Log #58p Belize Inlet & Alison Sound

October 4, 2014 in Log Series 50-59, Logs by Series, Series 58, The Logs

Ganges, Saltspring Island, B.C.
Sept. 27, 2014
Hi Folks,
This log gets us even further north of the Broughton Archipelago to series of long inlets and sounds penetrating the mountains. There are no communities or marinas up here, only the occasional logging camp. The scenery is spectacular. I hope you enjoy the account and the pictures.
We are now further south back into the Gulf Islands, enjoying gunkholing the many anchorages and marine parks in the area. We are also enjoying the good weather of an Indian Summer.
All the best,
Aubrey

Log #58p Belize Inlet & Alison Sound
Genoa Bay, Vancouver Island, B.C.
Sept. 19, 2014
Belize Inlet is north of the Broughtons, just south of Cape Caution. We had left Veleda alongside Port McNeill for the week after we had Barb and Judy with us for their holiday, while we went to Okanagan Falls to investigate our house-sitting prospects, and returned to Veleda after a long bus ride from Nanaimo on Aug. 4. On the 5th we did some maintenance such as changing the oil, working the through hulls, topping up with water and fuel; then doing a grocery run for supplies before casting off and anchoring across the channel for the night. Next day we crossed Queen Charlotte Strait to anchor in Blunden Harbour after a 23 mile passage.
A foggy transit and treacherous rapids
Aug. 7th we did an 18 mile passage up the coast through thick fog to Murray Labyrinth. We had our radar and navigation lights on most of the way and occasionally sounded our fog horn when we saw a close blip on the radar screen. We passed a few vessels at less than a half mile without visually seeing them. Of course the fog was still present when we made our way into Murray Labyrinth, and as the name suggests it was a convoluted entry zig-zagging around shoals and islets until we reached our anchorage.
Fortunately there was no fog next day as we went up Schooner Channel into Belize Inlet. This is a treacherous passage as we had to transit the notorious Nakwakto Rapids, which are among the world’s fastest rapids. The reason for such rapids is that this passage is the only entrance into over 100 miles of two major inlets, Belize and Seymour, and four major sounds, Mereworth, Allison, Nugent and Frederick. The volume of water moved by the tides cannot fill all these bodies of water each tidal cycle, and as a result they have a tidal range of only four or five feet as opposed to the tides outside which are double at ten feet and more. Thus the water rushes through this narrow pass on the flood and after a short slack water then rushes the opposite way on the ebb.  The only safe time to transit is near slack water.
Rapids
Nakwakto Rapids
(from Waggoner Cruising Guide)
Slack water high was at 1406 (2:06 pm). We arrived and made our transit at 1348 (1:48 pm) just at the end of the flood tide which carried us through, with a comfortable three knot current behind us. To complicate the rapids there is an island in the middle, and a dog-leg to port the far side. The island in the middle is called Turret Rock, also known as Tremble Island, as it is claimed to shake during the full rush of tidal maximum current. Some brave cruisers have dinghied over to the island at slack water to affix a variety of sign posts on the few trees.
TurretRock
   Turret Rock

The channel was about 75 metres wide, and we had no problems. However one would not want to lose control and be swept about by the turbulence, whirlpools and upwellings while going through.

Prawning
Before anchoring in Westerman Bay off Belize Inlet, we dropped the prawn trap. We have been advised that prawn beds are often located in deep water, 200 to 300 feet and near steep shorelines preferably beneath precipitous cliffs. However, Murphy’s Law was working and as I was lowering the trap into 250 feet of water, Veleda drifted over the line with the following breeze and fouled the line on our rudder. After ten minutes of fiddling with a boat hook, and maneuvering away from the line, trying not to catch it in our prop, we freed it up. Lesson learned – set the trap on the windward side of the boat so we drift away from the line instead of over it.
I have learned to use our electric anchor windlass to retrieve the line and trap as hauling 200 to 300 feet of line is exhausting work. Sadly, no prawns were caught this time.
Problems flying the spinnaker
Next day we had a light stern wind going down the 30 mile long Belize Inlet, and we flew the spinnaker! It was great until we had to lower it to head up into Alison Sound. Of course by then the wind had gone from a light six to eight knot breeze to a force 5, fifteen to twenty knot wind.  In getting it down the sheets were flogging and one of them wrapped around our starboard navigation light on the bow pulpit, and tore the green cover off. Oh well, we had a good sail for a few hours.
Spectacular Alison Sound
We had a nice secure anchorage in Peet Bay off the entrance to Alison Sound.
Map1
In the morning we were entertained by a grizzly bear meandering from the bushes into the water and swimming 100 metres along the shore line before ambling back into the forest.
Grizzly
Grizzly bear at Peet Bay
Alison Sound is at least as spectacular or even more so than Knight Inlet (see Log # 58k)and Princess Louisa Inlet (see log #57i ). There are no marinas, no settlements, no float homes in this majestic mountain-fringed fjord, but there is a major lumber operation that we visited on our way back out.
The sound branches three miles north off Belize Inlet, and jogs east another seven miles into a wide dramatic coniferous forest-clad canyon.  Looking up the sound, we stared in awe at the vistas, bordered by 5,000 to 10,000 foot mountains, extending into snow-capped glacial fields of the Rockies. These fields extend beyond the end of Seymour Inlet to the south, and are responsible for the cold winds in Squamish and Whistler in the winter.
Sound1
Alison Sound
            Alison Sound    AlisonSound
Even the stark exposed rock of a landslide has its own deranged beauty as it gouges its way expanding down through the cedar forests into the cold tidal waters of the sound.
Landslide  Landslide in Alison Sound
The few waterfalls cascading through the trees and over cliffs to plunge into the cold tidal waters of this fjord give dramatic testimony to the beauty and dynamics of Nature.
Cliff1 Cliff2
Dramatic cliffs and rock faces adorn the shorelines with their sheer geologic beauty. I will be making an album of the Cliffs and Rock Faces of Alison Sound to put on the Gallery of my website later. I love the colours of the rocks and cliffs, from stark white and grey to obsidian black, with streaks of ferrous rust, offset by the textures of lichen laced surfaces, and craggy crevices, contrasted with the verdant greenery of shrubs and trees clinging precariously to shallow soils layered over the granite faces.

Cliff3 Cliff4

Cliff6 Cliff5

On our way out, we stopped at a logging camp in Alison Sound to spend a couple of hours talking to the foreman, touring the accommodation barge and watching a log bundle being slid down the ways into a log boom. More about the logging industry in my next log.