Log #59o Hartley Bay to Calvert Island

October 14, 2015 in Logs by Series, Series 59, The Logs

Rusty’s RV Ranch, New Mexico, USA

Jan. 12, 2016

Hi Folks,

Here is my next log #59o from the First Nations hamlet of Hartley Bay to Calvert Island south of Haida Gwaii. With several pictures, it talks about some interesting GPS discrepancies, dolphins and whales sighted, dinghying up some rapids, and more idyllic anchorages.

We are enjoying the slower pace of RV living here at Rusty’s, although the weather had turned cold at night, freezing our water line. There is more snow up in the mountains and we had a couple of inches of snow here the day after Christmas, Boxing Day.

        intro1   intro2

                                                       Before snow                   Views from our trailer               After snow

intro3 Trailer on Boxing Day, Dec. 26, 2016

All the best,     Aubrey


Log #59o Hartley Bay to Calvert Island

Rusty’s RV Park, NM

Jan. 5, 2016


Hartley Bay to Calvert Island

The weather was still rainy and gloomy as we left the First Nations hamlet of Hartley Bay, July 25, to motor 32 miles down to anchor in Clarke Cove (52 57.906N, 129 15.054W) on Princess Royal Island. On the way we were startled by a humpback whale that surged from the depths with a loud blow as it broke the surface just 60 feet off our starboard beam.

GPS Discrepancies

The narrow channel between the island north of Princess Island and Princess Island itself was a dog leg passage with shallows on both sides. Unfortunately there are some discrepancies between the position on the GPS charts and the reality on the water. Many of these narrows and inlets have such discrepancies this far north. We had to follow our visual assessment of the narrow openings as the GPS track that was laid in would have had us up on the shallows . The GPS image below shows the track we should have followed, but we used the “Mark-1 Eyeball” to keep us in the centre of the channel. The GPS image shows us going over land, but we were actually in mid channel.

The Purple lines represent our plotted track, and the dotted line our actual track.

Next day on our way to an anchorage in Cowards Cove, the grey drizzly day was relieved by a half dozen dolphins playing around our bow before heading off feeding. These were possibly white sided Pacific dolphins. We always enjoy it when they come to play around the boat.

Dolphins off Princess Royal Island

We saw another cruise ship, the Holland American Line Statendam off Princess Royal Island. We like the lines of these Holland America Line ships, and this one, the Statendam, was to be the one we were to take across the Pacific Ocean in September from Vancouver to Singapore.

Cruise ship Statendam

The entrance into Howard’s Cove is a long narrow entrance, where we found another discrepancy between our position and the GPS. On our way out next day I took another picture of the discrepancy on the GPS, and one of our depth sounder to show we were in 66 feet of water at that time. Not over land as the GPS would indicate. (See the images below.)

(Dotted lines indicate our track in and out of the inlet. The OFF COURSE indicator says we are 212 feet to the left of our track. However the depth sounder indicates we have 66 feet below the waterline. The Green areas represent drying banks, and the yellow is solid land.)

From Cowards Cove we wended our way through Higgins Passage, another narrow section between islands at the south end of Princess Royal Island, flanked with a drying bar on one side and treacherous rocks on the other. The day was still raining, as we anchored in Morris Bay after a 31 mile passage.

Next day as we motored through Sloop Narrows in the rain, we were aided by a following three knot current pushing us through at over eight knots. As we entered Reid Passage we saw English Rose, a large American trawler we had met earlier in Alaska, and when we hailed them on VHF they were going directly to Shearwater to get some engine work done. However, we anchored early for the night in Strom Bay on Campbell Island to hunker down in the heavy downpour rather than motoring through it for another few hours.

July 29 we had clear weather for the first time in over a week, as we anchored off Shearwater, to do some maintenance including an oil change, new fuel filter, clean the air filter change the engine antifreeze, check the impellor and tighten the water pump belt. Ashore we got diesel and propane, and enjoyed a lunch in the pub where we were also able to access the internet and get caught up on our E-mail. While there we said “Hi” to English Rose as they had to wait a few days for a part to be delivered. We also talked to friends on M’Daichi an Ontario 32 that we met at the rendezvous last year. We “bumped into them” a couple of times since, including up in Alaska.

As I mentioned in an earlier log when we were here a few months ago, Shearwater was a seaplane base during WW II, and the hangar is used for boat storage and machine shops for the marina. Shearwater is a good re-supply and repair base this far north, not only for pleasure boaters but also commercial fishermen, crew boats from local fish farms and logging operations, kayakers, and tourists from the Discovery Coast ferries, fly-in fishing charters. It has its own airstrip for private planes, and a helicopter pad. It also serves the local First Nations reserves in the area including New Bella Bella and Bella Coola. New Bella Bella has an airstrip for scheduled Pacific Coast Airlines and also is a stop for the B.C. Ferries. People can get to this area by public transportation and enjoy the luxury accommodations in New Bella Bella or the lodge in Shearwater.

Shearwater RCAF Seaplane memorial

Rather than heading south, we motored across to Codville Lagoon (52 03.725N, 127 50.419W), dropping the prawn trap just outside the entrance as recommended by some local fishermen. We went out in the afternoon in the dinghy to check the trap and had a small catch of 19 prawns. Next morning on our way out we retrieved the trap with a good catch of 35 prawns. Some day we should stay put in a good prawning area for a few days to fill our larder.

Crossing Fisher Channel we went south of Denny Island, around the north of Hunter Island and into the myriad of islands of Kildidt Sound, anchoring in Spitfire Lagoon on Spitfire Island. Several islands and passages in the area are named after WW II aircraft as a result of the explorations from the seaplane base at Shearwater. Next day we went only a few miles (12) through Spitfire Narrows, out Nalau Passage and down Ward Channel to anchor inside Turnbull Inlet (51 45.807N, 128 02.336W), as far up as we could before getting in to shoal waters.

This long scenic narrow inlet beckoned us to explore further up in our dinghy. As we went up, it branched off into a dead-end bay to port, and a long extension of the inlet to starboard. There was a swift current running against us as we carefully negotiated the rapids upstream. At one point just before entering the wider lagoon at the end, we bumped across a rock, jarring the skeg of the motor, but fortunately not damaging the propeller. We emerged into the upper lagoon!

However, we did not go far up it as the tide was falling rapidly, and we did not want to get stranded in the lagoon in the low tide and have to wait eight to ten hours for the next high water. We circled around and headed for the rapids, with even more rocks exposed near the surface. As we were going downstream, I lifted the propeller out of the water to float through the rapids with minimal draft, using the oars to maneuver to avoid the exposed rocks, like white water rafting. When we got into quieter water, we drifted silently enjoying the aftermath of the exhilaration of shooting the rapids and the tranquility of the verdant coniferous forest lining the inlet. I then lowered the motor and proceeded downstream back to Veleda, exploring the rocky shoreline on the way.

(The dotted line represents our dinghy track.)



Idyllic anchorages like this,

Veleda in Turnbull Inlet

and challenging or tranquil dinghy explorations make some of the high points of our cruising life. As we were only a few miles above Calvert island, we motored the nine miles down to anchor in Pruth Bay (51 39.288N, 128 07.631W) on the north coast, off the Hakai Beach Institute for fisheries research and environmental stewardship. Here we hoped to meet up with one of the researchers, Ben Millard-Martin, a grandson of my brother’s. We did meet him there and our encounter will be described in my next log.