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Ketchikan to Petersburg and the Little Norway Festival

Our Ketchikan stay ended up being a couple of days longer than we had hoped when some pretty stiff winds came up which push the forecasted in seas in Clarence Strait beyond our comfort range. Drake didn’t complain because he got a few extra walks and play session (when it wasn’t raining, anyway).

We left at first light on Saturday, May 13 with 15 to 20 knot winds on our stern.  Fortunatey, the seas were following and not annoying at all.  By the time we turned off of Clarence Strait into Ernest Sound, the winds were down to around 10 knots.  Before turning into Santa Anna Inlet for the night, we dropped some prawn traps to soak over night, our first fishing effort of the season.

We were the first boat in the anchorage that day (another boat came in later) and we went close to its head and dropped our anchor. The winds were light but there were clouds which ultimately unloaded a good dose of rain at night.

The next morning we went out and pulled the pots, harvesting a sufficient number of prawns to warrant resetting them. We then returned to Santa Anna for a second night.

While in Ketchikan we learned that the Alaska Fish & Game Department had moved the commercial prawning season from beginning on October 15 to May 15.  When we went out to retrieve our second set, we could see several commercial prawn fishing boats preparing to drop pots at the official start time of 8 AM.  As we retrieved our last pot, a commercial boat came by and confirmed whether we were resetting (we were not), then proceeded to drop a string of its own in the area we had just vacated.

Our original plan after retrieving our pots near Santa Anna Inlet was to travel a bit further up Ernest Sound to reset prawn pots in an area we had fished last year. After seeing the activity by commercial boats we decided to not get in their way by putting our meager three down.. Instead we headed directly towards Berg Bay, an anchorage in Eastern Passage (east of Wrangell Island). As we headed towards it we saw two other pleasure craft coming from the other direction head in and anchor.  Deciding the “two’s company, three’s a crowd” we elected to bypass Berg Bay ending up in Roosevelt Harbor on Zarembo Island. This also allowed us to arrive in Petersburg a day earlier.

The next morning, May 16, we departed our anchorage and timed our entry into Wrangell Narrows so that we arrived in Petersburg at “high slack” 2023-Cruise-021x(the slack current accompanying high tide).  The harbor in Petersburg is infamous for the amount of current that flows across its docks.  It can be a humbling experience to dock when the currents are strong. Our docking was uneventful and we tied up just near where our sistership Laysan, owned by Kathleen and John Douglas, has a permanent berth..

The main reason we left Puget Sound as early as we did was to arrive in Petersburg before the start of the Little Norway Festival. Petersburg was established by Scandinavian settlers and has an annual festival2023-Cruise-042x held on the weekend near May 17, the Norwegian holiday of Constitution Day. It had been about five years since we had last attended.

Besides ourselves, we were expecting Kathleen & John, who were returning on 5/17 to their boat, Laysan, and our friends Natala & Don Goodman. Natala & Don arriving on 5/18 in their float plane.

All of us had an excellent time at the festival, attending many of the events (especially the ones involving food). Marcia even joined Kathleen & John on a 4-1/2 run/walk working off some calories.

The main events of the Little Norway Festival ran from Friday, May 19 through Sunday, May 21. Don & Natala flew off on Monday to stay at a US Forest Service cabin on a mountain lake SE of Juneau. John & Kathleen returned to their list of chores to get Laysan ready for anther cruising system. We continued to fritter our time ashore in Petersburg and targeted to leave later in the week.

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Ketchikan to Petersburg and the Little Norway Festival

Our Ketchikan stay ended up being a couple of days longer than we had hoped when some pretty stiff winds came up which push the forecasted in seas in Clarence Strait beyond our comfort range. Drake didn’t complain because he got a few extra walks and play session (when it wasn’t raining, anyway).

We left at first light on Saturday, May 13 with 15 to 20 knot winds on our stern.  Fortunatey, the seas were following and not annoying at all.  By the time we turned off of Clarence Strait into Ernest Sound, the winds were down to around 10 knots.  Before turning into Santa Anna Inlet for the night, we dropped some prawn traps to soak over night, our first fishing effort of the season.

We were the first boat in the anchorage that day (another boat came in later) and we went close to its head and dropped our anchor. The winds were light but there were clouds which ultimately unloaded a good dose of rain at night.

The next morning we went out and pulled the pots, harvesting a sufficient number of prawns to warrant resetting them. We then returned to Santa Anna for a second night.

While in Ketchikan we learned that the Alaska Fish & Game Department had moved the commercial prawning season from beginning on October 15 to May 15.  When we went out to retrieve our second set, we could see several commercial prawn fishing boats preparing to drop pots at the official start time of 8 AM.  As we retrieved our last pot, a commercial boat came by and confirmed whether we were resetting (we were not), then proceeded to drop a string of its own in the area we had just vacated.

Our original plan after retrieving our pots near Santa Anna Inlet was to travel a bit further up Ernest Sound to reset prawn pots in an area we had fished last year. After seeing the activity by commercial boats we decided to not get in their way by putting our meager three down.. Instead we headed directly towards Berg Bay, an anchorage in Eastern Passage (east of Wrangell Island). As we headed towards it we saw two other pleasure craft coming from the other direction head in and anchor.  Deciding the “two’s company, three’s a crowd” we elected to bypass Berg Bay ending up in Roosevelt Harbor on Zarembo Island. This also allowed us to arrive in Petersburg a day earlier.

The next morning, May 16, we departed our anchorage and timed our entry into Wrangell Narrows so that we arrived in Petersburg at “high slack” 2023-Cruise-021x(the slack current accompanying high tide).  The harbor in Petersburg is infamous for the amount of current that flows across its docks.  It can be a humbling experience to dock when the currents are strong. Our docking was uneventful and we tied up just near where our sistership Laysan, owned by Kathleen and John Douglas, has a permanent berth..

The main reason we left Puget Sound as early as we did was to arrive in Petersburg before the start of the Little Norway Festival. Petersburg was established by Scandinavian settlers and has an annual festival2023-Cruise-042x held on the weekend near May 17, the Norwegian holiday of Constitution Day. It had been about five years since we had last attended.

Besides ourselves, we were expecting Kathleen & John, who were returning on 5/17 to their boat, Laysan, and our friends Natala & Don Goodman. Natala & Don arriving on 5/18 in their float plane.

All of us had an excellent time at the festival, attending many of the events (especially the ones involving food). Marcia even joined Kathleen & John on a 4-1/2 mile run/walk working off some calories.

The main events of the Little Norway Festival ran from Friday, May 19 through Sunday, May 21. Don & Natala flew off on Monday to stay at a US Forest Service cabin on a mountain lake SE of Juneau. John & Kathleen returned to their list of chores to get Laysan ready for anther cruising system. We continued to fritter our time ashore in Petersburg and targeted to leave later in the week.

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(The good photos are courtesy of Kathleen and John Douglas, the others are mine)

Cruise 2023 – Let the Fun Begin – Bainbridge to Ketchikan

After a cooler and wetter than normal April, we cast off lines under clear skies in the early hours of April 29. Our destination for our first day was Cap Sante Marina in Anacortes where upon entering we promptly tied up to the fuel dock and filled 1044 gallons of diesel aboard. 

Our normal practice is to fill at the end of the prior season but with fuel well above $5/gallon at the time we decided to take a chance that they would go down before we took off in 2023.  Fortunately, our bet paid off and we only paid $4.30/gallon (now down to $4.19 but who counting those 1044 x $0.11 = $114.84 anyway).  That fill should cover our travel this summer until we depart Alaska at which time we’ll take on a few hundred gallons for the southbound trip.

Our practice is to go to Alaska relatively quickly then linger in BC on the return trip.  We got pretty good at fast trips in 2020 and 2021 when direct and expeditious trips through BC were required.  After leaving Anacortes we traveled first to Nanaimo through the protected waters of the Gulf Island. The next day was the slog up the Strait of Georgia to Gorge Harbor in preparation for dealing with bottleneck of narrow channels getting into Johnstone Strait.

We’ve developed a liking to the “middle route” that cuts through the Octopus Island (the other two routes either go via Seymour Narrows or the Yuculta/Gillard/Dent trio),. From Gorge Harbor we made our way to the Hole-in-the-Wall for the evening slack before the ebb.  The narrowest section of Hole-in-the-Wall, Upper Rapids and Lower Rapids are all relatively close and we were able to scoot though them in less than an hour. Our anchorage for the night was Otter Cove just south of Chatham Point in Discovery Passage.

With the good weather, we started the next morning at first light and were able to ride ebb current nearly to the western tip of Cracroft Isand in Johnstone Strait. After a little bit of slogging through Blackney Passage we popped into Queen Charlotte Sound and made our way to Lady Boot Cove (aka, “East of Eden”) for the night.

The forecasted conditions at Cape Caution for the next day weren’t bad but they were expected to be better the day after, May 5.  We elected to do a short day from Lady Boot Cove to Blunden Harbour to position ourselves a bit closer to Cape Caution.

The west wind blew steadily at about 15 kts overnight but were forecast to lay down as the day progressed. It was bouncy, primarily wind waves rather than swell, for the first few hours but it was more annoying than anything.  Because of ebb current coming out of Slingsby Channel, which can create rough conditions from the incoming swell or wind waves meeting the outgoing current, we elected to angle out beyond the Storm Islands before setting a more northerly route towards Cape Caution.  We dropped the stabilizing “fish” into the water to reduce our rolling as we became more beam to the seas.  As forecasted, the conditions improved and the run into Fitz Hugh Sound was uneventful.  Taking advantage of the fine weather, we pushed to Fancy Cove in Lama Passage for the night.

2023-Cruise-001xWe saw (via AIS) several pleasure craft come out of Port Alexander on Nigel Island the take Gordon Channel out beyond Pine Island before turning north towards Cape Caution. We’ve not gone that way before but it looked intriguing and we might try that route in the future.

2023-Cruise-002xFrom Fancy Cove, we headed out Seaforth Channel around Ivory Island, into Milbanke Sound and north into Findlayson Channel. North of Klemtu we took Sarah Passage into Tolmie Channel and finally Graham Reach.  We anchored at the “Green Spit” bar partway into Khutze Inlet for the night.

The next morning we continued the northbound journey up Grenville Channel and into Chatham Sound.  Vessel traffic was light although the BC Ferry, Northern Adventure, en route from Port Harday on Vancouver Island to Prince Rupert passed us along the way. We spent the night in the southeast facing bay formed by the 2023-Cruise-004xtwo Kinahan Islands near the entrance channel for Prince Rupert. Conditions were settled and what wind there were came from the NW.

In the late morning, we crossed into Alaska waters uneventfully with good sea conditions.  As we motored up the channel between Duke Island and the mainland, we used the CBP Roam app on our phone and obtained our clearance number. We always like a morning arrival at Ketchikan on account of (usually) lighter winds so rather than pushing on to port we dropped the anchor in the outer cove of Kah Shakes. Like the previous anchorage it is 2023-Cruise-011xa fair weather anchorage but was perfectly fine in the conditions we had.

A very early start (helped by the switching to Alaska Daylight Time) allowed us to arrive in Ketchikan at 9 AM on May 9 in the Bar Harbor marina, ten days from our Bainbridge Island departure.

Cruise 2023 – Let the Fun Begin – Bainbridge to Ketchikan

After a cooler and wetter than normal April, we cast off lines under clear skies in the early hours of April 29. Our destination for our first day was Cap Sante Marina in Anacortes where upon entering we promptly tied up to the fuel dock and filled 1044 gallons of diesel aboard. 

Our normal practice is to fill at the end of the prior season but with fuel well above $5/gallon at the time we decided to take a chance that they would go down before we took off in 2023.  Fortunately, our bet paid off and we only paid $4.30/gallon (now down to $4.19 but who counting those 1044 x $0.11 = $114.84 anyway).  That fill should cover our travel this summer until we depart Alaska at which time we’ll take on a few hundred gallons for the southbound trip.

Our practice is to go to Alaska relatively quickly then linger in BC on the return trip.  We got pretty good at fast trips in 2020 and 2021 when direct and expeditious trips through BC were required.  After leaving Anacortes we traveled first to Nanaimo through the protected waters of the Gulf Island. The next day was the slog up the Strait of Georgia to Gorge Harbor in preparation for dealing with bottleneck of narrow channels getting into Johnstone Strait.

We’ve developed a liking to the “middle route” that cuts through the Octopus Island (the other two routes either go via Seymour Narrows or the Yuculta/Gillard/Dent trio),. From Gorge Harbor we made our way to the Hole-in-the-Wall for the evening slack before the ebb.  The narrowest section of Hole-in-the-Wall, Upper Rapids and Lower Rapids are all relatively close and we were able to scoot though them in less than an hour. Our anchorage for the night was Otter Cove just south of Chatham Point in Discovery Passage.

With the good weather, we started the next morning at first light and were able to ride ebb current nearly to the western tip of Cracroft Isand in Johnstone Strait. After a little bit of slogging through Blackney Passage we popped into Queen Charlotte Sound and made our way to Lady Boot Cove (aka, “East of Eden”) for the night.

The forecasted conditions at Cape Caution for the next day weren’t bad but they were expected to be better the day after, May 5.  We elected to do a short day from Lady Boot Cove to Blunden Harbour to position ourselves a bit closer to Cape Caution.

The west wind blew steadily at about 15 kts overnight but were forecast to lay down as the day progressed. It was bouncy, primarily wind waves rather than swell, for the first few hours but it was more annoying than anything.  Because of ebb current coming out of Slingsby Channel, which can create rough conditions from the incoming swell or wind waves meeting the outgoing current, we elected to angle out beyond the Storm Islands before setting a more northerly route towards Cape Caution.  We dropped the stabilizing “fish” into the water to reduce our rolling as we became more beam to the seas.  As forecasted, the conditions improved and the run into Fitz Hugh Sound was uneventful.  Taking advantage of the fine weather, we pushed to Fancy Cove in Lama Passage for the night.

2023-Cruise-001xWe saw (via AIS) several pleasure craft come out of Port Alexander on Nigel Island the take Gordon Channel out beyond Pine Island before turning north towards Cape Caution. We’ve not gone that way before but it looked intriguing and we might try that route in the future.

2023-Cruise-002xFrom Fancy Cove, we headed out Seaforth Channel around Ivory Island, into Milbanke Sound and north into Findlayson Channel. North of Klemtu we took Sarah Passage into Tolmie Channel and finally Graham Reach.  We anchored at the “Green Spit” bar partway into Khutze Inlet for the night.

The next morning we continued the northbound journey up Grenville Channel and into Chatham Sound.  Vessel traffic was light although the BC Ferry, Northern Adventure, en route from Port Harday on Vancouver Island to Prince Rupert passed us along the way. We spent the night in the southeast facing bay formed by the 2023-Cruise-004xtwo Kinahan Islands near the entrance channel for Prince Rupert. Conditions were settled and what wind there were came from the NW.

In the late morning, we crossed into Alaska waters uneventfully with good sea conditions.  As we motored up the channel between Duke Island and the mainland, we used the CBP Roam app on our phone and obtained our clearance number. We always like a morning arrival at Ketchikan on account of (usually) lighter winds so rather than pushing on to port we dropped the anchor in the outer cove of Kah Shakes. Like the previous anchorage it is 2023-Cruise-011xa fair weather anchorage but was perfectly fine in the conditions we had.

A very early start (helped by the switching to Alaska Daylight Time) allowed us to arrive in Ketchikan at 9 AM on May 9 in the Bar Harbor marina, ten days from our Bainbridge Island departure.

All-Years Cruise Totals (through 2022)

The table below shows the end-of-cruise numbers from our log sheets for the twelve cruises through 2022.  Most of the tallies are self explanatory but some comments about the methodology of my logging:

  • As a practice, I don’t include the last travel day of our cruise back to our home port in the “@ Dock” numbers for where we spent the night. Consequently the sum of where we spent the nights is generally one less than the length of the trip. The year 2020 is an exception because we did an overnight run without stopping to speed our transit through British Columbia during the Covid lockdowns.
  • The engine hours are taken from hour meter at the lower helm and reflect the time from starting the engine in the morning until the it is turned off at the end of day.
  • The distance is captured by the Coastal Explorer (CE) navigation app running at the navigation computer at the lower helm which records our position every one-tenth of a mile.
  • I started recording our “Time Idling” in 2014 when we started to do more fishing activities that required us to idle while stationary or while trolling.  I did this so that my “average speed” calculations (distance traveled divided by engine hours) weren’t distorted by the time we were fishing or sightseeing (e.g., in Glacier Bay).and not actually trying to go somewhere. It is guestimate and not recorded with any rigor. Time anchoring or docking are not included in idle time.
Year # of Days At Anchor At a Dock On a Buoy Distance Traveled Engine Hours Gen. Hours Time Idling
2010 129 57 66 5 3,221 517.1 40.4  
2011 115 81 33   3,465 577.4 31.3  
2013 151 99 50 1 3,667 630.0 53.3  
2014 141 86 48 6 4,052 720.8 34.8 48.5
2015 104 67 31 5 3,580 629.2 28.7 42.4
2016 141 99 39 2 3,979 700.0 51.9 68.6
2017 140 91 46 2 3,817 656.5 62.2 51.1
2018 112 71 40   3,170 528.6 33.9 38.2
2019 118 82 35   3,816 649.5 16.3 56.6
2020 63 42 12 6 2,527 399.7 32.8 11.5
2021 110 81 26 2 3,317 554.0 66.0 27.5
2022 139 88 47 3 3,584 613.6 19.5 42.9
  1,463 944 473 32 42,195 7176.4 469.6 387.3

The map below shows all of the places we have stopped overnight during all our cruises. It is similar in style to our yearly cruise maps except that when the marker for a particular spot is selected, the data for the spot is the total number of times we’ve stayed and in which years.

All-Years Cruise Totals (through 2022)

The table below shows the end-of-cruise numbers from our log sheets for the twelve cruises through 2022.  Most of the tallies are self explanatory but some comments about the methodology of my logging:

  • As a practice, I don’t include the last travel day of our cruise back to our home port in the “@ Dock” numbers for where we spent the night. Consequently the sum of where we spent the nights is generally one less than the length of the trip. The year 2020 is an exception because we did an overnight run without stopping to speed our transit through British Columbia during the Covid lockdowns.
  • The engine hours are taken from hour meter at the lower helm and reflect the time from starting the engine in the morning until the it is turned off at the end of day.
  • The distance is captured by the Coastal Explorer (CE) navigation app running at the navigation computer at the lower helm which records our position every one-tenth of a mile.
  • I started recording our “Time Idling” in 2014 when we started to do more fishing activities that required us to idle while stationary or while trolling.  I did this so that my “average speed” calculations (distance traveled divided by engine hours) weren’t distorted by the time we were fishing or sightseeing (e.g., in Glacier Bay).and not actually trying to go somewhere. It is guestimate and not recorded with any rigor. Time anchoring or docking are not included in idle time.
Year # of Days At Anchor At a Dock On a Buoy Distance Traveled Engine Hours Gen. Hours Time Idling
2010 129 57 66 5 3,221 517.1 40.4  
2011 115 81 33   3,465 577.4 31.3  
2013 151 99 50 1 3,667 630.0 53.3  
2014 141 86 48 6 4,052 720.8 34.8 48.5
2015 104 67 31 5 3,580 629.2 28.7 42.4
2016 141 99 39 2 3,979 700.0 51.9 68.6
2017 140 91 46 2 3,817 656.5 62.2 51.1
2018 112 71 40   3,170 528.6 33.9 38.2
2019 118 82 35   3,816 649.5 16.3 56.6
2020 63 42 12 6 2,527 399.7 32.8 11.5
2021 110 81 26 2 3,317 554.0 66.0 27.5
2022 139 88 47 3 3,584 613.6 19.5 42.9
  1,463 944 473 32 42,195 7176.4 469.6 387.3

The map below shows all of the places we have stopped overnight during all our cruises. It is similar in style to our yearly cruise maps except that when the marker for a particular spot is selected, the data for the spot is the total number of times we’ve stayed and in which years.

2022 Wrap Up

Upon returning to our winter moorage, we are often asked what was the highlight of our cruising season.  I think this year the ability to leisurely cruise the British Columbia coastline stands out.  The previous two years, 2020 and 2021, were races up and down the coast between the BC-WA border and the BC-AK border.  In the Covid years we did those routes in six long days with only four or five anchorages along the route.  This year, it was 12 days/11 stops northbound and 36 days/35 stops southbound. 

Another highlight was the number of new (to us) places we visited. We went to 14 new anchorages, one new mooring buoy (Bailey Bay on Behm Canal) and one new marina (Port Browning on Pender Island).  Many of the new anchorages were on Southeast side of Kuiu Island. Its nice to know that without much effort, we can visit places we haven’t been before.

We are getting totally accustomed to cruising with our ship’s dog, Drake, on board. While he is a good trooper, has never been sea sick (yet) and knows exactly where on the boat to do his “business” (the bow near the windlass where it is easy to clean), it is absolutely clear from his joy when we drop the kayaks to paddle to shore or tie up at a dock, he’d prefer that we never leave the dock. His explanation is that we could then play with him and his ball several times a day. We’ve reached a compromise and now try to spend an extra day at the dock beyond what our shore tasks might require.

The final numbers for the trip are 139 days/138 nights out (88 nights at anchor, 3 nights on mooring buoys, 47 nights at the dock). We were fortunate to have the solitude of being the only boat in the anchorage 41 nights.  We traveled 3584 nautical miles and put on 613.6 engine hours.  Of that, 42.9 hours were idling associated with fishing or sightseeing.  We only had to run our generator for 18 hours.

The map below shows all of our stops this last cruising season. Clicking on one of the “drop pins” will pull up some information about the stop. At the top right of the map is an icon which will open a separate window that may be easier to navigate.

2022 Wrap Up

Upon returning to our winter moorage, we are often asked what was the highlight of our cruising season.  I think this year the ability to leisurely cruise the British Columbia coastline stands out.  The previous two years, 2020 and 2021, were races up and down the coast between the BC-WA border and the BC-AK border.  In the Covid years we did those routes in six long days with only four or five anchorages along the route.  This year, it was 12 days/11 stops northbound and 36 days/35 stops southbound. 

Another highlight was the number of new (to us) places we visited. We went to 14 new anchorages, one new mooring buoy (Bailey Bay on Behm Canal) and one new marina (Port Browning on Pender Island).  Many of the new anchorages were on Southeast side of Kuiu Island. Its nice to know that without much effort, we can visit places we haven’t been before.

We are getting totally accustomed to cruising with our ship’s dog, Drake, on board. While he is a good trooper, has never been sea sick (yet) and knows exactly where on the boat to do his “business” (the bow near the windlass where it is easy to clean), it is absolutely clear from his joy when we drop the kayaks to paddle to shore or tie up at a dock, he’d prefer that we never leave the dock. His explanation is that we could then play with him and his ball several times a day. We’ve reached a compromise and now try to spend an extra day at the dock beyond what our shore tasks might require.

The final numbers for the trip are 139 days/138 nights out (88 nights at anchor, 3 nights on mooring buoys, 47 nights at the dock). We were fortunate to have the solitude of being the only boat in the anchorage 41 nights.  We traveled 3584 nautical miles and put on 613.6 engine hours.  Of that, 42.9 hours were idling associated with fishing or sightseeing.  We only had to run our generator for 18 hours.

The map below shows all of our stops this last cruising season. Clicking on one of the “drop pins” will pull up some information about the stop. At the top right of the map is an icon which will open a separate window that may be easier to navigate.

Port McNeill to Eagle Harbor – The Last Leg

We departed Port McNeill on Monday, 8/29 with blue skies and calm winds. Timing the currents in this run down Johnstone Strait so that they were favorable (or at least not horribly adverse)  pushed us towards mid-day travel rather than our preferred morning hours. 

Our destination for the night was Port Harvey on Cracroft Island. While in Johnstone Strait 2022-Cruise-346xand approaching the turn-off for Port Harvey, we saw ahead what we first thought was a sea lion cruising by but turned out to be a black bear swimming across Johnstone Strait from Vancouver Island to Cracroft Island. We’ve seen bears swimming across channels in Alaska and BC before but this one was paddling across waters that are frequented by orca (i.e., killer whales).  The orca here are probably focused on the migrating salmon but there could be the odd-ball whale that might want to expand its diet a bit.

2022-Cruise-350xThe next morning, again because of the current timing, we didn’t leave the anchorage until about 10 AM.  While waiting, we watched some of the migratory fowl paddle by.  While mostly Canadian geese, we did see a lovely pair of Trumpeter swan.  According to Wikipedia, they are the heaviest living native bird in North American.  Seeing them next to a Canadian goose, the size difference is striking (forgot to take a picture).

While we hit Race Passage exactly at slack (or more precisely, “slack-ish”), our timing at Seymour Narrows was early.  Rather that jetting through with 7+ knots of current we killed an hour by checking out Small Inlet in Kanish Bay on Quadra Island.  We still had 5+ knots of current boosting us through Seymour and got twisted and turned by boils and whirlpools that extend for a mile or two downstream of the narrow section.  We joined several other boats in Gowlland Harbor for the night.

The next day we slogged our way south down the Strait of Georgia and anchored in Northwest Harbour about 10 miles north of Nanaimo. It is well protected from the SE winds that were blowing at the time.

An early start got us to Dodd Narrows about a half-hour after slack but fortunately it was the slack before the ebb.  We scooted through in no time and made our way to Montague Harbour on Galliano Island.  The presence of a marina, with restaurant and store serving ice cream, and a BC Provincial park, with a grass field for ball play, made it an attractive destination for all onboard.  We spent three nights here.

Continuing our leisurely cruise style, on Labor Day, 9/5, we traveled 11 miles to Lyall Harbour on Saturna Island.  We’ve often used this anchorage as our jumping off point for a short hop across to US waters, but in all those times we never taken the dinghy over to the public dock in Lyall Harbour and gone to the pub just above the dock.  We enjoyed a delightful lunch on an outside and dog-friendly deck with a view of Plumper Sound.

The next morning we made and even shorter 4-1/2 mile trip to Port Browning Marina on North Pender Island.  Our yacht club designates Port Browning as a satellite outstation and we are able to moor at a reduced rate.  It too has a pub with an outside deck.  It also serves ice cream in its onsite store and has ample fields in which we could engage in ball play with Drake.  Once again, everyone is happy.

In the small world category, while in Port Browning, we met Chris and Sandy who own the classic Diesel Duck Moken which is in Langkawi, Malaysia. On account Covid they have not visited the boat for two years.  They were on the boat when Covid first began an epidemic and spent several months on board before being able to return to their home in Canada on Pender Island.

2022-Cruise-352xWe finally made the return to the US on 9/8, anchoring briefly in Roche Harbor in order to go to shore, mail an oil sample for analysis taken during the oil change in Port McNeill, get ice cream and play with Drake in the local dog park.  After those “chores”, we continued on to Garrison Bay for two nights.  The English Camp National Historical Park is situated on Garrison Bay and has a dinghy dock giving shore access to several miles of trails. One of the trails goes to the Westcott Bay Shellfish Company which, during the summer months, has a restaurant serving lunch. Not surprisingly, oysters are featured on the menu. Marcia did a excellent job of shucking a half-dozen of the raw oysters we had.

2022-Cruise-353xOur penultimate cruising destination was Deer Harbor on Orcas Island. Our yacht club leases dock space at the Deer Harbor Marina and we ended up having that space to ourselves for three nights. The rest of the marina, however, was quite busy and we watched boats come and go.  One of the boats that arrived was the “older sister” ship to ours “Kwakatu.”  The folks we met are the second owners who bought it about three years ago.  They live in Minnesota but the boat stays in Sidney, about ten or so miles north of Victoria, BC.

We took the final leg of our summer cruise on Tuesday, 9/13 and crossed, with generally favorable currents, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, plodded down Admiralty Inlet, and found our way into Eagle Harbor.  We were secured to the dock where the boat will spend the winter and the engine off at 1845.

Port McNeill to Eagle Harbor – The Last Leg

We departed Port McNeill on Monday, 8/29 with blue skies and calm winds. Timing the currents in this run down Johnstone Strait so that they were favorable (or at least not horribly adverse)  pushed us towards mid-day travel rather than our preferred morning hours. 

Our destination for the night was Port Harvey on Cracroft Island. While in Johnstone Strait 2022-Cruise-346xand approaching the turn-off for Port Harvey, we saw ahead what we first thought was a sea lion cruising by but turned out to be a black bear swimming across Johnstone Strait from Vancouver Island to Cracroft Island. We’ve seen bears swimming across channels in Alaska and BC before but this one was paddling across waters that are frequented by orca (i.e., killer whales).  The orca here are probably focused on the migrating salmon but there could be the odd-ball whale that might want to expand its diet a bit.

2022-Cruise-350xThe next morning, again because of the current timing, we didn’t leave the anchorage until about 10 AM.  While waiting, we watched some of the migratory fowl paddle by.  While mostly Canadian geese, we did see a lovely pair of Trumpeter swan.  According to Wikipedia, they are the heaviest living native bird in North American.  Seeing them next to a Canadian goose, the size difference is striking (forgot to take a picture).

While we hit Race Passage exactly at slack (or more precisely, “slack-ish”), our timing at Seymour Narrows was early.  Rather that jetting through with 7+ knots of current we killed an hour by checking out Small Inlet in Kanish Bay on Quadra Island.  We still had 5+ knots of current boosting us through Seymour and got twisted and turned by boils and whirlpools that extend for a mile or two downstream of the narrow section.  We joined several other boats in Gowlland Harbor for the night.

The next day we slogged our way south down the Strait of Georgia and anchored in Northwest Harbour about 10 miles north of Nanaimo. It is well protected from the SE winds that were blowing at the time.

An early start got us to Dodd Narrows about a half-hour after slack but fortunately it was the slack before the ebb.  We scooted through in no time and made our way to Montague Harbour on Galliano Island.  The presence of a marina, with restaurant and store serving ice cream, and a BC Provincial park, with a grass field for ball play, made it an attractive destination for all onboard.  We spent three nights here.

Continuing our leisurely cruise style, on Labor Day, 9/5, we traveled 11 miles to Lyall Harbour on Saturna Island.  We’ve often used this anchorage as our jumping off point for a short hop across to US waters, but in all those times we never taken the dinghy over to the public dock in Lyall Harbour and gone to the pub just above the dock.  We enjoyed a delightful lunch on an outside and dog-friendly deck with a view of Plumper Sound.

The next morning we made and even shorter 4-1/2 mile trip to Port Browning Marina on North Pender Island.  Our yacht club designates Port Browning as a satellite outstation and we are able to moor at a reduced rate.  It too has a pub with an outside deck.  It also serves ice cream in its onsite store and has ample fields in which we could engage in ball play with Drake.  Once again, everyone is happy.

In the small world category, while in Port Browning, we met Chris and Sandy who own the classic Diesel Duck Moken which is in Langkawi, Malaysia. On account of Covid they have not visited their boat for two years.  They were on the boat when Covid first became an epidemic and spent several months on board and not able to cruise anywhere before being able to return to their home in Canada on Pender Island.

2022-Cruise-352xWe finally made the return to the US on 9/8, anchoring briefly in Roche Harbor in order to go to shore, mail an oil sample for analysis taken during the oil change in Port McNeill, get ice cream and play with Drake in the local dog park.  After those “chores”, we continued on to Garrison Bay for two nights.  The English Camp National Historical Park is situated on Garrison Bay and has a dinghy dock giving shore access to several miles of trails. One of the trails goes to the Westcott Bay Shellfish Company which, during the summer months, has a restaurant serving lunch. Not surprisingly, oysters are featured on the menu. Marcia did a excellent job of shucking a half-dozen raw oysters of the dozen oysters we ate.

2022-Cruise-353xOur penultimate cruising destination was Deer Harbor on Orcas Island. Our yacht club leases dock space at the Deer Harbor Marina and we ended up having that space to ourselves for three nights. The rest of the marina, however, was quite busy and we watched boats come and go.  One of the boats that arrived was the “older sister” ship to ours, “Umiak.”  The owners, Ann & Jim, purchased it from the first owner about three years ago.  They live in Minnesota but the boat stays in Sidney, about ten or so miles north of Victoria, BC.

We took the final leg of our summer cruise on Tuesday, 9/13 and crossed, with generally favorable currents, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, plodded down Admiralty Inlet, and found our way into Eagle Harbor.  We were secured to the dock where the boat will spend the winter with the engine off at 1845.