“Don’t cross Queen Charlotte Sound if the height of the waves at Sea Otter Buoy is more than one meter”. That’s the advice given to us by our friends Jim & Barbara who made this trip last year. It’s also the advice in the cruising guide.
We got up at 4:00 am in a little anchorage at the south end of Queen Charlotte Sound to check the latest weather forecast. A high had built in, but a low with gale force winds was pushing through, and it had slowed down. If we didn’t make the crossing that day we could possibly be stuck for days waiting for the low to pass by. The forecast was perfect for the crossing, since the wind would be a light south easterly (behind us) and the gale wasn’t coming through until night time. But the seas at Sea Otter Buoy were already 2+ meters. Rats. What to do?
That was over a week and nearly 300 miles ago. And indeed, we did make the crossing that day in very big seas with no wind. It was quite a ride, but of course we had confidence our little boats would take good care of us. And did a gale blow through? We have no idea because we were tucked in tightly in Fish Egg Inlet and never felt even a breeze.
Today we’re heading for Prince Rupert after waiting out another big blow yesterday. This one, though, we did notice. The inlet we’re in this morning is not nearly as protected as Fish Egg was. But our anchors held tight and we rode it out without too much of a worry.
The last week has been filled with incredibly beautiful passages in deep channels that are long and narrow between high mountains. We’re truly heading up the inside passage now and the scenery is spectacular. But unlike the cruise ships, we get to (have to) make stops along the way, most of which are quite interesting.
We stopped one morning in a First Nations village to take on water and found the folks incredibly charming and helpful. Of course it didn’t hurt to have our Native logo and boat name. That night we were on the dock in a ghost town called Butedale that was literally falling into the sea. Lou the caretaker was a gracious host and we had an impromptu potluck at his house with another sailor headed north. Butedale was formerly a fish packing community housing up to 2,000 people in the summer. Now Lou watches over what’s left to keep vandals out. The power house is a trip – it’s a concrete building built over a downhill stream, sucking water through a turbine. The generators don’t work anymore, so the turbine is still spinning the rotor of the inoperative generator, and is attached to a pulley system that spins an alternator the size of the ones on our boat, which provides power to Lou.
The next afternoon we were at Bishop Bay Hot Springs on the dock alone enjoying the incredible springs and sunshine. About 3:00 we were gloating about how wonderful it was going to be having the whole place to ourselves overnight. Of course, about a half hour later a charter group of 6 power boats comes in. In the end we were sharing the tiny little dock with three power boats and a commercial shrimping boat, and there were four other boats out on anchor. So much for “all to ourselves”. But we still got to go back up to the hot springs after dark with Tim & Cindy, wine and candles. Very cool.
Today we’ll stop in Prince Rupert to do some much needed laundry and get some rest. Then the last big crossing of open water (Dixon Entrance) into Alaska. It’s a 90 mile trip to Ketchikan, and legally we can only stop in Foggy Bay on the way across, so we have two long days to get to customs and check in. We’re still trying to get to Glacier Bay by June 1st, and may just make it afterall.
Life is full of interesting stops on Yohelah…..