Log #59b Sailing – Vancouver to Port McNeill

June 9, 2015 in Log Series 50-59, Logs by Series, Series 59, The Logs

Wrangell, Alaska
June 9, 2015
Hi Folks,
We are making good time heading north. Juno will be our most northerly stop before we head back. This log gets us started sailing after all the preparations were completed as described in my last log.
Again my regrets for the hackers that used my address book to send a false alarm. I describe in this log another scam we encountered in trying to sell the old dinghy. Another problem I have with my E-mail is that now my entire address book has disappeared. Perhaps when next on line it will reconstitute itself. However I have a word document with all the addresses of those to whom I am sending my logs.
All the best,


Log #59b Sailing – Vancouver to Port McNeill

Prince Rupert, B.C.

June 2, 2015


The title is a misnomer, as we motor 95% of the time due to light winds, winds in the wrong direction, especially between islands, adverse tides, and time factors to reach our destinations before tide changes or sunset. The rest of the time so far this year (May 1 to June 8) we have had a few times when we were able to motor sail, but so far this year we have not even hoisted our main sail. A small family trawler would be ideal for this coast.

We base our planning on the assumption of a 5 knot average speed.

A bit of Nautical Terminology

A knot is a measure of speed of one nautical mile per hour. A nautical mile (NM) at 2000 yards is slightly longer than a land mile at 1760 yards. Nautical distance is measured in nautical miles and speeds are measured in knots, not kilometres or land miles, as they are related to parallels of Latitude.

One degree of Latitude is equal to 60 nautical miles and one minute of Latitude is equal to one nautical mile. This does not lend itself to the Metric system, except rather than reporting Latitude and Longitude in degrees, minutes and seconds, they are now reported in degrees, minutes, and decimal minutes. Thus, our present Latitude here at Fury Cove of 51 29.243 N is 51 degrees, 29.243 minutes north of the Equator. The minute is now divided into hundredths of a minute, rather than 60 seconds. This change allows for greater accuracy of GPS fixes. (Our location is 59×60= 3540 nautical miles, plus 24.243 nautical miles = 3564.243 nautical miles above the Equator)

The knot as a measure of speed is registered in Nautical miles and tenths, such as a speed of 4.6 knots or 4.6 nautical miles per hour. (Thus our speed would be 4.6 x 2000 yards= 9200 yards divided by 1760 equals 5.23 land miles per hour. – Got it?)

On the other hand, depths are measured in feet, metres, or fathoms. Canadian hydrographic charts use metres, as Canada has used the metric system for over 45 years now. The title block on a chart will indicate the way depths are measured. As our GPS is based on US charts, we use feet for our depths and anchoring calculations.

Off we go

We left our house sitting in Okanagan Falls at 0645 on April 30, picked up four golf cart batteries in Surrey, caught the ferry from Tsawassen to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, and drove to Chemainus, a total distance of about 500 km. From there we caught another ferry as walk-ons, to Thetis Island to board Veleda, where it had been stored alongside a dock for the winter. By 6:00 pm we started the engine and motored 4.3 nautical miles to leave Veleda at Chemainus Marina for the next two nights. We did not sleep on board as Veleda was too cluttered with all the gear we brought, so we stayed at our friend’s place in Cobble Hill to sleep and to exchange gear from the Yukon, the trailer and Veleda. It was a long first day from 0645 plus 500 km to Vancouver/Surrey, the ferry to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island and the ferry from Chemainus to Thetis, to sleep in Cobble Hill by 2145 (9:45 pm).

By late afternoon of May 2, with Veleda stored and squared away, we went back to Cobble Hill with the Yukon. After disconnecting the battery and covering the vehicle, we were picked up by friends of a friend who live in Chemainus to head back to Chemainus and take off in Veleda. (Thanks Mark and Jane!) We motored back to Thetis Island to refuel and to pick up the envelope of cash that was left with the manager for the sale of our old dinghy.

Selling the Dinghy

Back in March we returned to Veleda for a weekend. We picked up our new dinghy in Surrey and carried it on our roof racks to Thetis Island and stored it on Veleda’s foredeck. After taking the old dinghy off the Dinghy Tow and out of the water, we deflated it and hauled it, barnacle encrusted, onto the side deck. We were actually preparing Veleda for a long term storage as we thought we had a chance to join an around the world rally and to rendezvous with a German boat in Tahiti. Judy would go in early March and I would stay house sitting until the end of April then join her in French Polynesia. Unfortunately that fell through.

When we got back to Okanagan Falls, I advertised our old dinghy on Kijiji and Craigs List. We had several responses within a week. One chap was very frustrated as he went to look at it and seeing it barnacle encrusted and deflated on the side deck, thought it was worthless. We then had another E-mail from the more expensive listing we put on Kijiji with the chap saying he wanted the dinghy for his niece and added $50.00 to the asking price to take it off the listing right away, and that he would send extra money to cover moving the dinghy when he had identified the mover’s costs.

He said nothing about where the dinghy was to be sent, only that he would add the cost of moving it to the asking price and we pay the movers and he would send us a certified cheque for the total. Our asking price was $900 to which he then added $1100 for transport, and a week later we got his certified cheque for $2000. Wow! For that kind of money he could have bought a brand new dinghy from a local supplier. In his note with the cheque he asked us to return by E-mail a copy of our bank deposit slip so he knew it had been cashed and he would then send us the moving details. By this time I was hearing warning bells, as he had not given us any info about where he was from or where the dinghy was to be shipped. Before accepting at face value that this was in fact a certified cheque (It looked good and appeared to be a CIBC document), we took it to a CIBC branch and asked if this was indeed a certified CIBC cheque. No, it was a forgery!

This was a scam! We took the information to the RCMP detachment and were told that this type of scam was not uncommon, and that trying to trace its origin would be difficult. As we had not lost any money no charges could be laid or investigation launched. We were fortunate that we checked, as I don’t know how the scam would have continued, but we didn’t lose any money on it. I called another chap who had responded to our Craigs List add at a lower price, and finally sold the dinghy to him. He would bring cash to the manager at Thetis and pick up the dinghy himself. So, it was finally sold to our great relief. (There is a saying that the two happiest days of a sailors life is when he buys a boat, and when he sells his boat.)

(Note: I am currently completing this log while cruising in Alaska, north of Ketchikan on June 8, and have just recently become aware of another scam perpetrated using my name on a false plea for money alleging we were stranded in the Ukraine. This was sent out to my entire address list. I had not been able to access the internet for several weeks, and in Prince Rupert had to take the laptop in to get rid of viruses which did not allow me to access my E-mail program. Perhaps this was a concerted effort on the hackers who stole my address book to bar me from knowing about this false plea. Do not respond to any such pleas or scams, as your accounts or computers could be adversely corrupted. My apologies to those who got the false plea. We are OK and enjoying Alaska.)

On our way

After refueling on Thetis Island, we motored 13 miles down to Wallace Island, intending to anchor in Conover Cove. However, Murphy’s Law was working and our windlass didn’t. Instead we rafted off another boat that was alongside the wharf for the night. Next morning we motored 12 miles over to Saltspring Marina in Ganges on Saltspring Island where we were to stay for four nights for maintenance and getting Veleda cleaned up and ready for sea as reported in the previous Log #59a.

We had to motor 43 miles across the Strait of Georgia over to False Creek in Vancouver to return the damaged battery and install the new one, complete the installation of our furnace, water up, and purchase a few more supplies.

Off at last

From our anchorage in False Creek, we left at 0716 on May 12 hoping to get up to Texada Island. The tide was initially with us as we crossed English Bay weaving through the 15 to 20 ships at anchor, out into the Strait of Georgia.

Ships in English Bay, Vancouver

However, wind and tide turned against us and we were pounding into steep seas and a 15 knot wind. We didn’t need this heavy going! Shortly before noon we decided to give up and altered course to Keats Island, unfurling the genoa for ¾’s of an hour going into Howe Sound, past Gibson’s Landing. We have found Gibson’s unfriendly to cruising boats in that they would not even allow a short term landing for supplies or crew change without a $12.00 charge for a boat or even a dinghy! We anchored in Plumper Cove of Keats Island off the provincial park for the night and set off just before 0700 next day for Texada Island. We had the tide with us and were even able to motor sail with the genoa out for a couple of hours as we worked our way north west to the northern tip of Texada Island where we anchored in Sturt Cove (49 45.733N, 124 34.140W) by 1600. In those nine hours we travelled 51 NM, averaging, by motor with a few hours motor sailing, well over five knots. It was a good decision to go into Keats Island and wait until next day for favourable conditions.

Chemainus to Vancouver to Campbell River

We want to get north as soon as possible to enjoy the northern fjords, inlets and islands as long as possible this summer. We left next day at 0537 heading up the Strait of Georgia to motor all the way up to Campbell River by 1220, a distance of 33 NM.

At the fuel dock we filled our gerry cans with $100.00 of diesel, and $10.00 of gas for the outboard motor. We stayed an hour alongside as we watered up and did some grocery shopping at the Superstore in the adjacent plaza before heading on up the Strait of Georgia for Seymour Narrows. We had to time that location near slack water as the currents rushing through can be quite fierce ( see my Log #58 from last year).

No problem, as we had the tide with us going through and all the way up to anchor in Camelon Harbour on Sonora Island (50 20.297N, 125 18.054W) by 1846 for a total of 60 NM that day in 13 hours, including an hour’s stop in Campbell River. A long day, but we were making our way north. However while approaching Seymour Narrows we were hailed by a tug boat towing a large barge requesting we slow down and edge more to the side of the channel as the tow took up a lot of searoom while maneuvering into the channel, and overtaking us. We did not want to cause him any anxiety and indicated to him that we would do a 360 degree turn away from him to our starboard and come up well astern of him and out of his way. It was a large barge with containers on the upper level and train cars on the lower level.

Barge in Seymour Narrows

Rather than going directly out into Johnstone Strait next day, we went the “back way” up Nodales Channel and around East and West Thurlow Islands. Johnstone Strait had a weather warning as the winds were howling down the strait at 20 to 30 knots, against the current which in turn set up large waves. We wanted to avoid this first stretch of Johnstone Strait.

Campbell River to Port McNeill

These back channels are quieter, but there are a couple of narrow spots where treacherous rapids could be encountered at the wrong time of the tidal currents. We went up the Nodales Channel, stopping in Shoal Bay on the northern tip of East Thurlow Island for lunch. It is a mom and pop operation using the government dock and a pleasant pub with a few cottages for seasonal rent. This is a popular place during the summer, and boats are often rafted up. We met Abundance, a 32 foot catamaran with Patrick and Deborah aboard with whom we were to share the next few anchorages on our way to Alaska.

Government dock at Shoal Bay

One of the things I noticed in these back channels was the frequency of large industrial sized fish farms. I counted six of the multi-acre floating fish pens in a 15 mile stretch between Cameleon Harbour and Mayne Passage at the west end of East Thurlow Island. I circled one of them asking if we could come alongside to see and talk about their operation. No, we would have to get clearance from their head office in Campbell River. I took several pictures as we circled the operation. If these farms are as bad as portrayed by several conservation organizations, then the sea lice and other diseases and contaminants from such intensive fish farming must be quite detrimental to waters. An analogy might be to think of a feed lot for cattle or any group of animals, and consider the mess and stench of such compounds. I have not yet toured or heard the side of fish farming, but such a scale as I observed in few channels suggest there are dozens if not hundreds of such large scale operations polluting these waters. See my Log #58n about the adverse effects of fish farming.

We met up with Abundance again at Forward Harbour, a mainland inlet with good holding (50, 28.884 N, 125 45.309 W).

Mountains in Forward Harbour

We could see snow-capped mountains up the inlet. I maintain that virtually every anchorage has a million dollar view, whether it be the panorama of mountains or sunsets or just the other million dollar yachts that might also be anchored nearby. We prefer isolated anchorages.

Patrick and Deborah alongside Veleda

In the morning I went on a hike with Patrick and Deborah across a dense “flotsam and jetsam” trail marked out by earlier cruisers. (Incidentally, flotsam refers to wreckage in the water or washed ashore, and jetsam refers to things thrown overboard to lighten a ship or boat.) The trail was marked by old fishing floats, pieces of rope, or thin strips of fluorescent tapes. Several times we had to clamber up fallen trees and balancing precariously as we walked the ten or twenty metres along the length still had to determine where we should jump off into the bush to follow the trail.

Fishing float marker Where do we get off?

The trail took us across the peninsula to open water on the far side. It was an interesting excursion.

Aubrey & Deborah at the end of the trail

We left early next day at 0530 to motor up Johnstone Strait the 52 miles to get to Port McNeill where we stayed alongside overnight to refuel and resupply for our next leg which would take us around Cape Caution.

On our way to Port McNeill, we passed Alert Bay, and noted that the old Residential School building had been torn down. It was a painful reminder of that unfortunate era when native children were removed from their homes and placed in such residential schools to experience abuse and humiliation.

Old residential school now torn down

The afternoon we left Port McNeill we went only 16 difficult miles up to anchor off Cattle Island in Beaver Harbour. I say difficult miles, as we were heading into heavy seas caused by a slight wind of 10 knots against a slow current of only 1.5 knots. We were pounding into it for several hours.

Next day, May 19, at 0500 we set off to round Cape Caution.