Up at 5 for a 5:45 departure as we planned 70 miles today. The cruise would take us through numerous narrow passages, and channels eventually bringing us to rest in Bottleneck Inlet on Finlayson Channel. We started by deeking out the north arm of Kwaksua channel which empties into Hakai Pass. A short crossing it is still exposed to the Pacific swell and we rode out the lazy 8 foot swell across the pass and into Edward and then Nalau Pass. Spectacular morning and scenery as we entered Fitz Hugh Channel and made our way up to Bella Bella. A quick stop on the Shearwater side for lunch, some ice and a few provisions and we were off again. The weather was great and only a lazy west swell at Ivory lighthouse and we ducked into the narrow Reid Pass. One lone cruiser ahead of us as we wound our way into Mathieson Channel, sighted out second Humpback of the trip and were joined briefly by some Dall’s porpoises. We slipped through the very narrow Jackson Pass with 1 fathom under the keel, and the branches almost brushing our sides, not so unnerving as we had been through many times. Into Finlayson Channel and across the bar into Bottle Neck Inlet. One of our favourites, it is a narrow basin that opens up into a beautiful calm anchorage. The only boat there we set the hook and the crab pots looking forward to the mornings catch. A long day but one of our favourites!!!
A short day as we decided to cruise up Fitz Hugh Sound and anchor at our favourite wilderness beach. We were greeted with a calm day , good forecast with some showers in the morning. We spotted our first humpback whale of the trip cruising up Fitz Hugh Sound, perhaps in a hurry to catch up with his friends as we didn’t see him for long. Pruth Harbour is at the end of Kwakshua Channel dividing Calvert and Hecate islands. Always sheltered it is the location of what once was the Cliffs Fishing Resort, now Hakai Beach Institute. The new owners will not be doing fishing charters instead offering a place for research groups and eco tourism. A beautiful lodge it was busy with workers doing renovations and they welcomed us to use the dock and walk over to the beach on the west side. We took our picnic kit with hot dogs and a glass of wine, a tradition for the crew of Thunder 1. The beach at Hakai is truly beautiful, and at this time of year deserted. The showers held off and we enjoyed our walk on the miles of sand, a fire, some hot dogs and a glass of wine. No hot dog ever tastes better than one cooked on Hakai Beach.
Back to the boat and off to sleep, always excited about being on the north coast.
We awoke to sunny skies and calm winds in Port Alexander. A quick scan of the forecast and we decided to push on around 11 am. At 9 am Egg Island, which is just north of Cape Caution, reported light winds with a low south west swell so at 10:40 we set out to cross the Cape. Deb did her usual stow and tape job as we have found in the past that if it can fall down or ou,t it will when we cross the Sound. As we motored by Pine Island Light, we were in 1 meter seas and just a light NW wind. It looked good. We held out tack to abeam Cape Caution and with no change in the sea condition we were able to change our course and ride the beam sea towards Egg Island. At 4 pm we entered the mouth of Rivers Inlet, the open water behind us and our anchorage at Fury Cove in sight. 5 pm and we rode the light swell into the calm waters of Fury Cove and set the Hook. A good day on the open water and a traditional Fog was in order. (Corona bottle with a shot of lime juice and tequila in the neck) . We watched the sunset from the top deck looking out over Fitz Hugh Sound, the only blemish on the day was listening to our Canucks lose the series, oh well maybe now they can come fishing on the Thunder. Life is Good.
Leaving Stowaway Bev on the Dock to find her way back home to Courtenay we shoved off with the intention of crossing Queen Charlotte Strait and anchoring up in Skull Cove for the night. Forecast winds indicated that the North Westerly’s would not make this a good day to cross Cape Caution. We soon realised this was a good decision as we quickly encountered a stiff 20 to 25 knot North west wind and three to four footers on the nose. Plan B came into effect as it would have been a rough crossing to reach Skull Cove on the mainland side so we changed our destination to Port Alexander on Nigei Island just past Port Hardy. This kept the chop on the nose and we entered Goletas Channel and pushed up into the head of Port Alexander. A great anchorage for north winds we were still buffeted around on the hook however the sun shone and we used the time to catch up on some painting and other loose ends. One sailboat joined us for the evening and some brave young souls donned their suits and took a plunge, Brrrrrrr. Only something our kids would do. Tomorrows forecast was good so we anticipated crossing Queen Charlotte Sound about mid day
Up early and over to the fuel dock in Campbell. Nice guys they always admire the boat, comes from their fishing backgrounds. We filled her up with 3600 liters of diesel, and a few gallons of gas for the skiff. Back to our slip and Deb was off on her errands. I met with Transport at 9:30 and went through the required paces, all OK as the Thunder passed with flying colors. The rest of the day was a blur but in the end we had her ready for the early morning start to make our trip through Seymour Narrows. The next few days travel are all planned around the tides as some areas the tidal current exceeds the forward speed of the Thunder, not to mention the whirlpools that accompany the max tides. Slack at Seymour was 8 am to that set the agenda for the next day. A quick trip up to the Riptide pub for a sushi dinner, their chef Saka makes the best sushi on the south coast!! No problem falling asleep as usual.