The Adventures of the Crew of the Good Ship Gandalf III

The Last Leg

We spent a few days in McNeil, doing laundry and adding a battery to our house bank. We waited for a weather window to head over to the mainland shore. When it arrived we had a wonderful motor across Queen Charlotte Sound. It was almost homey. Since leaving Campbell River the strait has been narrow with both sides visable in virtually all weather except heavy fog. Here, it is more like Georgia Strait - wide open with only the mountians of the other side visable on a clear day. Six hours after leaving McNeill we drop anchor in Blunden Harbour.

After yesterday's long day (we usually only motor for 4 hours between stops) we sleep in and do not get away until 0920, bound for Skull Cove, a sigularly uninviting name, but a good jumping off place to beard Cape Caution.

Just outside of Blunden Harbour we pick up an escort of Dall's Porpoise. They are very playful and spend 10 minutes riding our bow wave. They were blowing so close to the bow that their breath was coming aboard and if you timed it right, you could have touched them. We almost lost Janice overboard she was so excited.

We had some fog settle in for about an hour, but it burned off as the sun rose. Thank goodness, as the enderance to Skull Cove is tricky and not one to undertaken in low visability if avoidable.

Janice helms us into Skull Cove and around the corner to the back or west part of the cove. Gorgeous. We are eventually joined in the cove by another sailboat hailing from Port Hardy, a crab boat that anchored near the enterance, and a group of kayakers. The kayakers have a cabin set up stay on their tours or to hole up for weather. And the weather for tomorrow is not very favourable.

It is insect season and we are in flying range of 'skeeters, so at dusk we go below and hole up, only coming up to check our position and confirm our anchor is holding. At our last check, Richard goes on deck and cannot see the shore for bugs. There has been some sort of "hatch" of a mayfly like insect, and there are so many that you cannot see the shore in the spot lite - and the spot seems to attact them. They are even flying into Richard's mouth, nose, ears and clothing. A fast check of GPS, and back below. In the morning there is not a sign of them.

The morning shows that the weatherman was only too correct and there is heavy wind and large swells. We run the diesel for an hour to charge up, then relax and enjoy the surroundings, well protected, as predicted by the Waggoner.

The following day the wind has abated, and we check for the height of the seas at the West Sea Otter buoy. Waggoner suggests that one will have reasonably pleasant trip if the seas there are less than two metres (6'). The morning report shows them as 1.9 metres. We go.....

Now, when one is reading the Waggoner for direction, one should read ALL of the Waggoner about you area. Not us! We stopped at the information about the West Sea Otter buoy. It also stated (and we did not read until later) that one should avoid the mainland shore near Slingsby Channel on an ebb tide, as the water rushing out of this area (it is the second fastest tide race in the world) sets up big swells that run at an angle to the prevailing wind waves.

HMMM...Skull Cove is just south of Slingsby Channell, and the time of our departure from Skull Cove is ----- right at max ebb ---- atta go the Martin's!!!

We still have the remanants of yesterday's wind, with 6' swells from the NW - and occational grandfathers at 10'. As we get off Slingsby Channel we pick up a 4' cross swell. The sea is very confused and we are not very happy. But we decide to stick to our plan of getting around Cape Caution and putting into Millbrooke Cove in Smith Inlet for the night.

About 11 am and we are off of Cape Caution. As we have gone north conditions have improved. We have lost the SE swell and the swell from the NW is a steady 8' with a period of about 13 seconds. It is like riding a gentle elevator. Even the pets are at ease. We decide to by pass Millbrooke Cove and try for Open Bight at the enterance to Rivers Inlet.

As we round Kelp head into Rivers Inlet, there is a gale warning issued for tonight. We decide that there has to be a reason Open Bight is called Open, so continue on to Goose Bay, Rivers Inlet and tie up at Duncanby Landing.

And did it ever gale that night!! We were very glad of being secured to a dock.

We decided to stay an extra day, just to rest up.