Friday, 14 July 2017

Alert Bay: Possibly the friendliest town on the BC coast

We didn't plan to spend three nights at the docks at Alert Bay, but there's lots to see and the people are all very, very friendly. It started right off with a very friendly and helpful wharfinger here at the Public Docks (Thanks Steve!). Then, walking the streets, everyone makes a point of saying "Hi", waving etc. We thought Sointula was friendly, but Alert Bay takes a large step further.

The Kwakwaka'wakw First Nation people have been especially welcoming. We've already been to the U'mista Cultural Centre two times on two previous visits (absolutely a "not-to-missed" visit). This time we decided to take in the T'sasala dance performance in the 'Namgis Big House. Normally, visitors do not get to visit the Big House, but they get to do so for the dance performance. The T'sasala group is made up of  Kwakwaka'wakw kids from the very young to teenagers. The performance was both enthralling and educational, and we visitors were made to feel very very welcome. Definitely time well spent and all of us enjoyed it very much. Overall, Alert Bay is probably one of the best places to experience and learn about local First Nation culture and history, and to meet and interact with locals.

T'sasala dance group (Copyright; no commercial use allowed)

T'sasala dance group (Copyright; no commercial use allowed)

We also did a very nice (and not difficult) hike while at Alert Bay: (i) Alert Bay Ecological Gardens (also known as "Gator Gardens), (ii) John Anderson Big Tree Loop, and then (iii) the Gwakawe (North Side) Trail to the Big House. The swamp in the ecological gardens was probably the highlight; the views toward Malcolm Island on the North Side trail were also nice (though not as dramatic as those on the Bere Point trail on Malcolm Island).

The boardwalk in Gator Gardens (Alert Bay Ecological Garden)
 There are many beautiful totem poles around Alert Bay. Some very old and some very new. And always in your face are the antics of the many eagles and huge (and very vocal ravens) around Alert Bay.

All said, Alert Bay is a great place to visit.*

*For boaters: Steve the harbour manager does his best to accommodate visiting boats. IF docks are full, he will arrange rafting, usually to a local's boat who is away and/or not moving. We found the docks to be comfortable and interesting. Note also, there is fairly decent anchoring in the bay between the public docks and the U'mista Centre.  We've found the local grocery store to be not too bad for provisioning (No, not as good as Port Mac). There is a BC Liquor Store and a Vancity Credit Union in the village. There is also a gas station in town (no fuel dock).

Two weeks (so far) in the Broughtons

We've now spent 2 weeks cruising parts of the Broughtons. Anchorages have been uncrowded and weather mostly benign (although never "hot").

[more photos will be added when we get a good internet connection]

Our first night off of Johnston Strait was spent in the inner bay of Pott's Lagoon. We were very concerned upon entering the outer bay to see a very large log dump and logging operation. However, the inner bay was the same as ever, with the usual floathomes. There were only two of us boats anchored. We did get a very friendly visit from four guys from the logging camp, even inviting us to check out their "Hilton" hotel (bunkhouse) and come for breakfast (possibly tongue in cheek). However, although the logging operation was not visible from the inner lagoon, it still could be heard, and given nothing was stopping them, not even Canada Day, we decided to move on the next morning to Crease Island/Goat Island anchorage.

Logging camp/log dump in Pott's Lagoon outer bay (July, 2017)
Crease Island had a few boats anchored, and we had a little trouble with the rocky bottom (there seemed far more kelp the in previous years), but we had a good two days at Crease, including two kayak outings.

Next was our favourite, Sointula (Malcolm Island). One of the best public docks around, Sointula is very laid back and comfortable. It is hard to leave. We got out our folding bikes (not used for a couple of years) and had a good bike ride, and also did a hike on the Mateoja Heritage Trail to Big Lake (which was very small). We did a little food shopping, but selection and cost were issues at the local Co-Op store. After 3 nights in Sointula -- we could have stayed longer-- we decided to head the few miles over to Port McNeil for fuel, groceries and alcohol.

Port McNeil is very convenient for provisioning, and the public docks pretty good (there is also the "North Island Marina" at the fuel dock, which seems more popular with the power boats). However, Port Mac is entirely lacking in any character or beauty (unless you like parking lots...). One night was a lot.

Next day, we headed out across Queen Charlotte Strait to Cullen Harbour for a much-anticipated meeting with our friends David and Gillian on SV Carousel (who had just come down from the Central Coast). Last year we cruised 19+ days with Carousel going arounf the top of Vancouver Island to Kyuquot with them. A calm windless crossing, but happily Cullen Harbour was empty. We spent the next seven nights with Carousel.

We dinghied through the rapids into Booker Lagoon, spying a bear turning over rocks on the shore, and exploring the channels around the islands near Cullen Harbour. Very beautiful -- we might return over the next week. We then went into the Broughtons proper, spending two nights at "East of Eden" Cove on Eden Island (sometimes called "Ladyboot Cove, due to its shape), then a night at Laura Bay. We checked out the Burdwood  Group (beautiful, but not a great anchorage) and then spent another night at Crease Island (this time with no rocky bottom issues). Finally, we decided to visit Alert Bay, where we are now.

Gillian and David (SV Carousel) with bear on beach (Booker Lagoon)
After seven nights cruising together (with dinners together every night), SV Carousel left this morning to head back down Johnston Strait. We are staying on in Alert Bay for a third night.

Friday, 30 June 2017

Up Johnstone Strait

With gales and near-gales blowing down Johnstone Strait almosy daily, we've had to pick our passage carefully. Essentially, leaving early in the morning, then getting off the Strait before the winds pick up in the afternoon. (For example, motoring up Johnstone Strait yesterday, we only had 10-15 knot Westerlies against us, with no seas. However, in the early afternoon, soon after we pulled into Chancellor Channel, then Wellbore, and anchored in Forward Harbour, Johnstone Strait winds picked up to 24 knots, gusting to 29.)

We are currently 3 nm from our exit of Johnstone Strait at Havannah Channel. Winds and seas are low. Looks like another successful Johnstone Strait passage.

Update: we got lucky with the current in Chatham Channel, and made it easily to Potts Lagoon for the night.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Finally, away for our Summer cruise

Just in time for the Summer solstice, we have finally completed our prepping of Pelagia, and have left our dock in Vancouver.

The PLAN is to cruise for 2 months, hopefully/possibly making it North of Cape Caution this year, spending time on the Central Coast of British Columbia.  (Of course, as experience shows, sailing "plans" are all written in the sand at low tide.... πŸ˜‰)

Currently, we are in Pender Harbour. 

Friday, 16 June 2017

Weather resources for British Coumbia: post updated

The 2016 post providing information for marine- and land-based weather resources for British Columbia, with an emphasis on getting text-based band-limited forecasts, has been updated (broken/changed links fixed.)


Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Three weeks in Germany...

Heidelberg Castle and City

With temperatures warming up and skiing winding down, we have taken off for 3 weeks of biking, hiking, touring and socializing in Germany.

A "bike & boat" trip on the Rhine and Neckar rivers, and hiking with old friends in the Pfalz region then the Mosel. All major wine-producing regions... oh dear!

Monday, 17 April 2017

We're still here... skiing

Michelle at Whistler Peak, Easter Sunday: heading down Whistler Bowl

Blog went silent for months as all we've done is basically ski... well, mostly.

It has been a great season snow-wise here at Whistler. Tons of snow since opening day in November. As photo above shows (from yesterday, Easter Sunday), there is still is lots of snow left (indeed, more than there was in January/February).

For David, it has been a somewhat frustrating ski season: torn calf on Day 2 of season (3.5 weeks recovery), 8 days off for bad cold (both of us), and in February another 2 weeks off for a back and shoulder injury from a "hard" fall. In between injuries, much more "cautious" skiing. Lots of aches and pain... (must be getting old πŸ˜’). So, not quite as "gung ho" of a season as we would have liked.

Not to say we haven't had some great days skiing! 🎿🎿

On top of Spanky's Ladder (March 20, 2017)

Looking up at Ruby Bowl (Spanky's at top)
Still, we are still skiing and had a great day on the slopes in the sun on Easter Sunday.

Whistler Mountain closes April 23rd; Blackcomb Mountain stays open until May 22nd. There will be no shortage of snow.

Meanwhile, we are making plans for sailing this Summer, as well as a biking-boat trip in Germany in May.