Friday, May 13, 2011

Seymour Narrows to Cape Caution

0350 and the alarm went off. Whenever we have an early start we seem to be on the alert all through the night. Well, that part of it that we are supposed to be asleep. I had already done the engine room checks and brought in the shore power the night before so at 0400 we fired up Deere John and we were away from the dock. Moving out of Campbell River we saw another cruiser up and about and it passed through our minds that no doubt they were heading for the Narrows as well. In the channel the flood was still against us; a tug with a tow came through ahead on the dying current, no doubt he had run all night to get his timing right. At the narrows we were dead on time and there was a glimmer of dawn; three fish boats were ahead waiting for the turn and right on cue we were past the site of Old Rip and onto the ebb current into Johnstone Straight, together with the SE wind it was a great start to our journey.

The weather at Cape Caution was poor so the plan was to head into the Broughton Archipelago and do some exploring for a couple of days. First stop was Lagoon Cove where we found two boats who had been waiting a week for good weather to round the Cape; they rose every morning at 0400 to listen to the Canadian weather forecast to no avail. LC was a hoot; our hosts decided to hold the first Happy Hour of the season so at 1630 the day's prawn harvest (a small barrel) was served up along with everyone's culinary contributions. A great opportunity to network with fellow cruisers, including a Nordhavn 50 which has been to Alaska for each of the last 12 years. From Lagoon Cove we headed for Pierre's at Echo Bay. A legendary destination, over some 30 years Pierre has built his clientele (in the High Season of July and August) around the Hog Roast (Sat); Prime Rib (Wed); Italian Night (Mon); Pot Luck (Fri)...........this entirely remote location is a networkers dream in the summer. We were the only boat, and the second of the year so far. We had our own diversions; the prawn traps close by yielded 73 king prawns and the crab trap two keepers in Shoal Bay. Our nest stop was Sullivan Cove where we were the first boat of the year at another stunning location in the Broughtons. From the chart, the Broughtons look like a collection of small islands and channels. But up close, they are just a vast and stunning crusing ground. One could spend a couple of years exploring the area and hardly touch the surface.

Returning crabber

Dungeness crab

At Echo Bay we walked a trail to visit Bill Proctor's museum and home. Bill is a legend of the area; born in 1934 he has never been out of the Province. He has spend a lifetime logging and fishing nearby and collecting relics and artefacts which he has picked up from the local beaches. There are beads which were traded with the Indians by Captains Cook and Vancouver. Glass fish net floats made by Japanese glass blowers who crewed on Oriental fishing vessels. 100 year old magazines and catalogues for the ladies in Victoria. Bone and stone tools from the nearby beach and middens which are thousands of years old. Bill has much insightful observation of the issues which surround BC, in particular involving conservation and the tensions between First Nations peoples and Canadians. He is also very knowledgeable and skilful. Having found a floating cedar log and towed in to his beach, in a mere 14 days he used a chainsaw and a rudimentary splitter to build a replica logger's cabin - the shakes from the log are so smooth you would think they come from a sawmill.

Split from one log with a splitting tool

Modest Bill
Over these few days I had been keeping tuned into the weather to prepare for Cape Caution. A small weather window would develop at the beginning of the weekend. On the Friday morning we headed down Wells Passage to look at conditions in Queen Charlotte Strait. The jigsaw puzzle was falling into place............SE wind 15 to 20knots; Slingsby channel/ Nakwakto Rapids near slack; West Otter Buoy reporting only 2m seas............and there was a tug with a tow a few miles ahead on course for the Cape. It was a good passage with some easy swells, Last Mango took it all in her stride.

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