Seattle Boat Show

We spent a week at the Seattle Boat show looking at what's both new and old in Pacific Northwest boating. We also mixed our nautical exploits with excursions in and around Seattle. The show also provided an opportunity for us to visit with friends. It seems we have amassed a great bunch of people who live in and around Seattle. Some are fellow cruisers we met in faraway anchorages and others are old friends from many different places and times in our lives. Everyone we talked to said the boat show traffic was up from last year, and the prices were down. I don't know if this is a reflection of better times ahead or simply a response to the more approachable price points.

The queue on opening morning


Karen takes the master head for a "dry run"


 Karen and Bob get in some "tourist time"


An evening view of the Lake Union in-water show from a 60ft Willard


Seattle skyline from Alki Beach


Seattle morning skyline from the stern of the Bainbridge Ferry


Dinner at a French Bistro overlooking the Harbor of Seattle


The main floor of the indoor show at the Quest Center


I had to pry Karen off the Krogen 58

Another great dinner in Seattle



Karen helps navigate when we lend a hand moving boats after the show closes


We had to delay our return home for one day because of the winter storm that shut down the East Coast. Even those Seattle cloudy days look good when you're shoveling two feet of snow.

Welcome Home!!!

Double Bay to Pearce Islands

The fog was as thick as the preverbal “pea soup” when I awoke at 7:20AM. The forecast was for it to burn off this morning, but I’ve come to learn that in the vernacular of Environment Canada that could be any time up to and including 11:59.

The most interesting activity of the morning was listening to the whale boat reports that complained about not being able to see a thing in the fog. One boat reported that they spotted a fast approaching target on the radar only to have a seaplane land 200 meters from his boat. I thought nothing about that report, until I heard the unmistakable wine of a turbine aircraft engine.

I looked out into the fog only to eye an approaching seaplane.


FOG...  FOG...  FOG...

The pilot shut off his engine, got out of the plane and asked if we knew where the resort that was in Double Bay. He also asked if we could call them to send a boat out to guide him to the resort. I can only image what was going through the minds of the people who had their faces plastered to the window looking out into the murky fog.

Shortly thereafter a small boat came out and the aircraft followed him to the resort.


Follow Me!

It was about an hour later when the fog began to dissipate and we started our engines and the seaplane also took off right in front of us as we departed Double Bay. Such is air travel in British Columbia.

Our destination was the Pearse Islands, a small hodgepodge of islands that lay adjacent to Broughton Strait and are aligned NW to SW. The tricky part of the anchorage is the current. It changes direction evey six hours and runs almost five knots. Since wind would not be a factor, we decided to check it out, because it looked like a good place to Kayak.


The sun pushes the fog away

The Kayaking was more a workout that interesting due to the currents. At one point we had to “pull over” into a small, still, back water cove to rest after having paddled hard only to advance at no more than one knot. We saw lots of seals who seemed to be puzzled by our affinity to try to go into the current. They have long since learned it is smarter to go with the flow.


Arctic Star at anchor in the Pearse Islands

Because we had a good set to the anchor and the winds were to be calm, we decided to spend the night. A sailboat with another couple joined us later in the day and a smaller sailboat being single-handed by a local passed through the anchorage on his way to ports unknown.

The absolutely clear skies made for a brilliant yellow/orange/magenta sunset.

Simoom Sound to Ahta River then Kwatsi Bay

It was a quiet night at anchor and we both had a good night’s sleep. This was the first morning that I set an alarm because we needed to be underway by 8:30 to arrive at the Ahta River at 10:30, two hours before high tide. 

At we motored into Ahta River Valley at the end of Bond Sound, the clouds started to break. It was beautiful. We found a temporary anchorage not far from the mouth of the river and made ready the Kayaks. We had visited this river last year in the dinghy, but vowed to come back and explore in the Kayaks, hoping we could get further up the river and the creek with less draft. 

The day was chamber of commerce perfect. We enjoyed clear skies, bright sun and the temperatures actually moved past 60 degrees, but just barely. 



Picture perfect day in Bond Sound 

It appeared that we had timed our arrival just right, as there were numerous fishermen also converging at the river’s mouth. There were two fly fishermen with their guides, and a commercial netter was also working the water at the head of the Sound. 



Karen leads the way up the Ahta river 



We pushed as far as the shallow water would allow 

Karen and I worked our way back into the river by kayak, looking for fish and hopefully bear. Neither was to be found, but we had a great time exploring the nooks and crannies and shallows of the famous Ahta (both the River and the Creek). We did see places where the bear come down to the water to fish. It’s very obvious where the tall grasses have been trampled flat and the bear has spent time lounging by the river’s edge. You also see an occasional bear paw print in the small sandy “beaches” made when the the black bear fish in the shallows. The wind picked up, and we wanted to make sure the boat was still secure, so we headed back. 

Back on the boat, we checked our position; the boat had not moved. So we enjoyed lunch and spent the next two hours soaking up the sun’s rays, watching dolphins play, and watching the fishermen attempt to hook up. The fish seemed to taunt the poor fellows; they would jump out of the water all around the fishing boats, but no one ever caught a fish. Such is fishing. 



Surround by fish jumping all around, the could not get any into the boat 

All in all, we spent a glorious 5 hours at the head of Bond Sound. Around 3:30pm, it was time to make our way over to Kwatsi Bay.  



How Karen spent her afternoon  

We took a very minor detour over to Wahkana Bay to see what it was like. It lies at the end of a moderately long sound, so it provides very good protection in all conditions. However, there not much else to recommend it. You need to stern tie due to the deep water and the scenery is simple mountains with pine trees for 360 degrees. 

We arrived at Kwatsi Bay and were greeted by Max Kneirim. The family was at Port McNeill, having started school last week. So Max was all alone to tend the marina. After he helped us tie up, he was off to finish the prawns for the daily “happy hour” at five. Counting the boat that followed us into the bay, there were a total of 5 on the docks that evening. 

All the mariners gathered under the “party tent” shortly after five, and we spent a most pleasant 2.5 hours exchanging stories and noshing on yummies that each boat contributed to the cause. 



Good times at Kwatsi Bay Marina 

By 7:30pm, the declining temperatures convinced everyone to head back to their boats to warm up and start dinner. Karen and I spent some time planning the next day, as we have modified slightly her master plan. 

It seems we are in a rut with the weather and tomorrow is supposed to start off with low clouds and fog. Hopefully, that will break into sunny skies again, as it did today. 


The Burdwood Group to Simoom Sound

You guessed it! It was cloudy when we awoke. Not foggy, but we did have a low ceiling composed of our Northwest cloud companions. There was a light mist, just enough to make you say “yuck” when you walked on deck.

After breakfast, we made our way the short distance to Pierre’s at Echo Bay. The agenda at Pierre’s was to take on water, do laundry and some minor provisioning. We also needed to satisfy our curiosity. Pierre had moved his entire operation one bay south to Echo Bay. In typical Pierre fashion, he did a first class job of a major upgrade to the old Echo Bay facilities.


The approach to the new Pierre's. The big pig roast tent clearly visible on the right.


The nice new docks at Pierre's


The Canadian Coast Gurad makes a visit.

Looking ahead we needed to be at the entrance to the Ahta River in Bond Sound at noon on Thursday. Therefore, we decided to leave Pierre’s and position ourselves a little closer for an early morning launch, stopping at MacIntosh Bay in Simoom Sound.

Turns out this spot was very much to our liking. It’s cozy, but with enough little islands to explore by kayak and some great views to the Southwest and West. Plus, the skies cleared!

Explore we did. The water is very tannin; “cedar water” they call it up here. As this area is almost at the end of a long passage, there is not as much exchange of water as those anchorages in the confluence of more rapidly moving waters.


Karen checks out the local signage on the First Nation reservation


Simoom Sound, smooth as glass

The net of all this is that there was less wildlife to see in Simoom Sound. However, we were content to enjoy the marvelous scenery as we sat in the shadow of Bald Mountain, a large granite mountain whose west side is almost vertical and thus devoid of any vegetation.


Bald mountain peaks out from under the clouds


Sunset in Simoom Sound

Napier Bay to Davis Bay

I awoke early to a fog filled bay. After a clear night, all the heat had escaped and the cooling brought a thick but short-lived fog.

_rem2843 Foggy morning Napier Bay

_rem2845 The Sun is starting to break through the mist

By 10:30am, the sun had conquered the fog and a beautiful day was revealed in Napier Bay. It did not take long for everyone else in the bay to lift anchor and go their way.

Our plan was to make it a lazy morning since slack tide at Stuart Narrows was at 2:41PM and it was less than an hours cruise from where we sat.

I continued to unpack and organize all “the stuff”. The morning calm was broken up by a handful of harbour seals that had taken refuge on a neighboring log. Apparently breakfast was not yet being served, so they hauled onto the logs and awaited the dinner bell. I took the opportunity to try my longest lens and see if I could take some foggy morning pictures. The critters are certainly camouflaged for their environment. With their dark spotted fur, they look just like wet logs that are spotted with seagull poop.

See if you can pick out the seals for the logs.

_rem2894 Seal haul out

_rem2869edit Gulls hung out on the other end of the log

Between the extra time we had and the push of the changing tide we idled most of the way to the narrows. Even so we still had a little time to kill before slack tide, so we pulled into Helen Bay and did a slow once-around. One the shore is a memorial to two tugboat captains who lost their lives at Stuart Narrows. A reminder that these natural funnels can create currents that can best even the most experienced mariner.

Two boats joined us in Helen Bay: another Grand Banks and a Fleming 55 named Couverden. The Fleming was drift fishing and they would get out into the strong current and drift toward the narrows, fishing all the way. When they got close enough, they would power away from the narrows, go up-current, cut their engines and do it all over again. One thing I have learned is that fishermen can find a way to turn any circumstance into a reason to drop a line.

Our transit through Stuart Narrows was uneventful, as planned. It never ceases to amaze how these turbulent parcels of water transform themselves into a millpond for a brief few minutes during slack water.

_rem2947_wells_passage_pano_smalled Stuart Narrows

Karen had made a last minute call and changed our destination from Richmond Bay to Davis Bay. It was a very good call. Lying at the end of a little passage, this small bay is as pretty as they come. Perfect for one boat, you anchor near to the shore and face West in anticipation of a beautiful sunset. It provides reasonable protection, and what you give up in 360 degree protection, you get back in beautiful views back out into Drury Inlet.