2016 Cruise to the Broughtons Part 1 (July 1-8)

This is a long (almost a year) overdue series of blogs.  A lot has happened.  I (Nancy) had been transferred to San Francisco in the beginning of 2016 when my employer closed up shop in Seattle.  Trying to work in SF and maintain the boat in Seattle was challenging.  Even so, we managed to get in a few great trips, but with Peter traveling a lot for work, and keeping a footprint in 2 cities, we didn’t have much time for nonessentials.  A few months ago, I took a position back in Seattle, and we’re getting settled back in and starting to catch up on long overdue boat maintenance.  But more about that later.  For now, we’ll catch everyone up on the 2016 mid-summer cruise to the Broughtons.

Here’s a screen capture of the general plan for the trip.  During weeks 1 and 3, we traveled in the oblong oval, and during week 2 we were up in the circled area.  I’ve also put screen captures for each day’s travels.  They’re only as accurate as my finger was on the mouse pad, so don’t examine them too closely or take the routes too literally.

Cruising to the Broughtons has been a goal of ours.  Our boating friends (who all seem to have more vacation time than we do) have been extolling the virtues of the Broughtons for years.  This year, we managed to string three weeks together, and we were Broughton-bound.   As in past years, we had 2 couples per week traveling with us (fly in/fly out on float planes).  Unlike last year, we added one day of just Nancy/Peter time between each week.  It kept us more sane and allowed us to enjoy our company more.

Only one thing stood in the way of getting to the Broughtons–the narrows and the rapids.  Because of these challenging navigational areas on the way to the Broughtons,  I attended a seminar from Mark Bunzel at Waggoner’s to prepare me for the trip.  Here’s a link to this year’s seminars:


I highly recommend the course.  The one I took was 2 days (it was pretty crazy–fly from SF to Seattle, drive to Mt Vernon, take the course, drive back to the boat, and fly out the next Monday for work), but well worth the time and money.  Based on that course, I planned and calculated, and replanned our timing so that we would transit the rapids at slack tide.  It was especially important to plan carefully because we just happened to be going through the narrows on the day of the month with the biggest current.    We were going through on July 4th.  Max  current on that day was up to 15 kts.  Note that our boat doesn’t go that fast.  Here are the relevant pages from Ports and Passes, a very valuable book for this part of the world.

Circled time is slack tide on July 4th. Columns on right indicate max flood and ebb currents


All of the calculations indicated that we needed to be at Gowlland Harbor south of Seymour Narrows for a very early transit (0505-0530)  It meant for some long days at the beginning, but it also allowed us to maximize time in the Broughtons.

Thanks as always to our guests for providing many of the great photos of this trip.

July 1, 2016 (Day 1: Ewing St to Port Townsend)

We left Ewing St Mooring at about noon on Friday, July 1st.  Our guests for the first week were Vito, Tracy, and Jessica and Tom.  The weather was great.  We went through the large locks and headed up north. Our plan was to be in a position to get to Bedwell early the next morning to clear Canadian Customs.  We anchored off south of the Boat Haven, south of the main part of Port Townsend.

View going down ship canal

Approaching the locks

A summer crowd in the large locks

Tom manning the bow line

It was a low tide, so we have a large drop

Five hours later, we were in Port Townsend.  We now have a railing on the pilothouse roof, allowing us to hang out and enjoy the evening. 160701_20160701_174602160701_20160701_174559160701_20160701_174544160701_20160701_174446

July 2, 2016 (Day 2: Port Townsend to Nanaimo)

We got up the next day and left the Port Townsend anchorage at 0600, headed up through Middle Channel between San Juan and Lopez Islands.

Port Townsend at dawn

Rounding Point Wilson Lighthouse

There was a lot of chop in the channel, which was trying for Jessica who was working hard at the wheel, trying to maintain a straight course.


Chop in Middle Channel


Jessica at the helm, with Tracy watching for logs


Trying to keep a straight course

Our timing was good–we were at Bedwell at about 1130.

Customs Dock, Bedwell Harbor

After clearing customs, we headed south, then west, then north to go around North Pender Island, then to Trincomali Channel (NE of Salt Spring Island, NE of Wallace Island, and NE of Reid Island), through Porlier Pass, east of Thrasher Rock, through Forward Channel and arrived in Nanaimo at about 6 pm.  It was a good day for wildlife and currents.  We saw porpoises in Middle Channel, and at one point we were making 12.8 kts over ground at only 1400 RPM.

Choppy waves

We saw log booms coming into Nanaimo, and had a relaxing evening at anchor.

Log boom coming into Nanaimo

Nanaimo from our anchorage in the harbor

Cheese and crackers on the Gyrfalcon’s version of a lido deck

A dinner of Gyrfalcon Salmon Salad

July 3, 2016 (Day 3: Nanaimo to Gowlland Harbor)

Another early morning leaving Nanaimo (0600).  We had a first coming out of the harbor–a small ferry saw us on the AIS (new to us this year–we can see other ships and they can also see our location, speed, etc).  The captain of the ferry hailed us (as Gyro-falcon).  We passed NE of Ballenas Island, by False Bay, and through Stevens Passage east of Sisters Islets and west of Lasqueti Island.

Canadian lighthouse

By about 2 pm, we were approaching Oyster River.  Our goal was Gowlland Harbor.  The last few miles, we had a 5 kt current against us, so we hugged the shoreline (following the lead of a small fishing boat in front of us), and made 10.5 kts in the back eddies.

Beautiful sunset in Gowlland Harbor.

We made a run into Campbell River on the GFB and found all the essentials: a grocery story and wine and liquor.  One can never predict the alcoholic intake of guests.  Over the
trip, Vito and Tracy and Tom and Jessica spent many hours discussing wine clubs and various drink concoctions.  I think talking about drinking makes one want to drink more!

It was an early night, since the next day would be our trip through Seymour Narrows.

July 4, 2016 (Day 4: Gowlland Harbor to Lagoon Cove)

First part of trip up to the Narrows

Entire day’s voyage

We got up at 0230.  Mains and generator were on by 0245, and by 0300 we were motoring out of Gowlland Harbor.  Tom, Peter, and Vito were on log watch with spotlights.  We motored very slowly until we were clear of the harbor.  The current was about 4.3 kts, and it slowed us to about 3 kts, until we went closer to shore, folloiwng a tug pulling a barge up ahead.  Peter and Tom went inside, but Vito was a trooper and stayed on log patrol.  By 0422, we were in the bay east of Yellow Island.  We stayed there for a little while, along with the tug.  About 15 minutes later, the tug pulled out and went through and we followed behind, motoring towards the light at Maud Island, and into the Narrows.

Ripple Rock is in the middle of Seymour Narrows.  In the past, Ripple Rock had had been a hazard to navigation, as the top of the rock was just 9 feet below the waterline, capsizing ships and also creating incredible eddies that would also sink ships.  Since the late 1800s, over 100 ships have sunk or been damaged, and as many people have lost their lives.  In the 1940s, a few attempts were made to lower the peak of Ripple Rock, but they were unsuccessful.  Finally, in the 1950s, the top of the rock was blasted off.  Check out this video of the engineering feat.

Approaching the Narrows–still dark

In the Narrows!!

Uneventful trip over Ripple Rock

The narrows was very calm.  Jessica made an appearance, looked around, and went back below to get more sleep.  We stayed to the east side of the channel along North Bluff, and by 0630, we were off Turn Island.  We were famished.  We ate our second or third breakfast.  Some of us got to take a nap.

Insert from Peter: Nancy had been worried about the Narrows for months. She took the Waggoner course, and calculated and recalculated our exact time for safe transit on a weekly basis all though the Spring. When we finally reached the rapids, her calculations were spot-on, we transited without any issues. Ten minutes in, she turned to me and said, “This is boring. Here, you take the wheel. I’m going to make myself an English Muffin.” She had nailed it!

Engineer fast asleep in the pilothouse as we head up Discovery Passage

There were lots of logs in the Strait, so we kept one watcher at all times.  There were also other ships.

Cruise ship following us up the Strait

Vito takes the helm and Captain Nancy looks for logs

When we got past Walkem Island, the winds and waves started to pick up, and we had a following current, pushing us at 10.2 kts at 1100 rpm.  The current really helped us, as we were going 11.3 kts at 1300 rpm off Helmcken Island, and 14.8 kts at the same rpm off of Earl Ledge.

Choppy seas in Johnstone Strait

The weather rewarded us with a rainbow

The first of many beautiful rainbows

Our timing was great.  We were at Chatham Channel at slack current, and had an uneventful trip through it.  At one point, it was so calm that Jessica decided the wheel trim and the stand for the engine controls needed polishing.

The polished stand

We arrived at Lagoon Cove by about noon, and anchored right in the middle of the bay.  Some folks I had met at the Waggoner’s seminar were staying at the marina, so we went ashore to visit.

Lagoon Cove

Our anchorage

We got there in plenty of time to set out the crab traps.  The crabbers were successful.  We had the opportunity to use our new fish table (which clears the opening into the lazarette by about 1/4″).  Tom and Vito cleaned the crabs.

Crab cleaning

Crab cooking

I slept like a log.  We had made it through the Narrows!  We ended up spending an extra day in Lagoon Cove, exploring by GFB.

While we were in Lagoon Cove, we had time for some projects. Tracy and Peter wired a 110v receptacle for the computer in the pilothouse. Like every other project on the boat, it took three times as long as expected to figure out the best route for the wire to take under the pilot house, pull the wire and then mount the receptacle. Everything went well, and we now have a dedicated outlet for the computer next to the helm station.

July 5 (Day 5: Anchored at Lagoon Cove)

It was a relaxing day–kayaking, cooking, basking, drinking, crabbing, and other cruising activities.  We had our first opportunity to use our new aluminum boarding ladder–a great success.  It’s now easier for all to get in and out of the GFB and kayaks.  Jacqueline–you can still get in and out whatever way you want, although we have retired the rope ladder.  Here are some photos of the day:


Our lovely anchorage


The new ladder



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Jessica demonstrating the new and improved kayak entry/exit method


Nancy shooting a photo or two

There was time for lounging around


Even the engineer had time off


Tracy and Jessica enjoying the anchorage

Also time for a project or two.  The shiny brass in the pilothouse looked so good, it made the wheel look bad.  So Jessica and Nancy scraped, sanded, and painted.

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The newly shined wheel with the painted hub

Then it was time for some good food.  Vito and Tom cleaned some more crabs, and Tracy cooked up some delicious crab cakes.



Our dinner feast

June 6, 2017 (Day 5:  Lagoon Cove to Kwatsi Bay)

We had a leisurely morning, underway at 9 am, after a crab harvest.



Tom and Vito harvesting crabs

The scenery was beautiful on this trip


We saw Pacific white-sided dolphins everywhere around Doctor Islets at low tide.  We went up Tribune Channel, south of Kumlah Island, and passed Irvine Point and Miller Point to arrive at Kswatsi Bay at noon.  We anchored in about 100 ft of water.  We took the GFB to the dock and talked to our friends that we had met previously at Lagoon Cove.  Then several of us took kayaks over to the waterfall and hiked up.  Wildlife for the day:  Along with the usual birds, we also saw Dall’s porpoises, the dolphins already mentioned, marbled murrulets, and lots of seals.  All in all a pleasant day.

We started to name logs by the number of birds (usually gulls) on them.  This, for example, is a 3 bird log.

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Three Bird Log

July 7, 2016 (Day 7: Kwatsi Bay to Simoom Sound)

The next day was a leisurely trip from Kwatsi Bay to Simoom Sound.  Several of our boating friends had highly recommended Simoom Sound, so we decided to check it out.  It did not disappoint.  We left Kwatsi Bay and went past Echo Bay to Simoom Sound, anchoring right in the middle of a cove next to McIntosh Bay. We were in about 80-100 ft of water depending on tide (20 ft tides in this part of the world), with about 140 ft of anchor rode out.  We saw ravens, eagles, and lots of fish.  There was lots of kayaking, fishing, and relaxing.  Vito kayak-fished with a fly rod and was quite successful.  Others fished off the stern of the Gyrfalcon.  The fish were biting like crazy. We didn’t keep any fish, as they were mostly small and we weren’t sure if we were in a rockfish protection area.

Vito heads out in the kayak

Fly fishing in the rain

Peter and his catch

Tom and his catch

The scenery was beautiful.

I was determined to finish one project:  We had purchased 2 whole house water filter housings.  Our plan was to use those in tandem when we had to take on water that was somewhat questionable in the Broughtons.  I had bought various PVC fittings and glue, and just needed some time to put them together.   Here are a few photos of the pieces and parts, and me putting them together.  More on this during part 2 of this blog series.

Nothing much else to say about that day at Simoom Sound.  It was breathtakingly gorgeous.  We understood why our boating friends were so hooked on the Broughtons.


July 8 (Day 8: Simoom Sound to Pierre’s at Echo Bay)

We did a bunch of kayaking and fishing in the morning in Simoom Sound.  Vito and I saw sea lions near the rocky islands, one with a salmon.

Our SImoom Sound Anchorage from a kayak

Our Simoom Sound Anchorage from a kayak

Some more photos of fishing

There was also a bear prowling along the shore, and a red throated loon.

A bear prowling the rocky shore at low tide

Since last year, I’ve been making bread using the “Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day” method that I heard about on an episode of The Splendid Table.


It’s great on the boat–it doesn’t take much time to make, gives off a wonderful aroma when cooking, is tolerant of mistakes, and allows us to have fresh bread at every meal.  Here was the loaf of the day–looks almost like the cover of the book!

Home made bread

In the late morning, we headed a short distance over to Pierre’s  at Echo Bay to meet float planes for Vito/Tracy and Tom/Jessica, and for Peter and me to spend 2 nights.

Vito using our improved anchor chain straightener

Success with proper anchor placement


At Pierre’s at Echo Bay, we were coming into the assigned dock, just about to make the turn into the dock (see red line in photo below),  when the person on Pierre’s radio said:  Wait, what’s your tonnage?  I picked up the radio and replied:  167 tons, to which he replied:  New docking plans–go to the last dock (see blue arrow).  Now, to non-boaters, this may not be a big deal, but for me (Nancy), switching plans in mid course, AND operating the radio AND docking the boat without major stress was a big deal, and was a confidence-builder.

Pierre’s at Echo Bay

Gyrfalcon at its dock

We had caught some shrimp along the way, and made some spring rolls for lunch.

Shrimp rolls were great!

Shrimp rolls

We met a veterinarian, John Strathman, who was kayaking long distance solo in his sailing kayak.  Here are some photos of his rig:

John Strathman sailing kayak


John Strathman Sailing Kayak

A friendly barn swallow on our boat

We visited Bill Proctor’s museum.  It’s a legendary museum full of beach artifacts.   Billy Proctor lives on a harbor that you reach by a pleasant hike over a ridge.

Hike through the woods to Billy Proctor’s Museum

At Billy’s

Billy’s woodshed

The harbor on the other side of the point

Here’s a link to information about his museum.


Here are the museum hours:

Billy’s Museum Hours:

If Billy is there, the museum is open.

If Billy’s not there, the museum is closed.

We also explored Pierre’s establishment.

Fishing humor

Weather station at Pierre’s

The docks were adorned with pretty flowers.

Jessica along Pierre’s docks


After lunch, it was time for our first week’s guests to leave:

First Tom and Jessica:  

Then Vito and Tracy

Broughtons from the air

One guest remained with us–Bob.  Bob has become a permanent fixture in our crows nest. Bob is a holdover from a previous cruise. He would not follow the crew’s orders, did not like the food we cooked, and insisted on taking four showers a day. We endured this behavior for a few days, and then we strapped him to the Crows Nest. He got a lot quieter after a week or two.


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One Response to 2016 Cruise to the Broughtons Part 1 (July 1-8)

  1. Herb Stark says:

    Great Post. I am glad you started back. Moving back to Seattle probably makes the difference. Keep it up you have given me incentive to start mine back. Willie and I are glad to heading back to Willie’s Tug in a few days and our plans are to cruise back into the Broughtons this summer. Thanks for reminding us what a great space we choose to spend half of our years.

    Walldog and Willie.

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