Cruising in Delightful Desolation Sound

While the name, Desolation Sound may sound less than idyllic, this truly is a beautiful part of the Canadian coastline. This deep water sound is at the northern end of the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia, Canada. Flanked by Cortes Island and West Redonda Island, it has spectacular fjords, mountains and wildlife which make it a popular boating and sea kayaking destination.

 

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Desolation Sound was inhabited by tribes of the Mainland Comox prior to the arrival of Europeans. In the summer of 1792, two expeditions led by Captains George Vancouver, Dionisio Alcalá Galiano and Cayetano Valdés y Flores arrived and cooperated in mapping the sound. Vancouver named it Desolation Sound, cryptically claiming that “there was not a single prospect that was pleasing to the eye”.

 

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Personally, I couldn’t disagree more with Captain Vancouver…but who knows, maybe he was out of grogg, had scurvy or was feeling particularly grumpy when he decided on that name. I do believe that the area would have been quite desolate and wild with some crazy areas of currents, whirlpools and rapids that would have made early explorers have sphincter palpitations.

This video is just a small tidal rapid near Dent Island Lodge. Luckily, we did not have to traverse it so it was just fun to watch from shore.

 

 

 

Thankfully, the Government of British Columbia created the Desolation Sound Provincial Marine Park in 1973, to help protect this spectacular area from over development. The marine Park area comprises over 32 sq miles and over 37 miles of shoreline. Its many beautiful inlets, islets, coves and bays attract recreational boaters like us each summer. This amazing beauty coupled with the warm summer weather brings hundred boats here to share the numerous small anchorages.

 

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We managed to find a few more secluded anchorages like this beautiful spot near Grace Harbor.

After spending a month further north in the Broughton Islands, the Desolation Sound area was really busy and crowded in comparison. It felt a bit like driving into Seattle! It was also so much warmer, shorts and bathing suits made an extended appearance, YAY! Seems we motored down about the time the summer heat wave hit the entire west coast. I recorded a 93 degree day inside the boat. Truly, the temperature difference was like going from North America to South America.

 

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That said, we had a great two weeks there exploring some new anchorages, meeting up with fellow boating friends from Anacortes and hosting friends onboard the Beach House for a week. Fishing, exploring, relaxing, hiking, cooking amazing meals, drinking wine, kayaking and stargazing filled our days and nights. We even happened into a great floating concert in beautiful Prideaux Haven.

 

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Hundreds of folks rafted together in their dinghy’s to enjoy the concert. The band and entertainers were awesome.

 

 

 

 

Our friends Dave and Tanya joined us for a week and arrived via float plane at Dent Island Lodge. It was so exciting to see the plane touch down on the water as we sat waiting for them in the marina.  They had a great flight from Seattle, low over the water with amazing visibility all the way up the coastline.  What a beautiful setting to touch down and on a private island none the less!

 

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We enjoyed a fabulous meal and exploring the hiking trails the next day. It would have been way to easy to have stayed a few more days but we had places to go, fish to catch and things to see.

 

 

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Hmmm, not sure what went wrong on this cruise but it wasn’t likely  the skippers best day on the water.

 

Fishing and shrimping are a great way to fill the coffers with fresh seafood. If you look closely at Wally’s fish (on the right) in the picture below, it has a turquoise hue. Most lingcod are light beige or whitish gray with pinkish bellies. However, about 20 percent of lingcod have florescent green or blue flesh.  No one seems to know precisely what causes this but biologists believe the strange green or blue hues indicate that the lingcod have consumed a diet rich in chlorophyll, eating more plant matter—green algae through small crustaceans—than the rest. Regardless of its initial coloring, all lingcod meat turns bright white when cooked and is a dense, mild fish. We ate them both and honestly I can’t tell you that they tasted any different.

 

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Those are some happy boys!! Well, not the fish so much.

 

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Seriously, that is really the color of the fish meat. No photo color enhancement!!

 

The great thing about Desolation Sound is that there are actually plenty of places to get off the boat and enjoy having someone else cook and do the dishes. As much as I love cooking, sometimes shore leave keeps the whole crew happy!

 

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Lunch on the deck at bustling Refuge Cove. Bloody Mary anyone?

 

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Speaking of shore leave, many of the anchorages in Desolation Sound have great hikes. Fresh water lakes are plentiful with the high mountains and winter snowpack so swimming in the cool, fresh water is a great way to cool off on a hot day. 

 

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Bentley didn’t go full in swimming but he definitely likes wading! He’s always a happy boy when we get out the harness and leash – shore leave…why yes, I will go exploring too!!

 

 

 

There were no shortage of amazing sunsets and one night we were all treated to a dark sky dripping with stars. No light pollution, no wildfire haze and no moon makes for spectacular stargazing. The perfect place to take it all in… stretched out on the bow of the boat with a glass of wine in hand. So quiet and peaceful…

 

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We saw plenty of wildlife on our two weeks in Desolation Sound. Eagles, Orca Whales, Humpback Whales, Osprey, Herons, Cormorants, Kingfishers, Seals, and Porpoise just to name a few.

 

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Isn’t this couple just adorable…I am pretty sure the babe on the right is the girlie! She looks so feminine!!!

 

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This baby seal found the perfect place to sun itself and didn’t seem to mind that we were this close. Little dude was actually suckling on the side of this giant boat…so cute!!!

 

We really did get up close and personal with the humpbacks in the videos below one night when we went out to check our prawn pot. Check out the link above to read about that exciting evening!

 

 

 

 

It has taken me awhile to sort through all the pictures from this short two week part of our cruise north. I gotta admit that I was a bit tuckered out by the time we pulled into our slip at Anchor Cove Marina in Anacortes. We have had such a great season on the boat exploring the Canadian Coastline and once we catch our breath, I think we will head out for a few four days trips in the San Juan Island! This gal’s not that tuckered out or ready to put the Beach House away for the winter!!!

 

 

 

I love how the wake of our boston whaler made a wake that was shaped like a whale tail!! Wonder if that’s why they are called whalers???

Outposts in the Wild Broughtons

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While we love gunk holing and being anchored out in a quiet bay with no one around, sometimes this gal needs a “city” fix. On the boat that usually means we need to do laundry, get fuel or food but in the case of the Broughton’s the main attraction of the marinas was the social aspect. 

Most of the marina’s in the Broughton’s are really outposts, some are super funky and rustic, others are more sophisticated. Rustic means just that, the docks are usually old wood floats, there is unlikely any type of store, no fuel, no laundry. Some times they have water and power if they have good generators.

 

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Rustic, wild Kwatsi Bay.

 

Sophisticated means there are a full range of services such as fuel, water, power, groceries, laundry, wood fired hot tub, wifi and cell service and maybe updated concrete docks. Don’t get me wrong…they are still funky but with flair!!

 

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These outposts are where the boaters gather to catch up on chores, pick up friends who fly in on float planes (yes, you have that option too if you want to come hang with us for a while on the boat), and socialize with other boaters.

Most outposts have some sort of organized Happy Hour which is usually potluck and the marina provides the place to gather. Some even have a small restaurant or set meals several times a week. The other thing that sets the tone at the outposts are the owners and the special touches they do to give their outpost its own special vibe.

 

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Golf anyone???

 

Kwatsi Bay is definitely rustic…the setting is stunning and all the waterfalls in this area make is very special. Set deep in the bay with 2,000 ft mountains surrounding it, Max and Anca are a delightful couple who have built this place from scratch. Sadly, we hear they are putting it up for sale…so if you are hankering to have your very own outpost, this may be your chance.

 

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Remote Kwatsi Bay

 

The water system at Kwatsi was installed with human man power efforts by Max which meant laying hundreds of feet of pipes up the mountain to the year-around waterfall. The water is piped down to the marina and purified. There is no power at the docks but the small building and the main house are set up in a generator and solar, all done in an effort to be sensitive to the environment.

 

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We enjoyed a intimate Happy Hour gathering on the docks and no rain!

 

Pierre’s at Echo Bay is another outpost that is owned by a very enterprising couple, Pierre and Tove. Read the link and you will see what I mean by enterprising! They have been living and working in the Broughton’s for almost 40 years and this outpost definitely has their vibe. The pig roast and prime rib dinner events that they hold each week are incredibly popular and well attended. We made our reservations in advance just to make sure we could attend the Canada Day Celebration as well.

 

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Thats Pierre getting ready to carve the pig.

 

This outpost also has some hiking trails that will take you over to another small bay where you can see Billy Proctors Museum and visit the gift shop. Billy is a coastal legend who tells the best stories based on his life living in the Broughtons. 

We had a chance to meet Billy and chat with him about the fish farms …yes, he has strong options about those!!! A friend had loaned me one of his books “Full Moon, Flood Tide” which was great to read while we were cruising in Billy back yard. A natural, storyteller, Billy’s book points the way to hidden waterfalls, abandon Native villages, old logging camps and the added bonus for boaters is the descriptions of which bays have the best protection from the winds.  He recounts spellbinding and often hilarious tales of the big hearted, hard-bitten and just plain weird folks who have lived in this part of his world.

 

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Chatting with Billy, what an amazing man!

 

Sullivan Bay was one of our favorite outposts in the northwest west part of the Broughtons. This more sophisticated outpost is owned by a group of people who have floating homes there…okay, they really just summer homes…and the marina is top notch with full services. The Manager Deb and her crew were amazing.

 

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We met friends from Anacortes there, Deane and Arlene who have been our Broughton’s mentors. Long time cruisers who know their way around the PNW from south of Seattle to beyond the Broughton’s – Thanks guys for letting us tag along on part of your trip!

 

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It was great to have someone else cook and we all enjoyed the prime rib dinner at the restaurant and the great Happy Hour gatherings at Sullivan Bay. There is something special about the boating comraderery up here. We have met so many wonderful people who will hopefully be boating friends for life!!

 

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The winner of the golf challenge at Sullivan Bay gets to wear this great jacket and get a free night of moorage – WTG Wally!!!

 

Besides catching up on laundry, email and all the boating gossip we did a lot of exploring from these outposts, some fishing, crabbing and prawning too. It is great to be tied up to a dock for a few days and go out in the whaler exploring with Bentley. 

 

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Delicious fresh spot prawns…yummy!!!

 

Lagoon Cove Marina was a great stop over on our way back down to Johnstone Strait. Not only do they have a fresh prawn feed at Happy Hour but there are hiking trails and fun outdoor games on the lawn above the docks. 

 

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Getting set up for the prawn feed at Happy Hour.

 

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The burn barrel is kinda of a big, damn deal as most of these remote outposts have no garbage service.

 

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At Lagoon Cove the grounds were quite beautiful. It was great to be able to get off the boat and go for a hike…even with a bear in the fruit tree.

 

Our final stop in the Broughtons was at the Port Harvey Marina which is owned by George and Gale Cambridge. This is a great stop for boaters who are just coming out of Johnstone Strait or getting ready to make the transit.

 

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Sadly, we heard that George passed in his sleep just a week after we were there. I suppose one could feel some comfort knowing he passed in the place he loved, doing what he loved but out hearts go out to Gail.  George will be sorely missed by the boating community. Calm Seas George!!!

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.

 

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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.

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.

 

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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!!

 

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Hanging on the anchor near Cecil Island.

 

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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!!!

 

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

 

 

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

 

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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!!!

 

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

 

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

 

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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!

 

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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.

 

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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???

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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

 

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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.

 

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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. 

 

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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.

 

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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!!

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

 

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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!!!

 

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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.

 

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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.

 

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Bentley loves exploring too…

 

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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.

Broughton Islands Here We Come…

Our trip north so far has been filled with mostly smooth seas but some crazy events. Crossing the Straits of Georgia, taking on water in Desolation Sound, a crazy parts run to Campbell River  and transiting four sets of major rapids just to get to Desolation Sound.

I can’t tell you how relieved we were that our last repair went well and the Beach House is running even better than before. The split hose was a result of the starboard engine overheat that happened a few days prior. The overheat was caused by the sea strainer getting clogged with eel grass. The overheat also caused our raw water pump impeller to get chewed to bits as no water was passing through the pump. Wally had to fixed the impeller on our first day out.  One event caused a series of issues but that is all behind us now.

After the crazy parts run, Wally installed the new hose and tested the engines.  Everything looked great and the starboard engine was running at its desired temperature. That said, we decided to spent an extra day in Refuge Cove on the dock so that Wally could clean out the engine room that flooded with sea water and spray all the now dry but previously soaked connections with an anti-corrosion solution. I spent the day doing chores and laundry.

 

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Looks like a scene from the Wizard of Oz!!

 

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Got all my herbs replanted into one planter…basil, thyme, parsley, oregano and chives.

 

Up early on Wally’s Birthday, we had a 3 1/2 hour cruise route planned to Blind Channel Marina where we had a dinner reservation at the Resort Restaurant. Our route takes us through a series of rapids that we have to transit at slack currents to avoid the dangerous whirlpools that can open up three foot deep holes over thirty feet across. Get into one of those whirlpools and I guarantee you that we would not have made our dinner reservation.

 

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Found this picture of Devils Hole in Dent Rapids… we have actually seen it bigger. Holy Crapola Batman!!!

 

The Beach House cruised through the rapids with no problems and other than the small rips and swirls around Dent Rapids it was a smooth cruise. For the most past we saw very few other boats and it was a beautiful, peaceful, event free cruise. That alone was the most perfect BD present Wally could have gotten!!!

 

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This is why we time our trip through Dent Rapids…No rapids a good thing!!

 

We have been to Desolation Sounds before but never this far north so it was thrilling for us to say the least. The steep mountains come right down to the water and the scenery is just stunning. We saw three orca whales, Dall porpoises  and bald eagles …none of which I got a picture of – sorry!

Once we were tied up to the dock at the marina, its was time for some exploring on land. It is a treat this far north to find a marina with access to hiking trails and a first class restaurant. Birthday Boy, Bentley and I enjoyed stretching our legs and wandering through the heavily forested trails.

 

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These trails are a cool collaboration between the resort owners and the BC Forestry Service. They are well marked and had great signage along the way about the flora and fauna.

 

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We had a great BD celebration dinner at the Resort restaurant our first night there and enjoyed a final beverage, sitting in the cockpit of our boat looking out over the water towards the rugged, snow-capped mountains. This is why we boat…yes, there are sometimes  “events” that happen along the way but the payoff is days like this!

 

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Fresh wild caught BC Salmon over a crispy Polenta Cake …yummy!!

 

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We met the nicest people at Blind Channel Marina.. a special shout out to Grant and Lesley for their Johnstone Strait route planning help. Happy Hour is on us when we meet up in the Broughtons! Another big shout out to Rusty and Randy who are paddling/sailing from Anacortes WA to Ketchikan AK, yes that’s ALASKA, on their cool Hobie vessels. We are hoping to buy them a beer and dinner somewhere along the way or back in Anacortes!

 

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Rusty and Randy heading out again from Blind Channel Marina.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles…and the Kindness of Strangers.

Not sure if you ever watched the Steve Martin comedy movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles where two men battle the elements and a series of unfortunate events. The goal is to get from New York City to Chicago. What results is anything but the simplicity of that sentence.

Well, our quest to find a simple elbow hose that split open in route on our cruise to Blind Channel in Desolation Sounds BC. remained me of that movie.  Frightfully glad we survived the ordeal of taking on water.  Once the Beach House was tied up to the dock in Refuge Cove and Wally removed the offending hose,  the quest to find a new one began in earnest. Little did we know how much the kindness of strangers would get us to our goal.

 

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We carry a lot of spare parts on the Beach House but that one simple hose was not one of them – Damn It! All of our fellow boaters on dock at Refuge Cove and the Marina owners scoured their spare parts to see if they had anything that might work. Alas, they had nothing – Damn It again but thanks everyone for trying and for all the kind words of support.

We started making calls locally to the one boat repair shop that we knew of …no answer and no return call… ever – Thanks Lee.

Next idea was to start calling places in Nanimo, Powell River and Campbell River B.C. as they are major boating stopovers. We connected with a great guy, Cody at Marine Parts Supply who worked with Wally over the phone for at least an hour to try to find the correct hose. Yes, they had them in stock, so we discussed how to get it to Refuge Cove…mail it to Campbell River and fly it over on the next seaplane charter? Might get it by Tuesday and the cost would be way more than the part or put it on a parts run boat going across the Straits of Georgia to Lund, then take our dingy (a 13 ft Boston Whaler with a 50 HP outboard) 10 nautical miles to Lund on Tuesday and pick it up. That’s sounded great but in the end Wally wasn’t confident it was the correct hose as inside diameter was not the same at both ends.

Frustrated and knowing that places were closing for the weekend, we thought we would be stuck until Monday and the we would have to start calling places again. I had a last minute idea, why not call an auto parts store…they have hoses for trucks that might work??

Score… we found Lordco ( I am not at all religious but kinda thought it might be a good omen) Auto Parts Store in Campbell River was open for 10 more minutes so Wally gave them a call. Yes, they had flexible  1.5 inch diameter industrial water hose that he could use to make a temporary fix and YES…they were open on Sunday. Double Score, break out the wine, we are celebrating!!

 

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Thank you Chuck and Carolyn for the delicious, fresh oysters from Tenedos Bay.

 

Well, once we were done be excited about that…the real challenge was how to get over to Campbell River. It is 21.3 nautical miles and would be doable in the Whaler…except it meant crossing the Straits of Georgia to get over to Vancouver Island. NO GO…far too dangerous in our dingy. I don’t care if the company mantra for the boat is “the unsinkable whaler”.

Well, hells bells, this was getting harder by the moment and knowing the damn hose was there in Campbell River made the tenacious “I can figure this out” side of me really bristle.

As I was looking at google maps, I noticed there was a ferry from Cortes Island to Quadra Island and Quadra Island to Campbell River. Woo-Hoo, now we are getting somewhere. Refuge Cove is on West Redonda Island and I could see Cortes from the end of our dock. Woo-Hoo, again, Wally could easily get to Squirrel Cove on Cortes Island in ten minutes. Well, the biggest problem was that the ferry dock was on the other side of the island. I called the store at Squirrel Cove and the nice dude there said no problem leaving the whaler there but no public transportation was available to the Whaletown Ferry Dock.  WAHHH, so close but then he said “everybody just hitchhikes, never a problem getting a ride”. Well alrighty then, but if Wally didn’t score a ride on a Sunday morning that would mean a 9.1 mile walk to the Ferry Dock.

The other option, was to take the dinghy around Cortes Island  to Whaletown Ferry Terminal which meant navigation around Sutil Point where the shoals and strong flood currents can make for a wild ride.

After looking at the Ferry schedules for Cortes Island to Quadra Island, Quadra Island to Campbell River we were confident that if Wally could just get to the first ferry dock on Cortes Island in the early morning he would have plenty of time to get to Campbell River and back that day. It would be a challenging day but….CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!

 

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Whalers, automobiles and ferry’s… the adventure movie is coming out soon!

 

We went to bed relieved that we might actually get this train back on the tracks!!! Up early the next day, Wally was in the dinghy and off to Cortes Island. He made an attempt to get to Whaletown in the dinghy but standing waves at Sutil Point turned him back. Off to Squirrel Cove!

 

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The government dock at Squirrel Cove.

 

Thanks to the kindness of strangers, this whole adventure came together. It started just outside Squirrel Cove General Store where Wally docked the Whaler and began the 9 mile walk to the Whaletown Ferry Dock.  An elderly man stopped just a quarter of a mile out from the store and Wally asked where he was headed. Turned out he wasn’t going far to pick up his Daughter and wouldn’t be anywhere near Whalertown – no worries, Wally told him but thanks for stopping. About 5 minutes later the same gentleman and his daughter stopped and offered him a ride to Whaletown. Turns out they’re decided that it just wasn’t right to leave him out there without a ride and they needed to take a scenic drive that just happened to go to Whaletown.

 

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Whaletown Ferry Dock on Cortes Island…glad Wally brought his rain gear! He missed the 9:40 am ferry but was able to wait in that little tan building for the next one.

While waiting for the ferry in Whaletown, Wally struck up a conversation with a nice couple with two young children. They were headed to Campbell River and offer to drive him across Quadra Island from the Heriot Bay Ferry Dock to catch the second ferry at Quathiaski Bay. Again, the kindness of strangers…how did they know Wally wasn’t an axe murder?

 

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On the ferry…barely in time. Thank you nice couple from Cortes Island!!!

 

Wally said they chatted about this, that and the other thing on the drive across from Heriot Bay on Quadra Island to the second ferry dock at Quathiaski Bay, including why he was hell bent to get to Campbell River and back. When they cued up at Quathiaski Bay, it didn’t look like their car would make it on the ferry so they advised Wally to get out and run, he could make it as a walk on. Run he did and the next ferry ride was just a short ten minutes to the Campbell River Ferry Dock.

 

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Ferry docking at Campbell River on Vancouver Island BC. It was a gray, rainy mess all day going both ways.

 

On the short ferry ride from Quadra Island to Campbell River it poured buckets of rain and by the time Wally met up with the Lord, okay arrived at Lordco Auto Parts he looked like a drowned rat. The staff inside chatted him up and they were totally amazed that he had come all the way from Refuge Cove in West Redonda Island. After some discussion, the nice man who was helping him apologized and said he was sorry that someone told us that the flexible hose would work for what we wanted, WTF!!! But, he thought he had a 1.5 inch diameter elbow hose that was rated up to 275 degrees for water and coolant.

After some time, the amazingly nice man with a halo, whose name Wally doesn’t remember came  back with an elbow hose, that with some modification would work just fine. What a relief when he texted me that he had the part!!!

 

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The new elbow hose on the right , all modified and ready for installation. Isn’t it a beautiful thing!!!

 

After a quick espresso and sandwich at a nearby Starbucks, Wally got to the Campbell River Ferry Dock with his sack of booty just in time to board the ferry to Quadra Isand. So the entire trip would begin in reverse. Time to look for a ride back across the Quadra Island and hopefully on to Cortes. As he was knocking on car windows, looking for someone who was doing both ferry’s and going all the way to Cortes Island, a gal approach him and said she would take him there. He though she meant to the next ferry on Quadra Island and was thrilled for that.

 

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Looking up Sutil Channel form the Straits of Georgia…wow, was it calm compared to earlier when Wally tried to come around Cortes Island.

 

Turns out this lovely woman drove him all the way to the Squirrel Cove Government Dock, which was actually the long way around from where she lives on Smelt Bay. She recently finished her last chemo treatment for breast cancer  and was going home to rest and recuperate. She told Wally she need to take a nap in her car on the 45 minute ferry ride from Quadra to Cortes and so he went up to the salon on the ferry until close to Whaletown. On the ride to Squirrel Cove, they chatted about her treatment, life on Cortes, her work as a part-time care giver for a man who was paralyzed and how she looked forward to going back to that work. Our trials and tribulations seemed small in comparison.

The kindness of strangers…these simple acts of kindness are what can make this crazy world right again. We will certainly pay it forward in honor of Wally’s new friends and all the other Canadian strangers who helped us.  I hope you will too if you have a chance!!!

 

 

 

OMG, We Are Taking On Water…

Those are words no boater every wants to hear or shout out. The connotation of taking on water in a boat to me means sinking, drowning and meeting a watery grave.
Well, luckily for me (us) that wasn’t the ending that happened a few days ago when I heard those fateful words being shouted up at me from the lower deck.
We had a route and timetable all figured out for our trip from Tenedos Bay to Blind Channel. We were geared up to transit three major rapids to get there and had a marina reservation confirmed. The weather was spot on perfect, not a cloud in the sky or a ripple in the water as we motored out into Desolation Sound.

 

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Motoring out of Tenedos Bay.

The Beach House was running about 10 knots pushing against some current when there was a strange shift in the engines…seemed they were not syncing well through the Mathers Electronic  Controls. Wally went down to do an engine room check and that’s when I heard the words every boater fears….
“Stop the boat…the engine room is filling with water”….
Wally literally flew up the flybridge ladder and started pulling things out from under the seats…the bilge pumps were working overtime but water was still flooding in. He flew down the flybridge ladder again with a 1000 gallon per hour emergency pump and hose in his hands.  After dropping the emergency pump into the engine room, we got the generator started to run it and started pumping water overboard.

 

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I love this pump….

My heart is racing again as I write this but I can honestly say that neither of us panicked. It actually took us at least 5 minutes or more to get all that going and we both knew water was flooding in.

 

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The starboard side of the engine room sans the water…really didn’t have the time to take photographs in the middle of our emergency!

The calm, flat water in Desolation Sound afforded us the ability to easily let the boat float unattended with the engines idling while we started troubleshoot what the hell was happening. My first thought was that the raw water pump repair that Wally had done a few days prior had somehow failed, we both agreed that was a good place to start troubleshooting and decided to shut down the starboard engine.
Meanwhile, I was monitoring the water level in the engine compartment. The water was up to the top of that step stool in both engine compartments. Tick tick toc, tick toc, after what seemed like an eternity and a whole hell of a lot of water going overboard…YES, the water was receding…my racing heart started to slow down too.
Ironically, there was not a boat in sight for miles and I had been thinking about what we would do if the water continued to pour in. I really didn’t want to call a mayday or pan pan on the VHF radio until I was sure we needed help or that this was a full-blown emergency.
The port engine was still idling in neutral, so as the water continued to pour out of the engine room and overboard, we pull the engine hatch in the salon of the boat to get a better view into the area that the repair had been done. All looked well there, no evidence of any failure and the hoses were all intact and attached.
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So now we were a bit stumped, since the water was receding rapidly and we weren’t taking on anymore it was unlikely that we had hit something, sheared off a prop or strut so now what???
Wally suggested we start the starboard engine again to observe it and see where the water was coming in from. Okay, I hesitantly started the engine and we both looked at the repair area again…no water…I went to the back engine hatch in the cockpit of  and looked around the far side off the starboard engine. A HUGE stream of water was flooding into the engine room again. WHOA…Shut it down…The starboard engine was indeed the source of the issue.
Once all the water was out of the engine room and the bilges had been pumped dry, we started to motor on one engine for Refuge Cove. We knew there was a dock there where we could stay for a few days. Seriously, yes Refuge is just what we needed, well and a big shot of Deep Eddy Vodka.
I am not sure how many gallons we took on but I know is was hundreds. Yes, the boat could have sunk eventually had we continued motoring on, obvious to what was going on.  I doubt we would have drowned and sunk to a watery grave because we have a dinghy we could have early gotten into and been safe.
Later, after we were securely tied up at the dock in Refuge Cove and had that drink, we talked about what happened and how we reacted. While still a bit shaken, we both agreed we did all the right things. Being prepared, with plan of what to do should the boat take on water afforded us the ability to stay calm and follow the plan.

 

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Turns out this 1.5 inch elbow water hose from the heat exchanger to the exhaust riser had a 3 inch split in it. WOW, talk about an adrenaline rush kinda day. Now we just have figure out where to get that hose as it one of the few spares that we don’t have onboard.

 

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The tiny community of Refuge Cove is all connected via boardwalks along the water…no cars on this island.