Log #61j Gwaii Haanas Part 4 Anthony Island

August 31, 2016 in Logs by Series, Series 61, The Logs

Log #61j Gwaii Haanas Part 4 Anthony Island

Vector Yacht Services/The Boat Yard

Sidney, B.C.

Aug. 31, 2016

Hi Folks,

I hope you enjoy the pictures and comments in this final log of our time on Haida Gwaii. This is about Sgang Gwaay, on Anthony Island, a UN designated World Heritage Site.

As I noted in my covering letter of Log #61i regarding damage from hitting a submerged log, we towed Veleda 26 miles from Esquimalt to this boat yard here in Sidney using a side tow with our dinghy. Fortune was with us as we left at 0630 to catch the first of the flood tide which would give us a boost most of the way to Sidney. The forst stretch was the most difficult with strong beam winds setting up a heavy chop, bouncing me around in the dinghy and soaking me quite thoroughly. But, the wind was with us and we sailed with only the genoa out for two and a half hours. Then we motor sailed using the dinghy engine and the genoa together for an hour and 19 minutes, then when the wind died towards the end of the passage we resorted to the dinghy only, side towing the boat for two hours and twenty five minutes into Tsehum Harbour.

Then the problems really started as we did not know exactly where the Boat Yard was located. We were in a maze of docks with hundreds of boats and hoping we did not collide with any of them because of our reduced ability to manouever. We finally came up a narrow passage with multiple docks to port and large pilings of a long town dock to starboard. We overshot the Boat Yard, not realizing it was there until we passed it. We nudged bow in to a small dock with the assistance of a local boater to ask where the dock was for The Boat Yard. Back 100 yards. OK, We had so much trouble trying to turn Veleda acround with the dinghy lashed alongside, that finally I just backed out. However, I almost kammed the dingy on the pilings of the town dock as we backed out. Then we saw the dock, requiring a 90 degree turn in to port, and an immediate 90 degree turn to starboard to go alongside. We couldn’t make it! We rafted alongside a large motor sailor called Peter Duck, and considered our options. The passage was too narrow and we could not stay rafted off it. We had to make the 90 degree turn immediately in front of it, and 50 feet inward make the other 90 degree turn. Nuts on getting into the proper slip! We would just go on the outer dock which was free, but short, and not try to get to the inner position.

Now, how do we make the 90 degree turn in a space of less than 40 feet? I was thinking of putting a line on another dock and working Veleda around with it, so we would have some control and not risk hitting other boats in this crowded space. Judy simplified it by suggesting we just hand over hand Veled alongside Peter Duck, and warp us by hand around his bow anchor, and using Veleda’s engine at idle revs ease the 40 feet into the end dock. We detached the dinghy and went for it. Whew, we made it! I just hoped we would not be kicked off by some one else. Later a sailboat came in to the dock we were supposed to have gone to, and the skipper said there was no problem where we were. That was Saturday Aug. 27


Monday morning we had to back out of the slip, into the channel and back into the travel lift camber, again using Veleda’s engine at low idle. Veleda actually backs up reasonably well once she gets some way on.

The damage was a prop blade out of line, and the shaft strut out of line. The blade has been repaired, and the shaft and strut removed, but we are waiting for a few days for a new strut to be machined. It will be covered by Insurance, but we have a high deductble to pay. Since we will have a week on the hard we are getting several other jobs done while here. The last two days we have finally replaced our six main cabin windows. We have had the cut plexiglass for over two years. Nice to have clear windows that don’t leak.

As was said in the Caribbean, “Life on de hard is hard”, but this isn’t too bad as we have power, and a courtesy vehicle we can use to do shopping or access the internet at the local library. We hope to be off within a week;if not we are concerned about the weather window for going down the west coast closing. I might even get caught up on my logs.

I hope you enjoy this log about Anthony Island.

All the best,



Log #61j Gwaii Haanas Part 4  Anthony Island
The Boat Yard, Sidney, B.C.
Aug. 28, 2016

After Hot Springs Island we anchored in Island Bay on Moresby Island, ready to head through Burnaby Narrows next day. Our anchorage at the inner end of the bay behind some islands was well protected and scenic. As we dinghied around the bay, we found a patch of sea asparagus which we like very much. We use it as a condiment in rice, stews, various soups, with sauteed mushrooms and onions and as a separate vegetable by itself.

Judy picking Sea Asparagus  

We didn’t leave there until 1300 (1:00PM) waiting till just before slack high water to go through the narrows. Burnaby Narrows, also known as Dolomite Narrows, is a tricky navigable channel between Burnaby Island and Moresby Island, as described in our pilot book (Exploring the North Coast of British Columbia), “… is very poorly charted and a significant challenge for navigators.” This three quarter mile long convoluted passage has three sharp bends in the middle .03 mile with drying shoals scattered throughout . It is best approached on a rising tide, so if one grounds on a shoal the rising tide may float the vessel off. We dinghied out in the morning to check it out just after low water, but were unable to go through even the first bend as the shoals were too shallow even for the dinghy. So we returned to Veleda and waited until at least half tide before setting off from our anchorage, to slowly approach nearing high tide, without too much current.

There were a couple of large yachts from the Royal Vancouver Yacht Club anchored in the bay with us, and we hoped one of them would go through first. No luck, they were heading north, not south through the narrows. So we approached the narrows cautiously, not 100 % sure of whether the tide was at least half high. We also did not want to be carried down with the current going the same direction as us, which would push us onto the rocks if we grounded.

We approached the first narrows which we did not want to risk even in the dinghy four hours earlier. The water through the first set “ dries at 2 feet of tide” which I think means it is still exposed (dries two feet) at low water. Therefore at half high tide with eight feet of water, there are only six feet above this drying patch, I think. Since Veleda draws only 4 1/2 feet, we “should” be OK. Once we entered, as the tide was carrying us through, there was no turning back.

Our pilot book has a good diagram of the narrows with private ranges on shore to help us though the first two zig zags (but with the stated proviso that, “This diagram differs from Chart 3809” which we didn’t have anyway). So, in we went. I had Judy eyeballing the shore line range markers as we slowly motored through. Range markers are fine for identifying the line of approach, but they don’t tell you when to change course unless there is another set onto which a vessel can turn. Fortunately there was another set on the first turn, but not the second.
 Another complication is that the flood enters from both ends, and as our pilot indicates, “At some point during the middle part of the flood {which we were}, the current seems to change rapidly to a south flowing stream the entire length of the Narrows and may reach three knots or more.” However we seemed to have a south flowing current with us all the way through the passage, and it was only  a knot or two at the most. The turn on the second dog leg was one without a guiding range marker, and I had to use my judgment and the depth sounder to make the final two turns. Our lowest depth was still six feet, but we did not breath a sense of relief until we were through and back into ten feet or more at the far end. Whew!
Burnaby Narrows
(Our direction was from top to bottom)

Two hours later we anchored in Ikeda Cove (52 17.719N, 131 09.370W) on the outside of the second lowest peninsula of Moresby Island, a good shelter from the wind and rain that has plagued us the last few days. More  stormy weather was predicted and so next day we opted to head inland to Rose Inlet, to an even more protected anchorage and closer to Anthony Island, our final heritage site. On our way out from Ikeda Cove we were privileged to see some deer and a couple of sandhill cranes on the shoreline. In the picture below are three deer, two cranes and three seagulls in flight.

Deer, sandhill cranes, and seagulls in flight   

We were weathered in for three days in Rose Inlet with 30 knot winds and lots of rain, enough to fill our water tanks from the rain catchers on our bimini. The barometer dropped from 1016 Mb to 1005 MB (millibars) during the cold, stormy, foggy, rainy weather. Judy claims she does not know how I talked her into coming up to the Pacific northwest.

By July 9th, the weather had improved and we motored seven miles over to Anthony Island ( Sgang Gwaay) classified by the United Nations as a World Heritage Site, a Haida village likened to the remains on Easter Island. Again, imagine a Haida village of 500 to 600 souls virtually extinguished in the 30 year period from 1860 to1890 with only 20 people left alive to be re-settled up in Old Masset or Skidigate. The many weathered cedar poles remaining upright at canted angles, originally lining the fronts of the longhouses, bear mute testimony to the inhabitants of this long abandoned village of death.
Some still  have haunting, pale worn carvings crying out for their original memorials, clans, chieftains and potlatches. Others are moss laden lumps on the ground, forlorn reminders that everything returns to the earth.


 Mortuary poles had a compartment open at the top to house a bentwood box containing the bones of chieftains, elders, or other family members. The truncated tops of these poles now give growth to shrubs.
  61J-7 61J-8
  Mortuary poles

The depressions and timbers marked several chiefs’ longhouses, using the six log pattern and similar joists to those used in the watchmen’s cabins.
 Remains of a chief’s longhouse
 (note the frontal poles beyond)

Joists of a chief’s longhouse

 Similar joists in watchmens’ cabins
Their villages were built near the water as that was the main means of transportation throughout the archipelago and fishing. They had canoe runs cleared through the stone strewn shoreline which permitted them to safely bring their canoes up to the village at low (as in the picture below) or high tide
Canoe runs at low tide

We walked the trails through the magnificent moss draped temperate rain forest back to the dinghy. Because of the isolation of this island at the southern extremity of the archipelago, and the absence of predatory animals, the area is noted for a seabird nesting sanctuary, although we did not see signs of much bird life. As we walked the trail we saw an interesting carving watching over a pathway, reminding us of how important this island was to the Haida.

Forest trail carving
We left at noon Aug. 9, originally intending to re anchor in Rose Inlet where we had been stormed in for three days, but as we seemed to have favourable winds we elected to keep sailing for the 122 mile passage across Hecate Strait to Shearwater, which I will describe in my next log.