Log #58s North of Cape Caution

November 8, 2014 in Log Series 50-59, Logs by Series, Series 58, The Logs, Uncategorized

Okanagan Falls, B.C.

Nov. 1, 2014

Hi Folks,

We are now ensconced for the winter, house sitting this beautiful 22 room mansion, including 6 bathrooms, one with a sauna, 2 two-car garages, a wine cellar, an exercise room with equipment, an upper and lower balcony/walkway extending the length of the house facing the terraced lawn and gazebo overlooking Lake Skaha and the mountains of the Kokahala pass. Rough life!

dock View from our lower balcony

View from the dock  dock2

This log gets us around Cape Caution in mid-August, exploring the bays and inlets of this sparsely populated north coast of mainland B.C. We plan to go beyond here next year up to Prince Rupert and Haida Gwaii.

All the best,


Log #58s North of Cape Caution

Burnaby Yacht Club, Vancouver, B.C.

Oct. 17, 2014

We had returned to Murray Labyrinth, Aug. 11, the day after our discovery of the wrecked yacht. We were in here five days ago before going up into Belize Inlet and Alison Sound.

Dinghy Exploration

Murray Labyrinth is an interesting group of islands with many good anchorages and intriguing islets and shoals to explore by dinghy. It is always interesting to dinghy around the shorelines of these islands examining closely the convoluted rock formations sculpted by the winds and tidal water, the little coves, the tree trunks dangling above the overhangs or partially submerged on the shoreline, old man’s beard moss dripping from the branches. I love the sight of the golden seaweed that is exposed on the rocks at low tide, and the starfish clumped on the barnacle-encrusted granite edges.

cove1Small tidal cove

Old man’s beard moss cove2

Purple starfishstarfish

Gold seaweed fringed island island

The tidal shoreline is a wondrous dynamic of Nature that we enjoy investigating close up as we slowly dinghy around these islands. From here we were going around Cape Caution, a cape across from the northern tip of Vancouver Island.

North of Cape Caution


Our guide book, Exploring the Northern Coast of British Columbia starts with an essay titled The Last Great Place , the introductory paragraph reads as follows:

From a mariner’s point of view, the most significant landmarks are called “capes”. Horn, Good Hope, Cod, Hatteras … the list is well known. Cape Caution marks the most significant passage on the B.C. coast; Rounding it is a nautical coming of age. Weekend warriors and two week charterers don’t make it this far. Serious cruisers who do, enter a fraternity of mutual respect where they experience the space, the solitude, and the silence of one of the world’s wildest coastlines. Cape Caution is the gateway to the last great place – British Columbia’s North Coast.

Not mentioned in this romantic introduction is that capes are noted for adverse weather conditions as winds and tidal currents howl around them. However, we had good conditions for our passage, other than we were in thick fog and did not actually see Cape Caution except as an electronic scribbled line on our radar.

A New Tradition?

In the Highlands, on the west coast of Scotland, the Ardnamurchan Peninsula is considered in a similar light, in that vessels transiting this are considered quite adventurous to go so far north, and are entitled to sport a sprig of heather on their bow sprits upon their return to lower venues as testimony (bragging rights) of their voyages. We thought it would be interesting to try to start a similar tradition by tying boughs of cedar on ours.

veleda1Cedar boughs on Veleda’s bow

The previous day when we were approaching Murray Labyrinth we saw and were hailed on VHF by another sailboat, Nakitha, who commented that it was good to see another boat in this isolated area.

A Foggy Passage

Upon our departure we wended our way cautiously through the Labyrinth to get out into open water. The fog got thicker as we went offshore, the visibility going down to less than 100 metres. We passed a down bound vessel at a half mile, but did not see it except on our radar. The water was glassy calm, with fog and no wind for the 35 nautical miles motoring around the cape and across wide Smith Inlet up to Rivers Inlet and into Goose Bay. The fog lightened as we approached Goose Bay, and inside the bay it cleared and was suddenly sunny.

As we entered we saw a few float homes to starboard, and to port is Duncanby Landing, a reasonably upscale resort (now) and marina that has been upgraded since 1992 when it was a B.C. Packers camp supplying commercial fishing boats. We did not need the supplies or expense of this resort and so went down the bay past the former fish cannery to anchor south east of Island 53 ( 51 22.365 N, 127 39.901 W) as advocated in our guide book.

Goose Bay Fish Cannery

We dinghied around the shallow bay behind the island and then went up to the former fish cannery. It, as many fish canneries in northern B.C., has been abandoned by the evolution of the fishing industry and the processing of the hauls. At one time there were 18 salmon canneries up Rivers Inlet. Goose Bay Cannery cannery1

This one has a new lease on life as a private co-op fishing resort. The long processing shed still has much of the original equipment rusting away, but its solid wood floor now supports the small sportsman fishing boats on trailers, as well as a large open lounge room for the residents. The dock has been strengthened, and a new electrical hoist is used to put the fishing runabouts into the water.

canery2Inside the cannery

There is still a long boardwalk leading down to the accommodation area of several clapboard houses for the former workers. These have been maintained and are used for the owners who vacation here during the summer. We were fortunate to have one of the visiting residents show us through the main building, explaining that when it closed as a fish plant over 50 years ago, all the equipment and stores were just abandoned, and the building was derelict until taken over by a group of people interested in using it as a sports fishing private co-op.

boardwalkBoardwalk and accommodations

Anchoring in shallow water

We were also advised by one of the residents that where we were anchored behind Island 53 was risky as much of the area dries at low tide, contrary to the guide book’s recommendation. When we returned to Veleda, we checked the depth, and were concerned that perhaps this location inside was not suitable, and that if we swung in the wrong direction, we could find ourselves aground at low tide.

We have had the experience of grounding while at anchor only twice in our 16 years of live aboard sailing, once in the Bahamas, and earlier this summer in the Broughtons. This last incident happened in July when we were anchored in Lady Boot Cove on Eden Island in the Broughtons as I have reported below.

We generally like to anchor in about 20 feet of water, close to shore. However we have to know the state of the tide when we drop anchor. We calculate the tide when we drop anchor and the amount the tide will rise and will fall over the next 24 hours. Judy advises me that we will have for example, 3 feet more and 8 feet less when we drop anchor. Theoretically that means we will need a minimum of 13 feet of water when we drop anchor (8 feet less plus 5 feet for our draft = 13 feet). We usually add a few feet more as a fudge factor to be on the safe side, and so we would anchor in 15 to 20 feet of water.

However, for say, 20 feet of water, we would put out 3 X 25 (20 feet of water plus 5 feet for our bow roller above the waterline) = 75 feet of chain. This would give us a swing circle of up to 90 feet in diameter. Thus if there was a shallower area within 45 feet of our anchor, we might drift over it and at low tide could be aground.

Aground at Anchor

This is what happened when we were anchored in Lady Boot Cove on Eden Island in the Broughtons in July. At about 0530 (5:30 am), I awoke hearing a bottle crash in the galley. As I got up to investigate a couple more things fell off the table. We were aground and canted over at a 15 to 20 degree angle! Coming on deck, I was aware we were too hard over to try to get Veleda off the bottom. We had no choice but to wait until the tide rose enough for us to refloat . Judy stayed in our bunk, but I launched the dinghy to see if there was any damage. We had swung towards the shore during the night as the tide fell, and our keel and rudder was embedded in the soft gravel towards shore and our bow facing away from shore.  veledaagroundVeleda aground in Lady Boot Cove

This was fortunate, as had the rudder taken the weight of the boat, the rudder post could have been bent, a major problem! As it was the rudder was just embedded in a few inches of gravel with the keel taking most of the weight. veledaaground2This angle allowed me to inspect below the waterline and to clean much of the port side of the hull. It was in good shape, with no barnacles, and just a light covering of ocean slime which cleaned off with a light scrubber pad. We are happy with the bottom paint we use called CopperCoat which is an epoxy paint with copper dust embedded. I don’t think it is available in Canada yet. It has been on for over four years now, and Veleda has not been out of the water since we arrived on the west coast in May of 2013. We are happy with this product. 

The tide rose sufficiently by 0730 to float Veleda and we weighed anchor and left Lady Boot Cove shortly after.

So… as a result of this experience, we did not want to take another chance and relocated in front of Island 53 at the end of Goose Bay to anchor in deeper water.



Onward Passage

As we had not been to a marina for almost two weeks, we were accumulating several bags of garbage and our water supply was low as we had not had any rain for over two weeks (Our hard bimini has edges and limber holes and hoses so we can trap rainwater), we motored 14 miles across and up Rivers Inlet to Dawson’s Landing to resupply.