Days 10-11 Shearwater to Baker Inlet (June 17-18, 2021)

Words by Les Rohlf Photos by Kel Rohlf

Les’ Log Notes

Shearwater to Khutze Inlet Miles: 80 Hours: 8.7 Thursday, June 17, 2021

Khutze Inlet

We luxuriated by fixing breakfast before departing the harbor at Shearwater, and started cruising at 5:45. The next section of the Inside Passage that’s open to the ocean is a relatively short crossing of Milbank Sound.  We hit the sound at 14 knots at 7:00. There were some pronounced swells and sections of chop. As we turned west and northwest, the swells hit us on the beam and made the ride busier. The swells and chop continued until we were well into Finlayson Channel. I’m thankful we didn’t make the run later in the day. It’s also scary how debris and large logs can disappear in the swells, especially given how low we sit to the water.

We passed a few fishing boats in Milbank Sound, then they passed us again once we slowed down in Tolmie Channel north of Klemtu. It started raining in earnest in Tolmie Channel and continued except for short periods through the remainder of the day. We arrived at our planned anchorage in Khutze Inlet at 2:45. Wow, what a beautiful setting (I’m sure this will become an overused description) – steep mountains on both sides, a snowcapped peak at the head of the inlet, and a waterfall running from the mountaintop to the water just across the inlet from our anchorage.

Waterfalls at Khutze Inlet

We dropped the anchor in a little nook in 50 feet of water about a mile inside the entrance. The two other larger cruisers who checked in after us in Sidney pulled in an hour after us and anchored a little farther into the inlet.  Despite the rain, we grilled chicken for dinner. The produce and meat we got from the IGA in Port McNeill two days ago has been excellent. They get a shipment only once a week, and our delivery was “late” in the week, so we have been quite pleased.

Khutze Inlet to Baker Inlet Miles: 83 Hours: 12.2 Friday, June 18, 2021

Baker Inlet

We struggled to get up early, but left the anchorage about 5:45 and made breakfast once underway. We had very smooth water all day, so slow cruised and enjoyed the scenery. While I enjoy eating up miles at speed, cruising at slower speeds make it easier to note and avoid logs and other debris in the water that could ruin one’s day.

We saw our first whale of the journey in McKay Reach just before entering Wright Sound. We saw the spout in the distance, then it dove right after. We had a few short moments of cell service as we passed south of Hartley Bay, and I dutifully made my ArriveCAN “daily report from quarantine”.

Midway through the Grenville Channel, we met BC Ferries Northern Adventure heading southbound. People pay good money for the thrill ride we got crossing her wake.

Waked by a BC ferry in Grenville Channel

We decided to spend the night in Baker Inlet, which is a beautiful and remote body of water separated from Grenville Channel by Watts Narrows. Waggoner Cruising Guide indicated the narrows could probably be transited with current (i.e. not during slack). We were midway through the flood tide when we passed through the windy, quarter-mile narrows. There was a little sporty rapids as the narrows flushed us into Baker Inlet, but no other situation that compromised directional control.

Kel enjoyed the stillness of Baker Inlet…hoping to spy a bear on the shore, instead she was entertained by seagulls on a log, some unidentifiable water critter (beaver or otter?) and the majesty of the mountains and an eagle perched in a pine tree watching over Intuition.

Tonight was shower night. Unfortunately, the shower sump failed midway through the process, resulting in a few gallons of water under the cabin step and on the cabin floor (Argh!!). Water draining from the shower passes though a hose under the cabin step, which leads to a sump box and pump under the cabinet on the opposite side of the boat. As water fills the box, a float switch triggers the pump to expel the water from the side of the boat – at least that’s the way it’s supposed to work. Something to troubleshoot when we have a spare day in a marina.

Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me. (Psalm 42:7 NIV)

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