Week 1: Summer Cruise to Desolation Sound

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.


Threading the needle: Entering the small locks


The Gyr pretty much fills up 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.


The crew from Island Fresh, Marrowstone

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.


Peter and Tom anchoring in Reid Harbor


Getting Emily in a kayak

 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.


Evening in Clam Bay

Monday, June 29Clam 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.


Our anchorage in the Copeland Islands was in the bay north of the largest island


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Emily and Jacqueline kayaking

We were visited by a small boatfull of very drunk Canadians, who told us how beautiful the Gyr was.


We think she’s pretty too.

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.

Squirrel cove

Our anchorage in Squirrel Cove was just south of the anchor symbol northwest of Protection 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.


Tom and Peter crabbing

We went to the Squirrel Cove store – some by kayak, some in the GFB.

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Jessica kayaking

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Tom kayaking

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.




Jacqueline entering the black sand dollar lagoon at high tide


Black sand dollars


R&R for the captain


Nancy and Peter free floating


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.

Teakarne Arm

The park is at the top of the chart, near the 137 foot mark.  Bad Sex Cove and Great Sex Cove are on the eastern bay, east of the 25 foot mark.

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.

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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.

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The oystercatcher, looking for an elusive oyster

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Hard at work breaking open a captive 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.

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Lots of seals around our anchorage in Teakerne Arm


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.

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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.


Looking down at Teakerne Arm from above the falls



The falls at Teakerne Arm Provincial Park



Jessica diving off rocks into Cassel Lake




Peter standing on logs at the outflow of Cassel Lake



Jessica, Tom, Nancy, and Peter at the falls

Saturday, July 4, 2015Teakerne Arm. Peter pulled crab pots with Tom and Jessica –no crabs.



Jessica, Tom, and Peter pulling up prawn traps


Not a prawn

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.




Leaving the Gyrfalcon for Refuge Cove


Refuge Cove

David and Susan Wisdom arrived on Kenmore Air at 11:30 am.


David and Susan arrive, complete with GPS from Amazon.com

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.


Our departing guests: Emily, Jacqueline, Jessica, and Tom

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.

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7 Responses to Week 1: Summer Cruise to Desolation Sound

  1. Ashton says:

    What a remarkable journey for you two, more ways than one. Just amazing photos!! You have accomplished your dream!!

  2. Diane Lander says:

    Hey Peter and Nancy:

    I just love your blog. I am heading for Desolation Sound this summer in the Marian II. Here is my take on stern tying a big heavy boat – this is what we have done with Olympus for years. First, put your stern tie line around a big spool. Keep it on the stern of the boat. Then, take one end of the line (300′ of line is good) and send it out with the tender. Take it to shore, and loop it around a tree. NEVER EVER tie it (I think you figured that one out LOL.) Loop it around the tree (climb up high if you are doing it at low tide). Then, bring it back to the boat and secure both ends. When it is time to leave, with any luck you can untie one end and pull it back to the boat but you might have to use the tender if it gets hung up. We were spoiled as we had Jim Whittaker on board up there so many times and he was an expert in selecting trees to tie to. Are you heading up again this year? When? I hope to be there about the second week of August but who knows what the summer will bring.

    I went up to Haven last Friday and saw the work on Malibu. New horn timber – they said that they practiced on your boat LOL. Tons of new frames and planking. Wow what a job. Glad I am not paying.

    I am so proud of you guys. You have learned so much and are doing such a great job of being a steward to your big beautiful boat. Congratulations and see you soon.


    Sent from my iPad


    • guillemot30 says:


      Thanks as always for your kind words. This year we will be taking the Gyr to the Broughtons for our long cruise in July. Your trip to Desolation sounds exciting. Will you be going to Victoria this year?

  3. Joan says:

    Oh, you must had had a wonderful adventure. Will you have a longer line when we’re on board? Is David Bill’s look-alike? (His face is in a little shadow so not sure) Anyway, never a dull moment on the Gyrfalcon. And all that wonderful food…including fresh fresh oysters. What a trip! Love, Mom

  4. guillemot30 says:

    Joan. The Victoria trip (the one you will be on) is all easy anchorages and mooring at a dock – no need to stern tie! Yes, David is Bill’s Doppelganger. They may drive up to Victoria for the boat show.

  5. Christopher Stone says:

    Saw you counting birds, Christmas Eve, 2016 from Redondo headed to Tacoma. Gryfalcon looks great! Merry Christmas!

    • guillemot30 says:

      Thanks, Christopher. Actually headed to the South Sound (Tacoma tonight) for a week. Will be back in Seattle on the 31st for the Christmas Bird Count (onboard the Gyrfalcon) with 14 or so fellow BirdNuts.

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