Ahclakerho Islands to Geetla Basin

I hate to start every blog post with a weather report, but it is so spectacular today that it cannot go without reporting. Clear skies and calm winds, a real treat for this time of the year.


What a beautiful morning, you just know it is going to be a good day

We are off for Geetla Basin, which means we need to head back down Smith Sound and round up into Rivers Inlet, while avoiding any ebb issues. We think we have the timing right, so we’re not concerned, and the wind is benign. This time, on the way out, Karen saw the pictograph. It makes you wonder – what does it mean, that “bug”?


I love the way life clings to even the smallest opportunity. We call these bonsai islands.


Beautiful ride up the channel under the Northwest Exploration burgee


Currents in the channel reflect in the sun


The current was running almost two knots on our stern as we departed the Ahclakerho

Today is the day we try the watermaker for the first time. One tank is down a little more than half, owing to the two loads of laundry we did enroute to Fly Basin. Alaskan Dream is equipped with a Village Marine water maker that produces about 20 gallons per hour. The only downside of this installation is that there is no remote operating panel in the salon, which means you have to go into the engine room to operate the unit. And, of course, you only operate water makers when you’re underway. Not a big deal, when you consider the flexibility it gives us in planning trips to areas where water supplies are scarce. The owner did a great job of writing up the operational instructions and with a turn of a valve here, a flip of a switch there, check the flow, turn another handle and lo and behold, we’re making fresh water.

After a couple of hours, it seemed the fill rate, which one can monitor with the water tank gauges in the salon, had stopped. When I went to check the water maker, it had switched itself from normal to “dump/cleaning”, and the psi of the outflow had dropped well below the desired target. Inspecting the 5 micron filter, it was completely encased in a 1/6 inch of green slime. That was a surprise, given that we were running in large open channels and the water is so cold (46F). I changed the filter, and all was well. Tomorrow we’re moving to different waters and we make some more water in earnest and see what the filter captures as we travel.


Green slime clogs the watermaker filter

The big excitement for the day was spotting a small pod of Orca. As we were entering the mouth of Rivers Inlet, Karen spotted the fin of a female. As we continued to scan the area for more activity, the larger fin of a male appeared and later another small fin. They were traveling in a straight line in the opposite direction with a sense of purpose. We watched as they departed Rivers Inlet while we began making our way up. Our destination was Geetla Basin. But on the way up, we took a short detour to check out Duncanby (a high end fishing resort that was not yet open), and we enjoyed winding our way along the small islets. We also saw the Cannery under renovation at the end of Goose Bay, but did not go down to tie up and go ashore.

Just off the open and sometimes challenging Rivers Inlet, you’ll find Geetla Basin. A quick turn in though a narrow entry and then some rocks, and you’re rewarded with a wonderful small anchorage that can handle two or three boats with ease. It was very well protected and offers good holding…and we were again alone, with the exception of a frolicking seal. This anchorage is recommended by the Hamiltons in The Secret Coast, and it’s a great spot.

Immediately after securing Alaskan Dream, we launched the dinghy to explore the east/west oriented lagoon that is at the end of Magee channel. According the Hamilton’s Cruising the Secret Coast, you can take the dinghy in there on higher tides. They were right as always and we explored, looking to the float house that they reported at the west end. It was not there, but we did find that it looked possible to go through the cut at the west end into Darby Channel. Certainly only something to be attempted in a dinghy or Kayak, but at this high a tide, it was doable.


The dinghy is a great way to do a quick overview, before launching the kayaks

We swung by the entrance to Geetla Inlet, where the kayaking was supposed to be good. The tide had to be above 10’ at Bella Bella to allow entry. Saw that the dinghy path was blocked by a downed tree, so we went back to the boat to get the kayaks and wait for the tide to rise a bit.  The challenge here is that about one third of a mile up the narrow inlet channel is a section about a quarter mile long that dries.. To complicate matters further, one must manage the currents flowing in and out of the two large lagoons to avoid fighting the current on entry and exit. We left about 5:19, knowing high tide at Bella Bella was at 6:08. Our plan was to ride the current in, and then ride the current out.

We did ride the current in.  The base current was about 1.5 knots in the wider entry section, which made for a great ride. However, in the narrow, shallow, rocky sections, the current would pick up a couple of knots and some small rapids made us pay attention as we navigated between rocks and fallen trees.

We paddled into the first large lagoon and came upon twenty five or so sea gulls making the most ungodly racket. The only thing we could think of is that it was mating season, because no one was fishing.


Bob backlit in “Gull Lagoon”

I decided that it was time to head back, because it was about 6:15 and the current should be changing soon to run out the inlet. Well, Karen and I fought our way up-inlet for a while and finally had to take shelter in a spot out of the current behind a fallen tree to wait for the current to slow and then reverse. We clearly did not use the correct current info! We had to wait, with me holding onto a rock and Karen holding on to my kayak, for an hour for the adverse current to slow and then stop. Karen was so impatient, she wanted to go anyway, but I convinced her to wait, and it was a good decision. We cast off at 7:21 and had a lovely paddle back to the boat, without having to fight any current. We were happy to get back to the boat, that’s for sure!


Waiting for the current to go slack

After stowing the kayaks and the dinghy, we had an easy meal of Chili and homemade drop biscuits. One more episode of The Good Wife later, off to bed at 11pm…and it’s still sort of light out.