Monday, August 4, 2008

Back in the San Juan Islands

We're back in the San Juan Islands in the Pacific Northwest. I haven't kept up on posting our progress so I'll try to list some of our favorite places along the way.

Note: We added a link, to the right, for our 'Alaska 2008 Trip Summary'. This is a day by day listing of each place we visited during our 103 day trip to Alaska.

See our Web Photo Album under 'British Columbia Southbound' for more pictures of these locations.

Tuesday June 24, 2008
Location: Nettle Basin, Lowe Inlet off of Grenville Channel
This is a beautiful bay with a large stream entering in the back. Contrary to the guide books, we had a difficult time getting the anchor to set in the south side of the bay but we were able to get a hold in the north east corner. The bottom seemed to be hard rock with a thin mud covering. It was a calm night and we had a lot of room around us so we didn't have any problems.

Saturday June 28, 2008
Location: Boat Inlet off of Reid Passage, BC
Lat/Lon: 52.3085°N 128.3726°W

This is a small lagoon that you enter through a narrow passage that you have to transit on the upper half of the tide. We went through with 8 feet under our keel at the lowest point. Once inside you are rewarded by an unspoiled bay not a quarter of a mile across surrounded by old growth forest. We were the only boat there and when I got up at 2 AM to check the anchor it was so dark that I could not see the shore, I had to turn on the spot light to locate the tree line. The sky was full of stars unlike any night sky you can see in the city. In the afternoon we went for a short walk on the rocky beach and then returned to our dink to continue exploring the bay. 10 minutes later when we looked back at the beach that we were just on there was a black bear not 100 feet from where we had been. He was the largest black bear we have ever seen and no matter how close we came he would not look up or run off. He spent 30 minutes eating the long fresh grass on the shore before he turned into the trees. Linda may never walk on a shore in a wilderness area again.

Wednesday July 2, 2008
Location: Rounding Cape Caution and Blunden Bay

There is an old saying, 'fog is your friend' because it normally brings calm seas. Well, we had a lot of friends coming around Cape Caution and the following day crossing from Blunden Bay to Port McNeill. We have 2 very good radars and AIS (Automatic Identification System) so we can see other vessels, the problem is other boats, especially small go fast fishing boats, running into us. On two occasions we had to stop the boat because we saw small boats approaching us quickly that would have run into us if we hadn't changed course. These little boats don't have radar and didn't see us until they were less than 100 feet away when they would turn sharply to avoid us.

Thursday, Friday, Saturday July 3,4,5, 2008
Location: Port McNeill

We really like Port McNeill, a small town on the North East coast of Vancouver Island. It's well kept marina is right next to the shopping area with a good grocery store, coffee shops, and restaurants.

Monday July 7, 2008
Location: Beaver Inlet off of Loughborugh Inlet

With the Spring currents in Johnstone Strait opposing us we decided to go into the back channels and discovered a great anchorage in Beaver Inlet. This is a well protected, long bay that has good holding. There is a cabin and dock at the head of the bay with a float home on the other side but once you are in the back half of the bay there is no evidence of other people. We shared the bay with one other boat that was courteous enough to anchor well away from us.

Wednesday July 9, 2008
Location: Von Donop Bay, Cortes Island

With a blow coming, we decided duck into this well protected bay for a couple of days. As with all of Desolation Sound at this time of year the bay was crowded with summer cruisers but there was adequate space and we spent two nights swinging in the wind. The outboard motor on our dinghy was starting to run rough and fuel would leak out of the carburetor after a few minutes of use.

Sunday, Monday, Tuesday July 13, 14, 15 2008
Location: Newcastle Island, Nanimo, BC

We anchored on the edge of this busy anchorage and rocked and rolled as many boats sped by us as if we weren't even there. I worked on the outboard motor but only succeeded in dropping a critical part into 20 feet of water. Not a good day. We called around and ordered the dropped part from a dealer in Bellingham WA. We did have a nice meal at the Dinghy Dock restaurant.

Friday, Saturday, Sunday July 17, 18, 19 2008
Location: Squalicum Harbor, Bellingham WA

Windy city, every day the wind would start out at 5-8 kts and build to 15-20 kts by late afternoon. We walked the 4 blocks to the outboard motor dealer to pick up our dropped part only to find that it didn't arrive because it was not in the Seattle warehouse and has to come out of Wisconsin which would take another week. We needed to get some groceries but there are no stores within walking distance of the marina but the marina has a shuttle bus and will take you anywhere you want in the local area. They took us to an excellent Heagen grocery store and we were stunned by the size and selection in the store. We were use to the medium to small stores located in the small towns up the coast so this was a shock. We also connected with some old friends, Peter and Carolyn, that we had not seen for over 2 years. They were staying in their RV just north of town and we spent most of two days with them. That was a nice treat. We didn't look forward to returning to Bellingham to pick up the part in a week, although the marina is cheap, so Peter and Carolyn offered to get the part and bring it to us in Anacortes. Nice people.
We go up at 5:30 AM on Sunday to try to get off the dock before the wind kicked up. The wind was blowing from our beam and pinning us against the dock. By 6:00 the wind was up to 5-7 kts but we were able to get clear of the dock. When we got out of the marina the wind increased and by the time we were into Bellingham Bay it was blowing over 40kts. The waves had built to 4-6 feet, this was some of the nastiest conditions we had seen all summer. The weather forecast had been for winds 10-15kts. As we got further away from Bellingham and into the San Juan Islands the wind decreased and it turned into a nice day. The marina in Bellingham is a great place but the wind really sucks, perhaps it you were a sailboater...

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