Log #58X Vacation 2014 – Veleda in Broughton Archipelago – By Judy Johnson

September 13, 2014 in Log Series 50-59, Logs by Series, Series 58, The Logs

Burial Cove, East Cracroft Island, Broughton Archipelago, B.C.
Aug. 24, 2014
Hi Folks,
This is designated Log #58x as it was written by Judy Johnson about her vacation with us and her friend and ours, Barb Lorhmann, the last week of July. Judy J. is an articulate woman whom I asked to write up her experience with us. This account is all hers, totally, and unedited by me. However, she did not include any pictures. Thus my contribution consists only of the pictures and the captions in italics. As you can see, she has a different style and take on her experiences than have I. I do not necessarily agree with her take on the logging industry, and have not censored such.
Some of the pictures have already been in my earlier logs, and others may  yet appear in future logs as I get around to writing them. I don’t think you will mind a bit of redundancy. There are many pictures of spectacular scenery and especially the humungous pods of dolphins we encountered while they were with us.
All the best,

Vacation 2014 – Veleda in Broughton Archipelago

By Judy Johnson

A bit of personal history: Barb Lohrmann, Aubrey and Judy Millard have been my friends for years. We three women were scuba diving teens in 1960s when we lived in Toronto and explored the Great Lakes. In 2001 Barb and I visited Veleda in the Adriatic Sea. Now Veleda was in BC waters, we agreed it was time for another adventure together. The Broughtons is where it all happened.

Four of us spending a week in close quarters required a sprinkling of tact and a willingness to have no secrets from anyone on board. There was only one real glitch. There were now two Judys on board. Commands directed to just plain “Judy” would be confusing. Judy and I would know to whom we were speaking. Barb and I were familiar with sailing procedures, but we’d be more likely to say “splice the mainbrace”, rather than an urgent command like “Jibe Ho!” We needed a way to differentiate between us. The tricky job fell to Aubrey: remembering to call his own wife “My Judy”.

A bit of BC history: The Broughtons includes islands and inlets northeast of the top of Vancouver Island. Although aboriginal people were present for at least 10,000 years, it is now a great wilderness devoid of towns and cities. Until 1862 about 40,000 native people lived along the northwest coast of British Columbia. The arrival of smallpox wiped out 30,000 in only 18 months. The remaining native children were forced into residential school as recently as 1960s. Today the First Nations consider most of BC to be unceded land under the jurisdiction of the district nations. We were entering the land of the Kwak waka’wakw nation.

In 200 years we have not done a wonderful job providing stewardship for this land. Fishing, logging and mining were the primary economic engines driving the BC economy. That changed about 30 years ago. Mining is lagging behind. Logging is much more restricted. The salmon fishery has collapsed. Pollution from the 20+ fish farms in the Broughtons is well documented. (See www.RaincoastResearch.org/salmon-farming.htm for further details). Now tourism is on top. American cruisers have discovered our wilderness gem. And the oil companies are planning a pipeline to the coast.

Monday, July 21, 2014: Got a lift from friend Bridget straight to Horseshoe Bay ferry. Barb found me at the Departure Bay “pick up window” in Nanaimo. We took off for Port McNeill, arriving by 530 pm. The sky was grey, and a few little sputters rained on us. We stayed as a B&B called At Water’s Edge. As expected, it was right on the water. Nice comfortable room. Good breakfast. $125/nite. Judy & Aubrey Millard joined us for dinner in town at Northern Lights Restaurant.

Tuesday, July 22: Dropped duffels below deck and let go the lines to start another adventure aboard Veleda. Motored over to Alert Bay. There’s a quaint waterfront. The brooding old residential school sat in disrepair amongst newer buildings resembling native longhouses.






Residential School, Alert Bay


Disembarked to visit the First Nation’s burial site with many totem poles. Signs ask visitors to view the cemetery from outside the boundary. Nice thought and people respect the request. A few old totems have fallen down. Some looked newly painted.








Left Alert Bay to wind our way through a lovely sprinkling of islands. Anchored at Village Island near a former native site.


The others took Wave Dancer to look for “culturally modified” trees – natives cut thick pieces of bark from a living cedar tree, making planks and long bark strips for weaving.








Culturally Modified tree

For the rest of our trip this term – culturally modified – was used in several humorous variations. Is Veleda a “culturally modified” piece of fiberglass? Hmmm, guess you had to be there…

Wednesday, July 23: Got underway as soon as everyone was awake. Barb & I sipped coffee as Aubrey powered up and Judy hoisted anchor (using the electric winch). Breakfast was served in the cockpit, as were all our meals over the week. We headed up Knight Inlet, a trip of about 60 nautical miles (120 km). On the relatively calm water, we saw a splash. The glimpse was fleeting, but there was certainly something there. One thing a person can count on when aboard Veleda is a complete reference library on all manner of sea creatures. Barb advised that the only real difference between dolphins and porpoises is shape of their teeth or dorsal fins. In a previous lifetime, Barb examined a lot of porpoise teeth for her Masters thesis. Although Judy was a dentist, an exam was not practical. We decided it was a cetacean, and probably porpoise by the curve of the dorsal fin.

The mountains seem to lean closer and soar higher with each turn. At the fjord’s end they tower 6-7,000’ high. The depth sounder gets confused when the water is more than 200 feet deep – showing false readings or simply sitting at zero. Looking at the chart, I can see these towering peaks plunge to incredible depths. The chart shows numbers of 130, 150 and 200. Finally I realize those are fathoms! Multiply by 6 to arrive at the depth in feet: 780’, 900’ and 1,200 feet. The inlet is milky green from glacier runoff. In late afternoon, almost 45 miles inland, we round a corner to see Cascade Falls. It spills from the 1,200’ cliff, plunging about 8-900’ into the inlet. Returned to Glendale Cove for the night.

jj5 jj6







Mountains up Knight Inlet                                      Cascade Falls

Thursday, July 24: In the morning tourist boats from a posh lodge on shore slowly parade past us and up the cove. Passengers were clothed in bright orange survival suits. We watched as several grizzlies had breakfast on shore turning over rocks. They eventually wandered away through the tall grass.






Grizzly bears in Glendale Cove


A bald eagle sat on the rocks at the tide’s edge, picking away at some tasty morsel.

We could not have asked for better weather for the whole week. It continuously improved every day. The coldest night dropped to 12˚C, and the warmest day hit 28˚C. Rain sputtered a bit on the first and third days. Morning fog was usually present but never lasted more than an hour after we woke. Blue skies predominated every day. The seas were calm as glass except for twice.

On this day, as we upped anchor and motored west, heading into a strong breeze and contrary current made an uncomfortable chop. We swung to the quiet side of the inlet, riding an ebb tide, scooting into Tsakonu Cove for dinner. This is a favourite haunt of black bears at dusk and dawn. No luck so we opt to anchor at Sargeaunt Passage, downing Bananas Foster for dessert. Swinging on the tide, we chatted into the night – four friends sharing tales of past endeavours and describing the music we’d choose for our own memorial. Shot of rum all around, then bed.

Friday, July 25: Once underway, we four entered into a lengthy, animated discussion about exactly when we would return to Port McNeill. The Millards wanted to visit Penticton to meet a couple needing house-sitting. We tossed around all manner of options and scenarios, and came up with… no decision!

Motored through Sargeaunt Passage and headed for Kwatsi Cove where pretty waterfalls are reported. Evidence is everywhere that logging is still done on this coast. Almost everything visible is “second cut” – in other words there are few virgin forests left. There are reports of old trees; some 15-20’ in diameter, but as we pass nothing can be easily identified as original “old growth”. Many, many clear cuts are visible, and the logging firms must replant their cuts. Still, I can think of no other word than “rape” to describe the pulling down of every living tree standing in a plot of forest. Thankfully they only do it in patches of 50-100 acres.


Clear cutting in Knight Inlet

Because the sea was so flat, I noticed splashing on the far side of Tribune Sound. Check the library again! It was a group of 20-30 Pacific White-Sided Dolphins. They frolicked and played around us for ten minutes or so. A squall was coming so we moved along west.



But the dolphins returned in jj10much greater numbers! They jumped high, did back-flips, forward flips, side splashes, complete summersaults, surfaced and dove in pairs, in threes, in groups, some with youngsters at their sides.   I knelt down on the foredeck and with the palm of my hand drummed a short phrase on Veleda’s topsides. Suddenly, a dolphin zoomed into view and joined the pressure wave below our bow. Then another. And another. And another. We were completely surrounded! There were too many to count. Barb and Judy joined me on the foredeck. We clapped and cheered at their antics and peered over the rail to see 8, 10, 12 swimming with ease belowjj11, a morphing mass beneath the bow. They wiggled, swerved, pushing each other, jockeying for position, splashing us as they came up for air and dove again.    We turned back for 10 minutes, and   reversed course again. With Veleda on autopilot, Aubrey joined us. It began to rain. We didn’t care. We were having way too much fun. The dolphins engaged us – or so it seemed. They rolled, looked us in the eye, wiggled beneath the bow, broke the surface to breathe and popped down again.





Judy & Barb taking pictures


We kept getting splashed, and the rainsquall continued. Suddenly Barb and I saw two swimming belly-to-belly, together for 10-15 seconds. Barb exclaimed, “They’re copulating! That’s what this is about. Sex!”







We all roared with laughter. That’s exactly the sort of information one can expect from a marine biologist! The event took on new meaning as I kept drumming short phrases. The dolphins kept coming. What an amazing treat! It was simply impossible to estimate numbers – at least 200-300 individuals. Veleda turned in figure eights and they stayed. We played for an hour in Tribune Sound, two miles east of the Burdwood Islands. Tribune is a nautical mile wide and three miles long. Their splashes stretched shore to shore and a mile east and west of us. They were ahead, behind, beside, in front. How many dolphins could have sex in that small space of ocean? You could figure it out, but then what?

As we finally broke away for the Burdwood Islands, we marveled at what we’d seen. Barb compared it to a similar highlight of seeing thousands of purple starfish procreating on a dive out of Pender Harbour. We had shared that experience on a night dive in 1977. The water was still that night too. Both of us grinned at the memory and the connected experience.

jj14Aubrey set his prawn trap at the Burdwood Islands and we headed for Laura Cove.   It already had three vessels, making it a bit too cozy for us so we moved on to Laura Bay. Negotiating a tight turn around some BIG rocks at the entrance, we dropped the hook, and settled in for the night. We noticed fish jumping. They were 14-16” long and easily jumped clear of the surface. Over dinner and many glasses of wine celebrating our amazing day, we speculated as to species, purpose and reason for the 15-20 splashes per minute. It never let up. We three women snuggled into bed while Aubrey stayed on deck sipping his tot of rum. When he came to bed he announced they were leaping at 60-80 splashes per minute. Little did we know what would happen…







Saturday, July 26: The splashing continued during breakfast at a reduced rate. In Shawl Cove we carved a polite circle of the bay to see their picturesque float-homes. Quaint. Then we headed for Echo Bay Marina. Once again I spotted dolphins. I’m getting a reputation for this. They responded when I drummed the topsides.    They numbered 200 or more – who knows. This time we didn’t change our heading for Echo Bay. They played for about 20 minutes, then left, heading north and west. Wow! What an experience! Considering this flash mob has sex in mind, it was clear to Barb & I this was mating behaviour.jj15

Echo Bay Marina is a popular place for boaters. They have a variety of activities every Saturday night like a pig roast in the dining room and timed dog races on the dock. By radio we confirmed they truly did not have room for us at dinner, but we decided to go anyway. We could shower, pick up a few groceries, use their wifi and/or phone to confirm details about Penticton trip.  It is a nice location. The sea remained calm and we tied up at a decrepit government dock. On lowering the dinghy, Judy was heard to exclaim, “OH… MY… GOD..!





In fairness, Judy has heard lots of salty vocabulary. She is a sea-going wife after all. She has even used it on occasion. It was her clarity, emphasis and tone of amazement that caused Barb & I to turn our heads: WTF? We joined Judy at the stern, peering into the dinghy. There was a fish. During all that cavorting last night it had leapt into the dinghy only to expire. Having sacrificed itself, it rode all the way with us today.

jj16 jj17








Salmon caught by dinghy                Judy showing her catch

We laughed at the fish and at Judy’s head-turning exclamation. Judy summoned Aubrey, napping in the V-berth, to come view the miracle of the fish. Barb offered to clean it because she “hadn’t done that for years” (ever the marine biologist). No one argued. It weighed in at three pounds. On the cleaning table we found it to be a pink salmon, ripe with eggs (confirmed in Veleda’s library). That’s why they were jumping all night! Once again sex takes a front seat… well in this case, sex took a dinghy to the party.

After sending a few emails and showering, the dog races caught our attention. Organized by the marina, it brings people and dogs ashore, and provides lots of laughs for everyone. The dogs are timed individually – so as to avoid any squabbling. They are required to run about 100 feet down the main dock to their owner. However, the dock is “salted” with tasty dog biscuits of various sizes. We saw one Scotty stop at every cookie and chow down before moving along to the next.








Dog race at Pierre’s Echo Bay Lodge

Another dog made a run directly for her owner 100 feet away. From the cheering I bet she was the ultimate winner. A good time to gather, have fun and enjoy life away from home – yet your floating home is right nearby.

We dinghied back to Veleda to prepare dinner. Although there was no room at the roast pork dinner tonight, we certainly could have fresh salmon. Just enough for four of us anyway. This was indeed a gourmet cruise!








Dinghy caught salmon meal 

Most table scraps can quite logically be put into the sea to be consumed in a natural manner. However, we don’t usually do that IN a Marina. As the sun was setting, and having consumed more wine than I’d care to account for, we were stuffed. During the meal fish bones and bits of salmon skin collected on a small communal plate. We discussed whether to toss the debris over while in the marina. It made sense, as it was only fish bits. Barb was asked to do the tossing. She forgot to hold onto the plate. It slipped beneath the water with a gentle “splish”, settling on the bottom 25’ below. Given our collective wine consumption, and the fact that the plate could be replaced at Wal-Mart for 60¢, we all roared with laughter. In the morning, when the tide was low, I looked over the stern and could clearly see the plate sitting about 15 feet below. For the next few days, we would quietly tell Barb to “hold on to the plate” when she was doing similar cleanup duties. It may take a while for her to live this one down.


Sunday, July 27: Foggy this morning, but blue sky above. It cleared in time to leave at 9 am. Cell phone service is a lost cause and with many others clogging the wifi we had been unsuccessful today. Oh well. We are gradually sorting out the travel plans but need to contact the B&B in Port McNeill and confirm Penticton arrangements for the Millards. We decided to head for Sullivan Bay. They have wifi. Besides we needed wine and the cruising guide clearly indicated “GOVERNMENT LIQUOR STORE”.

The sea was calm. Enroute the dolphins came by again – too many to count. We drummed the topsides and applauded their jumps. This time they seemed less interested in us and more interested in each other. Ah yes, love can be like that sometimes. They swam in a tighter mass, making the sea churn and froth at times with their jumps, leaps, cartwheels, flips, somersaults and splashes. Eventually they set their own course and we parted ways.

Sullivan Bay Marina has been a supply depot for logging, fishing and cruising for perhaps 100 years. As we arrived a floatplane roared away into the sky. We found the store. Their wifi was unavailable, but the manager let us use the phone to arrange our B&B two days hence. The Millards can delay their Penticton trip a day so we can sail for another few days! A helicopter hovered overhead before setting down on a landing-pad/raft behind all the float houses. We strolled through the floating village to see the very luxurious homes some people enjoy when they “get away to the Broughton’s”.







Float home in Sullivan Bay

One float house had a helicopter parked on top. All agog from the luxury we’d encountered, we boarded Veleda and left Sullivan Bay.

   jj21 Helicopter pad on float home

Destination: Hopetown Passage. On the way Aubrey dropped in his prawn trap again – first time caught nothing. Hopetown is a narrow and tricky place, requiring us to arrive only a minute or two after high tide. The current was already swift. Judy & Barb went forward to help guide us. We inched through with a foot or two to spare. Whew! Wouldn’t want to do that without experienced sailors.










Hopetown Passage just after high tide when we went through. We had to avoid the shoals on the right side of the passage







Hopetown Passage from the other side, at half tide. On the right, note the narrow opening we went through near high tide. At low tide the entire passage is blocked by shoals.

Dropped anchor in a lovely bay (Blair Cove) right beside a high rock face.





         Veleda in Blair Cove


Aubrey & Barb took off in Wave Dancer to explore. Judy and I relaxed aboard Veleda. When they returned they told stories of the swift, rocky and treacherous way through Hopetown as the tide dropped. The end of the bay is completely dry by nightfall with big boulders showing. They are invisible at higher tides and sailors could easily wreck on them. Then came another gourmet dinner with generous portions of wine and a tot of rum before bed.

Monday, July 28: Foggy morning, gradually clearing as we ate breakfast. As we motored into Mackenzie Sound, Aubrey launched Wave Dancer to get pictures of Veleda with foggy bits, mountains and glassy calm water.






Veleda in Mackenzie Sound

I snapped a few of him in return. It was picture perfect: Aubrey in a rust-coloured shirt, safari hat and sunglasses, zooming to and fro, standing up in Wave Dancer as she planed on the glassy surface, backlit, with fog on the mountains, and bright blue sky above. A clear example of “a boy and his toys”.

jj26Part way up Mackenzie Sound we stopped at Ann Cove. On the little island inside the cove, we picked sea asparagus (low-growing, salt-tolerant plant). We left Veleda at anchor and crossed the sound to a log dump. Chatted with a native fellow gathering wood for Nimmo Lodge. Returned to Veleda, had lunch and motored up to Nimmo Bay. Prowled around the back bays where the horseflies were having lunch too – us! At the very end of Mackenzie Sound there was signs of logging. It was deserted as the woods are closed this time of year. Too much risk of forest fires. Motored back down the sound and stayed at Claydon Bay overnight. The horsefly population was insistent, so we put up screens and ate below deck – the first time all week. Had wonderful steak dinner with rice and sea asparagus. Talked long into the night – it might have been the rum or the wine. Left the hatches open (w/screens) and slept on top of the covers. The sea was like glass. It was a warm, bright, starry night. I awoke at 3 am to see the big dipper shining brightly through the hatch amidships.





Tuesday, July 29: Heading for Port McNeill today. After coffee/tea and cold breakfast, we raised anchor and were underway by 8 am. The prawn trap had taken its own vacation and shifted with the tides. I finally spotted it about a mile away.   This time Aubrey had about 16-18 lovely big spotted prawns – plus a too-small crab that went overboard.

  jj27   Aubrey with prawn trap catch  


The prawns were destined to lose their heads over lunch! And they did. Yummy!

jj28A good catch of prawns






In Wells Passage I spotted a sea otter. We circled back and stopped nearby. It was alone, watching us closely while scrubbing its tummy and face, wiggling hind flippers at us. Then it rolled over and swam on. We moved on too.

jj29A large gathering of sea birds was lingering at the entrance to Queen Charlotte Strait – probably 1,000 of them in clusters of 30-50 on the absolutely calm water. Barb & I went forward to sit in the bright sun on the foredeck, enjoying the glassy sea and the breeze from our 5 knots of travel.




Suddenly we heard a “Whoosh!” We had heard a whale surface for air, but we missed seeing it. Where was it? We told Aubrey & Judy to slow down. About 30 seconds later there was another “Whoosh!” This time we saw what seemed like a large log surface amongst the floating birds. It stayed up about five seconds then jj30disappeared.   Another one farther out! Get out those reference books again. We easily determined it was Humpback Whales. They just lazed at the surface, breathing about once a minute or so. We drifted, engine idling, enjoying the moment. After about 10 minutes, one whale arched





Humpback whale breaking the surface

its back in characteristic Humpback manner, raised tail flukes in the air and sounded. A minute or so later, we saw another do the same.

jj31 Whale sounding




They were off on their next adventure. So were we.

The sun was still bright as we motored out into Queen Charlotte Strait, noting a few clouds drifting in from the Pacific. A long, low rolling cloud appeared from the west. Judy advised it is a Gust Front, and it can bring a change in weather. It passed, the wind picked up. Just past the Numas Islands we unfurled the genoa and cut the engine. Veleda picked up her skirts and made way beautifully. We sailed almost into Port McNeill on a brisk nor-westerly breeze – perfect for our course. Near Malcolm Island, the mix of wind, waves and current made sailing uncomfortable. We furled the genoa and fired up the motor. Harbour staff at the government dock greeted us warmly. We tied up, packed up and Barb & I headed for the B&B. A few hours later, showered and clean, we returned to take Judy & Aubrey out for dinner again. Soft beds beckoned and we slept well.

Wednesday, July 30: Arranged for breakfast at the B&B for Judy & Aubrey. Then we hit the road just before 9 am – all four in Barb’s blue Subaru with its miniscule back seat. We avoided leg cramps by stopping a few times on the way south and I arrived in Chemainus at 3 pm to stay with friends Mark & Jane. A great vacation all around, new sights, new experiences and adventure aplenty.

Thursday, July 31: Judy & Aubrey picked me up in their Yukon at 830 am and we caught the 10:40 ferry to mainland. Arrived home in Port Coquitlam about 1 pm. The adventure was over… for now.


Thanks Judy and Barb for joining us.