Our long summer trip for 2015 was to Desolation Sound in July. We had 3 sets of guests, each for a week. Week 1 was Jacqueline, her daughter Emily, and Tom and Jessica. Week 2 was Susan and David. Week 3 was Randy and Peggy. We had never been to Desolation Sound, so we spent a lot of time talking to boat friends about where to go and what to see. Some of the best advice was from Dave and Tami, owners of Summer Wind. We ended up making a PPT with charts and information about where to anchor or stern tie. It was invaluable.
Photos were taken by Jacqueline Kirchner, Tom and Jessica Freeman, David and Susan Wisdom, and Peter Mann and Nancy Everds.
Saturday, June 27–Seattle to Stuart Island, Reid Harbor. We left Ewing Street Moorings at 6:30 am, and went through the small locks.
We steamed to the north side of Marrowstone Island to a prearranged rendezvous point for provisioning. Chris and Esther and several of their friends motored out in their speedboat and delivered pork chops, bacon, pork roast, one dozen eggs (no poultry in Canada), garlic, greens and several dozen oysters from Island Fresh.
As we left Marrowstone, we heard a great conversation over the radio. A tug captain was towing a barge south in the shipping lanes, and was talking to a cabin cruiser that was slowly motoring off of Marrowstone Point. After some discussion about intentions and planned courses, the tug captain indicated that the pleasure boat should take a different route because, in his words: “I don’t see myself altering course in the near future.”
We headed north (it was calm across the Strait of Juan de Fuca), and briefly saw 2 Orcas off Lime Kiln Point. We went through Mosquito Pass, through Roche Harbor, and anchored in Reid Harbor on Stuart Island. We put kayaks and the GFB out for evening recreation.
Sunday, June 28–Stuart Island to Clam Bay. We left Reid Harbor at Stuart Island in the late morning. We cleared customs at Bedwell – excellent docking by Captain Nancy. We started to head towards Ladysmith, but realized we would not make it by dark, so instead we went to Clam Bay – between Thetis and Pennlauket (which used to be Kuper) Islands. It was our first time there, and it was lovely. We had raw and grilled oysters for dinner – fantastic. There were eagles on the shore, and a beautiful sunset.
Monday, June 29 – Clam Bay to Copeland Islands. We left Clam Bay early in order to hit Porlier Pass at slack. We were a bit confused as to the proper time for slack tide. The electronic charts said slack was at 9 am, while the Canada Tides book said 8 am. We decided to trust the book. We went through around 8 am, and there was still several knots of current against us, but that was not enough to cause a problem. Later that day, we discovered that the times in the book were for standard time, not daylight, so 9 am was really slack. Crossing the Strait of Georgia was like glass – no waves, no wind. We experienced the weird NW mirages. At one point, there was a small boat that looked about 3 stories tall. We told Jacqueline that the big white thing on the horizon was really a little speedboat, but ever the scientist, she did not believe what she could not see. When the boat split into 2, I think she was convinced that it was a mirage. We went up the mainland coast, and stuck our heads in at Secret Cove and Pender Harbor to look for possible future anchorages. Peter drove the boat in and out of both – first time for him using the props and rudders to steer and pirouette (if you can call turning an 88 ft boat pirouetting). We anchored in a cove in the Copeland Islands, and did some kayaking.
We were visited by a small boatfull of very drunk Canadians, who told us how beautiful the Gyr was.
Tuesday, June 30 – Copeland Islands to Squirrel Cove. We discovered that the Garmin Chartplotter on the GFB had no data for Canada. We found out how important that was as we took the GFB to Savary Island for clams. We didn’t find any clams, but we realized as we were heading away from the island how shallow it was. On the southeast side, there were lots of very large submerged rocks. Jessica and Nancy hung over the bow searching for rocks, and directed Peter to avoid them in a very slow trip back out to deep water. That trip convinced us that we needed to get a new Chartplotter with a transducer. Later, back on the Gyrfalcon, we steamed around Sarah Point, revealing our first view of Desolation Sound and the mountains on the mainland. Incredible. We went into Squirrel Cove on Cortez Island.
We tried several anchoring sites in the cove – first was too close to a sailboat, second was taken by a boat as we approached, third was just right. From our anchorage, we looked out through the pass between Protection and Cortez Islands. We went looking for a trail to a lake, but realized we were thinking of another island, instead, there was a trail to another inlet. But we got good practice with our new Anchor Buddy system on the GFB. We found rapids that went into a large lagoon. Jacqueline bodysurfed the rapids and managed not to get chewed up too much. We watched 2 young guys trying to pull their dinghy from the lagoon back into the bay against the inflow of water. We watched an older couple just sit it out, and wait for the tide to turn. We put our crab pots out and did a little swimming in the bay.
Wednesday, July 1 – Squirrel Cove. We got 3 Dungeness crabs and several red crabs in the pots.
We went to the Squirrel Cove store – some by kayak, some in the GFB.
We got supplies and gas for the GFB; it’s a nicely stocked store. You can only get gas at the dock at high tide – at low tide thedock is out of the water. The store had a PC with an internet connection–we used it to order a new GPS/charts unit for the GFB, to be delivered to the hotel in Seattle where the Wisdoms would spend the night prior to their float plane trip to Desolation Sound. Jacqueline and Nancy did a lot of kayaking. They found a small lagoon on the northeast side of Protection Island that remained full of saltwater but inaccessible at low tide due to rocks. At high tide, it was possible to kayak into the lagoon. The sandy bottom was covered with black sand dollars.
Thursday, July 2, 2015 – Squirrel Cove to Teakerne Arm. We had a short crossing to Teakerne Arm. There’s a provincial park there with a great waterfall.
Dave and Tami had told us about anchoring with a stern tie in Great Sex Cove, so we went looking for it, and found it around the corner from the waterfall. We did our first stern tie – double line through an iron eye on the shore, near the head of the cove. We took the GFB out and dropped crab pots and discovered that we were anchored not in Great Sex Cove, but in one cove to the west (we saw the sign in the real GSC). We renamed our cove Bad Sex Cove.
While all this was going on, we had noticed that the GFB was losing air (not a good sign). However, the leak in GFB turned out to be in one of the air valves – fixed by putting on the cap. We did lots of kayaking in Teakarne Arm on both days. Nancy saw an oystercatcher actually catching an oyster.
It uses its beak to work at the shell and hinge, and eventually pries it open. She might have named them oysteropeners rather than oystercatchers, as the catching is not the difficult part.
Friday, July 3, 2015 – Teakerne Arm. We were spending another night at Teakerne Arm, so we decided to reset the stern tie in the morning. We had some trouble with wind and current and could not get far enough back in the cove – Nancy was afraid of hitting rocks on either side. We ended up tying a single stern line. Bad idea. Our stern line is Amsteel. Once a knot is tied and under tension, it is difficult to untie. So we cut the lines both on the Gyr and on the shore, and moved to the real Great Sex Cove.
Jacqueline single tied around 2 old iron eyes. However, they turned out to be rusted, so we had to redo the line, which meant cutting it again. Our final tie was around a tree. For some reason, we didn’t learn–we still used a knot, and thought we would probably have to cut it. The line was getting shorter–now around 250 feet. The whole process of moving the lines took about 4 hours. We’ll need to get better at stern ties.
After the stern-tying extravaganza, we went to Cassell Lake. We took the GFB to the Provincial Park dock, climbed up the trail next to the Falls, hiked back through the woods, and jumped in the water. It was refreshing and beautiful.
Saturday, July 4, 2015 – Teakerne Arm. Peter pulled crab pots with Tom and Jessica –no crabs.
For all the work pulling up prawn pots we got only 3 prawns and lots of little lobster-like things that were too small to keep. At 10:30, we got the Week 1 gang on the GFB (no easy task–like herding feral cats!) and motored to Refuge Cove.
David and Susan Wisdom arrived on Kenmore Air at 11:30 am.
We all had lunch together at the snack bar, and the Wisdoms/Everds-Manns bought food, liquor and block ice for week 2. The Freemans and Kirchner-Connolly were the only passengers going back from Refuge Cove on the float plane – with a stop at Mink Island and Bliss Point for 1 additional passenger at each.
After seeing the Week 1 crew off, we came back to Gyr anchored on the Teakerne. When we were grocery shopping at Refuge Cove for the upcoming week, we mentioned to David and Susan that we had accumulated quite a few leftovers from the week before. They said, “That’s great. We love leftovers.” We ate leftovers for dinner.