 19, 2011.
After listening to the 0400 weather radio for "Georgia Strait - waters north of Nanaimo" it sounded like a perfect day to tackle "the monster."  Light winds, Area Whiskey Golf cleared for transit, and all the weather stations - Entrance Island, Ballenas Island, Sisters Island, Merry Island, Chrome Island, Grief Point, and Sentry Shoal - all reported light winds.  That is winds less than 10 knots.  There were no waves and no swell, just what I and the crew want for a crossing.  However, the forecast for Wednesday was for strong SE (15-20 knots) winds.  The plan was to travel to Jedediah Island today, anchor for the night, and then finish the Georgia Strait trip on Wednesday.  This helps break up the long cruise, but now I think we're going to do the whole "monster enchilada" in one day - Nanaimo to Squirrel Cove.  I do not want to slog through heavy seas while today the seas are calm.  Therefore I went to the beach to give the dogs a long walk - it was going to be a long day for them.

We raised the anchor at 0700 and left Newcastle Harbor to cross "the monster."  We quietly motored up Newcastle Channel that separates Nanaimo from Newcastle Island, then into Departure Bay, around Horswell Rock, and to the Clarke Rock GPS way point.  The Strait is very calm - like a big lake.  Again, Area Whiskey Golf is open for transit so we made a straight line for the  Upwood Pt GPS way point by Texada Island.  This is a long, boring stretch of open water.  The crew went back to bed and I now I had whole world to myself.  Only a couple of other boats were making the peaceful crossing this morning with us.  We were widely separated so I didn't even notice their wakes.  The minutes became hours and soon we approached Upwood Point on Texada Island; wow what a calm and boring crossing of water.  I can still remember the other years where crossing this stretch of water was not so peaceful - green water over the bow, pounding through 3 - 4' waves - ugh.  I set course for the next GPS way point just off of Anderson Bay on Texada.  We passed three boats that were heading south and I still spotted a few boats way off in the distance boats heading north.  Again, just a ripple of light winds here and there was all I faced.  I walked around the boat checking things here and there just trying to stay alert.  After the Anderson Bay GPS way point I made for the NE Point GPS way point.  Again about another 3 hours away.  The tide had turned and now we were getting some push up Malaspina Strait.  I was surprised at how few boats that were out.  Normally this stretch of water is busy with pleasure boaters heading for points north, today I noticed only one or two boats way off in the distance.  Even the chatter on the VHF radio channel 16 was unusually quiet.

Hurtaldo Pt. Lund and the Copeland Is. in the distance.
As we approached NE Point GPS way point on Texada Island I let the crew take over the helm while I laid down for a nap.  It wasn't that I was really tired from doing things, I was just bored.  The weather was very good with partly cloudy skies and no wind.  I slept for about an hour or so when I heard waves softly pounding against the hull.  As we approached the Grief Point GPS way point there were some waves and about a 10 knot NW breeze coming down through Algerine Passage.  These seas didn't last long because as soon as we were in the lee of Harwood Island the seas were back to being rippled.  We momentarily thought about stopping in Powell River - we've never been there before.  We've stayed at the marina by Grief Point - and it looked relatively empty.  It was about 1400, the cruising was so very easy and the thought of being tied up in a marina versus being at the hook in Squirrel Cove just didn't sound appealing so we moved on.  The crew asked for an ETA for Squirrel Cove and I reported 1900 or there about.

As we motored on the sunny skies started to disappear and the clouds got thicker and thicker and the threat of rain grew.  The weather radio still forecasted 15-20 knot SE winds for Wednesday so that's what all the cloudiness was about - a small weather front was approaching.  The boat traffic was still very light compared to other years when approaching Savary Island and Lund I would see dozens of boats traveling north and south.  Lund looked somewhat busy as did the various small anchorages in the Copeland Islands.  Bliss Landing had a few boats, but to me it still just didn't appear as busy as years past.  Most of the boats were flying the Canadian flag not the US flag.  What US boats were out were much larger yachts than the MV Independence.  And, another note - when I did see boats cruising they weren't traveling at the speeds they normally were of 15 knots or more, rather most were cruising slowly at 10 knots or less.  All I could figure is that the down economy was having an effect on boating.

As always coming around Sarah Point and getting your first view of the Liberty Cap and the mountains above Desolation Sound is always a pleasure and it signifies that "you've made it - you've successfully crossed the monster."  Additionally, I knew we were approaching Desolation Sound because the depth sounder water temperature was climbing from about 50 F near Nanaimo to almost 70 F here.  A 20 F degree difference!  We made it to Squirrel Cove at 1845 and dropped the hook in 22.5’ of water at 1902. 

We moved after initially setting the anchor because we got too close to another boat.  The boats anchored in Squirrel Cove were all spaced very oddly and inefficiently - at least I thought so.  There’s not too many boats here; only about 20 or so.  We’re anchored in the far N corner of the cove – a new spot for us.  We grilled a spicy curry chicken for dinner and had Indian style potatoes with peas and carrots.  It was cloudy and it didn't rain but the air temperature was very comfortable for short sleeves and shorts.  I enjoyed my daily whiskey ration sitting out on the deck that evening and getting re-acquainted with my old friend Squirrel Cove. It sure was good to be back.

Stats: Ending engine hours: 6134.2, elapsed engine hours: 12.7, 72.3 nm, average speed 6.0 kts, 12:02 hrs. motoring.


Budds' outlet said...

It's great to read and follow your journal. Sounds like you've had a greattrip so far.

Budds' outlet said...

It's good to read the journal of your trip. It sounds like you have had a good cruise so far.