I’ve started writing this while in Lagoon Cove, a tiny private marina in the Broughtons, almost three hundred miles north of Seattle. It’s May 3rd, the sun is shining, and it could as easily be late July as early May.
Last night, our second night of the trip, we anchored in Chameleon Bay about four hours north of Campbell River. Only three days traveling and already we’re in country that feels remote and pristine. Later in the summer, Chameleon Bay will play host to seven or eight boats a night. We were all by ourselves.
The next morning we were on our way by 6am, on Johnstone strait in time to watch a dramatic start to the day.
Chameleon is just off of Discovery Channel near Chatham Point—the beginning of Johnstone Strait. I like to think of Johnstone as a major north-south highway, used by practically everyone coming or going to Alaska. In eight hours, we saw four tugs pulling barges, a few crew boats speeding along, but not a single other pleasure boat. Setting off at 6am, currents were against us and winds were rising, eventually reaching twenty knots. However, the seas stayed under three feet. Easy going.
I've taken a picture of this boat almost yearly for the past eight years. At some point I'll compile to show its gradual return to nature. This is up Havannah Channel, the southwest corner of the Broughtons, an archipelago filled with First Nation history and interesting, tiny, float communities.
This is one of the few narrow spots on the trip. Only 12ft deep in the channel, with rocks on either side. It's important to keep the range markers precisely aligned.
Approaching Lagoon Cove, we were in one of the other narrow spots (at low tide) and came on this sign, at a place it would have been impossible to turn around. We called Lagoon Cove who told us it was someone's idea of a practical joke. I laughed, after my heart rate dropped.
When we arrived at Lagoon Cove, we were the only boat. Three hours later Cygnus arrived, a lone sailor named Gordon, bringing his boat up to Alaska where his wife will join him later. This is such a tentative time of year. The weather can still be nasty, but also gorgeous. Boaters won’t begin arriving in larger numbers for another few weeks, and the few hardy adventurers are almost all headed up to Alaska. It’s fun seeking them out—boats, old friends, potential friends—many of whom we’ll see on multiple occasions up north. We’re kind of a seagoing tribe, strangers in many ways, and yet sharing this strange need to head north, along with the Sandhill Cranes which just flew high over my head.
It was foggy this am (May 4), but by 10am it had burned off. This is the view heading up towards Port McNeill.
It's Saturday the 4th, and the weather looks great to cross Queen Charlotte Sound. This is one of the two open ocean passages, and it's nice when the seas are less the 6ft and the wind less than 20.
We won't have internet until Prince Rupert in a about a week, but you can follow us by clicking on:
PS: Just ran into Heath, a friend from Marrowstone Island who is soloing his homebuilt sail up into Alaska. He sailed into Port McNeil just a half hour before us. Such a small world.