Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Day 15- Monday, August 27, 2012 - Tahsis, Still.

Day 15- Monday, August 27, 2012- Tahsis, Still.
We’re still at the lovely West View Marina in Tahsis. The low pressure system has passed and the barometer is climbing again. The winds were gale force outside and it rained most of the morning. We made the most of it. Connor went fishing between his schooling. Val spent some time on her computer, baked cookies and bread, did a load of laundry and made another fabulous salmon dish for dinner. I spent over three and half hours in the little tiny Telus phone booth today and made about forty phone calls and an hour or so online but I am caught up and it feels great!
We also put some fuel in the boat at a hot, negotiated price of $1.41 per liter or $5.34 per gallon! Ouch. We pulled the shrimp trap to find seventy seven nice prawns waiting for us to eat them! It was a record pull for the big shrimp. Needless to say, we rebaited it and let it soak again tonight.

All day long, there were seals playing in the marina, a stellar sea lion on patrol occasionally, and even a humpback whale playing just outside the big log breakwater for over an hour. Not a bad office environment, I’d say.
We wrapped up the night like this: Connor is fishing again for more mackerel…we’ve got a lot! Val is playing Scrabble with her imaginary friend again, although the sure seem to be getting along…I see they each have a drink…hmmm. I tied salmon rigs and organized my tackle as it’s so hard to even stand up offshore much less try to tie a knot.
So, we’re up to date on our “necessary” communications, although, I miss chatting with some of my buds so you guys be sure to send me an e-mail! Our water tanks are full. Our fuel tanks, while not full, are just where I want them to be. Every battery on board is fully charged, including toothbrushes and cameras! Everything in the freezer is frozen solid (lots of mackerel.) We’re ready to head back out into the extreme wilderness again. (Don’t think this was a metropolis…it’s still pretty remote and primitive but nothing like the last two weeks.)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Day 14- Sunday, August 26, 2012- Tahsis, BC - Civilizataion?

Day 14- Sunday, August 26, Tahsis, BC – Civilization?
After another great night swaying gently on the hook, we woke refreshed and ready for the day.  We had our mini-church on the boat and then set off to admire more of God’s creation in the dinghy.  Connor found us a cave to explore.  As the surf was coming in, Val zigged at the same time the surf zagged and she took a monster wave over the bow and came out on the losing end.

We set sail (is that what a powerboat does) for Tahsis through the most beautiful fjord-looking mountain passes.  It was so pretty.  Ah, the poet in me has just been awakened, “we’re heading our asses through these narrow, beautiful passes on our way to Tahsis, where the gas is.”  That’s it.  It’s the best I got.
Tahsis!  Civilization at last.  Not only one, but two phone booths and the receivers are both in one piece without any duct tape!  Happiness.  Wifi on the covered deck.  A restaurant!  Bliss!  Fuel.  Water.  Ah, we’ve arrived.  Electric on the dock.  Oh, my.  Are we spoiled?  This is the first marina we stayed at since our horrible experience at Campbell River and the first time we’ve had shore power in a dozen days!  We even were served our meals today.

I spent most of the day on the phone and the computer, while Val did laundry, and Connor caught mackerel off the dock.  The front has passed and it’s raining and kicking up the sea.  I’m glad we’re here.  The current conditions on the outside is Gale Warning with 25-35 knot winds against the swell….not good.  We’re tucked in safe and sound deep into this “fjord” with all the modern services we could ask for, well, almost.
It’s supposed to blow hard tomorrow so I’ll finish all my business in the morning and then, weather permitting, we’ll start down the pass toward the outside finding a secure anchorage to stager our next crossing.  Hopefully, we’ll catch some crab and shrimp as I have the shrimp pot soaking right now.
We ran into a couple of great folks on the dock yesterday.  David and Trish Nelson gave us some great fishing tips and coordinates but unfortunately, the position is where we just came from.  It would appear the big fish and lots of them are at the continental shelf 12 miles out and, with the forecast, we won’t be going there anytime soon.  Dave said to tell Ron Meng hello.  So, Ron, if you’re reading this, I’ve done my job.
Connor also made friends with Gerry Freeman on the docks.  Gerry really got Connor going on the mackerel and I was still cleaning them at 10:30PM.  Gerry is a contagious, energetic Christian family man, who befriended us and taught us a lot about fishing in these waters and even gave us some tackle to really go nail them!  Dave is a guide, although, mostly his hobby and has a great reputation for always catching fish.
We all like it here.  Especially the dogs and Connor.  Connor gets energy from people and he's been starved of people lately.  The dogs love the casual freedom and can join us on the restaurant deck, along with half dozen other dogs.  They have free reighn and can come and go as they please.
I hope you are all doing well.  Send me a note!  Blessings, all!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Day 13- Lots Of Fishing....Not So Much Catching!

Day 13- Saturday, August 25, 2012, Lots Of Fishing....Not So Much Catching! Port Langford.
The alarm went off at 5:30AM this morning.  We’re on vacation!  What’s going on?  Oh, yea, the pursuit of fish!  Still dark…snoozed for 30 more minutes…bliss.  Coffee pot perkin’, dinghy loaded, anchor stowed, a few snapshots of the sunrise…looks a lot like the sunset, only blurrier (through my eyes, at least,) and we’re off to the killing fields, only 7 miles away on the outside edge of Esperanza Inlet.
We trolled for Kings for a couple of hours and were even joined by a couple of guide boats.  We’re getting closer to civilization.  The swells were mighty and impressive crashing into the islets all around us.  The fishing was not quite as impressive.  Val landed a 16 lb. halibut; not a big one, but enough for nine packages/meals.  The sun was warming and it was another beautiful day.  We tried another spot without much success; although I was pulling up Ling Cod as fast as I could get my jig in the water but none were legal size, but just barely.  It was a lot of fun.  Val snagged the bottom with her downrigger ball and lost the bottom end again..another $50 rig on the bottom of the ocean.

Connor slept all morning…Saturday: no school.  He only fishes when there’s catching to be done.  The quickest way for me to lose my fishing pole is when I catch a fish and Connor confiscates it!  Val continued to fish while I cleaned and vacuum packed the halibut and got it into the freezer right away…that’s fresh!
We found a nice anchorage just inside the outside, if that makes sense.

Connor and Val played Scrabble while the dogs and I took the dinghy around the bay exploring.
We were all full from our very late lunch (more fresh fish sandwiches) and munched on quality junk food all night during our poker game.
That’s my report and I’m sticking with it.  Hopefully, tomorrow, I can get an Internet signal and post some of these.  It’s still wild and remote out here.  We’re always the only boat in the anchorages and rarely see another soul around.  I don’t mind it a bit, although, I wish I could make my contacts and get my e-mails every day.  Have a good weekend, friends.

Day 12- Mary Basin, Still.

Day 12- Marys Basin, Still. 

We woke up fully rested to a gorgeous morning with bright sun and not even a breath of wind.  There wasn’t even a ripple against the boat hull all night and I didn’t even wake to check the anchor, a rarity for me.  After our showers, we all loaded in the dinghy and crept our way over the low tide delta until we found the main creek channel and slowly made our way up to the waterfalls.  It was a beautiful scene.  I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

Connor and Tanner climbed and explored while Val, Lucky, and I just soaked it all in and documented our excursion with video and still cameras.
After many smiles, we floated back down the creek until we grounded ourselves on a shell beach and dug for clams for a while.  Success.  Now, we have mussels and clams for a recipe Val has been planning.  It also calls for crab but they have been elusive and we ate the last of our stocks in leftover Crab Carbonara for lunch today, along with FBLTs (rock fish, bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches).

As we were digging for clams, Val, our professional wildlife spotter, saw a bear across the creek.  Learning from our wolf encounter, we made sure the dogs were nearby.  The bear was too far away to get any great pictures and we decided not to bother him in our dinghy hoping he would stay foraging on the beach while I ate my lunch and donned the kayak.  As we puttered back to the boat, we saw another bear on another beach and watched him while we ate our FBLTs.
Destined for great bear pictures, I launched the kayak and set out with cameras in hand.  Unfortunately, the tide was rising fast and the beach had disappeared along with the bears.  I still had a beautiful paddle.  While I was at my furtherest point away from the boat, about a mile, I’d say, I heard Tanner barking and realized he was out in the middle of the bay playing cat and mouse with two seals.  He was a long, long way from the boat.  It’s not uncommon for him to go for an hour swim and even swim out of sight and we’ll have to go get him in the dinghy.  This time, I rowed over to him and we worked our way back to the boat together.  Val said he had been swimming for about a half an hour to 45 minutes.  He seems as comfortable in the water as he does snoozing on his rug.
Back on the boat, Connor was doing his schoolwork and Val was playing Scrabble with her imaginary friend.  I still don’t know if her friend is a male or female but she tends to spend a lot of time playing Scrabble with him/her.  I poured over charts and guidebooks while baking some bread from scratch.  We liked this spot and had a very nice, relaxing day in the sun and decided not to move on today.  Hopefully, I can get everybody’s butt out of bed early in the morning and go do some serious salmon fishing.

The sunset tonight was AMAZING!  The picture doesn’t do it justice.  “Red sky at night…sailor’s delight!

Day 11- Mary's Basin, Esperanza Inlet (49 46'47.3N, 126 50'10.4W)

Day 11- Mary’s Basin, Esperanza Inlet (49 46'47.3N, 126 50'10.4W)
We learned that Fair Harbour was pretty close to where we spent the night so we decided to cruise through the gorgeous “fjordlands” enjoying multiple whale sightings, otters, and seals.  We also saw the first fish farms of the trip.  Fair Harbour wasn’t much at all but they did have a satellite phone, free wi-fi, and water.  Now we’re set for a while.
The winds were forecast to change from the NW to the South and the BC Marine Weather zones were mostly red indicating various warnings.  We decided that we should quickly visit the highly famed Rugged Point beaches and then fish our way down to Nootka Sound where we’ll be in protected waters for a few days.
I couldn’t get a good bite on the anchor so I kept watch on the boat and cleaned up the lunch dishes, prepped for fishing, and did some cleaning.  Val, Connor, and the pups headed to shore for the short hike across the isthmus to the “outside” beaches.  There was a large double masted sailing vessel anchored near us with thirty teenagers on board.  As one of their dinghies rowed by us, they told me they were in sailing school and this was their northern most departure.  From here, they head back south to Bamfield.  My crew returned with hands full of sand dollars and big smiles.

Off to the fishing grounds.  The swells were rolling in pretty good but those huge rock fish were hitting hard and fast.  We were trying for halibut but kept catching red snapper.  We all are super impressed with the size of these guys and they’re lots of fun to catch but after three monsters on board and the wind kicking up we decided it was time to try the next spot south and closer to Esperanza Sound.  It was a short but rolly ride.  The closet door flew open on one big swell and my computer jumped to within an inch of its short life.  Now, my whole row of keys on the right are smashed in.  Fortunately, everything still works and I may be able to get out my fishing pliers and pry the smashed casing away.  Crap!  Val ended up contributing back to the fish; yes, she personally fed them.
We tried one more spot for halibut but Val was so sick, it was grey, windy, spitting mist, and we weren’t getting bites so we throttled up and picked our way through the rocky headlands into Esperanza Sound and found a pretty anchorage called Mary Basin, where we hope to find some bear and a waterfall tomorrow.

Our trip meter says we’ve put on 568 miles so far.  We haven’t seen an electric hook up since Campbell River on Day 2 and have been pretty self-reliant.  I think this is the longest I’ve gone in years without going out to eat!  Just today, we started to see a couple of recreational boats.  Other than the small First Nation (Indian) villages, it’s been pretty remote.  We like having quiet anchorages all to ourselves.
My eyes are rolling and I can hardly stay awake and so I bid you all a farewell.

Day 10- Blue Lips Cove- Amai Inlet- In The Middle Of Nowhere!

Day 10 – Blue Lips Cove – Amai Inlet– In The Middle Of Nowhere!

Wow, do we feel isolated.  We woke up this morning in our little private “Columbia Cove”…not another soul around.  Tonight, we’re going to bed in another private little “Blue Lips Cove.”  Other than a little Native American village we stopped at, we hardly even saw any other signs of civilization other than a couple of kayakers in the distance and a far offshore fishing vessel.  It’s wild, untamed, and very uncivilized out here.  I don’t know if I’ve ever felt this isolated before in my life…including our trip to Alaska in ’09.  I haven’t had a cell service and Internet service at the same time since last week Thursday in Port Hardy and we’ve cruised many miles out of our way just to find some village where I could find a phone booth.  How can I pay for diesel fuel if I can’t do any deals?
Well, today, we went in search of communications and found a phone booth and an Internet signal in a little village called Walter’s Cove, but not before spending the better part of a day on the beach again.  We woke up, packed a lunch, and found the trail head leading from Columbia Cove to the beach on the exposed shore.  It was overcast but we were comfortable in t-shirts.  Val and Connor found some nice mussels for dinner while Tanner munched on star fish.  Connor and I played baseball on the beach using driftwood for a bat…Tanner was catcher and outfielder.  This was probably the most beautiful beach we’ve found yet and the hours flew by. 

Mid-afternoon, we pulled anchor and set out for Walter’s Cove, about a 15 mile run.  A few fishing lodges, a tiny little variety store, and a phone booth with the handset cracked in half was about all there was there.  I hadn’t made a credit card phone call in years and had to dial the operator to find out how to do it.  I don’t dare to check my credit card bill how much the four minute call to check my voice mail was.  The little store also had a 10’ x 10’ Post Office inside it that sold phone cards.  The lady inside said that there was a coffee shop at the tip of the bay that had Internet and the owner would let me use his phone so we were off!  Double the price of Starbuck’s and half as good, I was glad to be able to do some business again.  Two hours later, we were glad to be out of there.

Val found this interesting cove on the charts only about seven miles away.  We idled our way through the peppered rocks to get there in the drizzle and rain, the first we’ve seen on the trip.  It was beautiful in a new, mysterious way.  It seemed like we barely fit through the entrance of the cove which opened up into a cozy little nest for our boat.  Perfect!

While the sun tried to burn holes in the clouds, Val baked some of my fresh bread dough and prepared the most amazing fresh halibut with a side of crab carbonara.  It was exquisite to say the least.  We ran out of wine (oh, the price for isolation) so we had to stoop down and open a bottle of Dolphin Cove Blackberry Wine…not the best pairing, but, hey, we’re roughing it.

It’s really getting dark earlier now…by 9, it’s really dark.  The bioluminescence was so bright!  We “swooshed” the boat brush around and watched the light reaction in the dark water.  Connor started the dinghy engine and it looked like a white jet flame coming from the prop.  Then he turned on the salt water wash down and made a mini meteor shower around the boat.  I tried to photograph it and film it but it never turned out.  There were thousands of little 9” fish jumping all around us too.  We don’t know what they are but every once in a while a few thousand will ball up and jump out of the water like they’re being pursued, maybe by a seal or something.  Interesting.

No plans for tomorrow.  Like scripture says, tomorrow has enough troubles of it’s own, don’t worry about it.  In my dreams, however, I will plan for another big adventure.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Day 9- Columbia Cove, Just South of Brooks Peninsula

This morning, I did some computer work while I had Internet and talked to the locals about what to do and where.  Joe on Chapter 45 was an experienced cruiser on the West Coast of Van Isle and we poured over the charts together.  Thanks, Joe!
Then, I had to go to the store and buy some new down rigger equipment as I lost the whole bottom end when I wasn’t paying attention and hooked the 10 lb. ball on a rock at 145’.  Funny thing is, I had a fish on but it got my line all wrapped up in the rocks and I lost my flasher and that gear as well.  A stupid $50 mistake on my part.  Downriggers aren’t supposed to plow through under water hills!

We grabbed a quick bite to eat while tied to the dock at Winter Harbour and then decided to head out for a quick fishing trip to see if anything was biting.  Val spotted another bear on the beach on our way out so we floated along with him for a bit.  Of course, I had to stop at the only spot I knew that had a cell signal to check voice mails.  An hour later, after drifting and chatting on the phone, we set sail again.  Connor caught two nice Rock Fish but no salmon this time.  We didn’t work at it that hard.  It was fun just to be out there and even got to see a few more whales.

The wind was not too bad and dying down as the day went on.  We decided to make the run around Brooks Peninsula.  It was only 30 miles and this stretch is notorious for bad weather, currents, etc. but it seemed to so nice.  I was glad I didn’t even have time to worry about it…we checked the 4PM forecast and decided it was as nice as it was going to get.  No problem.  We flew around at 30 MPH and never had to pull the throttles back once.  Wow.  God has granted us amazing travel mercies: smooth water, sunny skies, no mechanical issues.  Everything is going just great.

We found this amazing cove called Columbia Cove.  It’s a Jurassic Park like setting.  It is so gorgeous here.  The light is amazing.  We snarfed down the leftover crab-stuffed salmon and all jumped in the dinghy to go exploring.  We found an old Coast Guard cutter wreck and think we found a trail head to a beach…we’ll explore that tomorrow.

My GPS says we’ve logged 482 miles so far.  Lately, we’ve only averaged maybe 20 miles a day.  I like this pace a lot better although I could spend several days at each anchorage.  I’m not getting near enough kayaking time in.

The moon is starting to show itself and the last of the sun is fading.  It’s time for me to crawl into my cozy berth and do some reading.  Connor is finishing his homework and Val is pouring over guide books, charts, and working on an exciting plan for the next few days.  It feels like we’re flying by so many cool things to see and do but we have to cover a lot of ground to get back on time.  We could spend years poking our way into all these coves and beaches but reality calls.  For now, I’m going to ignore it.  Sleep tight.