It’s a funny thing this getting away from it all. Once you are gone you realize just how much you are attached to some of the modern conveniences we have all become so accustomed to. The best example of this is wifi and the internet.
We are now rating marinas and locations by their availability of good quality wireless. Most marinas are still lacking in this department. I’ve spent more time in public libraries in the last 2 months than I have in the previous 20 years.
We’ve checked off a couple of milestones along the way. The first was a relatively easy passage through Johnstone Strait. A stretch of water that takes you from southern Vancouver Island to the northern half, it is subject to high winds and tricky currents. We elected to wait a day for a better weather window before we took it on. Turns out, it was the right decision as we only had rough water for about an hour at Race Passage, not bad on a 10 hour passage.
The other milestone was our transit of Cape Caution. This a point that extends into Queen Charlotte Sound which is the body of water north of Vancouver Island before you get into the inside passage of the central coast. Queen Charlotte Sound is open to the vast Pacific Ocean and all its fury on one side and the outflows from the numerous inlets on the coast on the other side. This combination can make for very large waves as the currents are pressed against contrary winds, and that makes for an ugly passage. So again we sat for an extra day in Port McNeill waiting for better weather to make our crossing. The extra 24 hours provided us with light winds and just a small Pacific swell.
Our friends John and Marina gave us one of those Staples “that was easy” buttons. We are to press it every time we get through the tricky passages. We were happy to have pressed it twice now.
Over the last few days we have stopped and checked out Telegraph Cove on Vancouver Island. This is an old telegraph system terminus, logging / lumber operation / fishing town that has reinvented itself as a tourist stop. The entire town is built on boardwalks, the old buildings have been reconditioned and their history is on signage out front. There is an interesting little whale museum there as well.
We stayed 3 nights in Port McNeill. We took a day to catch the ferry over to Alert Bay and tour the First Nations Cultural Centre there. And a day to do some boat chores, a big provisioning run and hang out in the public library and wait for better weather.
From Port McNeill it was off to Skull Cove. A neat little anchorage in which we were the only boat. Think the name had anything to do with that? This was our staging point for our Cape Caution transit which took us to Fury Cove on Penrose Island, a five thousand-acre Provincial Marine Park.
That brings us to our current location, Pruth Bay on Calvert Island. The Hakai Research Institute is located at the head of the bay. It used to be a luxury fly in fishing lodge that was purchased and converted to a marine research center. They graciously allow cruisers to access their wifi so we can catch up on the world and let the world catch up with us. They also allow people to cross the property and access several incredible beaches. The largest, West Beach, rivals anything in Hawaii other than the temperature of the air and water.
We spend large portions of every day checking weather forecasts and planning our routes. These include our intended destination as well as possible “duck out” spots if bad weather should blow up. We rely on our electronic navigational devices a great deal in both the planning and execution of our trip. So imagine our surprise yesterday morning when we turned on our chart plotter and discovered that our compass was 180 degrees out of whack. This could be problematic! At first we thought the boat was so used to going to Sidney that it was headed back on its own.
As it turns out I had done a boat chore the previous night and instead of putting my cordless drill back in it usual spot, I tucked it next to the cabinet in the port stateroom. It just so happens that this cabinet also contains the fluxgate compass for our navigation system. The unit was sensitive enough that the magnets in the drill motor were enough to affect it and throw it out by 180 degrees. Oops my bad. 50 lashes with a kelp ball. Won’t do that again!