Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Bits and bumps

We’re getting close to home again.  Yesterday we left Nanaimo and cruised down the protected water of Stuart Channel into Sansum Narrows and on to Cow Bay.  I wimped out in the morning and decided that we should stay tied up at Newcastle Island across from Nanaimo.  Then I changed my mind and we came anyway.  The reason for my indecision was the storm that is arriving even as I type.  I expect we’ll be out of power sometime today, if not worse.  I’m glad we’ve got chafe guard on the lines – we’ll need it today.  One US forecast that I heard last night said we could expect 25 foot sustained waves but I didn’t catch exactly where that was and it sure as hell won’t be here in the protected waters on the east side of the island.  Out on the west side is another matter altogether and I expect it will get pretty nasty.  The forecasts have been using the “H” word (Hurricane).  When Jim and Judy visited last night they said that the ferries might not run today.  Already we’re rocking and rolling pretty good and the worst isn’t supposed to hit until later this morning.  We were offered a bed ashore last night but I thought we’d be better off worrying onboard than worrying away from the boat. 

I called this picture “Yellow Stick in the Ocean” because that’s what it is.  We came upon it somewhere between Comox and Nanaimo.  It seemed like it popped out of the ocean all of a sudden but I suppose it must have been there all along, I just didn’t see it until shortly before I would have run it over.  I made a sharp dogleg right and ran toward the shore for a while because it appeared that it was marking a buoy line which I assume was marking or holding up fishing nets.  There’s a large fishing boat visible on the horizon in the picture as well.  I had seen him zooming around the horizon ahead of us but didn’t expect that he was laying a trap for us.  We still have a lot to learn.

Dick had a harrowing tale of his first transit through Dodd Narrows and he made the trip sound pretty intimidating.  The actual transit was a piece of cake but approaching the narrows was alarming.

As you approach the narrows at first you can’t see any gap in the trees.  We’re familiar with that sensation from our boating time in northern Saskatchewan.  You can be on the Churchill River looking around you and have it appear that you are surrounded by shoreline, apparently in a small lake.  Yet as you follow the chart the shoreline will gradually resolve into an outlet that lets you into the next basin in which you will again appear to be surrounded.  Dodd Narrows maintained the deception until we were really close, as you can see in the picture.  And even up close it was pretty damn skinny.  Some lucky SOB has a house/cabin on the north shore overlooking the narrows.  We steamed through without a pause – I didn’t even put out a Securité call on the radio because we could see that we were the only boat within 10 miles.  We passed a tug pulling a log boom just north of the channel – I’m glad we didn’t meet him in the middle.

In fairness to Dick’s tale of his harrowing first trip through Dodd Narrows he failed to consult any tide tables prior to that trip.  In that narrow space I can only imagine how exciting it might get with a big tide trying to force itself through that little spot.  We carefully timed our arrival for slack current and happened to be lucky enough to hit a high slack as well so it was a pretty simple transit.

When we got down to Cow Bay there were several tankers at anchor.  That’s unusual and I thought maybe it was in anticipation of the coming storm but the marina manager says he thinks it’s a sign of the boom in resources that the economy is enjoying. 

I’ve never seen as many freighters anchored in English Bay as we saw there when we went to the boat show.  Gary thinks that’s a side effect of the boom in the resource industry – the vessels can’t get loaded fast enough and occasionally they get stacked up waiting to load.  When they get too full in English Bay then some of them end up over here. 

We even managed to get some hooks wet yesterday but we didn’t impact the fish stocks.  I’m convinced that the BC fishing regs are so convoluted and impossible to decipher that it is inevitable that you will be ticketed if you are stopped.  Yesterday I tried to ensure that we were in compliance and we didn’t get checked so we didn’t get ticketed but I’m convinced that somewhere in some way we likely violated some obscure regulation. 

Its been really frustrating getting set up to fish out here because the silly SOBs haven’t heard of leaders.  Apparently they tie their own.  Marilyn is heading back to Saskatchewan to pick up some contract work and she will be stopping at Canadian Tire to pick up about a gross of leaders to import to BC.  As far as I can tell they don’t violate any fishing reg out here but who knows – until we get stopped we won’t know for sure.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the lessons in the geography of the PNW.

I can’t find any charts of the area online, but I’ve been following using Google maps.

Fascinating area!

There is a thread titled “Nanaimo, BC Changes” at, that you might find interesting.

About 3/4 of the way down on the first page is a request by “Reporter3" of the Nanaimo News Bulletin (with contact info) for boaters to contact her for a story the paper is writing about anchoring/mooring restrictions in Nanaimo.

Thanks for the interesting posts,

DeFever PassageMaker
Merritt Island, FL.