Sunday, July 20, 2014

Louise Narrows, Tanu Village and Windy Bay - Haida Gwaii

On July 13th, we motored to the south end of Louise Narrows and dropped the hook in a small cove at the south end. Louise Narrows is a slim opening between Louise Island and Moresby Island, made passable by dredging a very tight channel. There are sections where two boats could not pass each other. We explored by dinghy in solitude. Earlier in the day, we'd seen a couple local small boats headed this way, but that was it. 52 56.6430 N 131 53.9909 W

The next morning, July 14th, we motored south through scenic Dana Pass to Tanu Village where we were welcomed by watchmen Walter and Mary and their little granddaughter Raven. As we dinghied to shore, a family of orcas passed between us and Jarana at anchor! They were so close, it was really exciting. Will post photos later. We were to see a lot more of those whales when we left. 52 45.7670 N 131 36.6970 W

Walter gave us a great tour of the many remaining fallen longhouses and a great explanation of village life and the mortuary poles. I wish I'd take photos of Mary and Walter, they were terrific.

From Tanu we motored to Stalkungi Bay at the west end of Tanu Island. It was another snug spot, so snug we were concerned about swinging room. As we were searching for the perfect spot to lower the anchor, Bill noticed lots of steam in the exhaust (overheating) and shut down the engine. We had to put down the anchor where we lie. He quickly readied the dinghy to use as a tug if needed. After a half hour, of pushing and prodding with a piece of stiff twisted wire (roto-rootering) past a couple bends and connections, he managed to clear some pretty resistant chunk of matter from the engine intake hose and seacock. Whew! 52 45.9800 N 131 44.9000 W

Anyway, concerned about swing room, we dug out the stern tie line and Bill dinghied towards shore trailing it from the boat. It doesn't quite reach, so I back a bit. Hmmm... Bill couldn't get close enough to tie to anything. I guess we were farther than it looked. So he went to the side of the bay and discovered it too, was much farther than appeared. So we concluded no need to tie.

Most of the charting is pretty good, although often depths are understated, ie real depths are greater than we expect and sometimes not practical for us. Most anchorages have had nice sticky mud bottoms that the anchor digs right into. But sometimes, when backing down to set the anchor we just bumpily drag it across a rocky bottom.

July 15th we motored out to Windy Bay in glassy calm. Windy Bay is a tiny rock strewn cove and river mouth. Fortunately there is a good mooring to use, so we didn't have to solve the anchor-swingroom-depth problem. Carla, her son Anthony and toddler daughter Shyla welcomed us and gave us a tour.

Windy Bay village is located on Lyell Island near the site where the Haida protesters took a stand in 1985 to stop logging on the island and ultimately led to the formation of the Haida Gwaii National Park and Reserve. A new longhouse was built there around that time. In August 2013, visitors, volunteers, Haida and Parks Canada staff raise the Legacy pole there. It was the first monumental pole raised in Gwaii Haanas in 130 years and commemorates the 20th anniversary of cooperative management between the government of Canada and the Council of the Haida Nation. It's an idyllic spot. Carla and Anthony led us on a circuit through the forest and pointed out the many plant species, and trees where planks and cedar fibers has been taken long ago for use by the inhabitants. 52 41.4100 N 131 27.3000 W

Later in the afternoon, we motored west from Windy Bay to Sac Bay in De La Beche inlet. 52 32.0063 N 131 40.5520 W

Find an online map of Haida Gwaii to see the location of the villages. If you don't see the anchorages on the map, try searching for the lat/longs given in Google Earth or Open CPN.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Skedans Village - Haida Gwaii

It's been a while since we've made blog posts. We can post text via radio, but photos will have to wait until we have wifi, maybe sometime on Vancouver Island.

Early on 12 July we left Queen Charlotte City (QCC) for Sandspit Marina to fuel up. The tide was very low (more than 20ft from the high), so the small marina was a forest of tall pilings. Under calm & sunny skies we motored (again) out over the bar. Our first stop was the former Haida village known as Skedans. As we dinghied in, a family of orcas passed between our dinghy and Jarana. .There are numerous totem and morturary poles. (great photos to post later) Each village site has watchmen onsite. When we came ashore, a young couple were baiting large hooks with salmon meat to catch halibut. Nicholas gave us a great tour with much historical explanation. Historically, the two main Haida clans are Eagle and Raven. Nicholas' ancestors were from Skedans, and he knew his grandparents. Many in his greatgrandparents' generation vacated the island villages after a devastating smallpox epidemic in the early 1900s. Most survivors were taken in by the Skidegate village. Many children were sent to the notorious boarding schools far away to be stripped of their native culture and language.

The Haida lived in longhouses. Interestingly, it was traditional for each clan to assemble the houses of the other clan, and they had to be raised in one day. They used logs for posts and beams, and planks for walls, floors and roofs. There are many remaining large poles and beams, but they are swathed in moss, so it's difficult to see the carvings. There are many remaining mortuary poles, tall and thick with cutouts in the top for boxes of remains, all long gone now. Many artifacts and poles have been removed to museums far and wide. Some remains are being repatriated.

The Haida Nation posts watchmen at each village site to protect and explain the remaining artifacts. They are very interesting and give us a warm welcome when we arrive. There were a couple large sailboats that host tourists to visit the area standing off Skedans when we arrived. The watchman sites usually limit the number of concurrent visitors to 12, but so far, it's just been us.

After our visit, we motored a few miles to the Limestone Islands to anchor overnight. We saw a couple kayaks along the shore and a converted fishing boat anchored for the night as well. It was the last time, so far that we've shared an anchorage. Limestone Bay has a lovely long, sandy beach. So the next morning we dinghied ashore for a walk and some exploring. There was a vacant kayak camp with tent platforms, kitchen benches and other conveniences.


Saturday, July 12, 2014

Over the Horizon to Haida Gwaii

On Tuesday, we left the busy port of Prince Rupert and motored (again) out towards a jumping off point.  After a long afternoon and a false attempt at Larson Bay, a recommended stop, we picked our way through a rocky path to Griffin Bay.  Loon song greeted us and it was a good anchorage among beautiful, peaceful and solitary scenery overnight.

Wednesday morning we set off across Hecate Strait.  We hoisted the main and anticipated our first sail in weeks.  Moderate northwesterly winds were forecast,.... but Noooo.  We motor sailed sometimes, when there was enough breeze for that.

Before long, we could see the mountains of Haida Gwaii revealed through the clouds in the west.  It was an easy approach.  Skidegate Inlet divides the two main islands, Graham and Moresby, with low forested mountains on either side.  The anchorage in front of Queen Charlotte City (QCC pop ~700) was excellent.  The following morning we found a berth in the municipal marina at the foot of the ramp among the sport and commercial fishing boats.

The weather was (and continues to be) sunny - Praise Be!  It's breezy of the strait in the afternoon, but excellent biking weather.  Since most of our visit will be in the Gwaii Haanas National Park, we attended a required orientation at the wonderful Haida Gwaii Museum in Skidegate.  It was a great bike ride from QCC to Skidegate on a good road, light traffic, light wind and SUNSHINE!!!  and more is forecast.

As an additional bonus, we met two other cruiser boats, Linger Longer from Shilshole D-dock, and Saracen from Vancouver.  We'd seen Saracen at several other spots, so it was about time we got acquainted.  We hope to see more of both of them later in the park.

Moving on: the plan is to get fuel at Sandspit and make our first stop at Skedans, a former Haida village site.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Prince Rupert, BC, Our North Turn Around Point

We spent 3 nights in Prince Rupert.  It's a great town, everybody has been very friendly and super polite.  There are several good, not fancy restaurants and great provisioning.  The laundromat is a long walk, but we needed a lot of walking after being confined to the boat for several days before we arrived.  PR is a fairly small town, but a big port, with lots of big ships calling at a coal terminal, a grain terminal, a container terminal, a cruise ship dock.  There were a couple log ships anchored upstream, but we never saw the log terminal.

The Museum of Northern British Columbia is terrific, with a good history of the First Nations Bands and Clans before the Europeans took over.

Commercial and sport fishing are big here and we arrived during the coho opener.  From our berth at PRRYC we had a view of the constant activity at the fuel dock.  There were fishing boats, yachts, pilot boat, big excursion schooner Maple Leaf, tugs, and other work boats.

The days are long, sunrise is early and sunset is after 10pm.  The weather is mostly overcast, but much warmer than out in the islands.

And the eagles are everywhere around the town.  Strangely, we see very few sea gulls around the fishing boats.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Rain Rain, Falling Down

After sunny, balmy Ocean Falls, we pressed on and endured several rainy dull drippy days.  However, the scenery was spectacular.  We saw whales most days too.Conditions were calm for our trip up majestic Prince Royal Channel

We had another couple warm sunny days at Bishop Hotsprings, and warm baths and did some laundry

 Of course, there's compensation for the rain:  waterfalls.

 We haven't met many other cruisers, so for "entertainment" Kathi listens to the weather forecasts.  However, for several days, we were so isolated up inlets and behind mountains, we didn't have vhf radio reception.  However, we could still get HF radio and get weather and email that way.

One (rainy) night, we anchored in jellyfish soup.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Ocean Falls, Abandoned Mill Town

Reluctantly, we left paradise at Pruth Bay.  It would have been really nice to stay another day, but weather and time said we should move on.  The day was calm, sunny and hot as we motored up Fitzhugh Sound 47 mi to Ocean Falls, an abandoned mill town at the end of Cousins Inlet.

 It's a beautiful if sad setting sprinkled with wildflowers around abandoned and collapsing buildings, rusting vehicles a dam and roaring spillway.

There are a few remaining local residences, a small hotel & cafe and a really good public dock with several boats.  

The SYC burgee left by our friends on Schatzi and Perseverence still hangs in the dock shack.
The fishing nearby must be good, from the great blackmouth salmon being fileted at the docks fish cleaning station.

A strong inflow wind blew all afternoon as we explored the area.  The inlet is girded by tall stony mountains and the trickle of waterfalls here and there.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Fury Cove to Pruth Bay

June 24th.  Fitz Hugh Sound from Fury Cove to Pruth Bay.  Sunny and light north breeze.  Fitz Hugh Sound is surrounded by majestic mountainous islands on either side, with some large waterfalls. Sunshine and blue skies are pretty, but it's a mighty cold north wind for Bill back at the wheel.

After lots of work, Bill got the dinghy inflated and the outboard motor running so we could get ashore.  The institute allows visiting yachties to use their dinghy dock and walk through their large property to the fabulous beach on the other side of an isthmus.  The sun was shining and small waves lapped the long crescent beach.  It's a stunning setting.

Pruth Bay is at the north end of Calvert Island.  A former upscale fishing resort has been converted into the Hakai Institute for environmental research.  Only one other cruising boat was anchored when we arrived. There are just a few researchers and grad students around outdoors, so it's peaceful.
Hakai Institute-info and photos

Fabulous West Beach
 Even without leaks, in damp weather condensation accumulates inside the boat.  So today while motoring north, we disassembled the bedding in the fwd cabin and put a heater and a fan on to dry it out. 
Up until now, we've mostly had the wind from the south or SE behind us.  But the northerlies seem to be getting established, so it'll be on the nose more often going forward.

Weather:  Environment Canada produces several forecasts per day, which we try to get on the vhf
 radio.  However, the reception can be spotty.  Here's a link to the web version  Environment Canada- Marine Weather-Central Coast BC