We last left off with a note about budget cruising behind barges. Continuing up Malaspina Strait and into of the next three anchorages were quite scenic. Musket Island Marine Park is a very peaceful anchorage was just around the corner at Hardy Island. We dinghied over to this undeveloped marine park to check out the scenery
Savary Island No photo for this rolly spot just up from Powell River. There's plenty of nice sandy beach on the north side, but we parked in what appeared to be a better-sheltered southern bay. We were wrong. Leaving the next morning was frustrating too – we had to detour back downwind several miles to avoid some reefs and then spend all morning beating against the current and wind to regain the lost ground. Arrrgh!
Desolation Sound - Prideaux Haven Stunning view, warm(ish) 16C water (we even hopped in for a short swim), and lots of interesting things to explore by kayak and dinghy.
Clumps of mussels clung to numerous deadfall trees that were submerged at high tide. They reminded Barb of a certain Christmas ornament and so were pegged Musseltoe.
We amused ourselves creating waterspouts with the kayak paddle.
Being still early in the cruising season, there haven't been many other boats about. However, we shared Prideaux Haven with another sailboat: Imagine. We were astonished when a fellow rowed up to us about an hour after anchoring, and while Barb was towelling off from her swim, to inquire, “Are you Bjarne, and Barb?” Turns out that Alan and Mary thought Freya looked familiar, looked through their well-organized notes, and discovered that we had last seen each other in Savu Savu, Fiji ! They recalled chatting to us the morning after the nasty storm when we arrived on our passage from Tonga. Miniscule world, it is... We ended up having a wonderful dinner of fajitas on Imagine and enjoyed chatting with Mary and Alan again.
Toodling about in the kayak and dinghy we spied lots of seastars and jellyfish. While Bjarne was swimming, a Lion's Mane jellyfish (not pictured) floated into him and zapped him on the upper arm and shoulder. It was not as bad as being chased (and caught) by a dozen wasps, having tried both.
Heading north we've had increasing numbers of wildlife sightings. Surprisingly however only three times have dolphins been nearby. This is more than made up for by the Bald Eagles and Otters. At a small bay just south of Stuart I we anchored for a few hours to eat supper and wait for the current through a narrow channel to reverse; it flows up to 12 knots and the channel becomes a large washing-machine of whirlpools and upwellings. From the trees in this bay, over 40 (maybe 80 depending on whom you ask) Bald Eagles perched and periodically forayed over the roiling water to clutch at fish brought to the surface by the current. The fish die when they are forced to rise too quickly for their swim bladders to accomodate to the pressure change, conveniently creating a nice meal for our Bald friends. With dinner in their talons, the eagles then return to shore to feast, before heading out again.
As the current diminished, and our departure time neared, the eagles ended their eating and instead congregated to slake their thirst at a stream and to bathe in the fresh water. We reckoned that a boater could probably do without the government-published current and tide tables, and just use the eagles' behaviour as an indication of the state of the channel's current.
Otters have also frequently been spotted from Freya or our dinghy. While returning from a beach walk, we had one make repeated dives for urchins and clams only a dozen meters from the boat. It would spend several minutes loudly crunching on its catch, and then submerge for more morsels.
Less exciting, but with just as sharp teeth, were the large barnacles in Bootleg Bay. We wandered over a tidal flat – actually, it was more squishing than wandering – to have a closer look at the tidal life. Every few seconds a buried clam would squirt out a stream of water that launched in an arc several feet high. The barnacles encrusting the rocks were thumb-length in size.
While Under Way...
Bjarne: What's that floating in the water?
Barb: Hmmmm...don't know. Looks like bagpipes.
Bjarne: Wonder what prompted the crew to toss bagpipes overboard?
Other Nice Scenery
Today, 2 June 2009, we are in Port Hardy after a very light wind transit across Queen Charlotte Strait. We could see there were many nooks and crannies to explore in Cullen Bay but the weather and tide predictions are hinting at being favourable for rounding the notorious Cape Scott in a day or two. Cruising timetables need lots of flexibility, particularly when the power is out in the town when you arrive so there are no groceries for sale. We did find a pizza place with gas-fired ovens however :-)
1Why Spring Fling? We sailed for July & August in Lake Huron's North Channel back in 2000, and called that adventure Summer Fling. This present trip has many similarities, but cooler temperatures.