Clouds this morning, but high clouds accompanied by very
gentle breezes. Karen brought up a ton of what she called “gelatinous mud” from
the bottom, along with the rode and anchor. It was smelly but made for good
It was about 9am, and we set our course for Clear Passage, an easy-to-see and navigate path inside the islands and islets that guard this area of the West Coast of Vancouver Island. Because of the shallow water, this channel is not advised on rough days. Because today’s conditions could be best described as something between flat and rippled seas, it was a perfect way to make our way south along the coast.
Our interim stop is Rugged Point Provincial Park. You anchor on the inside in 20 to 30 feet, and dinghy ashore onto a flat sloping grey “volcanic sand” beach. There is a 350 yard, well maintained, flat path over to the west beach which is a massive and equally flat beach of grey sand. As we approached Rugged Point from Dixie Cove, we saw quite a few blows. The humpbacks wheree feeding in the lee of Rugged Point. We stopped to observe and take a few pictures, as these animals were showing us a couple of flukes.
The small sailboat Bolero with a young couple that we have been seeing over the past few days was just coming out from the landing beach; we waved and then anchored.
The holding seemed good in the 25’ depth at Rugged Point, and we landed the dinghy on the wide beach with just the right slope to the sand for easy disembarking. The walk over to the west beach was as advertised, including parts that were boardwalk, and it was great fun to explore the ocean-facing beach at low tide. The sun was shining, and we took lots of pictures while Karen beachcombed. She found several very large and intact sand dollars, which ranged in color from whitish to lovely sepia brown.
We timed our arrival at Rugged Point for low tide – a good idea for two reasons. First, we could enjoy maximum “beach”, and second, it made retrieving the dinghy after our hour ashore easy as the tide was rising.
Soon, we were back aboard and setting off for Mary Basin, about 20 miles to the south. As we made our way along Clear Channel, we spotted the usual suspects: Cormorants, Sea Otters and lots of little seabirds. As I was scanning the horizon, I noticed what I thought was a fin, but a tall black fin, not the fin of a humpback whale. This fin was perhaps three miles away, and the best I could come up with was that there was an Orca ahead. Unlikely, but nothing else looks like this. Karen was skeptical, especially as the fin stayed visible for fairly long periods of time without going underwater.
As we got closer, I was able to identify without a doubt what we were looking at: it was a surfer! Apparently, according to Karen, Tatchu Point is known for some gnarly waves, and perhaps it’s a place surfers come to on the West Coast? To add to the mystery, we noticed that the small sailboat Bolero that left Rugged Point before us, had stopped and anchored close to the nearest shoreline. Did they stop to look at the surfer? We could see no one aboard, and after a few minutes of thinking it through, the only conclusion that made sense is that the sailboat had stopped so the captain could go surfing. I hope our paths cross again so I can confirm that the surfer was from Bolero! We have seen many firsts on this trip, and certainly a surfer (especially one out in the middle of nowhere) qualifies as a first.
We found a patch of fog as we turned up Nuchatlitz Inlet. The visibility seldom dropped below two miles and within ten minutes we were in the clear again.
Mary Basin is a very large anchorage with good protection found in the lee of Little Lord Island. Karen wanted to arrive at high tide so we could dinghy up Laurie Creek. We timed it just right, and were rewarded by seeing a small waterfall at the end of the creek.
There is a very large Inner Basin behind Narrows Rock that all the guidebooks indicate is too treacherous to go into. Well, Karen had spotted a fishing vessel named the Snow Queen on AIS that was in the Inner Basin! That was enough to pique our interest, so off we went to investigate in the dinghy. The width and depth of the inner basin entrance measure fine, with us showing 50 feet of depth in an areas marked 12 feet at the most narrow part. The tide was just starting to run out, but the dinghy made it in just fine. On the way out a few minutes later, we clocked the current at 2.5 knots. I think getting in and out of here at high water slack would be no problem. But looking at the chart, finding shallow enough water along the three mile inner basin would be the greatest challenge. Maybe next time we’ll give it a try.
So back to the boat, a celebratory beer, dinner and an episode of LOST. What could be better?