Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Kyrie's Big Adventure North, part 1

It's taken way too long, but I'm finally getting all my notes typed up and pictures off the camera, so at long last, I can post about our great journey back to Alaska! It's going to take a few posts to share everything, so hopefully you enjoy reading it and seeing in photos some of what we got to experience during our first major trip in Kyrie. Cruising the San Juans was a lot of fun, but this was so much more. Despite giving up hope it would happen, Kyrie is actually in Juneau!
Without further ado, here it is--Kyrie's Big Adventure North.

May 11, 2016

Day 1 of our incredible journey! Well, I hope it’s an incredible journey, at any rate. After living on the boat in Blaine, Washington for the past four months (we left Juneau on January 13), we’re heading home! The hope really was that Joe would be able to find a more permanent position down here, but it just never worked out. Doors that ought to have been wide open slammed shut for what truly could only have been supernatural reasons. So, we made the decision we had been tossing around and even though Joe doesn’t have a job lined up yet, we’re trusting God to provide.
So, here we go! We had everything ready by yesterday evening--boat fully provisioned with at least two weeks’ (most likely more) worth of food, boat finally U.S. documented, van sold--and cast off this morning around 7:30. First stop was straight across Boundary Bay to White Rock, British Columbia to clear Canadian customs. That was easy! Once we docked, Joe called the listed number, gave them the boat documentation number, our passport information, answered a few questions about our purpose for entering Canada, and that was it. The official gave us a number to display and we were good to travel through Canada! It will probably take a week to ten days to get through Canadian waters, and while we want to get back to Juneau quickly, we also want to be able to enjoy the journey. Hopefully, I’ll have something fun to report each day. After all, I have this blog to keep up! I’ll try to write more when we anchor up for the night tonight, somewhere along the Strait of Georgia.
That's Joe, using the autopilot's remote control
 to steer in total comfort from our bed!
Sunset on the first day, coming up to
Lasqueti Island.

Day 2 - Thursday

Yesterday was LONG! We covered 65-70 miles and finally anchored in Graveyard Bay (creepy name, right?!) on Lasqueti Island around 9 p.m. The kids did great, keeping themselves entertained.
This morning, Joe and I awoke at 5:00 to something bumping the hull--a big log! After pushing it away, we managed to doze for half an hour or so before giving up and getting up. Joe pulled the anchor and we were underway around 6:15. Beautiful morning, but we’re bucking waves that make it hard to write and for an uncomfortable ride. Right now, we’re trying to cut across the Strait to Hornby Island, hoping to get out of this nasty chop, while still pointing in the direction we need to go. Our goal is at least Campbell River, at the top of the Strait of Georgia, which would mean we cover 50 miles today. Depending on time and tides, we may go farther. We can only go through the Seymour Narrows at slack tide, since currents can rip through there at 14-16 knots! Regardless, we’ll get through the Strait of Georgia today since the weather is forecasted to change tonight and apparently the Strait can get pretty gnarly.
Not pounding nearly as badly now! If only the wind will cooperate so we can sail…

2:25 p.m.--Still no wind, but the water calmed down and the sun is shining! We’ve covered 43 nautical miles so far, with about seven remaining to Campbell River. Slack tide in the Narrows is in about two hours, so we’re thinking we’ll stop for fuel here at the town and then get ready to run through the Narrows. It’s too early to call it a day already!
Because every day needs to start out
with coffee, especially our perfected
boat mochas!

Here's our fearless captain at the helm.
Don't we just have it rough with that
enclosed cockpit? Cue the hate mail.

Day 3 - Friday

Well, yesterday ended on an interesting note. We made it up through the worst of the Narrows and suddenly, Joe shut the engine down. He said he happened to look at the temperature gauge and it was HOT! After checking everything--the impeller and pump were fine--he figured something must have been sucked in the intake hose, but all the water we flushed through must have pushed it out. We decided that was God’s way of telling us to slow down and stop for the night, because the engine ran fine and stayed cool once we made for the bay behind us! Lovely place to anchor, and we ate dinner up on the bow. After the kids went to bed, Joe and I enjoyed a glass of wine in the cockpit before going to bed ourselves.
For us, we slept in this morning, not waking up until 7:00. But we got up and the engine fired right up and has been happy for 2 ½ hours now. As I write this, we’re exiting Discovery Passage and entering Johnstone Strait. We hope to get all the way through it today and make it to Queen Charlotte Strait. We do that, and we’ve hit open ocean and the northern end of Vancouver Island. It’s another beautiful day, but supposedly we’re a day ahead of the weather changing so, God willing, we can push on through without any more issues and keep enjoying this beautiful weather!
And now, it’s time for me to figure out breakfast for this crew before I have a mutiny on my hands! :)

Levi and Rachael discovered those bow
seats are a fantastic place to sit and watch
the water zip by.
Joe snapped this picture while we were
actually sailing in Johnstone Strait. The
kids and I were thoroughly enjoying the
sounds of the water and not the engine.
Megan decided it was her turn to sit in
the captain's chair, and she looks rather
pleased about her brief promotion!

Day 4 - Saturday

I didn’t write this morning, so I feel like I have a ton to catch up on! The wind finally cooperated yesterday afternoon and we were able to sail for three hours. The conditions were incredible! The sun was out, the breeze was warm, and we were able to sit on the bow for a while. Then the wind got a little weird and we started looking for an anchorage. We found a cove not named on the chart on Hanson Island. We ended up calling it Echo Cove because of the great echos! We went ashore for a while after dinner and let the kids look for crabs. It was kind of a shame though, because it was obvious people came there often and had trashed the beach. Garbage everywhere and the remnants of a campsite with a cooler and boxes full of bottles, fishing gear, old boats, and the like.
This morning we prepared to brave Queen Charlotte Strait--it wasn’t pleasant! We actually ended up holing up for a few hours behind the Jeannette Islands to wait out some of the nastiness. It wasn’t so bad at first--super foggy and we had to use the radar and AIS, but the seas were calm. Then around lunchtime, the wind started up. It kicked the waves up, but oddly enough, it didn’t blow the fog away. That’s when we ducked behind the Jeannette Islands. The conditions never really abated, and where we were wasn’t protected enough to stay the night. So, we prepared for bouncy seas, gritted our teeth, and headed back out.
We didn’t stick it out long though, before running into Shelter Bay and finding a great anchorage behind Westcott Point. It was rollier than we would have liked, but there was a white sand beach that made it all worth it! We took the dinghy ashore and everyone including Megan took off shoes and socks, rolled up pants legs and played in the sand! There is something truly delightful about walking on a beach and the only footprints are your own, and maybe a bird or two.
We had a great time playing and then had some good conversations with the kids, sprawled out in the cockpit. After hot dogs, baked beans and canned peaches for dinner, it was a fairly early evening since Joe and I wanted to get up early in the morning and get moving.
Here's Kyrie, anchored up in our
little cove behind Westcott Point.
Because I had to spoil that perfect beach with proof that we
were there, and what was going on. What an amazing beach!
Joe's brother and sister-in-law like doing feet pictures, so
since we were already barefoot, we thought we would do one
of our own.

Day 5 - Sunday

What a long day! We left Shelter Bay at nearly 6:00, after I tried to break the outdrive (I accidentally unlocked the rope we use to haul the drive out of the water when we’re sailing, and it got fouled when Joe popped the drive in reverse. He had to cut the rope to unwind it from the propeller shaft!), and prepared for the Sound. There was the ocean swell, but also a fair chop leftover from yesterday--a bit bumpy, but not bad. I drove until we rounded Cape Caution--about two hours--and then we were able to get out of open water and aim for Fitz Hugh Sound. Long slog up the Sound. There wasn’t enough wind to go without the motor, but we made a decent show of motorsailing--nearly seven knots at one point.
Despite the engine doing its thing of sucking air bubbles (Joe thinks it may have to do with a minor oil leak), we managed to cover 85-90 miles and made it all the way up Fitz Hugh Sound, into Fisher Channel, and then into Lama Passage. That would line us up perfectly for a stop in Bella Bella or Shearwater for fuel, water, groceries, and maybe some laundry and a shower. We anchored in Fancy Cove and it was flat calm and whisper quiet. The echoes in there were pretty fantastic too! You could clap and hear it echo back from two or three different directions!
Cruising through Fitz Hugh Sound

Day 6 - Monday

Today has been a good day. The kids didn’t get a lick of school work done, so I have to make sure to work with them tomorrow!
We let ourselves sleep in this morning and left Fancy Cove around 8:00. Lama Passage looked like a lake, the water was so calm. We ended up stopping in Bella Bella for fuel and water, and then motored over to Shearwater, where we made a brunch of chorizo breakfast burritos. Yum!
Then it was time to pack up dirty laundry and shower bags. The showers were in the same building as the laundromat, so we were able to get laundry started and then get our showers in. Oh, that felt so good! Forgot to mention that I actually did take a shower on the back deck while we ran through Johnstone Strait. No other boats around, so I didn’t bother with a swimsuit! :D But now it was high time for all five of us to clean up a bit.
We were fortunate enough to arrive at Shearwater on delivery day, so the little grocery store was full of everything. Once our chores were all done, Joe and I decided to get going. The weather report was calling for a rising wind in Milbanke Sound starting this evening, building to 30 knots. We weren’t sure if we would brave the Sound, or take one of the other passages, but we wanted to get moving, regardless.
We entered Seaforth Channel and, along with three or four other pleasure boats, two tugs pulling barges, and a Canadian Coast Guard ship, made our way toward Milbanke Sound. It was neat feeling the ocean swell, but it was choppy and almost no wind. No wind meant nothing to push us along and make the Sound worth it, so we ducked between some little islands and a whole bunch of rocks and ended up in Reid Passage. Joe says it is a natural waterway, but it’s so narrow in some places you could swear it was cut through. I saw a couple sailboats in a couple scattered anchorages along the way. Beautiful!
Then we crossed Perceval Narrows and entered Mathieson Channel. Another beautiful way with a couple twists and some sheer cliffs. I think it took us about two and a half hours to run up the channel--at one point, we hit 7.7 knots, according to the GPS--and then turn west into Jackson Passage, and immediately enter Rescue Bay, our anchorage for the night. Waggoner’s Cruising Guide said Rescue Bay was the most popular anchorage in the area and it would seem they are correct. Six other boats were already here when we arrived! It’s a pretty bay, wide open, but protected from the weather. It’s also right near the Jackson Narrows, which is the narrowest part of Jackson Passage. It’s so narrow, with a blind turn, that boats can only go through one at a time. You’re supposed to radio your intentions on Channel 16 before heading through, just in case.
We’ll do that first thing tomorrow morning and the kids have asked that we wake them up so they can watch the trip through the Narrows. I’d better call it quits. I’m up in the cockpit and it’s nearly too dark to write any more.

Leaving Seaforth Channel, heading toward Reid Passage
More of Reid Passage. I loved how
narrow it was!
Travelling through Reid Passage

1 comment:

  1. great story of your journey so far Kristen! Looking forward to the rest of your trip!