S/V Hello World's Travel Log

port hardy

We asked ourselves many times after leaving Port McNeill why we didn't just stay there...the protection was great, the people were fabulous and we were even getting a wireless signal on our boat. So why did we leave? We have no idea. It just seemed like the thing to do. Until, of course, we hit the 30 knot headwinds and 6-7 foot waves. Until now, we've had a very successful run with a puke index of 0. Well folks, we're up to one. We weren't expecting the ride to be so bumpy, so it didn't even occur to us to take meds for sea sickness. I won't make that mistake again.

We got to Port Hardy after the long slog and then couldn't find a place to anchor without a seaplane running us over or a logboom getting caught in our anchor, so we headed for the public dock. It was nice to be out of the worst of the weather, but the dock was still really rolly and windy, so we stayed for only a short night before heading to calmer waters in Beaver Harbour.

If you're trying to decide whether to stop in Port McNeill or Port Hardy to provision, we strongly recommend Port McNeill over Port Hardy. Especially if you want to anchor. Anchoring in Port Hardy sucks.

50°43.385'N 127°25.247'W

port mcneill

Port McNeill was to be our re-provisioning and internet stop before we headed up and around Vancouver Island. It served its purpose and more - we ended up staying 4 days there after hearing a strange clunking noise coming from the engine on our way across Queen Charlotte Straight. We had all sorts of fears that the clunking noise indicated a major problem (transmission, prop, etc). Jason spotted a tidal grid at the marina we docked at and we were able to pull out on it to check the underworkings of our boat. We now love tidal grids. The only other way to check out this problem was to haul out at a boat yard (haulout = expensive), but the tidal grid was only $30 - cheaper than the dock and we stayed the night (albeit at a slight slant)! Yes, we were quite proud of ourselves. Especially when Jason found a few loose bolts on the strut that holds the shaft...and eliminated said clunking noise! Woohoo!!

The tidal grid itself was damn cool. Basically, it's a grid of heavy duty planks that are well submerged at high water, but exposed at low water. We motored over to the grid at high water and just waited until the tide dropped enough that the bottom of our keel was resting on the planks (and we tied off to shore so our precious home didn't fall over). Once the water hit low tide, we could go stand in the mud and on the planks to inspect the bottom of the grid. Brilliant! Jason is counting this as our first episode of running aground since it's bound to happen sooner or later. :) We were the gossip of the town while we were on the grid. Lots of boaters and townies would stop by and check on our progress, including the town cop. At one point, someone came over and said they had heard it might be the cutless bearing - word was getting around!

We met some great people, though, and Port McNeill is definitely worth the stop - they've got everything you need and the friendliest people ever. We met our 2 newest boating buddies at the (very expensive) laundrymat - Kelli and Scotty from s/v Happy Camper.

Now, I know you're all wondering "hmm - did Christy and Jason go see the world's largest burl while they were in Port McNeill?" No, sadly, we did not. It was a few km out of town and we were pretty wrapped up with not letting our boat fall over and fixing the clunking. You CAN, however, go see pictures of the world's largest burl on the interwebs. Sorry we couldn't provide any of our own...


The tidal grid.

Hello World aground!

The townies watching the show.

50°35.484'N 127°05.346'W

now with mappity goodness!

Perhaps you've noticed that each blog post ends with the corresponding latitude and longitude for that particular post. While this seems generally salty and makes us look much more nautical than we really are, there's more purpose to it than that.

I've read lots of sailing blogs that always talk about places I've never heard of. They have little meaning unless you can get a context to where these places are. So, from the word "go", we've intended to publish our blog posts within the context of some sort of map. Well, I've finally gotten around to getting the code to work.

If you look over to the right, you'll see a section called Maps. Click on one of the links and you'll be taken to Google Maps where our blog posts will be embedded on a map of the area. You can view our last 10 blog posts or if you'd like, you can see all the blog posts for 2009.

Last 10 blog posts

All blog posts for 2009

One note - the mapping won't be instantaneous. There could be a few hours delay between the time a blog entry is posted to the time it shows up on the map.

booker lagoon

We left Waddington Bay bound for Cullen Harbor and if possible, Booker Lagoon. On our way there, we motored through several small islets and passes that characterize the Broughtons. On our way through Blunden Pass we spotted two midden beaches on opposites sides of the pass. A midden beach is a beach created from the crushed shells of clams by natives

Cullen Harbor is a protected anchorage lying between an indent into Broughton Island and a group of small islands to the west. All the way at the back of Cullen Harbor is a narrow pass maybe 50 feet wide that empties into Booker Lagoon, a few miles wide to the east and west and a mile wide to the north and south. This pass runs 8 to 10 knots at full tide and is a pretty unfriendly place for a boat to be so you can only really enter Booker Lagoon during the two daylight slack tides. We entered just before slack and found a great little cove to stern tie into. We spent two days in this cove as the weather turned ugly and we didn't much feel like tempting Queen Charlotte Straight in a blow.

On the third day, we decided to exit Booker Lagoon. As we motored towards the exit near slack, the wind was still howling but out of the NW. So once again, we tucked tail and ran over to the western end of Booker Lagoon to hunker down for yet another day. Booker Lagoon was proving more difficult to get out of than we originally planned. I'll tell ya, there are worse places in the world to spend a few days.

As we headed for the pass to exit Booker Lagoon the following day, we ran into the very boat we almost bought when we were looking. It was the first boat we saw, a custom one off Stan Huntingford designed pilothouse named Dragon Lady Too. Had a nice chat with the owners.

Tucked into a nice little cove.

Rowing the dinghy around.

Tidal stream.

Screwing around in the tidal stream.

Booker Pass.

50°46.812'N 126°44.506'W

waddington bay

After our time in Shoal Harbour, we were ready for an improvement. Hello, Waddington Bay. This is another typical Broughton anchorage that requires picking your way through rocky forested islands, islets and reefs to enter a fantastic private cove with forested shores and bald eagles fishing for breakfast.

Waddington Bay does get some wind through it in a westerly (correctly predicted by our guide book this time). There's an island smack in the middle of the anchorage so we anchored off the eastern shore of the island and then used a stern tie to tuck our boat right up into the lee of the island. We were pretty happy with this strategy as we watched whitecaps rolling through the rest of the anchorage. The other boats in the anchorage got blown around quite a bit while we only got the occasional gust.

We decided to lay over in Waddington Bay as there was much to explore by kayak. We kayaked around inside the anchorage looking for rumoured trails but never found them. It's just as well because Bonwick Island is supposed to be lousy with black bears. We watched four bald eagles in what looked like a full on street fight. They would all scream at each other, then two fly at each other talons out and duke it out a bit then fly off and scream some more. Pretty impressive birds when they're angry.

We're getting better at this stern tie thing.

50°43.045'N 126°37.004'W

shoal harbor

Our guide book describes Shoal Harbour as a "well protected and pretty anchorage that provides shelter from west winds". It was just that passage I was contemplating as we were anchored in Shoal Harbour as our boat jerked around on the anchor in 18 knots of wind blowing out of the west and I stared across to the logging operation on shore, the delapidated floating home that was collapsing into the water and the boat that was abandoned and sunk in the mud just off the shore.

Pretty? Nope. Well protected? Uh-uh. Shelter from west winds? Scoff. I will say the shelter from west winds is probably better in the western portion of the anchorage but that was absolutely carpet bombed with crab traps. You could damn near walk from one end of the anchorage to the next on crab floats with out ever touching water. The only reason we anchored here in the first place is the promise of a trail that led from Shoal Harbour to Echo Bay and Billy Proctor's museum. We landed the dinghy on shore and bushwhacked into the woods for about 30 minutes before we decided that the next 30 minutes would probably end with us completely lost or eaten by a bear. So we reluctantly rowed back to the boat and spent the rest of the day down below out of the wind and away from the "scenery".

The Broughtons has been my favorite part of this trip so far. This area is littered with beautiful, quiet, remote anchorages. Shoal Harbour is not one of them.

Leaving Laura Bay headed for Shoal Harbor.

Hello World lying to anchor while we bushwhacked in search of a trail.

This was one of the nicer floating homes in Shoal Harbor.

Lots of places to park your boat in scenic Shoal Harbor!

50°44.195'N 126°20.268'W

laura bay

We reluctantly left Kwatsi Bay in pouring rain and sinking clouds. We pulled out into Tribune Channel and ran smack into 15 to 20 knots of wind smack on the nose. It was yet another day of motoring. We headed for Laura Bay passing 400 foot high granite cliffs on the way named Deep Sea Bluffs by Capt. Vancouver in the year 17[something or other]. Once again, we stern tied in a great little cove surrounded by islands on three sides. We're starting to get used to being 20 feet away from shore. It seems everywhere up here, the shoreline rises straight up from the seabed.

We went down below after getting stern tied and discovered water underneath the port side settee. A lot of water. Awesome. We finally tracked it down to a leaky shower hose in the forward shower. So now we're showerless until we can replace the shower hose. Actually, that's not entirely true. We have a solar shower that we will up and leave on the foredeck. Then we run the hose down through the hatch in the forward head and we can still shower in our shower. We just can't use the shower head.

50°49.455'N 126°34.039'W

kwatsi bay

On our way out of Cracroft, we started seeing what looked like hundreds of dolphins screwing around in the Inlet - literally, some of them were jumping out of the water and doing corkscrews as they bellyflopped back in. They turned out to be Pacific white-sided dolphins and a bunch of them played in our bow wave and around the boat for 30 minutes or so, all while we were motoring along (I thought they'd only do this if we were sailing - glad to be proven wrong!). They'd make eye contact with us as they were playing in the bow wave - turning on their side and just looking at us - as if they were as amazed at us as we were at them. What fun!! Even after they took off, we had an amazing motor up to Kwatsi Bay - this whole area has steep, rocky, evergreen covered slopes, with twists and turns in the inlets and low fog that makes it seem out of this world. There are no houses or buildings on shore. Once in a while we'll see a floating fish farm tucked into a corner somewhere and the only other boats we see tend to be fishing boats. I have no idea who owns all this land - presumably logging companies or the Canadian government. There are a few clear cut patches that we see, but more often than not, we see areas of regrowth. Extraordinary scenery to be sure.

Kwatsi Bay is much of the same, but with waterfalls. It reminded us a lot of Princess Louisa Inlet, but less crowded. We spent about 3 hours trying to anchor, eating lunch and then trying to anchor again, but continually dragging on what sounded like solid rock. So after 3 or 4 attempts, we called it quits and hit the little marina at the end of the bay. There were a few other boats there and we had a great happy hour. One of the boats, s/v Tantalus, had caught a 50lb halibut that day and couldn't eat it all, so they doled out giant fillets to the other boats on the dock - yum!! The owner of the marina, Max, was fabulous - great storyteller and has lived in the area for 20-or-so years, so he gave us lots of good suggestions for anchoring (both in Kwatsi, which we did the next night, and for the rest of the Broughtons). The following day, we were rowing around in the dinghy to go see the waterfall and Jason looks over to the dock and swears he recognizes the Westsail that's docked there. Sure enough, it was our old neighbors from Shilshole who circumnavigated Vancouver Island going the opposite way of us - what are the chances? Had a great time catching up with Jay and Tony on s/v Snowgoose and got more great advice on the west coast.

That brings us to our change of plans. We've been having such a great time exploring British Columbia, that our original plans of heading to Alaska were modified to trying to make it to the Queen Charlotte Islands. Now we've modified it again to just circumnavigating Vancouver Island. (just!) But this area is just so amazing and we know that north of here is even more so, that we're already talking about when we'll come back.

This guy kept turning sideways to look at me. "What are you doing up there? All the fun is down here, man."

On a couple exhales, I actually got wet. Mmmmm... dolphin spit.

Lots more photos and videos of the dolphins here.

On our way up to Kwatsi Bay.

The docks at Kwatsi Bay. We love this place.

This is the whole "marina" at Kwatsi Bay.

Christy shaking our bear rattle. "Here bear, c'mon here bear!" I don't think she understands the purpose behind the bear rattle.

Picking up our stern line.

Leaving Kwatsi Bay.

50°52.069'N 126°15.048'W

cracroft inlet

Today we motored through Chatham Channel and Blow Hole...no way that could go wrong. Chatham Channel was some interesting piloting - you have to line yourself up with range markers at the end of it - there are 2 on the shore, once you maneouver to a place where they are in a line, you're in the right spot. We made it without a problem, but heard about some people that hit serious wakes from oncoming traffic that nearly pushed them off-course. Blow Hole, which gets its name from the way the wind funnels through there, was a shortcut instead of going around Minstrel Island. It's a narrow, shallow kelpy pass with a reef smack in the middle of it, but we made our way safely around it and headed for Lagoon Cove.

We tried anchoring in Lagoon Cove to no avail. It was really deep - 65 feet - and rumoured to be littered with logging cable. We tried to anchor once and dragged. Rather than risk catching the anchor on something unfriendly, we decided to bag Lagoon Cove and go for Plan B. Turns out, Plan B - Cracroft Inlet - was an order of magnitude more interesting than Plan A. We anchored about a mile back in the inlet of 20 feet of water, with great mud holding on to the anchor. No one else was in the anchorage except an occasional visit from a fishing boat checking on his crab traps. It was very briefly mentioned in one of our cruising guides as good protection, but upon checking it out, we fell in love with it. We were the only boat around, no houses or other buildings, there were tons of birds and it was just so peaceful. We stayed 2 nights and just relaxed.

Literally the first rain we had in weeks.

Looking towards the head of Cracroft Inlet.

The current scooting past our anchor bouy.

Looking out the mouth of Cracroft Inlet.

50°35.545'N 126°18.944'W

port neville

We arrived at Port Neville after going through the last of the rapids we'll have to deal with (yahooo!). Port Neville sounds a LOT more cosmopolitan than it is. It consists of:

  • a government dock (free - we love that)

  • a post office (in the postmaster's house)

  • a museum (the original home built in the 1920's)

  • an additional home for family that comes to visit the postmaster

Right. That's a post office for the 1 person that lives there. Good thing she's also the postmaster. It's adorable though, and has lots of history. It was a nice step back in time to go through the museum and check out the artifacts that had been saved. Lorna, the postmaster/resident of Port Neville was really sweet and we had a nice time visiting with her.

There were a few other boats on the dock with us that night, one of which had mentioned they were going to go sea asparagus hunting - so off I went with Mary and Allen. Sea asparagus, it turns out, is not hard to find - I've been seeing it all over the place, just didn't know what it was. It grows in tidal areas and looks like tufts of dense, light green grass from afar. You pick off the tops and once you've collected your meal, soak it in fresh water for 24 hours before cooking it. I steamed ours and it was really pretty good - very salty though - next time I might soak it with a few rounds of fresh water...

As we were getting back from the hunting trip, we got to see the black bear rambling along the beach that frequents Port Neville - looked like he was a healthy guy - and big!

Port Neville store and post office.

Hello World tucked into the (free) government dock at Port Neville.

Boat for sale - cheap!

Part of the museum collection at Port Neville.

Oh sure there's bears. Whatever.

Oops, my bad.

50°29.568'N 126°05.271'W

cordero islands

Leaving the Octopus Islands, we had some of our last tidal rapids of the trip. We took off at 5:30am to catch the slack at 6 at the first set called Upper and Lower Rapids. Although the predicted slack was at 6am, just about when we hit it, the predicted slack was off - we hit 4.5 knots of current coming right at us. So that was fun, seeing as we only motor at about 6 knots. So there we were, getting up at the butt crack of dawn so we could race through at 1.5 knots - not our most brilliant move. But we made it. We'll be waiting for slack next time.

With that lesson in mind, we decided not to push it and go through Green Point rapids the same day, so we anchored just outside it at Cordero Islands - good protection but the land around our anchorage was private, so we just stuck on the boat for a quiet night.

50°26.702'N 125°29.834'W

octopus islands

We motored up from Rebecca Spit up Hoskyn Channel on our way to Octopus Islands - a group of small islands turned into a marine park. To get there, we had to transit the dreaded Beazley Passage and Surge Narrows. Beazley Passage is not one of those friendly rapids that just whisks you on your way. It's one of those rapids that's narrow and turns and on ebb tides, wants to shove you straight into Tusko Rock. We got there early and ate lunch bobbing outside the entrance until slack. At slack, there was still some piloting to do to avoid Tusko Rock (one of our rules: if a rock on the charts has a name, it's because enough boats have sunk on it that they've bothered to name it so pay attention to it).

Once past Beazely Passage and Surge Narrows, we were feeling cocky about our piloting skills and decided to enter Octopus Islands from the south just after low water. The north entrance into Octopus Islands is a narrow pass but plenty of depth and a straight shot. The southern entrance is picking your way through scrapy, bony little gaps in drying reefs. Our boat sticks down in the water 6 feet so when I saw 8 feet on the depth sounder, I puckered up tighter than a snare drum. But we made it through fine and anchored in a beautiful cozy little anchorage, stern tied to one of the many Octopus Islands. We shared the anchorage with only one other boat.

As it turns out, we didn't see any octopus in the Octopus Islands. I know, I was disappointed too. We did, however, find this crazy art cabin on one of the private islands. The other boat in the anchorage mapped the way for us - yes, it's on a "private island", but apparently the signs, which indicate no camping and no fires, do not say "no tresspassing", so you're allowed to walk around. Who would have thunk?! The cabin is chock-a-block full of sea art from cruisers. People seriously must spend the winter widdling away at driftwood knowing that they're stopping at this place the next summer. Some of it was amazing - and some junk of course.

Eyeballing the entrance to Beazley Pass.

Heading up Beazley Pass with an eye out for Tusko Rock.

Happily stern-tied.

The boat cabin on Octopus Island.

"I like what you've done with the place!"


50°16.745'N 125°13.601'W

rebecca spit

Had a nice sail/motor to Herot Bay where we read had propane and wifi - what fun! Filled up the propane for $11 - first time since Feb, not too shabby - and that was only one tank. We figure we'll go through a lot more cruising than we did on the dock since we're cooking twice a day, but fortunately, propane is pretty cheap. We got lured into the pub that had free wifi - and a beer sounded great - the burgers smelled even better - so free wifi turned into our first meal out since we left - but was it great! After Herot Bay, we made the short motor to Rebecca Spit - great rocky beach and a fabulous trail out and around the spit. The driftwood there was incredible - but we picked through some to find a 2x4ish looking one to back up our jerry cans - we aint no yacht baby - not with driftwood on deck!

50°05.873'N 125°11.335'W

von donop inlet

Von Donop Inlet was on the recommendation list of more than a few people that we've talked to on the way up, so to Von Donop we went. The anchorage is tucked back into Cortes Island by a narrow channel about 150 ft wide in some places. The anchorage at the end of the channel opens up and can fit a ton of boats, but we were only among 3 boats anchored there. We decided to check out the path to Squirrel Cove - it was lovely - 3km of a few hills, great forest and lots of spider webs to walk through. The path was in great shape, as most of the BC Parks paths seem to be - even marked every 0.5km as to how far we had gone and how much further to Squirrel Cove. Once we got to the end of the path, however, we were dumped out on to a road. Signs? No. We both guessed left, so left is where we went. Left was downhill, and the cove, on the water, must be downhill, right? Well, it was a HUGE hill. We got about half way down and Jason started having doubts. I convinced him to keep going with my clever deduction skills - there were McDonalds wrappers on the left side of the road; therefore, a chocolate shake was waiting for him at the bottom of the hill. We continued to the bottom of the hill - no Squirrel Cove. We proceeded to hike halfway back up the hill (to approximately the McDonalds wrappers) when I flagged down a truck.

"Excuse me, could you tell us how to get to Squirrel Cove?"
"Sure - you get to Squirrel Cove by hopping on the bed of the truck"

And there it was. We got a ride back down the hill, just passed where we had turned around, and dropped off at the cove - which consisted of a general store, a craft store and a restaurant. No McDonalds, sorry Jason. I gave the entire town (population 5) a good show as I jumped off the bed of the truck as my skirt decided it wanted to stay on the truck. Hello Squirrel Cove! We picked up a few groceries and headed back up the hill, once again. Nice hike back and just thankful that when we got back, the dinghy wasn't floating in 4 ft of jellyfish infested water. :)

50°08.789'N 124°56.763'W

laura cove

Laura Cove was a beautiful stop - small with only 2 other boats anchored with us - it's one of the bays in Prideaux Haven, so it was nice to find a quiet area in such a popular place. There was a great hike to Melanie Cove (much busier) which I wandered through on my own while Jason took a nap (the 1 hour motor from Tenedos Bay was hard work). It took me a little longer to hike than I expected (losing the trail will do that to you), and by the time I got back, the tide had come up about 5 feet. Not a problem, except I didn't drag the dinghy up the beach far enough - so there it sat in 4 ft of water, now tied to a submerged rock out 20 ft from shore. Fortunately the water was warm. Unfortunately, jellyfish love warm water. I got away with only a few stings - not bad considering the density of jellyfish was higher than the density of water in some places in the cove...

Yeah, those are all jellyfish.

50°08.810'N 124°39.919'W

tenedos bay

We're a sailboat! We sailed the entire way from Powell River to Tenedos Bay on S and SE winds. Great downwind sailing. We pulled the whisker pole out for the first time and ran wing on wing for much of the day. We also ran preventors port and stbd. We made 5 knots most of the day in around 7 knots of wind. Fun! We dropped the hook once and couldn't get it to set before dropping it again and setting it while running a stern line to shore.

We laid over in Tenedos Bay and had our section of the anchorage to ourselves most of the day. We kayaked over to Urwin Lake trailhead and hiked up to the lake. Once we found the trail to the west side, we had a fabulous time - went swimming in the like which was incredibly warm then laid out on the rocks relaxing. Came back to the boat in the afternoon for laundry out of a bucket (with a plunger - we'll just let you imagine that for a while...)

50°07.57'N 124°42.35'W