Pender Harbour – Royal Van Outstation

We crossed the Malibu rapids again pre-dawn, on our way to the Royal Van Outstation in Pender Harbour. It was about 46 nautical miles in the rain.
The Enchanted crew were enclosed in clears to keep out the miserable weather.

We were happy to be going to an outstation with all the amenities of home. We could get off the boat and make our way to the lovely club house and sit and watch the rain. It cleared up during the late afternoon, and it was time to crack open a bottle of bubbles and toast our hosts.

Dry under the Veranda
Celebrating
Prosecco, grazie.

This was a great spot and we could walk to a great local store, named John Henry’s, have hot showers, do laundry and have lunch in the club house.  We were happy to go to a nearby restaurant in the evening. The Australian crew of Corus met us for dinner coming over by dinghy, as well as about half the flotilla. We completely filled the dining room.

Enchanting all! Crew of Corus in the red.
James and David
Peter, Sandy, Rick and James

In the morning we go off to Secret Cove, but tonight we eat drink and socialise.

Princess Louisa Inlet and Chatterbox Falls

Since the first skipper’s meeting, the flotilla had discussed Chatterbox Falls and the Malibu Rapids. Protocols were discussed and reiterated, even the yachting guides err on the side of detailed strategies. We left in the pre-dawn darkness from Harmony Bay, so that we would reach Malibu Rapids at slack tide.

Malibu Rapids often has a 9-knot current ripping through a boulder sided narrows, we wanted to be sure to be there at the right time. Once you get to the rapids, you enter the granite fjord of Princess Louisa inlet, it was chilly and the clouds were at mast height but we were all ready to go through the rapids.

We let all the outgoing boats go through and then went through the rapids. We think because of the lack of rain in previous months, it was only about 2-3 knots of current. It was an anticlimax. Was that it?

We then motored up the six kilometers to Chatterbox Falls; she didn’t disappoint. We were all impressed by the thundering falls and the misty landscapes.

Chatterbox Falls

This is granite fjord country crafted by glaciers. Over the next two days we saw elegant Blue Herons fishing, a seal catching a giant silver salmon and bashing it from side to side on the water to stun it and raptors soaring over head. The lushness around the falls creates moss and lichen on every surface.

Cairn and moss

 

We could reach out and touch the clouds. They were often lying between the masts.

Yachts

 

We took dinghies back to Malibu rapids to visit the Youth camp and see the rapids from above. Still not nine knots but a bit more formidable.

Entering at slack tide is important

We met a hiker and asked how he came to Chatterbox Falls, replete in backpack and tent, he said float plane. He would go for his hike and then take the ferry back. Hiking through the trees was muddy but lush. Needless to say, this was a highlight of BC. Remote and accessible.

 

Garden Bay Outstation and the Harmony Islands

From Alexandra Island, we motor sailed to Seattle Yacht Club Outstation at Garden Bay.  We had a green box get together after the Skipper’s Meetings, which was so nice, a club house with hot showers and a great place to mingle and meet other cruisers.

Garden Island, Seattle Yacht Club Outstation

On Thursday, we headed to the Harmony Islands en route to Princess Louisa Inlet. These islands are masses of granite, with forest going up from the waterline.  Anchoring was a considered exercise because the water is so deep here. Canadian yachting said nearby Hotham Sound was 2,200 ft deep. A glacier had etched the islands out of granite mountains.

Once anchored, everyone (except the photographer) went for a swim and there were a few squeals at the 17 C degree water.

Cold, but all smiles

The skippers meeting was a cosy get-together with all hands, on the Starship- Malaika raft up, to discuss the next days journey up to Princess Louisa inlet and strategies for crossing the rapids and enjoying the wine.

Strategic Discussions

Seals kept their distance but continued to fish and as the sun lowered on the horizon, we went back to Enchanted to enjoy the sunset.

Harmony Islands, BC

 

 

Outstation Welcome

At Alexandra Island, we  Aussie and other guests, quickly became aware of how hospitable our hosts were. Yachts came into the pontoon over the next several hours, with the first order of business being a Green box. In the parlance of the Pacific Northwest, a green box seems to be a combination of Aussie BYOB and maybe a Greek meze.  In Australia, we meet on our boats most often but at the Outstations, we could all congregate on the dock.

Pam and Chuck Lowry and Val and John Robertson co-chaired our ICOYC Cruise and the amount of effort both couples had put in was patently evident. The main event at our Green box was Pam awarding all the boats their own windsock. There was a story to every windsock and there was no doubt how much work had gone into it.

Pam awarding Windsocks

 

Enchanted crew walked on the island’s paths and visited the small pavilion. The views were  also lovely from the top of the hill. 

The next morning, we were off to the Harmony Islands, with half the ICOYC group and two capable Captains to make sure we all arrived. But tonight we were all eating steaks underneath the Northern stars.

Outstations, Orcas and Seals

On the ICOYC cruise, the most remarkable club facilities were the amazing outstations. I am not aware of any Australian yacht club having a camping-gathering facility in another nearby waterway. The outstations we visited belonged to either the Royal Vancouver and Seattle Yacht Clubs. They were an incredible resource to the flotilla cruise. Here is a photo of Alexandra Island, a small island, 18 nautical miles NNW of the Royal Vancouver home port of  Jericho, with very little infrastructure but 1200 feet of dock space. There are walking trails, a open air pavilion and picnic tables.

Alexandra Island

On the eastern shore there is a drying reef, with logs laid up against the reef, so no one would sail into it. When you are on the top of the island looking down, the eastern shore is on your right and the dock space is on your left. The tiny bay looks much like a letter  U.

When we arrived people told us to hurry, Orcas were swimming on the far Eastern shore. We jumped off the boat and could see Orca’s in the distance. Then we heard about the afternoon’s events.

This blog is reporting an amalgamation of eye witness accounts, including one mention of “Never in my 35 years of visiting Alexandra Island, have I ever witnessed Orcas or seals at Alexandra Island. To say that everyone who saw the sight was stunned by what transpired.

The photos were taken by another flotilla member, Jan Horhammer. Jan was gracious enough to allow me to use his photos to give you an idea of what occurred.

photo by Jan Horhammer

When some of the early yachts arrived, there were a number of seals sunning themselves on the logs. The seals were far enough away from the dock to be unconcerned by the yachts and a few people swimming off the dock*.

photo by Jan Horhammer

Suddenly a large Orca swam near the dock, before ramming the inside of the logs, which saw several of the seals dive off out of reach. They seemed to think they had escaped the Orca. What they didn’t know was the rest of the family were just around the corner.

Photo by Jan Horhammer

We did see a seal in the shallows but there was no evidence of the carnage that had taken place. The Orcas were just out for a bite of lunch.

Photo by Jan Horhammer

* A recent article mentioned transient Orca pods are more likely to be looking for seals. Orca populations from the BC-Seattle area feed on Chinook salmon.

Starting the Enchanted Cruise

We know, the word cruise is getting a bit overused this trip. Today we are talking about the ICOYC Cruise, co-hosted by Royal Vancouver Yacht Club (Royal Van) and the Seattle Yacht Club. (Both are absolutely splendid, welcoming hosts.) This cruise is a flotilla of yachts, motoring sailing in the splendid waters of the British Columbia Sunshine Coast.

Our yacht, S/Y Enchanted was indeed the best charter on the cruise, as far as we could assess. Her crew is Jill, Robbie, David, John, James and Gaila.

We collected Enchanted in Nanaimo, sailing the next day to Vancouver to meet the two other Aussie Yachts and 23 other yachts with crew from Canada (Royal Vancouver Yacht Club), the US (Seattle Yacht Club & St Francis Yacht Club), Great Britain and sailors from Japan, Finland and Germany.

The Enchanted Crew
This photo is with John

On day one, we start the never ending provisioning. On day two, we leave for Vancouver, we are berthed in the Quayside Marina at Yalestown. Great place to catch the ferry or catch up with our friend Simon, who lives in Vancouver.

We have a meet and greet at the Royal Van, and hear what the next ten days have in store for us. The best part of this flotilla is meeting people from all over and enjoying new places together.

Two Aussie Crews @ Royal Van

The lanyards round our necks, had our names, yachts, clubs and the complete schedule on the back. When you consider we were going to a possible total of seventeen Outstations and several other anchorages, having a calendar was a brilliant idea.

Meeting lovely new friends

The Royal Van at Jericho put on a lovely drinks on the deck and canapes in the dining room. By the end of the evening, everyone was relaxed and ready to start the next adventure.

Aussie Confab

Tomorrow we will talk about the Outstations.

Saying goodbye to the Sojourn and saying hello to Enchanted

James and I loved cruising Alaska and British Columbia. We loved catching up with new friends and old. Fun and excitement were on the cards every day. On our way back to Vancouver, Gaila had a great time answering the often asked: “So will you fly straight home?” with “Now we are going sailing”.

Crew Farewell to the passengers

 

We were able to walk right off the ship on the 31st August and into Vancouver. A few texts alerted us to the fact that our friends had arrived and we would go to Nanaimo to collect S/Y Enchanted the next morning.

James in Vancouver

The ICOYC (International Council of Yacht Clubs) began a Cruise of the Canadian Sunshine Coast co-hosted by the Royal Vancouver and Seattle Yacht Clubs. We were looking forward to visiting the Royal Van and several outstations. We are looking forward Princess Louisa inlet and the Chatterbox Falls and discovering what Outstations are. There are three boats of Australians, we know it will be a wonderful ten days.

We are about to start the second chapter of this vacation.

Prince Rupert, 28 August

The Sojourn sailed into to Prince Rupert on the 28th August. Sandy and Gaila were not sure our visits would coincide, so it was a surprise when we received a text saying hello.

It was very foggy, rainy and visibility was low, so the ship’s fog horn blowing as we came up the channel. The noise woke Ric up and he said we are having breakfast come up to the Crest hotel. It was right next to the dock, so we walked up prepared for the 5 minutes in the mist.

On the way up to the hotel, we passed the Museum of Northern BC.  This post and beam building isn’t Corinthian. The beams are massive. The museum itself is created to resemble a Northwest Coast longhouse. The artifacts are incredible.

Ric, James, giant beam and ancient totem

 

The masks and artifacts are handsome. There are weavings, capes made of maarten skins and walrus whiskers. Buttons are incorporated into the weaving and made of mother of pearl. This red mask might have given you pause on a misty evening.

Ceremonial mask

Afterwards, Sandy wants to go for a walk in the pouring rain. She is serious. She has an umbrella. She shows us the trail map. The rain is getting heavier.

We go back to the Soujourn and find our raincoats and umbrellas and change to our mud shoes.  Walking past the Port Edward waterfront, past the entire industrial waterfront and then on a path, at the end we will find a restaurant. The industrial waterfront goes on for quite a ways, the trail is the old goods train line that has been converted to a hiking trail. When we finally got to the trail head, the outlook was gorgeous and large bridges made the trail easy to traverse.

Still, it was raining.

strollin’ in the rain

The restaurant at the end of the journey had every appearance of being closed. Luckily for us, it was open and had the best French dip sandwich in Canada.

We return to the dock and we are getting used to the incessant rain, so we go and look for the Sunken Gardens, a small two story gardens near the courthouse. This rain means the Sunken Gardens are lush, even in late summer.

Prince Rupert, the Sunken Gardens

We will be meeting up with Ric and Sandy in September in Vancouver, but it’s great to catch up in Prince Rupert, BC.  Even in the rain.

Alert Bay, British Columbia

The Sojourn is still in the Inside Passage, but now we are in British Columbia, Canada.  We were on track to reach Klemtu but it was totally fogged in. Incredibly it was mistier than Misty Fjord. Our excursion there was cancelled and the Captain took us to Ocean Falls, Canada. We are the second cruise ship to visit the harbour of Ocean Falls, I hope someone has updated Wikipedia.

Seals sunning on the floating breakwater – Ocean Falls

This was an unexpected destination and many Canadians were very excited. Ocean Falls had been a very busy town but it is shrinking because it has lost its industry.

Our next destination was Alert Bay, a small settlement on Cormorant Island. We were delighted to wake up to a clear blue-sky morning, just a bit of chill to the air. and watched as Sojourn anchored off the town. Our orange Zodiac took us to the pier, where we all cleared customs on the dock. They counted us off and then counted us back on.

Alert Bay

Alert Bay excited us with eagles. A parent eagle, almost rolling its eyes at the incessant cries for food by the juvenile.

Bald Headed Eagle

The juvenile was larger and noisier than the adult. It takes two to four years for the juvenile to develop a white head. While young they are very dark shades of mottled grays, maybe as a form of camouflage.

 

Alert Bay is the home of many First Nation Namgis peoples, the local cemetery is sacred with old tombstones and totem poles. Captain George Vancouver visited in the late 1700. The First Nation Namgis people used Cormorant Island as a sacred ground to bury their dead. Their cemetery full of totems and headstones, right on the waterfront.

The Harbour is full of fishing boats and the foreshore is home to gigantic logs washed into the harbour on a high tide and fishing boats on the dry. Orcas must visit and feature into their folklore. They speak about Orca Dreaming.

Orca Totem

 

Misty Fjords

Living in California meant I was lucky enough to visit Yosemite and learn about the noted naturalist, John Muir. He visited Misty Fjords and compared the area with Yosemite.  Glaciers gouged deep U-shaped channels in the granite.

Eddystone Rock

George Vancouver was an early European explorer, in 1793. He discovered Eddystone Rock, a volcanic plug 72 metres tall. This column of basalt heralds our entrance into the Misty Fjords. Compared to the sharp sunny day we had in Wrangell, Misty Fjords are very soft-focused. Clouds spill down the mountains and obscure the connection of land and water. It is a dream like space enveloped in mist.

 

We anchored in amongst pines and eagles, reveling in the other worldliness of the Misty Fjords.