The heavens could not have done a better job conspiring in our favor. We passed the little rocky point on flat seas under full sun and went on to complete the 55 nautical mile run up the coast.
After leaving Sullivan Bay, we travelled out Wells Inlet into Queen Charlotte Strait, the body of water that separates the mainland from the top of Vancouver Island. We tucked away in pretty Blunden Harbour where we found a dozen other boats including a ketch from Germany. We were prepared to wait for the weather window as long as it took. But it presented itself the very next morning. By the time we got our anchor up at 5:45 half the boats had already left; serious mariners in these parts. While most of the others went south fighting the ebb, we went with the flow, doing 7.5 knots over land and making great time.
We shared a passage with a tug going about a half knot faster than us pulling an enormous barge of a type we’d not seen before. The lower level had eight tracks, each with four or five rail cars ready to roll off. Stacked on the framework above them were containers, and at the top, heavy equipment and large trucks. The Coast Guard monitors the area on multiple VHF channels and most of the way we had another vessel in sight. While it’s nice to be completely alone in inland channels and cozy anchorages, on passages like this company is welcome. We even saw our first large cruise ship, one of the Holland-American Line.
So what’s the big deal with Cape Caution? First, it’s open ocean. It’s a misnomer to refer to the body of water around it Queen Charlotte Sound after the Queen Charlotte Islands, the dramatic homelands of the Hada Gwaii people which sit far to the north. The gentle swells we we were riding on originated someplace like Japan! Second, the vast area around Cape Caution, is shallow and all the water from the much deeper continental shelf washes over it. Third, Cape Caution is where currents from other bodies of water meet: the Strait, Smith Sound, Rivers Inlet and Fitz Hugh Sound.
We tied up at Duncanby Landing in Rivers Inlet, home not so long ago to 18 large salmon canneries. Today the small facility that at mid century was packed to the gills with fishing boats has been converted to a deluxe fly-in fishing resort. The night of our arrival the winds hit 50 knots an hour across the open waters. We rock and roll at dock, thankful for the weather window that took us so gently around Cape Caution.