To recap the travels described in earlier postings. We spent the summer of 2009 in SE Alaska. From there, after a short period on the hard in Bellingham, we took on her own bottom from SE Alaska to Huatulco, Mexico by the end of 2009. In 2010, we continued South to El Salvador and Panama, then turned back North to La Paz, Mexico where we had booked a ride for Arcadia I on a Dockwise yacht transport ship from there to Nanaimo, BC. (Thus avoiding the long and predictably unpleasant ride, "uphill", to Puget Sound). We then made a relatively leisure trip back up the inside passage along the BC coast, back to SE Alaska, where we enjoyed the remainder of the summer season. As we made the last posting, Phyllis had joined Willy and me in Ketchikan, and we were preparing to start down the inside passage toward home.
On Thursday, August 12th, we got underway from Ketchikan at 4 am in hopes of clearing Canadian Customs and Immigration that afternoon. We entered Canadian waters by 10 am and were tied up to the Customs dock in Prince Rupert by 3:30. Checkin formalities were conducted by telephone interview from a phone mounted on the dock, at the end of which we were given a "report number" and were free to go. It was late enough that we decided to try to find a slip in Prince Rupert for the night, but both marinas were completely full. We went looking for a protected anchorage nearby. We notice Phillps Cove on the charts. It looked ideal, although none of our guide books mentioned it. We went in through a looping channel to find a good holding bottom in 3 fathoms and no one else there.
We slept in a bit and got underway the next morning by about 10 am and made a short day of it. Along the way, Shaka made radio contact with us. She had cleared Customs early that morning and was a couple of hours behind us. I'd read the Douglass cruising guide description and wanted to anchor in Baker Inlet that afternoon, but it has a narrow entrance with very rapid tidal currents. We entered at near slack conditions without incident, but Shaka behind us would have missed the tide window. We agreed to make radio contact with them as soon as we re-entered Grenville Sound the next morning. Baker inlet was, indeed a beautiful place to stop. We could have happily spent a week there.
The next morning we were faced with pea soup fog and had to literally creep the winding course back to the entrance to Grenville Sound, with Phyl standing lookout on the bow. Fortunately, the fog lifted right at that point and, although we'd missed slack tide flow, we were able to shoot through with a 3-4 knot current and be on our way without incident.
We raised Shaka (Nordhavn 57) on VHF, finding her also getting underway a couple of miles behind. We had met Johann and Laurie in Ketchikan after a long email correspondence and several missed connections and looked forward to travelling together down the inside passage.
Craig has a beautiful Malahide 60, (one of the real pioneers of the "trawler" passagemakers trend we all enjoy). You can take a look at his website at http://www.mvexplorer.ca/Explorer_Blog/Welcome.html. Explorer I was on course into the Broughtons at that point, and we'd made plans to go to Butedale so we didn't connect then. However, we made plans to rendezvous when our paths again crossed between Port Hardy and Campbell..
That morning, Saturday the 14th of August, on Craig's recommendation, we made a short detour into Howe Inlet. We'd hoped to see the bears that Craig reported seeing earlier, but they had left with the tide. The tide flow at Varney Falls was impressive, nonetheless. As testament to the tides along the inside passage coves, these falls can be traversed in a dinghy at high tide.
We then continued to Butedale where we tied alongside the old cannery ruins, (sorry, no pictures there unless Johann took some and sends them to me. If so, I'll post them later). We enjoyed a lovely meal aboard Shaka with Johann and Laurie.
Sunday morning, we got underway early and made a fairly short day of the trip to Fancy Cove in time to enjoy the colorful sunset that resulted from forest fires inland.
On Monday, the 16th, we again left early in the morning, to make the open ocean run across Queen Charlotte Strait. The morning started out beautifully, but degenerated into gale force winds by late afternoon. We were more than ready to tie up when we got to the Quarterdeck Marina in Port Hardy.
On Tuesday, the 17th, we made a long day of it travelling down Discovery Passage, to rendezvous that evening behind Chain Islands, just above Seymour Narrows, in time for a lovely dinner aboard Explorer II. Craig Hougen and his friend Mark Tanner were gracious hosts, indeed.
On Wednesday morning, we got underway at 05:30 to time our run down Seymour Narrows with slack tide flow. The last time we went this way, with Ron Fawcett, we did it at near full flow and passed through them at 18 knots. This time, it was a non-event. As soon as we cleared the narrows, entering Georgia Strait, the wind kicked up to 15-20 knots. Our little flotilla, Shaka, Explorer II, and Arcadia I, breasted lumpy seas for the rest of the day. We got to Nanaimo, and all three boats were able to tie up next to one another at the Cameron Island float in time for a very nice shore dinner at my favorite restaurant there, the nearby Acme Seafood and Chop house, (best clam chowder on the planet). Johann and Laurie were staying a few days in Nanaimo, so we bid them farewell, for now. We hope to see them in Southern California later this fall.
The next morning, Thursday the 19th of September, we followed Explorer II through Dodd Narrows for a protected passage through the Bay/San Juan Islands. This is another very narrow passage with tide flows strong enough to make it impassable by slow boats except at slack tide.
The next morning, Friday the 20th, we got underway early and made the short trip over to Bellingham. We'd made arrangments to haul out at SeaView North Boatyard early the following week and they were kind enough to allow us free mooring on their adjacent floats. We were tied up by noon. We cleaned up the boat a bit, rented a car, stopped to say goodbye to Craig and Mark and left the boat for a weekend ashore with friends before Phyl and Willy had to catch their flight home on Sunday afternoon.
We didn't actually haul the boat until Tuesday the 24th. What we found was scary, indeed!
I knew there had been contact with the bottom in the first cove we anchored in after we crossed into Alaska in early July. It felt like a minor scrape on the bottom of the keel. No big bumps or lurches. We checked the bilge for any indication of leaks, of course, but after our much more traumatic experience in Panama the whole incident seemed minor and was soon out of mind. I wouldn't have been surprised to find some small scrapes on the keel but what we actually found was that the Nobeltec transducer and its fairing were completely gone! Here's what it should have looked like. It was the big one with the teardrop fairing.