Log #58i Pics Beasley Pass to Octopus Islands Marine Park

July 22, 2014 in Log Series 50-59, Logs by Series, Series 58, The Logs

Port McNeill, Vancouver Island, B.C.
July 21, 2014
Hi Folks,
We had a couple of days rain in the Broughtons, and so I had a chance to get another log out. This takes us up to the Octopus Islands Marine Park on Quadra Island, a most picturesque location where we met two other Ontario 32 boats. It also talks about anchoring and navigating narrow tidal passes as we did in this log.
We are back in Port McNeill to rendezvous with a couple of friends from Vancouver and Duncan (where we have left our trailer) who will sail with us for the next week or so. We finally got showers and were able to get rid of garbage after a week of exploring the islands and channels of the Broughton archipelago.Fantastic, but isolated country. We are heading back there with our guests.
All the best,


Log #58i Pics Beasley Pass to Octopus Islands Marine Park

Ann Cove, MacKenzie Sound, B.C.

July 18, 2014

On leaving Mansons Landing we motored three miles around into Gorge Harbour, also on Cortes Island. It is appropriately named as the entrance goes through a narrow high-cliffed gorge   to open out into a large bay with a fish farm, a couple of shoal islands, a marina/resort with fuel dock, and many boats on mooring balls and several homes dotting the shoreline.GorgeHarbour

Entrance to Gorge Harbour




More anchoring complications

We were originally going to stay there the night, but Judy was concerned about the swinging room and excessive depths. For us depths over 40 feet mean we have to put out at least 135 feet of chain.  (Remember our 3:1 ratio? 40 feet plus 5 feet to the bow roller is 45 feet x 3 = 135) This also means a wider swinging radius as the tide, or currents, or winds swing us around the anchor. If the other boats are on anchors, it is better as they will swing with us, usually. However boats on mooring balls have a much shorter swing radius, possibly allowing us to swing into them as conditions change.

Judy stayed on Veleda while I dinghied to the dock for fuel and some fishing.  The marina/resort/ fuel dock were modern, well supplied and well-tended. We weighed anchor as soon as I returned to Veleda.

Navigation in narrow tidal passes

Our destination was the Octopus Islands on the northern part of Quadra Island. Navigating through the archipelago of Desolation Sound and the Discovery Islands is complicated by the many narrow, shallow, convoluted, shoal-strewn channels and passes between the islands; and tides and currents have to be taken into consideration. Getting into the narrow entrance of Gorge Harbour was not too bad as the entrance is deep and steep to, and straight. It is simply a matter of whether you are fighting the tidal current or going with it.

When plotting a course, especially in a complex maze of islands, one has to consider ebb and flood tides, as they set up different current patterns which can help, hinder, or greatly complicate a passage especially narrow ones between islands.

For example once when we were motoring from Campbell River four miles across to April Cove it took two hours to go the four miles as we were fighting a four knot current. With the current we would have made that same distance in 45 minutes.

After leaving Gorge Harbour we went through Uganda Pass between Cortes and the much smaller Marina Island with no problems. Around the south end of Read Island we motored up Hoskyn Channel to the complicated intersection of three channels with four sizeable islands and several shoals, the main way through being the shallow, narrow, dog-legged Beasley Pass. The pilot books caution to do the pass at slack water for maximum steerageway.  Incidentally, the time period of slack water is only 5 to 11 minutes. The flood tides can set eastward at 12 knots, and the ebb tides set westward at 10 knots. There is a long shallow sandy spit (Shark Spit) coming from Peck Island causing a dog leg course between it and Sturt Island. The channel has a couple of buoys marking the shallows.






Entrance to Beasley Pass

(Notice Shark Spit extending out from the left, and the white post marking the shoals on the right. We had to pass between them.)








Dog leg beyond the spit

(This required a sharp left turn after passing the spit.)

We went through at slack water high at 1924 (7:24 pm). It was a pussy cat! No problems, slack water and good visibility. The wind was up to 15 knots coming down Surge Channel, but quite manageable. We saw a few boats placidly anchored off the sheltered side of the sand spit. It looked like a good anchorage to explore the long sandy spit.


Boat at anchor behind Shark Spit

Going through Surge Narrows and up Okisollo Channel we had a slight ebb current with us taking us up to Octopus Islands Marine Park at the entrance to Waiatt Bay, a long bay sectioning off the northern peninsula of Quadra Island. The Marine Park is a series of islands and shoals with several bays for anchoring. We carefully worked our way into the secluded Tentacle Cove (50 16.751 N, 125 13.712 W), being the only boat there for our first night.


Passage up Hoskyn Channel to Octopus Islands

It is an idyllic anchorage, with good holding and well protected by a couple of islands and shoals ringing the cove.





Octopus Islands Marine Park

TentacleCoveVeleda in Tentacle Cove 

However, next day our isolation was over as a flotilla of six boats came in, anchoring with lines ashore. The first boat, after anchoring, launched its dinghy to take a line ashore as a couple of others were maneuvering to also anchor. The dinghy then came over to us with three women aboard to semi-apologize and inform us of the flotilla coming in. The skipper was Anne Yeadon-Jones, one of the authors of the Dreamspeaker Cruising Guide for the Broughtons which we are using. We thanked her and then decided we should take a line ashore too in order to give more room for the boats coming. When at anchor with a line ashore, the boat does not swing with the wind or tide. More boats can be accommodated in small anchorages this way, but a boat swinging on its anchor is then a hazard to the others.

After I knotted a bowline to a rock, I offered to take a line ashore for another boat that had its anchor down. However the skipper was undecided about the location of his anchor, and re-anchored several times, having difficulty backing his boat towards shore. I took our dinghy back to Veleda to wait for him to settle whichever anchor he had down, and used the 15 to 20 minutes he took, to clean the waterline stripe on Veleda. Finally he had the anchor down and indicated he would appreciate it if I took his line ashore. I tied it higher up to a tree, and returned to Veleda. A few hours later he went ashore to remove the shore line and swung on his own anchor. At least he was far enough away from me that he wouldn’t swing into me. Later that evening he weighed anchor to go where I know not.

I cannot stand indecisiveness. I like to evaluate where to anchor (with Judy’s concurrence) then set the anchor appropriately. We then watch the swing and the wind, and stay put. We rarely re-anchor unless the anchor does not hold, or conditions severely deteriorate.

One of the boats in our cove, not part of the flotilla, was another Ontario 32, the Mary Paisell out of the West Vancouver Yacht Club. While at anchor we were visited by Greg from Grasal, another Ontario 32 anchored in the outer bay.  Greg saw us come in and came over to talk with us as he has read my logs on the website, and “blamed” me for his decision to venture across the Pacific in his Ontario 32, with an, “If his boat can do it so can mine” attitude.  Next day we stopped at his boat for a while and met his wife Jean who also indicated I was his inspiration to sail the Pacific. They regaled us with their exploits, including a knock down they experienced, We look forward to meeting them again in September when we are making a presentation to an Ontario 32 rendezvous on Gabriola Island.






 The Mary Paisell

GrasalGreg and Jean on Grasal

At the end of the outer bay, Waiatt Bay, we hiked another cathedral-like  trail with lush foliage and towering trees, going through temperate rainforest to Small Inlet on the other side of the neck of the peninsula..






Judy on the trail

TreesTowering trees  







 Lush moss and ferns

This trail separates the northern peninsula of Quadra Island. However, upon our return to Wind Dancer, our dinghy, it was high and dry 100 yards across a barnacle encrusted shell strewn rocky stretch from the water’s edge.


Dinghy high and dry among the rocks

We didn’t want to wait for the tide to come in, so we laboriously hauled it across to the water. It has a heavy 15 horsepower outboard adding to the weight of the hard bottom dinghy. Our strategy was to haul the bow out towards the water, then pivot the stern towards the water and so on until we finally reached it.  This is the problem in landing a dinghy on a shallow beach, as the tide can ebb leaving hundreds of feet of beach exposed and the dinghy marooned ashore. If the shoreline is steep to, the dinghy can be anchored off with a line ashore to haul it in upon return; but a shallow beach does not allow for such.

We explored around the islands and shoals of Octopus Islands Marine Park, and investigated another exit from our anchorage into Okisollo Channel. While doing so I noticed a problem in shifting gear on our Yamaha 15 hp outboard. I thought it was just a glitch. Next day we shoved off for the 52 mile passage up Johnson Strait to Port Harvey and outboard problems, which I will recount in my next log.