Fresh Crab and Bare Encounters
We awake another wintry cold, rainy, overcast sky. Windrush II, a 40-foot ketch from Eugene Oregon, kindly expresses concern about our visibility in other ships' radars because we have no radar reflector. (Andanté's radar reflector was removed when we added the adjustable backstay back in Seattle. It was an important accessory that I should have added back on, but in the rush to get things ready, we forgot about it.)
Coming to our aid, Windrush II loans us an emergency radar reflector. From a distance the radar reflector appears to be a round sphere, but on closer inspection it is actually a series of circular panels that fold and assemble into a sphere-shaped object actually composed of many sharp angles. The plastic material covered with a gold foil reflects radar pulses when a beam hits it. (You might call it anti-stealth technology.)
Hoisting the radar reflector on the port flag halyard raises it aloft approximately 15-20 feet. As soon as the reflector is hoisted, we receive a VHF marine radio transmission from Windrush II informing us that we have just popped onto their radar screen. The reflector will be a good addition to have today, with foggy visibility around 1/2 mile or so. Todd and Lara Rickard, joining us on Monday from Seattle, are bringing a permanent reflector that we will mount at the top of the mast, so we will be able to return the loaner from Windrush II.
We don't raise anchor in Lowe Inlet until almost 13:00, primarily because the current in Grenville Channel isn't predicted to shift towards our direction of travel until now. After reentering Grenville Channel, we discover that the current is indeed in our favor. Although our typical motoring speed is between 6 and 6.5 knots, we are being pushed along at over 9 knots over ground, as measured by the GPS.
As we pass Morning Point and Rogers Point, bringing Klewnuggit Inlet to view on our starboard, Tracey looks astern to see a large cruise ship bearing down on us. The width of the channel is only about 800 yards, but fortunately Klewnuggit Inlet gives us a temporary escape route. We head to starboard as a Celebrity Cruise Lines behemoth slips by to port without a sound, and surprisingly little wake. Glad to have that radar reflector.
17:00 - We are anchored in Kumelon Inlet, a beautiful bay that we share with only two other sailboats, including our friends Windrush II. We originally met up with them at Shearwater, when Andanté was hauled out. Kumelon Inlet is now the fourth anchorage that we've shared with them, so we're beginning to feel like old friends.
Around 18:00 the Windrush II crew rows their dinghy over to us. From his vantage point behind his (new) rod and reel, Guy demonstrates some of his secrets of fishing. We next discover that Lee is an expert in crabbing. He agrees to get his trap and then return to Andanté when he'll show us how to use our trap which has heretofore been secured in the engine room.
Lee returns about 45-minutes later, and steps us through how to set up the trap, attach the rope and float, and set the bait. Guy and I load all of this equipment into our dinghy, and follow Lee to a suitably shallow (20-40 feet) site. We lower both traps into the black water, and return to our respective yachts. About 90 minutes later we return, haul up the traps, and discover a seven inch (measured across the shell) Red Rock crab in each trap. Loaded up with our fresh catch, we all return to Andanté, where Lee demonstrates how to boil and clean 'em up. The menu tonight: fresh crab with Caesar Salad.
Sunday June 6th
Kumelon Inlet greets us this morning with sun streaming down into the bay. With nearby islands and mountains still shrouded in fog, sun capped snow covered peaks rise up through the clouds in the distance. I understand now why native American Indians spoke of mountains as the 'smile of the great spirit.' We enter Grenville Channel following behind Windrush II.
Mid-morning I hear a transmission on VHF. A distant station attempts to hail Windrush II, but they do not receive it. Because we know that Windrush II is just ahead of us, I call Prince Rupert Coast Guard Radio to clarify. Prince Rupert has not made the call, but with their 150 foot antenna they contact another more distant station--we think Ketchikan--to determine the source of the request. Ketchikan Coast Guard Radio wants to know the position of Windrush II, status of crew aboard, and ETA in Ketchikan. We offer to relay the questions to Windrush II. Apparently Windrush II is behind schedule, and concerned relatives in Ketchikan are checking on them. We report back to Prince Rupert Windrush's position, crewmember status (all fine), and ETA (two days).
By 15:06 we are docked at the Prince Rupert Yacht and Rowing Club, and watch Windrush II dock in front of us. (We passed them during the day.) All eight of us go to dinner together at Breaker's Pub, just a short walk from the dock.
Monday June 7th
We expect Todd and Lara to arrive on the ferry this evening, and so spend the day running errands and getting ready. Mid-afternoon we find ourselves at King Koin Laundry. Laundromats are definitely one of the downsides of the cruising life. When you walk into a Laundromat with several weeks worth of clothes slung over your back, you feel like, well to be honest, you feel like you've arrived at the bottom of the food chain. I'd like to have a T-shirt that says "I honestly can afford my own washer and dryer."
Once there, you get to sort out all your personal items on the table, right in front of God and everybody: whites in one pile, colors in another, and special piles like perma-press and waxy rags. The objective of all this is to try to get your clothes out of sight and into a washer as quickly as possible. But before you start, you must determine what currency the machines accept: quarters, Loonies (Canadian dollar coins), or Toonies (Canadian two-dollar coins). (You have to wonder about a government that officially refers to its dollar coin as a 'Loonie.')
With clothes safely camouflaged in suds, I engage the attendant in a discussion about the washing machines--the appear to be European technology, which is significantly more advanced than American technology (Maytag not withstanding). I discover that King Koin's machines are made in Minneapolis using all German parts. OK, I was close.
After our discussion ends, I kill time by reading signs and notices on the wall. One hand-written sign on a scruffy piece of brown cardboard, placed in front of three laundry baskets, announces: "Clothes left behind. Help yourself." I think about looking for a pair of socks, but the sign doesn't say whether the contents are clean or not. So I decide to sit tight.
It's time for thy dry cycle anyway. The dryers are not of German technology, and so it costs a fortune in quarters to get anything dry--more like slot machines in Las Vegas, these dryers--without the chance of winning anything.
At around 18:00 Todd and Lara arrive on the ferry from Ketchikan. After securing their gear, we take a walk through town, and discover a statue of Prince Rupert's founder. Unfortunately, his name didn't register in my memory, but his dream was for Prince Rupert to become the largest shipping center in Western Canada--even larger than Vancouver. He traveled to Europe to seek financing, and upon his return voyage lost his life on a ship called the Titanic.
That evening Todd, Lara, and I dined at the Breakers Pub and then blended in with the locals by playing a game of pool (I lost), pinball (I lost), and 2-person car racing ala video game (I lost).
Upon retiring to the boat, in celebration of my losses, I removed my guitar from its case and started to work through the complete Eagles song book. Guy and Tracey joined in with harmony, while Todd and Lara tried to sleep. Well over an hour into our revelry, Todd came out to join in on harmony for Seven Bridges Road, after which he retreated as quickly as he arrived. Guy and I have decided to buy an 80-foot sailboat so that each member of the (yet-to-be-formed) band can have his or her own stateroom while we tour the world. We think we can have the boat paid for by 2050, give or take a decade or so.
Tuesday June 8
The marine weather calls for a ridge of high pressure to remain off-shore, leaving us with scattered showers and fog. We leave our rolling dock space at 10:35 and refill our fuel tank at a nearby Petro Canada. Afterwards, we head for Venn Passage. Venn Passage is the northwestern escape route from Prince Rupert, and is strewn with many twists and turns, navigation buoys, and range markers. Range markers are navigation aids used in narrow, shallow channels, defined by two markers which line up with one another to keep you on the appropriate course through the channel.
A little over an hour later we have twisted, turned, and squeezed our way through Venn. It is cold and overcast, but not raining. Todd and Lara bring us sailor's luck: we sail for almost four hours this afternoon, the longest sailing stretch on our voyage so far. As we sail across Dixon Entrance--our second longest passage of the trip--we leave British Columbia behind and reach north into Alaska. Unlike our crossing of Queen Charlotte Sound, Dixon Entrance is like a bathtub.
17:30 - Three or four whales appear, spouting along the shoreline. We turn to head in for a closer view, but dare not push in too far because the chart is peppered with asterisks--chart symbols for rocks.
20:21 - We thread our way through rocks and reefs into a secluded bay (Foggy Bay) that is well protected from wind and waves, and anchor in 40 feet of water on 120 feet of rode (chain). This short 3:1 scope is possible because the anchorage is to protected and calm, and necessary because there are already five boats here. The anchorage is small, perhaps 200 feet wide b y 400 feet long. One of the sailboats here is Dancer; we originally met them in Butedale six days ago.
After making sure the hook will hold us tight, I duck downstairs for a hot shower as the sun sets. Inside my steamy shower I hear Guy calling to me from the starboard aft deck. He is fishing from the deck, but has spotted a black bear on the shore. I open the portlight (window) in the shower, and see a small black bear on the not-too-distant grassy shore. He appears to be a young cub, perhaps two years old, and is alone on his little island. Watching from the warmth of my steamy shower, I decide that this is the first and last bear that I ever want to meet without any clothes on. (Me, not him. Although the description correctly refers to both of us.)
By the time I'm out of the shower and squeaky clean, two pizzas emerge from the hot oven. We sit in the warm glow of our cabin lights, dining on slices of fresh pizza, rocking gently in the bay as we listen to soft music. I can't imagine a nicer evening.
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