Thursday, May 27, 2010

SMILES in Prince Rupert!

Wednesday, May 26 ...

I think we all were looking forward to spending an evening at dock in Prince Rupert. For Sharon and I it meant not only a chance to walk on dry land, but also dinner at a restaurant and a break from the galley.

Travelling here from Coghlan Anchorage was a beautiful 75-mile cruise. We decided to take Grenville Channel, which is a 45-mile passage with steep mountains on each side leading northwestward to Arthur Passage, which opens into Chatham Sound leading to Prince Rupert.

We arrived in Prince Rupert around 4 p.m. and felt like we were seeing the “big city.” After docking at the Prince Rupert Yacht Club (see photo, not your typical yacht club), Roland, Sharon and I immediately turned on our computers to take advantage of the WiFi … which is s-l-o-w, and transmitting a very weak signal; and Jim rinsed down the boat.

We then took a short walk into town and had dinner at SMILES SEAFOOD, a cute little restaurant overlooking the marina, where Marcel waited on us with fish and chips for all. As we were leaving the docks, a Nordhavn 55 by the name of Segue docked behind us …. Looked like a brand new boat.

Port Rupert is the largest city in northern B.C. …. Population 13,000. The town is filled with a few restaurants and a charming selection of stores catering to boaters and cruise ship passengers that come in once a week. There’s also a Safeway grocery store and liquor store, which we plan to hit in the morning before leaving the docks.

While here I also set up my iPad, but can’t get a connection to download any applications or iBooks. Anticipation!!!! Maybe in Ketchikan!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

More Photos ...

Well, it looks like I fried our website trying to upload changes to the home page.

But here's a link to some of the photos we've taken since leaving Blaine, WA on route to Mary Cove.... edited down from hundreds!!!!!

Orcas in Graham Reach.

Tuesday, May 25 …

What began as another gray and rainy morning, opened up into sunshine later as we left our anchorage in Mary Cove under the watchful eye of a majestic Bald Eagle sitting at the point.

Today we saw our first pod of orcas as we were half way up Graham Reach after leaving Finlayson Sound. There must have been 3-4 orcas in the pod, and they were definitely at play. We put the boat in neutral and watched as they jumped in and out of the water, finally swimming right by the boat and coming up behind us. What a treat!

We spent the rest of the day heading up Graham to Fraser Reach, and without exaggeration have seen at least 100 waterfalls streaming down the mountains on both shores surrounding us along the way.

At the junction of the two Reaches we passed a sad little town called Butedale, where all of the buildings are deteriorating into the ground … sitting next to the most spectacular set of waterfalls we’d seen all day. Redevelopment anyone?

We had hoped to stop at Hartley Bay, a little town close to the mouth of Grenville Channel that is reported to have wireless internet so we can upload some of these blog entries, but after some back and forth with the marina over the radio decided to anchor in Coghlan Anchorage for the evening and wait until we are in Prince Rupert tomorrow to use the internet there.

Perils at Perceval Narrows.

Monday, May 24 (Victoria Day)

Today was a long 73-mile day of cruising … heading north through Fitz Hugh Sound to Lama Passage, past Bella Bella and west into Seaforth Channel … names that mean nothing to most people reading this, but to fellow cruisers, provide insight into the route we are taking to get head to Alaska.

Leaving Seaforth to head north into Reid Passage was a bit of a heart-racer. The entrance to the passage is exposed to the open water with fairly large swells and water crashing against some very intimidating rocks on both sides of the approach, shallow water to dodge, and on top of all that … we had to cross Perceval Narrows to get through to Reid Passage, which at the time was ebbing towards us with a fairly strong current of about 4 knots (our top speed is around 9 knots). We yet again were reminded of the importance of checking our tide and current charts!

Our fearless captain prevailed, safely guiding us through the narrows, and by 6:15 pm we were safely anchored in Mary Cove, off Finlayson Sound, which reportedly is great for salmon fishing. Jim dropped a line in, but under a light drizzle, a fresh salmon dinner was not to be had. Instead we were treated to a spectacle of diamonds surrounding the boat from the drops of fresh water hitting the salt water.

Our First Humpback!!!

Sunday, May 23 …

Saturday was rainy and grey, and after continuing up Johnstone Strait toward the northern tip of Vancouver Island we anchored in Port Alexander, on the SE side of Nigei Island. We shared the anchorage with a cute fishing trawler, Cinnabar, that had also shared anchorage with us in Port Harvey.

Sunday was the day we left the protection of Vancouver Island and hit open waters, heading north in the Queen Charlotte Strait …. And it didn’t take long to determine these waters could kick butt!

Despite great weather, we experienced 4-6-foot swells that had us rising and dropping, and anything not stowed away soon was. We saw about 8 other boats heading north with us, each trying to find the best place in the water to minimize the swells. No such luck. Even Lovie was feeling a bit seasick.

The swells disappeared once we got behind Calvert Island, heading toward Hunter Island in the Strait, and we had our first whale siting of the cruise!!! A couple of humpback whales were spouting and as we got closer we were able to see them breach. I was taken by the absolute gracefulness of such huge animals as they surfaced and dove back down in the waters, flipping their large tails in their descent. Needless to say, the whales were the highlight of the day.

We anchored Sunday evening in Mustang Bay on the SE side of Hunter Island.

A Diamond in the Rough.

Friday-Saturday, May 23-24 …

We woke up Friday morning and discovered Gowlland Harbour to be a stunningly beautiful anchorage in daylight. Much less imposing than it had been the night before coming in under pitch-black darkness. A few small docks and what looked to be vacation cottages dotted the shores.

We proceeded on to Seymour Narrows and -- timed perfecty -- it was a piece of cake (which Roland’s sister and brother-in-law can attest is a far cry from what we experienced last time we were in Seymour Narrows in our Grand Banks … one hour off in our timing and we almost didn’t make it through).

Heading up Johnstone Strait we passed our first cruise ship. The Diamond Princess … with hand waves and photos exchanging across both boats.We anchored in Port Harvey around 6 p.m., another gorgeous anchorage with snow-capped mountains in both forward and aft views.

Christmas morning … and a LONG day of cruising.

Thursday May 22 …

Woke up this morning and Roland was already up making coffee. But he left me a surprise. I felt something down at the foot of the bed and looked down to see a brand new iPad lying next to me. Woo hoo … just like Christmas!!! Too bad we have no Internet reception … I can’t wait to try it out but need to download iTunes before it will work.

In the meantime, today we went through Dodd Narrows and made sure to time our passage at slack tide due to the fast currents running through this tight channel of water. We anchored at Boat Harbour for a few hours waiting for slack, and the captain catnapped. Which was a good thing … because we ended up running that evening until the early morning hours to get us closer to Seymour Narrows … again another passage we had to time with the currents.

Anchoring at night is a challenge, for even the best of boaters. Luckily, Roland just installed a FLIR system on the boat that uses infrared sensors to provide amazing night vision. When we pulled into Gowlland Harbour just off Campbell River that evening around 1:30 a.m., the FLIR helped him navigate us through a myriad of menacing rocks and shallow waters until we reached the northern tip and dropped anchor around 2 a.m. We all took turns napping along the way that evening, and were happy to arrive safely … even happier to go to bed.

Bon Voyage.

Wednesday, May 19 …

Our journey began a day later than planned. Turns out, you can’t provision for a 4-month cruise in two days! That and the fact that the weather was pretty nasty on Tuesday, we decided to wait until Wednesday to leave Blaine. Tuesday eve before we left, Patti & Lincoln joined us onboard Engelenbak for dinner at the Semiahmoo docks.

We fueled up Wednesday morning, topping off our 5,000-gallon tanks with more than 700 gallons of diesel and we pulled out of Blaine around 12:30 p.m. under sunny skies that gradually turned to clouds and rain. We made it to Pender Harbor to clear Canadian customs around 4 p.m. where we were welcomed by a Canadian Navy ship at the docks, with a young crew of sailors who were more than happy to help us with our lines.

Since we all have Nexus cards, we only had to wait 15 minutes to see if anyone wanted to board the boat at customs; no one showed up so we pulled out and motored around the bend and quickly set anchor in Bedwell Harbour where we watched the wind build to close to 40 knots … with waves to match.

Provisioning, Provisioning and More Provisioning

Saturday, May 15 – Tuesday, May 18 … Vermilion, to Vancouver, to Blaine

Our journey begins …

We arrived in Seattle on Saturday with Sharon and Jim Plona, our neighbors from Vermilion who are joining us for the first month of our cruise, and together we drove up to Vancouver. After unpacking Lovie for a much-needed litterbox break and stowing away our luggage on the boat, we enjoyed an early dinner at our favorite Italian restaurant in North Vancouver. Exhausted, we retired early, spending the first night on the boat tucked away in our boathouse at Mosquito Creek Marina.

Sunday morning, Roland and Jim pulled out of the boathouse around 10:30 am for a 7-hour cruise to Blaine, WA where we planned to provision and fuel. Sharon and I made a quick stop at to our condo in Vancouver to pack a few things, and then headed south to Whidbey Island’s Naval Base Commissary to buy groceries. With Jim’s Naval benefits, we saved major $$$ on two huge carts of groceries. That was the easy part! Once back in Blaine, the trick was getting it all to the boat … in a brigade of carts down the docks … and then finding room to stow it all on the boat once there. The day gave new meaning to the word fatigue.

Monday was another full day of provisioning. In the morning, just as we were ready to leave, Roland’s new kayak was delivered to the boat. In the meantime, Pattie & Lincoln showed up in their truck loaded with 14 boxes we had shipped from Vermilion. Sharon and I left for another full day of shopping which included among other things …. 40 chicken breasts, 16 pork tenderloins, 18 pork chops, 12 pounds of ground beef, 7 pounds of assorted cheeses, 12 cans of orange juice, 10 pizza crusts … ultimately returning to the boat with a SUV filled to the brim with food, cleaning supplies, water, soft drinks and a dozen live plants and a bag of potting soil for an herb garden that I planted on the upper deck.

The guys borrowed Lincoln and Pattie’s truck and returned with 14 cases of wine, Roland’s new wet suit (which I promise to post as a photo when I see him in it!), fishing and crabbing supplies, and basically another truckload of supplies to fit on the boat. After dozens of trips down the docks to the boat, and much consternation finding space to stow everything, , we gratefully accepted an invitation to dinner at Lincoln & Patti’s where we were treated to a delicious meal of grilled salmon.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Alaska Here We Come!

It's hard to believe. We've been planning our cruise to Alaska for months ... and now it's less than a week away!

As most of you know, we're taking our new boat Engelenbak on a 4-month cruise to Alaska beginning May 15. We'll head from our home port in Vancouver down to Blaine, WA for 2 days of provisioning ... and then make our way up the Inside Passage to Alaska. Our friends Jim & Sharon Plona will be joining us for the first month of the voyage, and we'll be dropping them off in Juneau in mid- June.

We're not sure how often we'll have internet access to upload this blog, but we invite you to sign up to follow us. Feel free to also visit our website, for photos and more info about Engelenbak.

About Engelenbak

My photo
Engelenbak is a custom-built 62-foot steel trawler ... designed to cruise anywhere in the world.