Up Close With Humpbacks….

WOW…WOW and WOW…last night after dinner we ran out in the whaler to get our   prawn pot which was out in Sutil Channel.

The ride out from where we were anchored in Von Donop Inlet was stunning. The sun was setting on the mountains and the water was calm flat.

 

9FD5CC38-CD80-4A01-AB30-3699F5E1BA6B

 

We got the pot pulled, not many shrimpies but what happened next made us forget our meager harvest.

Not far off the left side of the whaler, I saw what I thought was a log. But no, it was twisting as it moved…. then a dorsal fin appeared… and another dorsal fin, then a tail.

Humpback Whales…Sweet. We watched for a couple of minutes… then blows, loud like the roar of a lion. More fins and tails. Wow….

We counted at least four humpies and they appeared to be feeding. They seemed to be moving away from us so we sat and waited.

More blows, did I say WOW! So loud and so close…it sounded like a lion roaring.  I had the camera ready and started the video. A full breach… whoa, unbelievable but no video. I must have hit the stop button when Wally yelled…holey shite!

We were afraid to move the whaler so we just sat there wondering where the heck they were.

I did manage to get this video.

 

What an evening… we are still pinching ourselves about how fortunate we are to be on the water and experience so much natural wonder. Did I already say WOW?

 

 

I love the fan tail the whaler makes as we zoom away from our crazy whale encounter.

Advertisements

The Wild Broughtons

It has been just over a month since we left Anacortes Washington bound for the Broughton Islands in Northern British Columbia. So far we have had quite an adventure and have certainly learned a lot on this cruise. While we have been boating for almost 20 years, this has certainly been one of the most wild and rugged cruises we have taken by ourselves.

 

5468BA02-AA4C-4FF2-BF29-3C7CC93B69AA

 

There have been many nights that we have been anchored out in a bay or cove with no other boats or people around for miles…ah, and no cell or wifi  either. Our entertainment has been watching the wild life, reading, fishing, prawning, crabbing, exploring by kayak and in the whaler, seriously competitive games of backgammon and spectacular sunsets! No fear of boredom setting in…really!!

 

995BDFA3-14CF-43E7-90B7-672CAA35BD77

Hanging on the anchor near Cecil Island.

 

18D20662-5B2C-40BF-85E6-0645CEBA098A

Aren’t Dungeness Crabs beautiful….Yes, we ate him!!!

 

We have seen orca whales, pacific white sided dolphins, copious numbers of adult and juvenile bald eagles, mink, otters, seals, sea lions and many other types of sea creatures and birds. So far we have not seen any bears but we have talked to other folks that have seen them on shore. I am still hoping for a bear sighting…just not when we are talking Bentley to shore!!!

 

81D32671-A100-4FDE-8E80-7A864C620CC6

The dolphin encounter was one of the highlights of our cruise.

 

 

03D9ED42-9895-4FD0-B226-9F7B9249D684

Lingcod might not be beautiful but they sure taste good…Yes, we ate  it!!

 

07FCF78E-1890-4BF4-AAB5-BA8EEC7BCF43

This dude was watching us fish…he actually flew down and tried to grab the first small rockfish I brought up to the boat …that was exciting!!!

 

505FA757-4C0B-4AB4-93F3-3F384E5EEA82

What a beauty… Nope, we didn’t eat it…too small, so it swam free!

 

59536D33-6FFB-4E87-B8F1-399960BA3CFC

The big guy was holding court while the ladies were fawning all over him…quite the ladies man!

 

8E8A1655-F06F-4A69-8D50-0B7CA8D5C83B

A happy fisherman with his catch of the day…a black rockfish and a huge yellow edged rockfish…yep, you guessed right – we ate them!

 

30A28998-DBB9-4A88-AAF5-DC8FA32E99DC

Look at those beautiful prawns…Are you starting to get the feeling that we have been eating well.

 

The month has really gone by too quickly and I can’t believe we are starting the trek south already. The good new is that you can expect more frequent updates as we get back in the land of cell reception.

 

F5C56B12-5640-4142-AC25-03598772DB64

Just another spectacular sunset!

Off the Grid With Mother Nature – Part 2

After our earlier adventure in the Broughton Lagoon tidal rapids, we really thought the rest of the day would be uneventful. I mean how much craziness can Mother Nature dish out in one day???

 

995BDFA3-14CF-43E7-90B7-672CAA35BD77

The day started so peaceful and beautiful …just high, fluffy clouds.

 

Well, she had more in her…Around 3:30 pm the weather shifted and it was evident a squall was headed our way so we closed up all the canvas and battened down the hatches! Around 4:30 all hell broke loose, no real wind but the thunder was incredible. The first lighting and the huge KABOOM …it was like dynamite going off over our heads. I didn’t even get past counting one one thousand…Sucia and Bentley were both shaking and running for cover. …I uttered a WOW..WHOA as the squall crested from the direction of Broughton Lagoon…Is this an evil place and it’s telling us to beware???

Lighting has a unique smell especially when you are right under a strike. The ozone layer feels alive…within minutes of the first huge kaboom we could smell something burning. The lighting went on for about 20 more minutes and each kaboom got progressively farther away.

As the squall moved away, I stepped out on to the swimstep and noticed smoke drifting out from the opening of the small creek at the back of the cove. WHOA, WOW… the lighting had hit a tree about 200 years from us on shore and tree was on fire. We listened to the snap, crackle pop and could see smoke but no flames coming from deep with in the forest. After some deliberation, Wally hailed the Canadian Coast Guard on the VHF radio as we had no cell reception. He reported the strike and fire as the intensity of the smoke had gotten worse…it was that orange-brown color that unseasoned, pitchy fire wood puts off.

 

EEFE0C88-F126-4075-B5D4-5C24D53B2CA4

Yep, that’s how close the lighting strike was to us.

 

Wally was on the VHF radio several times as the Canadian Coast Guard took information and relayed it to the Ministry of Forests.  Within another hour, a second rain squall came through damping down the potential fire. There was no threat to us but boy howdy had it been an exciting day…crazy tidal gates, rapids, thunder, lighting and a fire strike just 200 yards away.

 

F7514A2F-B193-4878-A80E-017450E30A07

 

We were still game for a bit more adventure so after dinner when the rain let up we took Bentley in the whaler for a cruise up into Greenway Sound. Moody dark skies, with light pockets made for a beautiful vista. We found the decrepit marine park dock and took Bentley for a short walk up the trail but the misty, dark forest was just too creepy so we headed back to the safety of the warm, crazy Beach House.

 

2CB39EB9-4215-428B-A704-A96CFE04DB31

 

Wally had a final radio call with the Canadian Coast Guard scheduled at 6:00 am the next morning. Geez, don’t they know we are retired…who gets up that early???

It rained off and on all night so the fire danger passed and Wally happily reported no concerns to the Canadian Coast Guard at O’ Dark Thirty in the morning. After all this crazy fun in Greenway Sound, we decided to head for cilivilation…Sullivan Bay Marina was our destination, where we were planning to meet friends from Anacortes, do laundry and some provisioning.

 

D98CE01D-B16A-4332-A405-C6631405BBD5

Off The Grid with Mother Nature – Part 1

Since my last post, we have been totally off the grid in Simoom Sound and Greenway Sound. No cell service, no wi-fi, no people, no houses, just a few crappy Atlantic Salmon Fish Farms. They actually litter the coves here in the Broughtons and believe me, no one I talk to about them likes having them in the bays but that’s a whole different post!

The joy of exploring the Broughton is the remote, beautiful areas that you often have all to yourself. Don’t worry, we still have VHF radio access to the Canadian Coast Guard should anything happen.

We spent our Fourth of July, peacefully hanging on the anchor in O’Brien Bay which is in Simoom Sound. For two days we explored the area in our trusty 13 ft Boston Whaler that we tow behind the Beach House. We did a bit of fishing and prawning but neither produce any dinner options. The kayaking in the bay was awesome, so much to look at on shore and in the water. I spent about 30 minutes just floating and watching a beautiful bald eagle in a snag tree just up on shore.

 

F5C56B12-5640-4142-AC25-03598772DB64

 

5FA5F3B8-53C4-4EDB-A7C7-39FA60EE71E2

 

We checked out an abandon logging camp in hopes of finding a road that was walkable but after finding some fresh bear scat, we decided maybe to get back on the water. Whistles, an air horn, and bear mace are in our arsenal of “Hello Mr. Bear” greeting tools. We have been told that there aren’t many Grizzly Bears in this area, especially on the islands as there isn’t enough territory for them here. But black and brown bears are definitely in the area although we haven’t seen any on our Bentley shore leaves yet.

 

C989A043-1468-4567-B2DB-B4652612FE39

Those are all full barrels of jet fuel…interesting since this logging road hasn’t been used since 1986.

 

516BE137-AF7D-4747-92C9-6AFE3962F3EA

That is a very fresh pile of bear scat…it was actually larger than the picture depicts.

 

Getting Bentley to shore for some exercise and constitutionals has been a challenge up here in the Broughtons. The shorelines are steep to and have no little if any real shoreline. We look for small islets or sometimes big rocks that we can get teh whaler up to. Bentley is really sure footed so he can climb up and over the rocks.

 

506CDF9F-5F1F-47DA-AB36-5E11A6343988

Bentley is leaving some scat of his own!!!

 

We headed over to Greenway Sound for one night and anchored in a sweet little cove, behind an islet where the small tidal outflow from Broughton Lagoon rippled out just behind the Beach House. 

 

0440FBBB-DEA8-4F48-8CEA-414BCD8BB9B2

 

995BDFA3-14CF-43E7-90B7-672CAA35BD77

 

Broughton Lagoon is a quiet, secluded, uncharted saltwater lake approximately three miles long.There are dolphins that fish and play in the lagoon so we decided to go exploring in the whaler. 

While this lagoon sounds calm and peaceful is guarded by tidal gates where turbulent, fast-flowing water, hazardous rocks and restricted space for maneuvering make things difficult. We had read that the best time to transit into the lagoon was high water. After consulting the tide tables, the closest one being quite always from where were but we knew it was not HW slack. As we puttered around exploring, a small boat headed into the channel for the lagoon. So off we went, blissfully unaware of just how crazy Mother Nature can be.

They didn’t come back so we figured it was okay to go…the first part of the channel was whirlpools but no serious rapids but as we turned the sharp corner, holy crap Batman it was a raging torrent of water for about 100 yards. I was sitting on the bow of the whaler taking video when Wally said, “there is a tight turn ahead so hold on”. I immediately saw the turbulent water ahead and a wall of water. For a spilt second I thought about getting up and going around to the seat next to Wally but the water was pushing so hard and fast that I knew that would be a crazy move. Plus, I was worried about Bentley who was standing next to me. I quickly stuck my iphone under my left butt cheek, grab onto Bents and the railing of the Whaler…just in time … as we hit the first wall of the waterfall. Then the swirling, whirling mass of water turned into a 2-3 foot wall of water. Wally didn’t lose his cool and powered the whaler through it, thankfully we have a 50 hp engine. Bentley was thrown down as I held on for dear life…in what seemed like an eternity but was really just a few seconds we crested over the huge outfall and into calmer water, then into the lagoon itself. WOW….I was shaken but we were all okay. Okay, that scared the crap out of me, not living to you!!! We took a nice leisurely cruise around the lagoon, got Bentley to shore for a break and tied off to an overhanging tree in the shade to regroup. 

Thanks to limited wifi bandwidth at the marina we are staying at, there is no video so sorry, you will have to believe it was as terrifying as I make it out to be 🙂

 

Meanwhile the other boat roared around for about 20 minutes and then headed back out again…Well, not following that crazy boat again, so we decided to hang out for at least an hour and wait for the tidal exchange to slow down.

While motoring around we saw 4-5 porpoise and followed them for a bit while they fished. It would be crazy to have seen them in that small, narrow  channel coming or going. I bet they have a better sense of timing that we did! 

After one peek down the raging channel, it was evident that the water was definite less turbulent but we gave it another 20 minutes then headed through. I was tense as we approached, ready for another death-defying pass. So we started in, this time I was in the back seat beside Wally, with Bentley tucked between my legs. It was fast-moving and turbulent but no huge walls of water. We might have dropped down over a small outfalls but it was actually fun this time …wow, what a difference 90 minutes makes!!!

The water was calm in the bay as we motored back to the Beach House. After a stiff drink and showers, we all felt good again. Just in case you are wondering, Bentley didn’t have a stiff drink but he sure deserved one too!

Later we explored Greenway Sound in the whaler and found a marine park and trail but headed back to the boat as there was rain coming and what looked like a serious squall.

 

A20A449F-B691-4BC3-969C-04F49C351E76

 

13C3703D-78F1-4A10-BD13-47CD63911B1C

The dock at the marine park was a disaster but Bentley found this brand new outhouse??? Guess the BC Parks Service has its priorities!!!

WOO-HOO, We Made It!!!

Yippee Skippee…we are in the Broughton Islands but thanks to limited cell and internet services (welcome to the wilderness) along the way, I haven’t posted any news for several days so I will try to catch you up.

Our last big hurdle to getting this far north was based on the temperament of Johnstone Strait. Many a mariner has had their ass handed to them on a platter when the ferocious winds howl down this 110 km (68 mi) channel along the north-east coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. The strait is between 2.5 km (1.6 mi) and 5 km (3.1 mi) wide so the water and wind channel right down through there. It is a major navigation channel on the west coast of North America.  There are ways to limit ones passage through Johnstone by taking some more sheltered routes through Desolation Sound but at some point you have no choice but to get your bow out in the strait.

The weather looked great on Thursday the 28th, light and variable winds in the morning as opposed to the 10-20 knots it often is. Johnstone is well known for the winds building to 20-25 knots by early afternoon. We got a very early start to take advantage of the light wind and the ebbing current to help carry us along faster. We also opted to take the route through Blind Channel into Johnstone, up past Race and Current Passages. This route put us in Johnstone longer but with the great weather forecast we were willing to take the chance, get an early start and off the strait before the afternoon winds could whip it up. We were rewarded with very light chop, less than 5 knots of wind and a very pleasant day on the water. No ass whoopin for us…that was cause for celebration!!!

In route, we saw Randy and Rusty  (that we met at Blind Channel Resort) on Johnstone Strait near Port Neville. We tooted the horn and gave them wide berth as not to swamp them with our wake. They were flying along, sails up taking advantage of the ebb current too. No ass whoopin for Randy and Rusty either!!

 

C5E33768-9051-4135-A60A-2A98858E96C2

 

The Beach House was anchored in Cutter Cove which is well into the Broughton Islands by the early afternoon. On a fair weather day, this anchorage is calm and protected plus we were the only boat there.

 

301EE50D-511F-4051-9799-55C57AF314D0

Beach House on the hook in Cutter Cove.

 

We took the whaler out to explore and did a fast cruise in the light misty rain that set in, over to the now defunct Mistral Bay Resort. We have heard lots of stories about this resort when it was in full swing as a friends family once owned it. The resort is just a shell of aging buildings and crumbling docks now – so sad. The docks can be used at your own risk for free and we chatted with a couple who were tied up there for the night. The whole place was just depressing and I was glad we were on the hook at Cutter Cove.

 

 

FA6A5B10-903C-4854-98AB-425128D28FFA

Defunct and decrepit Mistral Island Resort.

 

A celebration dinner was in order…Grilled Lamb Chops with Argentina Chimmichurri Sauce, Roasted Red Potatoes with Rosemary and Garlic along with Grilled Red and Yellow Peppers. Chef Brenda served a Cabernet Sauvignon from Upchurch which is in the Walla Walla Valley.

We swung on the anchor that night, peaceful and quiet so we slept great.

The following day, not in a big hurry anymore, we motored out of Cutter Cove around 10 am with Kwatsi Bay routed as our destination. It was only 22 nautical miles so we dialed back the engines to putter speed, about 8 knots. It was raining and misty but the water was calm and flat. – no real wind.

Our cruise got quite eventful about 5 nautical miles from Kwatsi Bay … eventful in a good way. We spotted Pacific White Sided Porpoises fishing and frolicking in groups all around us. I would guesstimate that there was easily 50 of them. Soon we were the source of their fun. It was unbelievable… they jumped, leapt and sped through the water next to the boat on both sides for miles.

 

81D32671-A100-4FDE-8E80-7A864C620CC6

 

I was hanging out the salon window clapping and laughing as they performed  their aerobic water ballet for me. I just focused the camera near the side of the boat doing burst shots in hopes of getting one decent picture.  It was an amazing show as porpoise sped by the salon window, often three at a time, leaping out of the water right in front of me, then dashing under the bow, leaping out across each other. I swear they knew I was there watching their beautiful show.

 

 

01CE3A24-9073-4648-9846-2E9207BFDA60

 

Wally watched their show off the bow from the flybridge as he just motored along on autopilot. The porpoise seemed to really like the wake our boat was throwing up. They would cue up in the smaller wake the whaler was throwing, then gain speed as the wake got bigger along the side of the boat. Did I say it was unbelievable and beautiful…truly the most amazing thing we have experienced in the boat!!!

 

2A5DAED9-29FA-4C84-9C0B-ECDDDC272279

I was so bummed I didn’t get the whole porpoise in this shot but I love the reflection in the water.

 

Kwatsi Bay Marina is rustic to say the least but in a charming way. Max and Anka have built this place up from scratch over the last 20 years. Just one 400 ft aging wood dock with no power. There is a tiny gift shop and a gathering place for the evening potluck happy hour. Cold, clean water abounds… Hydro power, that they installed is generated from the enormous waterfall that cascades down from the 4,500 ft peaks behind the marina. We love these kinds of places, quaint, charming and intimate.

 

65D9E42B-94F9-44E6-8881-A88395085F4D

Quaint Kwatsi Bay Marina.

 

It was a rainy day for sure, but we got a break from 2:30 to almost 10 pm. We spent the afternoon exploring the beautiful bay in the whaler and on foot as well. There is a short hike to the lower part of that enormous waterfall, which is actually just one of many that ring the bay.

 

32EF4A48-491D-4839-A9D7-6716C6E65CF1

Bentley loves exploring too…

 

B7059F16-631F-4E66-939F-5DF25A28A8DA

 

Happy Hour was at 5 pm back on the dock. We spent a few hours easily chatting with our hosts and the other two couples that were staying on their boats on the dock. Everyone was happy to share with us their favorite anchorages and places not to miss exploring. The next day we are off for Pierre’s Echo Bay Marina and Resort.