In the beginning…..…………………….
We left the dock on April 30th. We did not go through the usual send off by cutting the ceremonial dock lines. We just backed out of our slip and headed out. Seattle was home for a little over 4 years, I was ready to leave. Unless one of my kids move there, I am probably not coming back.
No wind when we left heading north to Port Townsend, WA or possibly Friday Harbor if conditions allowed. Conditions did not allow. Eight miles from Port Townsend the wind kicks up to 30 knots on the nose. Close fetch steep 6 to 7 foot waves made it less than a pleasant ride that last 8 miles.
Once to Port Townsend we attempted to enter the two ports. I had forgot the zero tides we were experiencing, you could not get in either port due to low water. We threw out the anchor and spent the night just offshore. The bell tolls on the hour from the Port Townsend Court House letting us know when a new hour occurred.
Rolling with adversity has been a frequent lesson so far. Look for the lesson, fix what broke, and move along.
There is an old saying among people who cruise on boats. Cruising is about fixing your boat in exotic locales. Somehow I always thought I’d be an exception to that saying. I confess, I am anything but the exception to the rule.
We headed the following day across the Straits of Juan de Fuca which were windless and spent the night in Friday Harbor, WA. A pretty spot, that regular folks would have a hard time living in due to the high cost of just about everything.
We checked into Canada in Sydney, BC. Customs via the phone. The guy on the other end could not have been anymore pleasant to deal with. I will have to remember that experience when I check back into the USA in Ketchikan later. I am sure I will need to average the two experiences out.
We anchored behind Butchart Gardens in Todd’s Inlet. It was beautiful and the garden did not disappoint. On the way in we had a grumpy Canadian that looked a lot like Santa cursing me out and threatening my life due to the wake off my dinghy. I had not even got to the no wake zone yet before the onslaught began. An attempt at affability was rebuffed, so I quickly rolled to a dialect he understood.
I think he was stunned by my ability to string adverbs, adjectives, and nouns together in a fluid and truly artful way.
Bit of bad luck here in Todd’s Inlet, but that is a story to come.
North to Nanaimo, BC and a less than memorable stay at the municipal port. We had always enjoyed Nanaimo in the past with good food and a lot of energy by people around the port area. Bad restaurant choice, and no energy we left the following morning.
North bound again I found out later most knowledgeable sailors go east around Texada Island to avoid the big winds in Georgia Strait. It had been a while since SV Vagabon and crew were in 20 to 28 knots of wind on beam reach. Six hours later and a few less sails to calm things down we pulled into Tribune Bay on Hornsby Island. The anchor stuck, but with too little water and big tides we did it again. It was poorly protected from the south, but an hour later the wind died and we had a good night.
Campbell River, BC was next on the plate and is a pretty area. We were here to journey north through Seymour Narrows. This is a narrow spot were the tide rushes through at currents up to 16 knots. Timing is everything so pick your tide and go. When you get this far north the ebb flows north, everywhere south of here the ebb flows south.
Heading up channel to Seymour Narrows the current was stout. I am starting to question my timing to travel eight miles north and be ready to pass through on time. After an anxiety moment or two, we did get through unscathed physically or psychologically. The current was 10 knots on the chart plotter through the narrows as we were coming up the channel from below. We went through at 2 knots on a dying flood without fanfare.
We anchored about 10 miles above the narrows and got an early jump the following day on Johnstone Strait. It is a 50 mile long strait known for funneling northwest winds against an opposing current. That is never good, remember that. Anyway we rode the ebb north through a Biblical windless straits at 8 to 12 knots. SV Vagabon goes 7 knots on a good day, so the ebb current was good to us.
McNeil River, BC was next. Not much to say, the people were friendly like most Canadians. The only exception was Santa back at Todd’s Inlet.
It was a short hop to Port Hardy that next day. We use to fish with our kids and a neighbor kid that we threw in back in the early 2000’s. It was impossible not to reminisce about the fun we had on those trips.
The next big step is crossing Queen Charlotte Sound past Cape Caution. We moved up to 9 miles to get a jump on the following day to God’s Pocket. It is a cove off of Christie Passage. It was hard for me to not sing the jingle for Hot Pockets the rest of the evening, irritating the rest of the crew.