We’ve rounded the notorious Cape Scott!

June 16    Since we love Shoal Bay so much we always ask folks if they’ve been there and more often than not they ask if we’ve been to Codero Lodge. Owned by a German American couple now in their 80s, the place is a legend. Free moorage with dinner or free dinner with moorage. We hear the patron is in poor health, the place open but up for sale so since this restaurant is floating right in the channel, we stop by. Tying up is a challenge but soon a woman comes bounding down the dock and throws her whole pregnant self into our wayward sternline. Janet is the caretaker, says to excuse her if she gets sick. No, no dinner tonight. Season starts on Sunday. Guests will be transported to Blind Channel for dinner. So happens we’re headed there for fuel. We have quite enough since we filled up in Port Townsend but we need to calculate fuel consumption. We do and it’s good. About .7 gal for an hour of motoring, an a very productive one given the new engine.

Float plane meets prawner and flies away with catch

By afternoon the marina gets busy. At 4 pm a prawner pulls in and at 4:05 a small floatplane puts down propellor nose to bow. Ice and shrimp come off for the lodge and the rest of the catch fills the plane. Then there are sailboats. Two of them are headed around Vancouver Island in the same time frame as us. Both have father son crews. Ryan in a 31 foot Pacific Seacraft is from Willimina, Oregon. Ken, in an older 40-foot Hunter, is from Vancouver. Just before dinner time a couple of little boats come up Mayne Channel nearly up to the docks under sail. Nice group of twenty-something men, a couple bound for Prince Rupert, the others for Juneau. It’s special to be in a group like this; we talk sailing on the deck above the high tide.

June 17 We still have the Green and Whirlpool rapids ahead of us. Although they are separated by 90-minute ride down Chancellor Channel we can catch both on an ebb if we get to Greene early. This means a pre dawn departure. We’d thought the other sailors would be up but they weren’t. As I untie the bowline Aurora gets away from me so I tug the line and I hoist myself right up over the anchor. The current catches the stern which is suddenly against the bumpers of the little Pacific Seacraft. For some reason Ryan and Dad still don’t appear. We manage to push off only to get the inflatable – now tied on port to prevent a repeat of the damage done by the Monitor – wedged between Aurora and the dock. Paul, the Blind Channel dock hand suddenly appears out of the darkness to push us off. Greene is right around the corner and over in a flash. Whirlpool, however, is a vast and glimmering with every sort of rip, outfall and tourbillion. No problem, however, and soon we are out in the middle of [the often nasty] Johnstone Strait under the sun on flat sea heading north with the ebb.

Just as we fall into a reverie of gratitude and well being, a dolphin splashes up. and then another and another. They decide to play in the stern waves, doing figure eights under the boat. Since we are motoring, we recoil at the prospect of propeller-minced dolphin but these Pacific white-sideds pull it off. After many futile attempts to photograph them, I remember I have video on my iPhone. Dangling over the life lines, trying not to lose my phone, I record our joy and theirs.

It’s such a lovely day that we pull right past Port Neville. The Waggoners reports that Lorna has moved to Campbell River, ending over a century of the Hansen family’s lone presence in the inlet. Continuing up Johnstone we decide to go onto Lagoon Cove, particularly since we can catch Chatham Channel at low slack. For some reason the thought of navigating this narrow, shallow passage using range markers rattles me a bit but in the end it is easy as can be. Practice in heavy rain in with oncoming boats has helped. Having done Chatham we take the Blow Hole which leaves even less under our keel and radio Lagoon Cove, where Bill and Pat remember our names – we suspect they have good d-base and just enough time to cheat. As always, happy hour is at 5 pm. As we are few – the Leiberts of Friendship II, the Morrisons of Forever Friday, plus Bill, year-rounders Pat and Bob and us, the prawns are plentiful. I’ve brought tahina (a magically rehydrated Safeway bulk bin product), Blind Channel’s homemade bread, dry salami and tiny tomatoes and carrots. We feast. No need for dinner.

Spring tides plus winch have lifted boat for bottom work

June 18 Rest day in Lagoon Cove breaks grey and there is not much of anywhere to go. So I finish Farmers of Forty Centuries: Organic farming in China, Japan and Korea, written in 1911 by F.A. Hill a Foreign Service agricultural officer. Scrupulous documentation of the agriculture efficiency need to feed the world in the future.   Also read the spring issue of On Earth and made sentences of the jottings in my log. Lagoon Cove has no wifi, which is not so good for Jack with his iPad but its satellite dish and single DSL line is wonderful. I have not managed a proper post so I throw up my daily notes with a couple of pictures and email the family.

June 19 More of the most spectacular part of the trip. We cross the 100 mile Knight Inlet into Tribune Channel. Baby dolphin twins this time, enjoying the bow waves. No rain. Lovely mist wrapped around steep sided peaks. The absolute heart of the Broughtons. We see only one other vessel, a barge headed to a fish farm. We decide to by pass Kwatsi Bay and go on to Echo Bay, home to one of the largest year round communities on the “Mainland” – about 40 people. Everyone says generously-bearded Pierre has done a great fixing up a run down marina and he and his wife are supposed to be fun. Pierre greets us at the dock and we get our starboard tie. However,we end up between two mega yachts – each with a couple aboard and they seem to be together. A lot of excess boat there. In the afternoon I hike over a sliver of rain forest on a rough trail with helpful in situ ropes to the next bay. There I meet Billy Proctor and he gives me a tour and I buy one of the books he wrote. I suspect the book will be consequential and it is, so stay tuned.

Float houses at Echo Bay

June 20 We’ve got to get across Queen Charlotte Sound to the Vancouver Island side a place where there are cars and civilization as we know it are never too far away. Jack finds Cullen Harbor on the chart and it’s perfect. We’ve been so lazy this trip and so this is our very first night at anchor. No problem finding holding ground but we notice the windlass does not work. The next morning we are surprised to see another sailboat. It takes us the better part of an hour to ratchet the anchor up by hand but there is zero wind so we can be relaxed about it. Same for the crossing, we motor all the way. There is big log and whole tree drift but at least we can see it.

We figure it must be almost the solstice. In the latest issue of On Earth, a birthday present from Selena, I read this poem by Ben Howard entitled “Farewells”.

Even as the days are growing longer
they’re passing by with such rapidity
they might be water hurtling down a mountain.
Tell me if you will why names and dates,

which seem so static in the histories,
are rushing past this stationary point,
as though they had a mission that concerned me
but all the same were bidding me farewell.

June 21 Port Hardy. This fishing harbor of 5000 people is the capital of norther Vancouver Island and they have marine services. As soon as we pull into the scrappy harbor, we set to finding someone to look at the windlass. We have memories of Sitka and the the infusibility of competing for service with a working fleet. We head to Stryker Marine up the road and they say – amazingly – okay 2 pm we’ll send somebody to take a look. They say breakdowns come in threes and no sooner do we return to the boat with absolutely no expectation that anyone will show up we have all three. All electrical (and the electrical systems fixed lord know where in the world have never let us down). In addition to the heavy duty windlass issue, the fridge is in melt down and the main bilge has flooded without switching on automatically. At 1:50 Gilbert shows up. Wait for the full story.

June 22 Summer solstice in Port Hardy. Sailing folks from Port Ludlow ( Dee in Reality and Jenny in First Light ) head out. They are doing the same circumnavigation and have done it before and put me at ease. They know Bob Perry and say, come on you’ve got a Valiant. We go shopping at Overwaitea a bizarrely-named super market
pronounced over-weighty and find some wifi.  The fine Café Guido opposite the library is home to the The Book Nook, a which needs to be added to the ongoing post on booksellers of the coast.

June 23 Pleasant trip up Goletas Channel to Bull Harbor, a First Nations bay where we tie at a small float. I put the steps and scooter below, get the dinghy up and out of the water, deflate it and bungie it onto the deck. The winds are gentle from the northwest but rollers come across the fetch though the narrow opening of Bull Harbor. It’s weird to see the Aurora, the dock and Silver Fox a charter from Nanaimo with four sports fishermen from Alberta all rock in completely different Cape Scott is the reason we put out a crew call in early May. Despite the dozens of people who’d showed interest – including a last minute gun ho Port Hardy Ranger named James – we got to the the perfect place and window for our passage but without extra hands. Perhaps they’d read Bob Hale in Waggoners. “Cape Scott can be rough. At their worst, Cape Scott’s seas have capsized and sunk substantial vessels. Even quiet days can be uncomfortable, the result of swells that sweep in from the Pacific to meet colliding currents. Rocks lie offshore. If you find yourself in trouble off Cape Scott, you are in trouble.”

June 24 It is the perfect day for rounding Cape Scott. We leave at dawn and after a ten hour passage we pull into safety at Winter Harbour. It was a fabulous trip. I did not have even a touch of the dreaded sea sickness despite the Northwest rollers from across the Pacific. Protection must have come in the combination of rolling at dock and the single Dramamine tablet I took just before we cast off.

June 25 What a surprise Winter Harbour is! We’d feared the worst.  Twice in the early 1960s it got slammed by tsunamis following two earthquakes  – one originating in Chile and one in Alaska. But damage was selective, as one old timer explained this evening as we walked the mile-long historic board walk, which was spared.  It’s narrow and winds its way over lagoon and through rainforest past deer on either side.  The next complex of blows to  Winter Harbour hit almost everywhere else as well: logging, salmon decline, commericial fishing fleet leaves, packing facility and ice factory close down.  Today I understand these intricate not-really-discussed dynamics a bit better.   I finished Heart of the Rainforest: a life story by Billy Proctor and Alexandra Morton.  Many notes to be written up later.

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