Sunday, June 5, 2011

Haida Gwaii arrival

Back in Prince Rupert we were back at our perch on the outside float at PRY&RC; meeting and greeeting the steady procession of boats heading North to Alaska. However our plans were to head south and west, across notorious Hecate Strait to Haida Gwaii, formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands. Hecate Strait is well known for vicious South Easterlies kicking up sharp swells, particularly against the tidal flows. We selected a two day period of suitable weather and made a leisurely start down the Inside Passage, turning out to sea and then to the usual weather-holding location on Banks Island, Larsen Harbour. Plan A was to look at the Spicer Island anchorage; Plan B was to pick up a mooring buoy in Larsen Harbour; Plan C was to press on............. Spicer Island looked fine but we thought that we get another 10 miles nearer to the Hecate launch point. After a careful entry into Larsen Harbour unfortunately the promised mooring bouys are no longer there........government cutbacks maybe. And after crawling around the back of the bay we just didn't like the depth or the swinging room. The Board Meeting didn't last long and we decided to head across the Strait. One of the many benefits of having a boat like Last Mango is that you know that she is totally untroubled by the prospect of heavy seas, it certainly gives you a comfortable feeling whenever you travel and wherever you go. We also benefit from having an Owl and a Lark on board. Once we were into the twilight zone Susie took the helm and took us across Hecate past midnight while I got my head down until we reached the range at Lawn Point, Graham Island. Then Susie turned in and I brought us across the bar and into the Southbound Channel. We planned a swiftish crossing of the Strait and a slow passage down the channel into Skidegate so that we could pick up the flood tide and then check the anchorage at first light, radar is fine but it is always good to make sure that you are not dropping your anchor right into someone's crab trap set. And travelling at that time of night is good; there is no traffic, the navigation marks (usually) help your comfort level and you are so busy that there is no time to even think you are tired. By 0330 we were circling my target anchor zone outside Queen Charlotte City Harbour; by 0400 the hook was safely tucked into the shells and mud and we were fast asleep.

This is one of the fascinating things about travelling. What would we find in Haida Gwaii? Although one does one's research it is impossible to know how it is going to be until you arrive. Would we meet the local folk? Would there be space in the harbour? There are a million uncertainties floating around and it is always interesting how things pan out. Susie and I like to try and spend real time in the places we get to, and try to get involved in the local community. I think on Day 1 we discoved that QCC is one of the friendliest places on the planet. From the moment that we called in on the VHF and tied up in the harbour we keep meeting more people involved in all walks of life in the Islands......... It is now Day 3 (I think) and we are settling into a peaceful groove of chilled life.............a wonderful wine and cheese evening. The hockey game. My latest gig at Queen B's party. Networking with fellow cruisers (Hecate Strait is having a 35 knot tantrum and we are all sitting it out). Asking the very knowledgeable fishing captains about crossing the bar. and we keep hearing people say that they came here for a visit and are still here. Like, 30 years later. Worrying stuff!

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