Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Cruising to Alaska - Outside Vancouver Pacific Passage - May 18-June 11, 2015

While sailing the San Juan Islands in August, we met Brian Pemberton while wandering about the piers in Bellingham.  Why not try an outside passage going around the Pacific side of Vancouver Island and then up inside to Alaska? Crazy idea!  Big waves?

Departing from Bellingham, we headed to Victoria on Vancouver Island.  Then headed out into the Pacific making a rounding of Cape Scott and then into Charlotte Sound and into the inland passage of British Columbia.  We will be logging over 935 miles in about 25 days!

Our first day’s run was from Bellingham to Greater Victoria Harbour.  Steve calls the Canadian Customs on their special telephone to obtain clearance for the vessel, her crew, and the provisions.

The coast of British Columbia is a magnificent maze of islands, snow-capped mountains, waterfalls, lush green forests, and an abundance of wildlife.  Melissa is on-the-bow after completing her anchoring duties and putting on the snubber.

Thousands of miles of islands and coastline have changed little since the glaciers rolled back some 15,000 years ago.  Bald Eagles that nest in the interior of British Columbia migrate south into the United States for the winter each year.

A stunningly beautiful waterfall tumbles from Lessom Creek on the north shore of Kynoch Inlet (off of Mathieson Channel).  High snow-covered peaks & ridges with vertical granite ramparts rise 3500 feet-where low clouds break up to reveal rock cliffs rising to the sky!
  You can get the boat so close as to almost take a shower while standing on-the- bow.

Entering very carefully through Spitfire Passage (between Hurricane Island & Hunter Island near Kildidt Sound) is NARROW, challenging, and beautiful.  This is indeed "remote" country - remote because not too many boaters venture on the outside Pacific side of Northern British Columbia. 
 (Underwater rocks on each side are only a foot or two away from the hull. The boat was surfing thru the current like an inner tube on white water.  Plan to come thru here ONLY on slack water!)

At the helm-navigating the enchanting cruising grounds of the North Coast.  

Melissa has the fenders overboard and down-low preparing to pull to the dock in Tahsis.  Tahsis means “gateway” in the language of the Mowachaht First Nations people who lived in this region for hundreds of years.  We were met with enthusiasm at the dock by Cathy & John Falavolito-proprietors of the Westview Lodge.

The easy-to-launch dinghy was used almost daily to get a close-up look at the local anchorages.

Cape Scott’s seas have capsized & sunk many substantial vessels!  Cape Scott (the remote far northern tip of Vancouver) is the most significant landmark in the circumnavigation of Vancouver Island.  It is one-of-those-events that marks a “compleat” Northwest boatsman.

The distant barks of sea lion bulls & and the sharp cries of bald eagles drift through the air - rounding Solander Island off of Cape Cook.  Solander Island is packed full of sea lions but the heavy seas make careful photography a bit tricky.  This shot was taken while standing in the galley sink.

Anchored here in Patterson Inlet (Pitt Island) where we saw our first bear while having cocktails onboard the trawler “AJAX”.   Saw also our first hump-back whale this same day. 

“Take only your photographs and leave only a small wake!” 

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