Saturday, 29 July 2017

To Cape Caution and back

Fog outside of Murray Labyrinth

After leaving Alert Bay, we decided to spend some time on the mainland side towards Cape Caution. Hoping for a sail, we motored past Pulteney Point and headed towards Blunden Harbour. We did indeed get a short and slow sail in (1.5 hours at 3-5 knots), but as usual (for us this Summer), the winds died. Arrival at Blunden Harbour was easy, with lots of space (as has been typical for locations west of Johnstone Strait this Summer). We decided to spend two nights.

While in Blunden, we had a visit with Stan and Pat (SV Alcheringa), who had indicated on the evening HAM net (West Coast Boaters' Net) they were coming down from Skull Cove (Cape Caution area) to say "Hi" to us. We had an enjoyable drink with them on their boat, then we all came back to Pelagia for dinner. Also, while in Blunden, David put out the crab trap. Much to our surprise, we caught more crabs than needed -- we kept 1 Dungenous and 3 Rock Crabs. Michelle made some great crabcakes and dip later.

After two nights in Blunden, we decided to head up to the Cape Caution area. We navigated the tricky entrance into Murray Labyrinth (well, tricky for us, as it was our first time here). This is a fairly small anchorage in the midst of a labyrinth of small and medium-sized islands (hence its name) at the end of Schooner Channel, only 10 or so nautical miles from Cape Caution. It is a wild and remarkably beautiful place (and will almost certainly win the "most beautiful anchorage" award for our cruise this Summer). We stayed 3 nights at Murray Labyrinth, and would have stayed more if the weather forecast stayed stable. 

Wonderful kayaking around Murray Labyrinth
Weather was forecast to turn to strong (possibly gale force)southerly/southeasterly winds. Being near Cape Caution and Queen Charlotte Sound, Murray Labyrinth would be sure to get some strong winds (even though the anchorage has decent protection). We had, by now, decided we were not going North of Cape Caution this Summer (too much rain etc up North this Summer, and the extra time we spent in the Broughtons both contributed to our decision to stay South of Caution). With strong southerly winds forecast, we decided to high-tail it down to the docks in Sointula. The following night, we had lots of rain and strong winds at the dock; up at Cape Caution, winds were in the 30-35 knot range. We congratulated ourselves on our good decision.

We provisioned at the Co-Op store in Sointula, and after a couple nights, headed back to the Broughtons, with the intent to hang around until we would get some decent winds for an Eastbound/Southbound trip back down Johnstone Strait (but not too much...). It was still drizzly when we anchored in the cove by Dead Point (a new anchorage to us), but sun the next morning made us decide to hang out for a little kayaking. Next we were going to anchor in Cutter Cove, but the winds forecast for the strait suggested the "right" winds (15-25 kn West/northwest) in two days, so we got going early, caught slack in Chatham Channel (where, to our surprise, we saw a young grizzly), and anchored at Matilpi. We were the only boat, so we had our choice of the very few spots. Our first choice we became unhappy with as winds were funneling directly at us and we neared an underwater rock. None too pleased to have up-anchor, Michelle nevertheless liked our new spot without a breath of wind and lots of space. Happily, this all occurred before dinner (as opposed to later in the evening.

Young grizzly on the beach in Chatham Channel
The next morning, we motored down Havannah Channel and headed out into the strait. At first, we had only 5-10 knots of wind (behind us) and a current against, so we had to motor. By about half way to Port Neville, the wind filled in and the current died down. Soon we had 15-20 knots of wind and even a 2-4 knots current in our favour (at times 26 knots of wind and 5 knots of favourable current). We finally had the great sail we wished for, all the way to Chatham Point. We completed the day anchoring in Chameleon Harbour. (It was also fortunate to be able to sail, as in Matilpi we discovered a tiny leak of antifreeze -- a dribble -- from a damaged hose between the engine and the water heater. Rubber tape temporarily decreased the drip. We will repair when we get to a dock soon.)

Next day, we transited the Yaculta rapids (Dent, Gillard and Yacultas, which were crazy busy and not so pleasant) and headed to Von Donop Inlet (top of Cortes Island), where we are currently anchored.

We are finally back in our "Southern" waters. It is very warm here in Von Donop (~25 degrees C); Water temperatures are up to 21 degrees C; finally, we are swimming off the boat. On the downside, it is very crowded (40+ boats) -- it is what one must expect returning down South.

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