I apologize for the delay in blogging but it sure is the wild west coast out here! This is the case for numerous reasons: watching the weather and route planning have become full time jobs, we are exhausted at the end of every day and there is barely any cell service or wifi to be found.
When we left Port Hardy, we planned to spend one night at Bull Harbour and round Cape Scott the following day.
As we were doing our planning to cross the Nahwitti Bar and round Cape Scott, we realized all the factors that had to align. We needed a weather window, calm seas and light winds. We needed to cross the Nahwitti Bar at either high water or low water slack. Finally we needed the conditions at Cape Scott to be reasonable for rounding.
A tricky part was that high water slack is the best time to cross the Nahwitti Bar but it was around 0200 or late afternoon. This means we would need to weigh anchor and head out in the dark around 0100 or wait around all day and leave at 1400. We didn’t want to leave in the dark but we also didn’t want to leave too late in the day because it was a 32 mile run to the nearest safe anchorage in Sea Otter Cove.
We ended up having two weather days before meeting two other sailing cruisers, Max on Maggie May II and Pete on Eagle Wing. We decided to try catching high water slack at 0200 and travel together with them around the cape. I guess you could say we were keen to get going. Bull Harbour is very protected but there is nowhere to go ashore so we all felt pretty cooped up. So we weighed anchor at 0100 and hit several logs in the dark as we headed out of Bull Harbour. We had just turned into the main channel when we decided to turn around as the seas were so very rough and unpleasant. We headed back into Bull Harbour along with Max and Pete who also turned around anchored once again and went back to sleep by 0300.
We woke up and decided to give it another go at low water slack this time, around 0900. Again, us along with Max and Pete headed out of Bull Harbour. It was better this time but once we were able to see the Nahwitti Bar, we were shocked to find big breaking waves straight across the entire channel. The other sailboats were ahead of us and we were watching them and chatting on the radio to see how they found it. This time we came just onto the Nahwitti Bar before we decided to turn around because the conditions were just too lumpy. We said goodbye on the radio to the other boats that were continuing on. At this point we thought we might not try again and ran east down Goletas channel and Bate pass.
Since we had attempted at low water slack, that meant once we turned around we had the current with us so we sailed downwind with the spinnaker, while the current helped us along. We decided we couldn’t stomach another night in Bull Harbour and we were not sure what our plans were so we headed to Cascade Harbour on Nigei Island, where we knew we would be able to get the kids out on shore. At this point, it had been 3 days since we had been ashore.
Once anchored in Cascade Harbour, we enjoyed a walk along a boardwalk across a small island to an unoccupied house overlooking Queen Charlotte Strait.
That night we looked at the weather for Cape Scott again and after some more planning, we decided that we would give it one more shot the next day. If the conditions were not good, then we would head back down through the inside passage. If it did work out, we planned to anchor in Sea Otter Cove on the west coast.
The next morning we were delighted to watch 3-4 Humpbacks as we headed through Bate Passage towards Goletas Channel. Both girls were napping so I took the opportunity to get out our good camera with our zoom lens to attempt to get some photos of the whales. I was in my element here and decided that no matter what happened that day, it was going to be a good one!
When we came to the Nahwitti Bar, it looked manageable so we kept going and ended up crossing it no problem, all while the girls were still sleeping.
We had 3-4 foot waves on the bow as we approached Cape Scott but once we were off the cape, it was glassy and sunny! We finally had our chance and picked the right weather window!
It turned out the wind was too light to fully sail so we motor sailed most of the way. It was beautiful and we continued to have calm seas all day so we passed Sea Otter Cove and continued onto Winter Harbour.
We were grateful to have Ellery’s father Bob onboard as he helped with cruising duties and with the girls. I’m not sure we would have even attempted this without him.
We were pretty excited to get to Winter Harbour because we would be able to tie up to the dock, go ashore, have showers and hopefully find some wifi.
Just as we were coming into the harbour, the two cruisers we had met in Bull Harbour and attempted the Nahwitti Bar with, saw our boat and radioed us to say hi. It can be a bit isolating out here so the VHF radio is our lifeline to connecting with other boaters and we love running into familiar boats and faces.
A couple of minutes later, we saw SV Cariba, a boat we were actually hoping to meet up with in Winter Harbour. We met Sue and Brian on Cariba a couple of times last year out cruising and then we saw them in Poet’s Cove on Pender Island at the beginning of our trip this year. They planned to sail around Vancouver Island clockwise by going up the west coast first. We were following their progress on their blog S/V Cariba up the west coast and hoped to meet up with them at some point and were so happy to see them in Winter Harbour!
Needless to say, we had a great couple of nights at the dock in Winter Harbour. We joined Sue and Brian onboard Cariba for an evening of drinks and salty tales.
We also met another cruising boat, a catamaran called SV Kyrie. More about this boat in the next post because we ended up cruising with them for a bit because they have kids on board!