Bull Harbour to Winter Harbour via Cape Scott

The morning was still. The forecast was reasonably good for our rounding of Cape Scott. The winds were to be from the northwest later changing to south. The northwest part we liked but not the forecast for south, because that would put the seas on our bow with the current on our stern. The weather radio was also using a new term we had never heard before: “near gales”, is that like almost pregnant? The terminology mariners have be using for generations has served us well. Parsing between near gale and gale seems to solve a problem that does not exist.

Looking at the big picture though, I could not see that any of this forecast was going to happen quite as Environment Canada was predicting. The ridges and troughs we have been under the influence of for most of our trip have moved slower and dissipated more quickly than the weatherman has predicted.

We’ll find out soon enough.

While on the subject of weather, I am making good us of GRIB weather files on this trip. GRIB files are relatively small text files that you can download even with slow satellite connections speeds for any geographic area you define. You need some software on your computer to translate the text into a graphical presentation, but once you do you get a great view of weather patterns for multiple days. Pressure, winds, wave heights, cloud cover, precipitation -- are all there. This is what I call raw data. It is the same information the meteorologists are looking at to make their predictions.

I am much happier looking at the data myself and making my own predictions. So far, I’m doing better than the very conservative Environment Canada. I’ll continue to refine my skills, but I see the GRIB files along with actual buoy and reporting stations updates as being my primary source of weather info.

We started pulling the anchor up a few minutes early, perhaps anxious to get the rounding done. Just before us, Kodiak left the dock heading south down the inside and the Duffy Morgan (steel sailboat) made headway just before us. Apparently they had researched Karen’s suggestion of going behind the Tattnall Reefs to avoid the Nahwitti Bar because they are on our schedule now. I hope it works out for them. You like to share information freely, but if they have a bad ride, you feel a little guilty.

Everybody leaves Bull Harbour

Everybody leaves Bull Harbour

Karen described the Tatnall Reefs route as "most excellent". The Nahwitti Bar looked passable, but there was a continuous one meter swell from the northwest. . The low swells continued and the calm winds persisted as we approached Cape Scott. 

All in all, it was a nice ride

With Karen at the helm, the rounding of Cape Scott was uneventful with a low swell from the northwest and some ripples from the developing south winds.

The seas were cooperative

The seas were cooperative

As we proceeded down the coast we were in and out of rain showers with corresponding decreases and increases in visibility. Sometimes we could see the coast and sometimes not.

Rounding Cape Scott

Rounding Cape Scott

Soon the Canadian Coast Guard cutterTanu appeared as an AIS target. Good, something to do! I explored the features of tracking AIS targets in the Nobeltec Odyssey program. I could track the Tanu and display all its pertinent information in a separate window. I don’t know if the cutter had a planned heading change or if the captain ordered someone to come take look at us, but the ship changed its course slightly and the AIS predicted a passing of about one mile. Coincidentally that was the prevailing visibility.

As the Tanu passed abeam we could make out her red hull in the fog and mist.

When the weather would lift and the beaches appeared, we would do a little sightseeing. Then the visibility would come down and we would return to our cocoon of mist.

Karen was reading when she got up and announced “where’s the critters?” At the same time a group of sea lions popped up of our port forward beam not 30 yards away. “Over there”, I replied. The group was spy-hopping us for a good look. Then they would dive and pop up again about half the distance to the boat. One more time they appeared. This time, within 10 feet and abeam our port. They were definitely checking us out. They would lift themselves out of the water showing almost 40% of their body length. That was fun, now back to watching the miles tick away as the swells pushed us south.

The rain and mist continued all the way into the anchorage. We changed our destination slightly from Winter Harbour to North Harbour just inside the entrance to Winter Harbour. Alaskan Dream tucked in behind the island and dropped her anchor in front of a small sailboat with Honolulu printed on its side. I could swear it is the same that was tied up behind us in Queen Charlotte City. We’ll hang here overnight and then go up to Winter Harbour to provision and take on water before we go to our next anchorage. 

North Harbour anchorage neighbor  

North Harbour anchorage neighbor