Words by Les Rohlf Photos by Kel Rohlf
Les’ Log Notes for Day 7 (Henry Bay to Port Neville)
Total Distance: 98 miles
Total hours: 13.1
Left Henry Bay at 5:00am and slow cruised the entire way to Campbell River. The remainder of Strait of Georgia was very smooth, with only a slight chop near the end. While the gas gauge still showed half a tank, adequate for the next 100 or so miles to Port McNeill, we pulled into the Discovery Marina in Campbell River and added some gas. I still ascribe to the adage I learned as a young pilot – there are few things less valuable than runway behind you, altitude above you, and gas in the truck. This also allowed me to be more reckless with my fuel management later today, as I still wanted to make another 50 miles after going through Seymour Narrows.
We finished at the marina by 11:30, so had 3 hours to kill before the scheduled 2:30 low slack at Seymour Narrows. With the ebb running full force there were turbulence and wave in the channel along Campbell River a few miles prior to the narrows itself. We slowly cruised toward the narrows, looked into the entry, and then made slow circles for an hour and a half in the small harbor just east of Maude Island. At 1:30 a tug pulling an empty chip barge entered the narrows. Immediately after, the three larger cruisers who had been waiting followed. We entered at 1:50, 40 minutes early, and had a smooth ride through.
Pushed up the power and ran on plane for the latter section of Discovery Passage and most of today’s run west through Johnstone Strait. With winds still out of the southeast, Johnstone strait had only a light chop. Our bigger challenge was fighting the flood tide, which seemed as high as 4 or 5 knots at Race Passage. Lots of swirls and turbulence there – I can imagine it would be a handful with a sailboat. We had a couple strong rainstorms during the last 15 miles, which required us to slow down and ensure we could see and dodge any logs. We pulled into Port Neville and anchored in 25 feet of water about a mile in from the entrance.
The weather window for the next couple days looks favorable. We’ll stop in Port McNeill for gas and a grocery drop, and hopefully anchor in a good place for the run around Cape Caution on Wednesday.
Les’ Log Note Day 8 (Port Neville to Clam Cove)
Distance: 84.3 miles
Total hours: 8.7
Woke up at 4:30 and looked outside to very thick fog, so went back to bed for a while. We left shortly before 8 when we had at least a quarter mile visibility. This was the first operational use of my horn connected to the Standard Horizon VHF’s fog horn functionality. It’s certainly annoying in a quiet anchorage, but at least safe and legal.
Visibility improved in Johnstone Strait, and the water remained smooth, so we cruised on plane (14-15 knots) most of the 48 miles to Port McNeill. We filled up with gas and water, and IGA delivered groceries we ordered a few days ago. Altogether a smooth stop for less than an hour.
We saw our first otters in Goleta Channel outside Port Hardy this afternoon. (Photo held up by the internet lol)
We’re staying in Clam Cove tonight. It sits on the NE side of Nigei Island opposite Port Alexander. The entry looks daunting, but we had plenty of water all the way in. The inner cove includes several floating homes – a very interesting and protected anchorage.
I hooked up and ran the generator for hot water for showers tonight, because… it was time. It takes about 20 minutes to heat up 2.5 gallons of water – enough for one quick warm shower.
Les’ Log Notes Day 9 (Clam Cove to Shearwater)
Distance today: 102 miles
Total hours: 7.3
We woke at 4:30 and were moving from the anchorage at 5:00. No cell connection at this harbor, so listened a couple times to the weather broadcast on VHF and didn’t hear any new or different info. Observations at Pine Island and Egg Island seemed pretty tame, and the West Sea Otter buoy indicated waves less than a meter, so we headed out of Clam Cove through lots of debris in the entrance.
We entered Gordon Channel, pointed toward Pine Island, and pushed up the power to start our run across the smooth water toward Cape Caution. Almost immediately, the engine overheat warning sounded (YIKES!!). I stopped the motor and went back to investigate. In retrospect, perhaps I should have left the motor idling for another 20 seconds to verify the motor wasn’t “peeing” rather than assuming that was the issue. There was one of those long snake-like weeds wrapped around the prop and some other debris at least partially blocking the cooling intake screens. After cleaning everything off, restarting the engine, and verifying the cooling stream, we ran at lower RPM for a few minutes without issue. I tentatively pushed the power up again, and the motor responded fine. It hummed along without hesitation for the next several hours at 4200-4400 rpm as we crossed the strait and made our way up Fitz Hugh Sound. As background, we generally tilt the motor up at night to limit the chance of snagging something at anchorage. We verify everything’s clear before tilting it down and starting each day. Since the prop was clear when we left, we suspecty the debris was picked up when we left Clam Cove into the main channel.
With winds still light out of the south and southeast, along with the beginning of the ebb tide, the run to Cape Caution was fairly smooth – mainly light chop on top of some low swells. We rounded Cape Caution at 7:00, where the ride became smoother. Fitz Hugh Sound was choppy until we passed Burke Channel. It was only 11:00 when we arrived at the cut-off to my planned anchorage at Codville Lagoon, and Kel suggested we continue farther. We arrived in Shearwater about noon, got some more gas and water, and anchored in the adjacent bay where we there’s good cell coverage and we can satisfy our electronics habit.
By the way, what’s the appropriate name for that creepy top-of-the water plant that looks like an eyeball on top of the water, has a long, snakelike body, and in some cases, a leafy, beard-like section that extends deeper below the water? I want to call it eelgrass, but I know it’s not that. I had a big one wrapped around the anchor when we retrieved it this morning, and the snakey section of one wrapped around the prop when the overheat warning went off.
Thanks to everyone for your generously sharing your encouragement, wisdom, and recommendations with us. We really look forward to (hopefully) being able to take a more leisurely return through BC in a couple months, as it feels like we’re missing a great deal by just “passing expeditiously through”.
Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.” (Genesis 9:16 NIV)