Monday, April 21, 2014

Last chance to see

Douglas Adams and some Greenpeace dude wrote a book called Last Chance to See that was devoted to animals about to become extinct.  That’s the way I feel about a lot of the places we are visiting on this trip.  They’re about to go extinct.  It feels like it is important to see them before they disappear.

This morning we got an early start out of Port Hardy, leaving at daylight with a couple of fishermen.  When we got out in the Strait I checked my Marine Traffic app and there was a regular old convoy of tugs moving out toward Cape Caution.  I took that as a good sign.  Maybe I shouldn’t have. As it turned out, of the four tugs I spotted on that first check, only one actually went out around Cape Caution with us.  The other three chickened out and waited for better water. 

Immediately after checking Marine Traffic I also checked the Environment Canada coastal weather site.  There’s one particular auto-reporting ocean buoy that people use as a go/no go decision tool out of Port Hardy.  The general recommendation is to stay home if its worse than 1.5 meters.  It was 3.7 meters this morning.  I reasoned that it was significantly improved from the 6 or 7 meters that it had been registering over the weekend.  And we could always turn back – right?  In my defence there was no wind and the seas outside Port Hardy were dead calm.  We’re anchored now and we never put a drop of salt spray on any of the glass the whole day.  That’s considerably better than some days.

We did however ride the biggest waves we have ever seen – I’m gonna say the biggest waves we’ve seen anywhere while in a boat riding on the ocean.  We’ve seen bigger waves at Big Sur but that’s from the safety of the coastal highway, watching them crash in on the beach.  Today we were out there riding the roller coaster.  And it really wasn’t that bad although it did put my crew to sleep – it was either that or she was going to get sick so I was glad to see her go to sleep.

As ocean waves go, these weren’t particularly large either.  Vessel traffic was claiming 3 or 4 meters when we started heading out toward Cape Caution but I think that was BS.  I don’t think they were that big.  Once we got out past the Cape with our lone tugboat escort he got on the radio and was telling the guys who were too chicken to come out that we were in 4 meters of ocean swell with 3 feet chop on top of them.  I could buy the 4 meter swell but the 3 foot chop was a stretch IMHO.  Its hard to tell when you’re in the middle of it.  I did see a Seatow boat go by in the middle of the adventure so I had him for a frame of reference and he was completely disappearing into the swells.  He was probably 40, maybe 50 feet overall and I suppose he might have been 20 feet to the top of his radar.  But that doesn’t mean the waves were 20 feet because I could have been down in a trough at the same time he was down in another trough.

The big issue for me was how we were going to get into our anchorage.


That’s the kind of crap I had all around me on the reefs and shoreline.  It doesn’t show very well but that explosion of white on the waterline toward the left side of the photo is not another boat.  That’s the surf exploding upwards when it hits the shore. 


In the end it was completely anti-climactic.  There were enough islands on the way in to shelter our entrance.  This spot – Fury Cove – is described in one of the guidebooks as “bombproof” and I think that is accurate.  Right on the other side of that little round tuft of bushes in the photo above is the wide open and wild Fitzhugh Sound but inside this cove is perfectly calm.  There’s great yellow sand beaches all around the edge of the cove so I think we are anchored in hard sand – it felt solid when it set.  We’ll probably stay here a couple of nights.  There’s no cell coverage here so by the time you read this we will have moved on.  Next stop Namu – Google it – Namu is one of those “last chance to see” spots.

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