Helios - anchored in Waiatt Bay

British Columbia - 2009

We had decided that since Linda had seen the water and country between South Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands many times, there was no need to have her do it again. My good friend, Doug Redford, had retired in December 2008 and was available for a few days of slow travel north. Doug and I left Breakwater at 8:15 Tuesday morning, June 16th. The wind was calm, maybe gusting to 2 or 3 knots, so we used the motors all the way to Port Ludlow. We anchored in the back part of bay had dinner, put on movie and then off to bed. We wanted an early start on Wednesday to avail ourselves of a little current help. The wind was forecast from the southwest, so it came from the east. We managed to sail for about an hour, until the wind dropped below five and our boat speed was below 2 knots. We fired up the motors and headed up Rosario Strait and Thatcher Pass. We anchored in Hunter Bay, using Lopez Island as our wind break from the winds coming down the Strait of Juan de Fuca, in the normal late afternoon "Hurricane". The next day was a slow day as we had a short distance to cover, traveling to Deer Harbor on Orcas Island. When we arrived there were already two boats taking up the outstation space, so we went to Garrison Bay on San Juan Island. We got the anchor set and then lowered the dinghy and took a trip over to English Camp and a walking tour. The next day was off to Friday Harbor and we were lucky enough to find reciprocal moorage for 24 hours on an end tie, with only $6 for electricity.

Hunter Bay looking north  Spenser spit in distance  Doug reading  English Camp

The original plan was for our friend Dave to fly Linda from Tacoma to the Friday Harbor airport on Friday afternoon, but the weather would not cooperate. Linda and Doug's wife, Nyla, drove up to Anacortes and Linda walked on the ferry there while Doug walked on the ferry in Friday Harbor. Linda got to Friday Harbor around seven and we walked over to The Place for dinner and then down to Helios.

We were up at six ready to start the day, which was to clear Canadian Customs in Bedwell Harbour (Canadian Spelling) and then on to Montague Harbour to drop anchor. The clearing through Canadian Customs was done over the telephone and we were on our way in 20 minutes. Montague is an easy anchorage with a good holding mud bottom and plenty of room. We took the dinghy over to the marina to treat ourselves to dessert before dinner, ice cream, and then circumnavigated the harbour looking at other boats. There was a little rain falling from time to time during the night, but no wind to notice. I got up and turned on the heater and then got back under the covers until the boat warmed up, the next morning. We had coffee and a late breakfast since it was only about three hours to Dodd Narrows and we didn't plan on going through until 2:30 PM or later. We tried sailing, but not enough wind. We got to Dodd Narrows at quarter to three and were helped through with an assist of 3.2 knots. We set the anchor in Nanaimo and monitored it for about an hour, as there was a 10 knot wind coming through the anchorage. We put the dinghy in the water and motored over to the Dinghy Dock Pub for dinner, as we do every time we anchor at Nanaimo, meeting our friends, Wayne and Janine, as we were leaving. They had just finished the VanIsle 360 a couple days prior. We got back to Helios and put Jaws 2 on to watch and were in bed before ten. The pictures show the view of the Nanaimo Harbour and waterfront and the Dinghy Dock Pub. The eagles were waiting for fish to come to the surface, in Montague Harbour, so mom or dad could instruct the children on technique.

Eagles at Montague Harbour  Nanaimo Harbour  Neighbor anchored in Nanaimo anchorage  Dinghy Dock Pub

We were up at six hoping for good sailing conditions to cross over the Strait of Georgia to the mainland side. The winds were forecast 10 to 15 knots from the northwest, which meant almost beam reach. The problem was that "Area Whiskey Gulf" was open, which means boats "STAY OUT'', $10,000 fine. We motored into the wind to the Ballenas Islands and then set the sails and headed towards the mainland. The wind kept reducing and by the time we were approaching the southern end of Texada Island, it was time to put away the sails and motor over to Musket Cove Provincial Park to anchor. This is a fairly new park across from the popular anchorage in Ballet Bay. Musket Cove is on Hardy Island, while Ballet Bay is on Nelson Island. We found the furthermost northeast inlet empty and anchored at the head, with a stern tie. After we were settled in, down came the dinghy and we went on a tour of the Park. There is an abandoned quarry that is shown in the pictures below that is part of the Provincial Park. The inlet was well protected and we would have to wait until we were out on the Strait of Georgia to see if there was enough wind to sail, when we left tomorrow.

Calm waters looking north on Strait of Georgia  Linda in starboard bow seat  Helios anchored in inlet at Musket Cove  Quarry and inlet at Musket Cove

Strait of Georgia Crossing (128 MB takes a couple minutes to loan)

Helios heading to Hardy Island and Musket Cove (265 MB takes 2-3 minutes to load)

We were up at 6:30 and planned on a late breakfast while traveling. The weather report from the Canadian Coast Guard on VHF, predicted winds 10-15 knots from the southwest. They predict the worst case scenario, so we were hoping to see winds of at least 10 knots. Linda was able to get from the dinghy and up the rocks to release the stern tie without getting wet or cutting herself on the barnacles. We will need a longer line, 300+ feet, for the next trip, so we can release from the boat. The wind was from the southwest at 12 knots so the sails were put up and we sailed for 22 miles with our best speed being a little over 8 knots and the average between 6 - 6.5 knots. We dropped the sails a little past Powell River as the wind was less than 5 knots, and very soon we would need to motor through Thulin Passage because it is very narrow.

Helios sailing from Musket Cove towards Desolation Sound (40 MB takes a minute to loan)

 We had changed our mind while sailing as to our destination and instead of Squirrel Cove on Cortes Island, we decided to try Melanie Cove in the Prideaux Haven area. The reason being the winds were supposed to pick up from the south overnight and Squirrel Cove entrance is open to southerly winds. Melanie Cove was full of boats and we decided to check out other options before trying to stern tie in Melanie Cove. There was room in the main area of Prideaux Haven, but we decided to check Laura Cove out. This is Linda's favorite anchorage in the Desolation Sound area and when we got there the head of the cove was open. There were two sailboats stern tied by the opening. We dropped anchor, got the sail covers on and everything buttoned up as it had started to rain. The next day was a rainy one, but we put on our foulweather gear and headed out in the dinghy to tour Prideaux Haven. We talked with some students from the U of B.C. who were mapping out areas used by First Nation Tribes for their habit. We talked with some of the other cruisers and asked what they had heard about a weather forecast. We were tucked back in an area that blocked VHF. The other cruisers anchored in Melanie Cove were able to get the forecast and it was one that said things would be improving. We spent two nights in Laura Cove and then raised anchor and headed over to Gorge Harbour on Cortes Island. To our surprise a complete remodel was almost done on the marina. There were new wider docks, new gas dock and amenities on shore. The Floathouse restaurant was still there as was the store and laundry. We met Bill Lane and Ellen Kaiser, who belong to the Seattle Yacht Club, and live in Anacortes. They have been out for seven weeks and are working their way south. Bill is a retired Seattle newspaperman and now writes for Passagemaker. They have a 30 year old 42' Grand Banks, Quadra, that looks new.

Two sailboats leaving Laura Cove  Laura Cove entrance  looking towards Prideaux Haven - dinghy passage at high tide  sea stars at low tide

The pictures above are of Laura Cove and if you look at the pictures from our trip in 2003, you can see how much the fir tree has grown in the rock. Three pictures below are of Gorge Harbour, including one that shows our new friends Bill and Ellen's 42' Grand Banks, Quadra.

Head of Laura Cove at high tide  Helios at Gorge Harbour dock  Quadra and fuel dock  Floathouse restaurant

We left Gorge Harbour around 9 AM headed for the Octopus Islands via Beazley Pass. We went around Shark Spit and up Hoskyn Channel to the Surge Narrows and Beazley Pass. We were a little early and motored along the shore finally going through around 1 PM with no problems and a 3 knot assist. We had waited until the white water had disappeared before transiting. It is a little less than an hour to Octopus Islands Provincial Park from the Surge Narrows. We checked out the anchorages between the islands, but seemed fairly crowded, so we went towards the head of Waiatt Bay and anchored in the soft mud bottom. There are more boats than the last time, but there is still a football field between the closest two. We took the dinghy out for a tour of the bay and between the islands. It was a gorgeous day with the temperature in the mid 70's. It was early to bed, which meant it was still light out, but we wanted to be up and going early to time the Upper and Lower Rapids.

Entrance to Waiatt Bay between the rocks  Helios anchored in Waiatt Bay  Neighbors anchored in Waiatt Bay  Eagle waiting for fish

We were up around six, had coffee and got things ready to head out. What a difference a day makes; yesterday bright sun, temperature in the 70's and today cloudy and light rain. We were through both sets of rapids about 1/2 hour before slack. We got to Chatham Point and changed our minds on the day's destination. We had planned on Cordero Lodge, but Johnstone Strait was ebbing northward with a light southerly wind and even though it was raining lightly you couldn't ask for much better conditions to transit Johnstone. The current was with us until around 2:00 PM, but by then the wind had built from the south and behind us. We put up the headsail and with it and the motors made excellent time. We got to the other end of Johnstone by Hanson Island and saw a couple of whale watching boats in the area, and saw a female orca at a distance, to far for a good photo opportunity. We cut behind Hanson Island into Blackfish Sound and headed towards the Broughtons. We were anchored in Cullen Harbour by six with four other boats.

We had a lazy morning after the long day yesterday. I checked all the fluids in the engines and saildrives and everything was fine. We left around 10:30 AM and were tied up to the dock at Sullivan Bay by 1:30 PM. This will be a farthest point north on this trip. The Sullivan Bay marina is all on floats as are the houses that are here. We met a couple who have had their house for 16 years. They graduated from Stadium High School in Tacoma and currently live in Federal Way. We used the laundry to get two loads done, which would have taken four or five loads on our washer/dryer. We made reservations for dinner and took the camera to walk the docks. We each had halibut, but prepared differently. We talked with other cruisers that were waiting for the ocean swell to drop close to one meter at Cape Caution, so they could make it around and head further up the British Columbia coast. The Ocean Falls area near Bella Bella seemed to be where everyone wanted to go to see bears, otters, etc. We actually stayed up late enough that it was dark outside when we went to bed, since we were not leaving at the crack of dawn tomorrow.

Helios at Sullivan Bay dock   Cullen Harbour looking west  Store and laundry buildings  Floating houses for summer homes

We had a late start leaving Sullivan Bay, since it was foggy when we got up. We decided to have breakfast at the restaurant and we were on our way around ten. We had planned on anchoring in Wahkana Bay, but when we arrived we found another boat anchored in the best spot and the wind funneling through at 13 - 15 knots. We decided to push on to Lagoon Cove. Tribune Channel was empty and we had it all to ourselves, as the wind built. When we arrived at the junction with Knight Inlet the current and the wind were against us as we cut diagonally across to reach the west side of Minstrel Island. At times we were less than 4 knots SOG, but once we turned down towards Lagoon Cove the wind was almost calm and the waves were six inches high. The managers, (Pat and Bob), were there to meet us and help us tie up to the last spot. We walked the docks and meet another couple from the Tacoma Yacht Club, Margaret and Ted Reyhner, on their 43' Tollycraft, Enchantment. We decided to spend two nights in Lagoon Cove, before continuing on south. The next day we were there for the 5 o'clock cocktail/potluck hour with the marina providing mounds of shrimp and some great stories. We decided to make our decision to leave upon the 4:00 AM weather forecast.

Tribune Channel after leaving Sullivan Bay   Traveling down Tribune Channel   Snow close to sea level in June   Landslide=Too much water over thin soil on granite

Lagoon Cove cocktail site   Burgees from former guests-TYC bottom left   Helios at Lagoon Cove dock   Lagoon Cove dock and ramp to land

I was up at 5:00 and made the decision we were going. We untied from the dock and motored towards Blow Hole Passage at six and went through Chatham Channel at 6:30 with a half knot help from the current. You have to pay attention traveling down Chatham Channel because it is quite shallow in spots and there are range markers to use as a guide. We went down Havanah Channel to the Broken Islands and into Johnstone Strait, which was flooding; i.e. going our direction as was the wind. The wind was only at 15 knots when we started out but by the time we got to Kelsey Point we saw gusts of 32 knots and a lot of white water. We stayed in the strait until after Current Passage then we ducked up Chancellor Channel to Cordero and the Cordero Lodge. We were tied up by 12:30.  They brought us out menus since we were the only boat and wanted to have our meal ready at 6:30 when we wanted to eat. We walked around the docks and a trail up in the woods taking a lot of pictures. We went to dinner and the three other Canadian couples were there about the same time. It was like a family dinner with the conversation shifting from one table to another. After dessert and coffee, Mrs. Kupper served everyone a small shot of schnapps served in chilled pewter shot sized containers. Linda got two since I don’t partake. Then we settled into their living room for conversation until around nine when it broke up so the Kuppers could have their home back for the evening. We were back and read for a little while and then to bed.

Cordero Lodge on Cordero Channel   Helios at Cordero dock   Welcome to Cordero Lodge   Cordero International Airport

We were lazy this morning and did not get up until quarter after eight. One couple had left early and we helped the other two untie and head out on their way. We needed to arrive at the Dent Rapids around 2:00 PM and it was a two hour trip, but we got there early because of the flood current help. We went through the Dent Rapids a little after two with a little over 2 knots helping us along. We had an escort between Dent Rapids and Gillard Passage, Pacific White sided Dolphins. The passage through Gillard and the Yucultas went smoothly with a little flood current help. Our anchorage was Von Donop Inlet, which is another Provincial Park. When we turned the corner to come into the head of the inlet, it was like looking in a mirror. A sistership was anchored in the inlet already. Our friends Barry and Shelly Young and Shelly's sister Sharon were traveling in the Desolation Sound area. Barry came over in the dinghy and took the tour to see what was different with our Manta, since it was a year newer. We had toured Speakeasy in Bradenton when they were going through the commissioning process. They keep her moored in Canoe Cove in Sydney on Vancouver Island. After dinner Linda and I went over to see the changes and we traded ideas and procedures that had worked for each of us. We finally let them go to bed, since they were heading to Campbell River the next day and we got back to Helios at 11:30 PM. We decided to spend another day before heading out to Pender Harbour. We worked on small projects and then took time to read a little before dropping the dinghy into the water. We wanted to check out the lagoon and got sucked in by the filling water from the flood tide. We motored around the lagoon for an hour and then tried to get out. Linda got out and walked up to the narrow rapids area and said we should be able to make it. I adjusted the angle of the motor to put it as close to the surface as possible. Linda sat in the bow guiding me around rocks and with the motor at full speed we made our way slowly out of the lagoon. I put the motor back in a vertical alignment and we toured the rest of the Provincial Park.

Dolphin off port ama   Two dolphins racing us   Speakeasy at anchor in Von Donop Inlet   Lagoon entrance on rising tide

We left Von Donop Inlet Provincial Park around seven in the morning. We were hoping to get some sailing in since we had some wind coming in from the north at 8 - 10 knots. We got the sails up for about 2 1/2 hours before the boat speed dropped below 3 knots, when the sails were furled, the motors were started. We arrived at Fisherman's Marina in Pender Harbour at 5:30 PM. We walked over to John Henry’s Store, a 7-11 on steroids, to pick up a few items. We paid for two bags of garbage and decided to pass on the power, since the batteries were well charged and the solar would be charging until 9. We walked over to the Garden Bay Restaurant for dinner and found that Bob and Ellen off Quadra, who we had dinner with in Gorge Harbour, were just finishing their dinner. They are hoping to cross over to Nanaimo tomorrow if the winds are light enough. We walked the docks after dinner both Garden Bay and Fisherman’s talking with other cruisers. The boat across from us a Hunter 33 is a charter boat and the couple is from Germany, and another couple was trailer sailors from Calgary. He was from New Zealand and she Ireland. He was an engineer in the oil industry taking a summer holiday. We watched another episode of NCIS and went to bed around 10:30.

Looking north leaving Von Donop Inlet   Helios and Hunter 33 at dock   Helios and F-31R   Fishermans Marina and entrance to Pender Harbour

We slept in had a late breakfast then backed up 300 yards to the gas docks to fill up the fuel tank. We were off to Nanaimo having to motor the whole way as the wind never went above 5 knots. We spent a little time finding the right place to anchor where we had enough swinging room from other boats and shore. We took the dinghy over to the dinghy dock for dinner and then back for some cookies and a movie. We decided to stay another night and went into town to walk around and do some window shopping, we also took a picture of our friends' trimaran, Redshift, shown below. We were up the following and moving towards the Dodd Narrows. We had planned on making it to Ganges on Saltspring Island, but the weather was ugly and we decided to duck into Montague Harbour. There were fewer boats than the last time we anchored and we were able to anchor in the same spot. We decided that, since we were a little ahead of schedule and the weather forecast was for wind and rain the next day, it would be nice to spend two nights and then crossover into the San Juans and the U.S. We did some small projects, read and napped. We left Montague and headed down through Navy Channel to cross Boundary Passage. We decided to go through Customs at Roche Harbor, since we were going to anchor in Garrison Bay, so Linda could tour English Camp. It is amazing how one boat can cause so much disruption to the check in process. The Customs Dock was full so there was one other boat drifting waiting to tie up and then it was our turn. We were approaching the dock and had reached the committed point when this guy on a 38' powerboat decides to just jump in without waiting for the other boat to finish tying up, or for us to tie up. We were able to drift in and fend off and not hit anyone, but the fellow in a rush hit the other boat's bow pulpit and cause his wife a great deal of grief. She tried to stop their boat by holding the mooring line and finally used a cleat after the collision. Linda asked what they were thinking and wife replied that this was their first time out and she didn't know what to do while docking, and she went back aboard and let her husband deal with everyone on the dock and the Customs Officials. After clearing Customs it was a short trip to Garrison Bay and there was only two boats anchored, so there was plenty of room. We dropped the dinghy and motored over to the dinghy dock for English Camp and took the walking tour. They also had a telescope set up to monitor an Osprey nest, so you could see the parents flying in with food for the youngsters. We were hoping for some wind so that we could sail across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, but it was a powerboater's day, with winds gusting to 3 knots and flat water. We motored down to Port Ludlow and set anchor in the back part of the bay. We planned on going all the way back to Breakwater the next day and we were able to sail downwind from Foulweather Bluff to Alki Point, before having to furl the sails with the dying wind. We were moored back at our home slip Saturday evening and home by 7:00 PM. It was a wonderful first major trip for Helios in the Pacific Northwest and we are already thinking about next summer's trip.

Redshift   Mt Baker while crossing Strait of Juan de Fuca   Moonrise Port Ludlow   Zoom lens on moonrise

To read the logbook of the trip click on  -  ACTUAL LOG

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