Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Looks Aren't Everything

We left Tranquility Inlet for the technical assistance provided by Xantrex to wayfarers with inverter issues. With a need to run our generator for 8 hours and then talk again with our new friends, we found a pretty little anchorage near Tofino sheltered from the winds in three directions.

Everything was perfect…until the max ebb when we were reminded that looks are not everything. Beautiful Riley Island that had so courteously sheltered us from the winds shot heavy current on either of the boat. It was as if Davey Jones had risen from his locker to drag our anchor chain back and forth across the bottom. With each swing I peaked at the trees to ensure that they had not repositioned on the return trip. Early in the morning we ordered the new inverter and are spending tonight in God’s Pocket. It may be raining in God’s Pocket and not so pretty Davey Jones does not live here!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Gale Warnings

Gale warnings are never good news for mariners – particularly on a day that travel in the big water has been planned. Careful analysis of the weather indicated that the gale was 12 to 24 hours off shore. That provided enough time to fish in route but only time to catch one small king salmon (about 10 lbs). The sea was lumpy and a little ominous and the winds came from all directions.

We headed for Tofino Inlet and anchored in Tranquilito Cove. It was very hard to believe that outside the winds were raging at 70 knots with the tranquil waters we experienced.

Watched a Black bear as we pulled crab pots. Five nice crab and we decided to allow the bear free range of the beachBeautiful anchorage and a very happy birthday for Jan. Thanks for the many birthday greetings

PS Mike Moran - I am many years younger than you to answer your query!

Friday, August 22, 2008

More Fun with Family and Friends

I am not quite sure why it is so exciting to forage for food...is it the wonderful, fresh taste or is something more primal? We eat oysters nearly ever day (even Beck liked a few). Crab are plentiful. You might enjoy this hot crab dip - we did!


8 oz. cream cheese
3/4 c. mayo
2 T. minced onion
1 t. horseradish
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
1/4 t. salt.

Puree in a food processor or mixer until smooth.

Fold in 6 oz. crab. Bake about 25 minutes until hot. We served it with warm homemade bread but crackers would do!

Fun with Family and Friends

Life is a journey not a tour and no journey a ever goes exactly as planned particularly when at sea. Shari and Ryan ended up in Victoria rather than Barkley Sound due to an unseasonably strong cold front off the Oregon coast. We crabbed and saw sights in Victoria.

Note the picture in front of the Shinto shrine. Jeff purchased the shrine in Japan in the 1970s and sold to British Columbia for display in the Victoria Art Museum.

It was rough getting out of Ucluelet the day we fished with Meghan, Seth and Kathy. Hard on all of them but we saw whales and Seth caught his nice fish. We enjoyed a great time together with them. Gathered seafood, ate well and laughed a lot.

Rick and Beck arrived next with intentions for great fishing. Once again the weather reports forecast an unseasonably strong cold front for their time with us. Once again the forecasters were right and we headed for anchorages noted to be “bomb proof”.

Poor weather affected the fishing badly but despite the rain and cold we had a wonderful time together. We gathered oysters and clams, had a good prawn pull and saw five bear....but no fish. They will simply have to come back!

About Sea Stars

Sea stars belong to the phylum echinoderm which means spiny skin. Sea stars have a unique vascular system that moves water through canals that end on the under surface in tube feet. These tube feet expand and contract allowing the animal to move and to eat. Sea stars feed mostly on mollusks such as clams and oysters and other echinoderms including sea urchins. The large sea star in the foreground of the picture is a Sunflower star which can grow to two feet in diameter and can be orange, red, yellow, pink or brown. The specimen on the left is a Pacific Blood Star and the smaller purple sea stars are known as Bat Stars. Sea Stars are not edible and have the ability to regenerate limbs.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Weathering In

Barkley Sound is a place of quick changing weather. The captain noted the forecast that predicted an unseasonably strong low and we moved to the inner part of the Sound. The glorious, sunny, calm seas quickly raged. We sought refuge behind Bazett Island anchored and stern tied protected from 40 mph Southeastern winds.

Bazett Island turned out to be a treasure with a clear small cove filled with oysters and clams. Te oysters were smaller and particularly tasty.

A trip across the base of Pipestem Inlet to Lucky Creek was interesting but somewhat less enchanting than the reports.

Snuggled in we are waiting for calm seas to return. We had wished for better weather for our guests. Little fishing time for one of our favorite fishermen but perhaps Rick will come to Campbell River.

Other Duties as Assigned

Mariner’s have long laughed that cruising is simply an opportunity to work on your boat in exotic places. Doug has experienced that first-hand tweeking of the diesel heat system, the dink suspension system, and the water maker since we left port.
A lesser told story is the first mate’s might opportunity to do laundry in new places such as Ucluelet. With a large supply of quarters, a load of laundry and a good book I headed up to the local Bubblemat for an afternoon of fun. The Bubblemat was a wonderful opportunity for people watching. Not unlike people watching at Heathrow . Just on a different wave length…hikers damp from the misty sea, young families vacationing, a skinny fisherman with bad teeth and a few fishing crew members. A rather weather beaten soul came up to me and asked how much it would cost to have me launder his clothes. Rather a change from my previous occupation…to be mistaken for a Laundromat employee.
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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Just a Glorious Anchorage

Effingham Bay with 10 boats at anchor was not our idea of paradise so we nosed around Gilbert Island to see if we could find shelter from the prevailing west swells and north west winds. The first nook was too deep for the captain’s comfort. The second on the west side of Effingham Island between Bauke and Austin Island was a good possibility. Our electronic navigation system, a paper chart evaluation and a dink perimeter survey was positive. We checked weather forecasts to ensure that there was no prediction for south winds.

We had a stunning view of the Pacific Ocean, wonderful tidal pools filled with California mussels, anemones, and ochre sea stars. Both the sunset and the sunrise were glorious.

Bearly Sharing

The sun broke gloriously over Useless Inlet and the tide was low. Our oyster and clam supplies were low and a foray to shore was planned. Barkley Sound has two types of oysters, the native Olympia oyster and the non native Pacific oyster. The Olympia oyster is smaller and rarely found while Pacific oysters are abundant and easily picked up at low tide. Manila clams are found on rocky beaches by digging with a small garden rake.

Buckets and tools in hand we piled in the dinghy and headed for shore. Just as we were preparing to beach the boat Doug spotted a black bear breakfasting down the beach. Despite our gawks, he was undisturbed. This is a good thing! Black bears can run up to 30 miles (66 kilometers) per hour and are powerful swimmers.

When the bear was a good distance down the beach, we stationed a guard in the dink and proceeded to gather provisions.

Monday, August 11, 2008

North to Ucluelet

Two nights ago we anchored in a primeval lagoon again guarded by a tricky entrance. Save a few kayakers we believed ourselves to be the only inhabitants. The tree moss was eerie growing in the shape of animals descending from trees…six raccoons diving for the water….a bear outstretched on a limb above an ancient fishing weir. The First Nation People had built a two-tiered rock formation to trap fish as the tide ebbed. Under an overhang the stain of ancient smoke and the shell midden remained. No spirits disturbed our peace during the quiet of the night.

We headed for Ucluelet. Not trusting our beginner’s luck with our 35 lb fish, we sought the advice of a fishing expert in Ucluelet. Glenn Kaczmar was more than helpful. The knowledge and his forty years of experience in these waters was impressive. He is such a nice person! If you choose not to buy a boat and want to fish in this area, he is recommended for charters without reservation. Glenn can be reached at 250.726.5032 or his toll free number is 877.871.8771. Although the fish were finicky today, we were not skunked. Thank you, Glenn.

Tonight the fog moves in on little cat paws and the Ucluelet fog horn mourns. We are in Fogust. Fog has always been a navigational hazard on this coast. In the old times sea captains sounded for the bottom and calculated their speed. At times Barkley Sound was indistinguishable from the entrance to the Straits of Juan de Fuca. Mistakes were costly. It is said that ghost ships sail these coasts but we have yet to sight one.

Whales were with us both today and yesterday surfacing 30 feet from the boat. Whales can hear our engines but sail boats are silent. This can be a difficulty as our friend, Craig, can attest. A whale destroyed his rudder and prop shaft system requiring unexpected repairs in Cairns, Australia.

I am now required to obtain the captain’s authorization to bring books aboard. Doug made some flimsy excuse about weight but it has more to do with my very own copy of Edible Seaweed: Identification and Recipes. Even reheated my beach asparagus was not applauded. Perhaps the kelp salad will be better.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Beginner's Luck

Hoping for a better shrimping experience, we moved to another inlet and with great hope set the pots in a couple of hundred feet of water. We had marked fish at about 90 feet coming up the inlet and decided to troll back toward the anchorage in Jane’s Bay that we had selected.

Other than our puny rock cod, we had not landed a fish. Jan at the helm and Doug manning the rod and managing the downriggers we were set. We had trolled about 45 minutes when Doug sang out those wonderful words, “FISH ON!” Only a newly wed would ask his bride to land a big fish that he had hooked. She fought hard and was a fun catch for both of us. Beautiful chrome that we estimate to be 35 lbs. She was 37 inches long with a 27 inch girth. Salmon for dinner !

The Seafood Market in Barkley Sound

We are in an inlet avoided by most cruisers. The narrow channel is guarded by fierce rocks and a current to match. Doug’s navigation skills aided by Jan as a bow look out safely guided us to a pristine wonderland. The shoreline is dotted with small floating houses and there was little sign of human activity save a black dog wandering near a cabin. We motored toward the cabin intending a friendly wave. The dog became a black bear and failed to return our warm greeting. We motored on.
A calm and safe cove with a good holding bottom was located and the boat secured. In the evening we set two prawn pots and two crab pots and settled in for a steak dinner. The night was the most quiet we have experienced. Not even a lapping of water on the shore could be heard. We woke at first light.
We poured our second cup of coffee and headed out in the dinghy for the prawn pots. Scarcely fifty feet from us a black bear was eating breakfast at the beach watching us haul the pots. Our pull provided about 25 nice prawns. We reset the traps and hope for a good evening pull. The crab pot pull provided us with twenty-five crabs eleven of whom now reside in our live well. We stopped for a few minutes and gathered enough oysters for a breakfast feast. The provisioning continued after breakfast where we gathered our limits of oysters and steamer clams and a few mussels. Our seafood larder is set for our next guests who will arrive in a few days.
On another note, I am happy to announce that neither of us has been arrested by the fashion police. Doug is particularly at risk. Yesterday he was caught wearing his maroon moose jammie bottoms with a red Hydroblast long sleeved tee topped by an orange and blue fuzzy vest. A sight to behold! Perhaps that is why we have no company.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

On the First Part of the Journey

It is hard to comprehend the strength of the Columbia River. The water flow is visible 200 miles out to sea. Pleasant journey to Astoria but foul weather kept us in port for two days. Particularly disappointing to Ryan and Shari who had a scant week before returning to Chico. On the third day there was a window and we headed out. The bar was rougher than we would prefer with waves at 9 feet at 11 seconds. We picked our way through but the bar closed to recreational vessels an hour later. The 11 hour trip to Neah Bay was tiring and rough. As mariners must we made a decision to take Shari and Ryan to Victoria as they would have had a single day in Barkley Sound before making the two day journey to connect with their flight south. The lovely Royal Victoria Yacht Club hosted us for two days. Shari and Ryan had a taste of Victoria and engaged in one of our favorite pastimes - foraging for food. Eight crab later we bid adieu to Shari and Ryan and headed for Port Renfrew where we spent a lovely evening on the hook.

The next morning at 0630 we pulled anchor and headed for Swiftsure Banks hopeful for halibut. As we progressed the seas changed from fairly quiet to northwest swells of 9 feet at 11 seconds. We tried but were not able to keep bait on the bottom. Our efforts resulted in a rock cod proudly caught by Jan and a rough journey to shore.

Barkley Sound was once the home to 10,000 Indians who were well skilled in seamanship. The islands are dotted with middens which are the shell remains of the Indian's seafood feasts. Rumor has it that in the deep water caves found on the islands there can be found many burial grounds which even contain bentwood boxes and ancestoral remains. I prefer to look for those that sparkle with orange and purple starfish.