Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Very civilized anchorage

Yesterday concurrent with listening to the idiot trespassing into WG we crossed Georgia Strait back to Nanaimo in time to make the slack at Dodd Narrows.  Once through Dodd we ducked around the corner of De Courcy island and tied up in Pirates Cove. 

We’ve been here before and aside from a slightly tricky entrance and doubtful holding its a pretty good anchorage.  The last time we were here we buggered around for a long time trying to get a good set but eventually ended up just dropping the hook and praying.  The sides of the inlet are steep and rocky.  I expect there just isn’t enough mud on the bottom for the anchor to hook into anything really solid.  It is however so thoroughly protected that I don’t think it really matters and in addition someone has installed stern tie rings all around the shoreline.  So once we are stern tied with even a little help from the anchor we are pretty secure against the very light winds we may experience. 

We had stern tie rings in the rocks at Smuggler Cove as well but they were hard to spot.  They were painted kind of a rusty red that sort of blended into the rock.  Here the rings are painted bright yellow and then they have painted a yellow arrow on the rocks pointing at each ring.  Its really very civilized. 


The entrance here is a little tricky.  There’s a long reef that extends out from the peninsula with a port hand marker on the end of the reef.  At high tide it looks like the marker is just out in the middle of the ocean but this morning at low tide the reef extends all the way out to the marker.  In the photo below the marker is a little above and to the left of centre.  You can clearly see the reef but it was completely invisible when we arrived yesterday afternoon. 


There’s a crude set of range markers on the shore to guide you into the inlet because the reef extends past the marker but to my way of thinking the range isn’t far enough out so I kind of ignored it yesterday.  Range marks aren’t real common but when they are well done they can be very useful.  The concept is that they put two marks on shore – a “close” mark and a “far” mark.  So typically the close mark will be right on the shoreline or even in shallow water and the far mark will be maybe a hundred yards or more onshore and higher up in the air.  When you are on the water you just line up the close mark under the far mark and when they are directly aligned you know you are in a straight line offshore from the marks.  There’s a really good set of range markers to guide you into the Swinomish Channel, between Seattle and Anacortes.


In the image above you can see our route coming up from the bottom centre and then turning east into the channel.  You have to make the turn out in the middle of nowhere and the channel is very narrow.  Its a dredged channel so you haven’t got much room for error.  What you do is wait until the two markers indicated by the yellow arrows line up and then keep them in line as you head generally east into the channel.  In this case both markers are on towers in the water but the principle is the same – you keep the lower, closer marker directly under the higher, farther away marker. 

The entrance here drops to as little as 2 feet at low tide so its important for us to enter with 5 feet or more of tide in our favour.  We had about 12 feet yesterday so no worries but its still a tight entrance.  This morning I watched a pair of fools in a boat slightly smaller than Gray Hawk leave close to extreme low tide.  I always wonder in a case like that if they just don’t know better or if they are really well informed.  Based on episodes like the one we listened to yesterday I tend to assume that most fellow mariners are just stupidly lucky.  My father used to say “God looks out for fools and small children.”

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