Author: douganddeb

Hakai Beach to Bottleneck Inlet

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!!!

Fury Cove to Hakai Beach

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.

May 11th, 2010 Port Alexander to Fury Cove

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.

May 10, 2010, Mcneill to Port Alexander.

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

Lagoon Cove to Port McNeill

Overcast, but mild and calm as we gave Bill and Pat a wave and wished them a good summer. With a short day ahead we took the back route across Knight Inlet into Tribune Channel planning a stop at Pierre’s at Echo Bay for lunch. As we entered Knight Inlet we were quickly joined by a number of white sided dolphins. Riding our bow wave they spun and criss crossed our bow. As soon as one group left we were joined by another group and the gals hung over the bow taking pictures and marvelling at the sleek acrobats that joined us for the morning cruise. Tribune is always a magic trip with the white capped mountains in the background and the glassy smooth water gliding under our bow. We cruised into Echo Bay to find ourselves the only boat at the dock as Mary and her husband Walt were busy getting ready for the summer crush. A beautiful spot we took the tour and ran the skiff over to the old school and community center for a few pics and a walk. We wished them a great summer and headed off to Port McNiell.
Still graced with calm winds we motored through Arrow Channel around Malcom Island and into Port McNeill. Just in time to grab a few groceries and then listen to the Canucks game on satelite radio. Whew!! Looks like we will have to tune again. Well a nice steak on the BBQ and then off to bed, big day tomorrow as we might make the jump across the open waters, we will see what the weather does tomorrow, stay posted.

Shoal Bay to Lagoon Cove

Beautiful morning as we slipped away from the dock at Shoal Bay at 5 am. Something about the early mornings on the coast that are really special. Tides were with us for the first two hours and we made good time as we aproached Green Point Rapids. We reached a blistering 11 knots and were joined by two yachts and a sailboat all making time and heading north. With clear skies and a good push we entered Johnstone Strait and slid by Port Neville towards Chatham Channel and our next stop at Lagoon Cove. Making good time we anchored in Boughey Bay to relax for a couple of hours and have some lunch. At 2 pm we slipped into the narrow Chatham Channel and watched all the prawn boats busy with their opening season sets. Rounding the corner into Lagoon Cove we were warmly met by owner and friend Bill and his Manager Pat. We last saw Bill and his wife Jean in Cabo San Lucas however Jean was out and we had to settle for a visit with Bill and some other boaters at the usual evening pot luck at the boat shed. With Lagoon Cove up for sale it will be surely missed if the new owners fail to continue Bill’s tradition of a warm and friendly stop. Let’s hope his legacy lives on if it sells. Tomorrow we head for Port McNeil to drop off our stowaway Bev. Too bad as she always provides us good company and is an enthusiastic deck hand.

Campbell River to Shoal Bay

With stowaway Bev aboard we woke to a beautiful morning in Campbell. Away at 6 am we made our way towards Seymour Narrows and the morning slack. Seymour narrows was once the most dangerous shipping channel on the coast due to roaring tides and two underwater pinnacles. In 1958 they detonated the largest non nuclear explosion to date and blew the pinnacles away. A must read if you google Ripple Rock. We slipped through at the end of the ebb with nothing but a ripple and made our way up Johnstone Strait. Into Nodales Channel, sunny and calm, around the corner and into Shoal Bay by noon. A beautiful spot that was once a busy town at the turn of the century, now nothing remains except the dock and a small resort run by our friend Mark. Unfortunately he was not in so we made ourselves at home, the only boat on the dock on a beautiful May day. Lots was accomplished including some painting on the Boat while the girls worked on some crafty things. Then out fishing where Deb landed the first rock cod of the year!!
Crabbing was also great and we took 7 nice dungeness crabs for the dinner table. All and all a great day on the west coast!

Thursday May 06 In Port Campbell River

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.

Comox to Campbell River

Woke up to a beautiful morning in the Comox Valley. Departed at 9 am for Campbell but as we left the harbour the northwest wind had kicked up giving three to four footers off Cape Lazo and Cape Mudge, no problem if we had to get there however we chose to set the anchor of Deman Island and wait for the forecast winds to calm down. It gave us agreat opportunity to beach comb and pick a nice batch of oysters off the beach!! By 2 pm winds were settling down and we left for Campbell. Sun shine and calm winds accompanied us for the afternoon and we slipped into Discovery Harbour Marina at 7 pm. Big day tomorrow as Transport Canada was coming for our final topside safety inspection as well a number of last minute provisioning tasks for Deb and I. Our friend Bev was joining us also as our annual stowaway for the trip up the coast to Port Hardy.

May 4th, 2010

Mondays stiff north west wind gave way to a beautiful morning in Nanaimo Harbour. We departed at 07:50 for Comox under sunny skies and light winds. Couldn’t have asked for a nicer cruising day as we motored up Georgia Straight towards Comox. The navy was putting on a show as we circumvented their test area WG where a joint military exercise gave us both an air and ship display. We hugged the east side of Vancouver Island, past French Creek and Qualicum, into Baynes Sound between Denman Island and the big island and then on into Comox Harbour. It is always like coming home as Deb and I have many friends in the Comox Valley having lived here for many years in the past. The fishing fleet was on the move as Prawn season opens tomorrow so they found space for us among the remaining fleet on the commercial dock. A short stay as we are off early tomorrow for Campbell River but enough time to visit old neigbours and have a beer with my son for Mike for his 24th birthday coming up on Friday. Happy Birthday Mike! A last look at the beautiful Comox Glacier and the emerging stars in the clear night sky and it’s off to bed.

Monday May 03/2010

Northward Bound.

This morning we leftt Genoa Bay for Nanaimo Harbour. The sun was shining but the wind howled out of the south west givng us a blustery day as we made our way towards Nanaimo Harbour. We had great stay in Genoa Bay, visiting old friends, making some new ones and getting lots of work done on the Thunder. Lots of sanding, painting, varnishing and preseason maintainance was acomplished. A new toilet was installed in the front guest head. Many of our old guests will be sad to learn this one is so quiet that you won’t wake up the whole boat when you flush! Our thanks to Gord Nelson of Nelson Marine for his usual top notch work as our shipwright and his unrelenting abuse of the Captain on the Thunder 1. We arrived in Nanaimo Harbour at 15:30 and anchored out by NewCastle Island. Just settling on the hook when we were paid a visit by our friends Graeme Ellis and his wife Jane. Both are marine biologists and Graeme is one of the longtime experts on the west coast orca populations. Good to catch up and we promised to send our whale pictures to Graeme who can identify every fin on the coast, whish I could remember people as well as he can remember whales. We took our skiff to the Dinghy Dock Pub for a bite and a bit of the Hockey game and then it was off to bed, good weather forecast for our trip to Comox tomorrow.

Spring Haul Out

The Thunder 1 arrived in Maple Bay on April 19th for her annual haul out and inspection by Transport Canada. The crew at Cove Yachts did a great job as usual in making sure the Thunder 1 is ship shape for the coming Charter season. And what a season it is going to be. Bookings have been outstanding and currently only the September long weekend remains open for 2010. We will remain in Genoa Bay after our haul out in order to finish the normal sanding and painting that is part of the spring ritual in owning a wood boat. At this point our cruise north remains open but Deb and I are looking forward to the trip as it is always an awesome experience. We are booked coming south in September and we would like to thank Anne and Dwight for signing on to that cruise. Stay tuned to the blog as we will update our progress north starting aprox. May 7th as well as all our individual fishing charters as they happen.

Big Blow in Victoria

After a very quiet winter on the waterfront in Victoria the Thunder 1 and Crew were rocked by one of the wildest wind storms since 2006. Fortunately we were not at sea and survived unscathed on the dock in the inner Harbour. Preparations are going well as we gear up for our trip north to Prince Rupert. We will leave Victoria on the 15th of April and proceed to Maple Bay for our annual haul out, bottom paint and inspection by Transport Canada. Hoping to leave for the north coast on the first week of May, at this time no guests aboard. The Edmonton show was excellent as usual and filled many of our remaining slots with both regulars and some new faces as well. We have two openings remaining, one in late August and the Sept long weekend.

We will keep you posted on our preparations and our progress up the coast.


Doug and Deb

Winter Preparations

The Thunder 1 and crew are wintering in Victoria inner harbour. Hard to believe we are hosting the winter Olympics as Victoria has the cherry trees in full bloom with daffodills and tulips bursting out everywhere. We are busy preparing for the coming charter season and have just returned from the Calgary Boat and Sportsman Show. Turnout was good however the effects of the recession can still be felt. We met some great people and are hoping some of them will join us for the coming fishing season. We are doing the Victoria Boating and Fishing Show on Feb 19th and are looking forward to mixing it up wih the local fishing enthusiusts.