The alarm sounded its message at 6am, one hour before sunrise and a half hour before we wanted to weigh anchor. Our passage today would take us through Beware Passage. The information on this passage recommends low slack water as the ideal time to transition through this area. While it looks open, there are many islets and hidden rocks you must weave your way through.
Low tide affords the best possible look at the obstructions, although some never dry. We followed our plan and arrived at the start of Beware Passage right at seven. With an eye on the GPS plotter and another on the water, we had an uneventful passage. By taking it slow and following the recommended “low water” course to the north, it’s a fairly easy pass. The channel is deep, so all your attention can be directed to making good your course.
Shortly after transiting Beware Passage, we tucked into Native Anchorage on Village Island, a spot recommended by Max from Kwatsi Bay. Breakfast was on the agenda, followed by showers and a morning of doing nothing as we hoped for the skies to clear.
Except for a few dolphins that passed though the anchorage, we were alone. As has been the pattern for the last two days, the sun started to part the clouds about noon and we began to think about “where to next?”.
Our first stop was to look at the abandoned Indian settlement at Mamaliliculla. There was not much to see and we were not in the mood to make a dinghy assault on the beach and climb up to see the abandoned structures. We saw some from the boat, so we’ll save the on-shoring for another time.
Next we stopped (in the water) and looked at the Indian settlement at New Vancouver. The native Indians returned to this area in 2003 and built a very nice looking settlement with an outstanding dock and an impressive “big house”. We’ll add this to the “visit again” list to see if we can get a tour of the big house – it looks grand.
We continued a little further and dropped anchor in Mound Bay for a lunch stop. Mound was on our list as a possible overnight anchorage, but the locals gave it only an OK rating, so we decided to make this a brief layover. While having lunch, we heard on the radio that there were both Orca and Humpback whales in Blackfish Sound off Cracroft Point. As we were only 2.5 miles from there, we changed plans again and quickly made our way down Blackney Passage into Johnstone Strait. There were a few boats drifting in the area and sure enough, we saw whale spouts as we approached.
Once there, we took the engines into idle and drifted, watching and waiting. We were not disappointed. We saw numerous Orca whales. They were trying to feed on the white-sided dolphins that were there to feed on the smaller fish that congregate the confluence of Blackfish Sound and Johnstone Strait.
A medium sized female Orca swims by
Coming right at us
It's fun to see the different markings and to try to track specific individuals
Every fin is unique
When these two waters meet, large whirlpools and eddies form and the water churns and spins. As we watched the whales, our boat would spin gently in the whirlpool and bob in the turbulent waters. But that was a small price to pay for a good look at these mammals in action. We would see the dolphins moving along slowly and then suddenly they would accelerate, jump out of the water and swim for their lives with an Orca right on their tails.
After about an hour they moved on and so did we. Max from Kwatsi Bay had great things to say about the anchorage at Goat Island (off Crease Island), so we set course for his recommendation.
Max from Kwatsi Bay was correct. A beautiful panorama surrounds this special spot. As we settled in and after enjoying a beer on the flybridge, I went to the swim step to answer the call of Mother Nature. I was looking over at a nearby island and noticed a black rock. I was talking to myself about how we always hope that these black rocks are black bears, but we are always disappointed. Just then, the black rock moved.
“Bear!”, I called out to Karen, “come quick!” As it turned out, there was no need to hurry. The bear cooperated for the next hour as he went about his business. The funniest part of this experience is that there were a pair of very large ravens that were tormenting this bear.
Surround by noisy ravens
They would cry at him, fly mock attacks, even pick up a large piece of straw and threaten him. The two large black birds would surround him, one in the front and one behind.
What do you think the Raven on the right is going to do with that "stick"?
I’m not certain what the conflagration was all about, but after about 15 minutes, the bear got tired of these two, and moved on. He ate his way along the side of the island, enjoying a series of berry bushes and some hors d’oeuvres found by turning over rocks at the water’s edge.
The berry banquet
When he arrived at the end of the island, he proceeded to walk into the water and swim over to the next larger island.
Who you looking at?
Time for a change of venue
Once there, he continued his feasting on the berry buffet, until he disappeared in the thick forest. Watching him shake off the water like a large dog was really funny!
Shake it off
Needless to say, we had a great day – from now own, September 13th is officially known as “Critter Day.”