Sunday, June 26, 2011


Yesterday we left Squirrel Cove which had become less crowded but was still a pretty busy place and trolled our way around Redonda Island.  Once again we failed to deplete the BC fishery at all. 

Before starting our unsuccessful fishing expedition we made a brief stop in Refuge Cove.  Judging by the age of the buildings around the bay it was an early supply depot for the Desolation Sound area.  Its now owned by some kind of a co-operative made up of local property owners but it was pretty quiet yesterday.  The store manager was extremely happy to see us there buying his overpriced groceries.  Maintaining grocery stock in a place like that would be a thankless job – I expect he throws out 1 part of produce for every 2 or 3 that he sells.  His produce was fresh but the selection was limited and it was all bloody expensive so we bought as little as we thought we could get away with.  Our goal will be to hit Comox or Pender Harbour with no fresh produce left onboard.  Which side of the strait we end up on will be entirely weather dependent.  So far the winter (southeast) winds have been relentless.  If that continues we’ll likely end up on the mainland side of the strait.  There’s a lot of open water to the SE if you leave from Comox; if you leave from Vancouver the crossing is relatively short to Active Pass.  Either way we’ll get bounced around a bit but for a much shorter time if we leave from Vancouver.

Refuge Cove is also home to Dave’s garbage barge which is exactly what it sounds like.  Up here you can’t just drop off garbage when you tie up to a dock because it costs them money to get rid of garbage in these more isolated places.  I suppose if you spent the night on the dock they might (or might not) take your garbage but for sure when you tie up to go grocery shopping you don’t get to leave anything behind.  That’s where Dave comes in.  He’s pretty ragged looking and likely smells really bad but we didn’t stop long enough for that to matter.  We sidled up close to his barge, he flopped his bare feet over close to the edge and when we got close enough he took our bag of garbage.  Marilyn handed over 5 bux and we were on our way.  We had a “big” bag which should have een $10 but ours wasn’t very full so we got rid of it for $5.  As we were leaving I’m sure Dave was sorting through our garbage looking for recyclable cans but he would have been disappointed because those get stomped on and put in a cat litter pail to wait for SNSYC’s recycling bin.  They use the funds to support their junior sailing program.

After we gave up on fishing we slogged on through the rain to Elworthy Island.  I had scoped out several potential anchorages ahead of time but Elworthy was my first choice.  It was also the last one we came to so we checked out a couple before we got there just in case it was full or not to our liking.  As it was it turned out to be a delightful little spot.  We ended up stern tied to the island in a narrow (maybe 300 yards at its widest spot) channel with 2 sailboats.  It was absolutely pissing rain by the time we got anchored but we got a brief respite that let us get a stern tie rigged and it was still pouring this morning.  We had decided we wouldn’t move in the rain but in the late morning the clouds broke a bit and we ended up pulling the anchor and having lunch under a bit of sunshine.

We only had about 4 miles to go to get to our current location but the timing of our arrival was critical.  The entrance to Roscoe Bay actually dries at chart datum.  That means that at “zero” on the charts you can walk across the channel that we came in through today.  I’m looking forward to the extreme low tide early tomorrow morning so I can get a good look at the rocks we came over.  I’ve got our track saved on the GPS but I think I can go through with the dinghy at extreme low and get a track on the Garmin handheld that I will then be able to export and compare to the one we came in on.  The extreme low tomorrow is still 5 or 6 feet above chart datum so the channel shouldn’t be completely dry.

This whole chart/tide thing is part of the learning curve.  Charts in Canada are drawn to mean lowest low water levels.  In the US they are drawn to mean low water level which has the effect of making US water look deeper than Canadian water which of course it isn’t.  From a practical standpoint you just want to avoid hitting the rocks.  Intuitively it would seem that always entering on a high tide would be the safest way to accomplish that but that isn’t always true.  High tides can hide rocks just below the surface just as easily as low tides can bring you close to other deeper rocks.  In a perfect world we would scout out the channels at low tide and traverse them at high tide but that opportunity doesn’t always present itself.  We’re going to spend a couple of nights here so I’m going to make a point of doing exactly that and then save the results for the next trip.  And I’ll use the results on the way out, all the while listening to the shallow alarm on the depth sounder going beeeeeep, beeeeeep, beeeeeep, beeeeeeep …………….

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