Today is the day of the “Big
Crossing. For our 75 mile day, we expect the
wind to be light and the seas calm. The sunrise on our stern was picture perfect,
matching the rest of the perfect conditions. This is one of the two intimidating crossings
back and forth to the Haida Gwaii across Hecate
Strait, and it looks as if this will be unbelievably
We were underway by 5:30 am. Karen and I rotated watches, 2 hours on and 2 hours off. It was very calm and we had our eye out for wildlife. Emmelina aboard Deception spotted a humpback and even some Minke whales but from our position we could see neither.
The weather was so ideal I beckoned other boats in our group to pass me to starboard, where the light was perfect for a “portrait” of them during the crossing. Inspired by as much boredom as anything else, a couple of the boats did “pose” for pictures.
We were surprised to see the Haida Gwaii islands from over 50 miles away. This was both good and bad, as it kept us from feeling like we were in the middle of a vast ocean, but it also seems to make the passage drag on when you can see your target but it never appears to get any closer.
The direct approach to Queen Charlotte City is guarded by a bar that dictates that you steer a more northerly course and pick up a marked channel. This adds to the feeling of “are we ever going to get there” because once you enter the channel that runs along the island’s shore, you still have two hours to go. As we got into the marked channel, the waves and wind picked up some, but not much.
Although Emmelina had talked by phone to the “harbour master” at Queen Charlotte City to make sure that we had berths at the dock, attempts to reach him on channel 16 proved to be fruitless. After about three hails, Prince Rupert radio came on the frequency to inform Mother Goose that there is no harbor master at Queen Charlotte City.
So Deception told the rest of the fleet to stand outside the breakwater as they entered to see if they could find space for us all. There first report was that there was little if any dock space available and that the larger boats, ourselves included, should start looking for space in the Bearskin Bay anchorage outside the harbor.
I proceeded over to the area noted in the Douglass and Douglass guidebook and just as I completed my anchor circle, confirming the needed depth and lack of obstruction, Deception called to say that a fishing boat was just leaving and that a couple of other boats were moving to make room for us.
Deception called us in and we proceed to negotiate the small entrance and narrow channel lined with working boats. Once inside, we found our slip and Jordan, who had been dropped off earlier by Deception, waiting to catch our lines. The wind was 10-15 knots in a direction that would blow us off the docks. Add to that, there was just enough space for Alaskan Dream, but no more, between an old log tug and a small sailboat. I used all the tricks I knew to get in, and we were secured in sort order to the docks at Queen Charlotte.
Just as we approached the docks, sailboats started to leave so we called in Deception into that space. The one 46 and two 42 Grand Banks rafted three deep in the only other space on the docks. Lance and Kathy on Dream Catcher said they would prefer to anchor out, so I gave them the coordinates of the anchor spot I had just surveyed.
We settled in and rested a bit, then headed up the ramp to dinner at Oceana Chinese & Continental. We had decent Chinese food and beer, and then quickly found ourselves back aboard Alaskan Dream after a quick stop at the Visitor's Centre. We were ready for a good night’s sleep before tomorrow’s required briefing on the rules and regulations for boaters in the Gwaii Haanas national park reserve.