Saturday, August 30, 2008

Cruising Barkley Sound

We are in Ucluelet, having spent a week in Barkley Sound. The overnight sail from Victoria began well with moderate Souherly winds and light seas. The wind died down gradually and as we neared Port Renfrew it died altogether, although the swell was substantial. The mainsail slatted back and forth filling as we reached the tops of each swell. A preventer to hold the boom out helped, but the small rope lashing I made up soon chafed through. We will make a better preventer with a pulley for remote adjustment and lead this back to the cockpit, prior to our departure for Washington. To avoid a second night at sea, we put the motor on off Pachena Point and let the autopilot guide us along this rugged coast, with the world renowned west coast trail to starboard. Rani appears to be immune to seasickness, working away below quite happily. She even stitched some skillful patches on our aging mainsail and wheel covers.

We spent a couple of days in Bamfield with a memorable hike to Brady's Beach and its stunning sea stacks, plus some much appreciated showers at a nearby campground. Next we crossed Imperial Eagle channel with a lovely breeze on our beam to reach Effingham Island. The bay at Effingham is the most popular all weather anchorage in the Broken Group, although we shared it with only a few other boats during our two day stay.

The next day, we inflated our double kayak and paddled to the outside islands named Wouwer ad Howell. About 50 sea lions bellowed and grunted on the offlying rocks between these islands. We paddled along the inside of Wouwer, landing on a sand beach where I had landed the year before with my friend Ian and his son Kevin. Sea lions were conversing on the small island just off this beach and the weather was pleasant with some sun to warm things up. Passing through a ribbon of old growth forest, we hiked a volcanic landscape to the sea swept outside shore of Wouwer, contemplated a dip in a particularly deep tide pool, and settled for some sunbathing on a shell beach that was sheltered from wind and spray. One of the best things about the Broken Group is its diversity in such a small space, and Wouwer's rugged beauty is a stark contrast with the softer lushness of the inner islands.

Our next destination was Joe's Bay on Turtle Island. Rani and I practiced our navigation skills to weave a course between the rocks and islets of the 'Tiny Group' – a miniature island group nestled within the Broken Group. We sailed under mainsail alone with Rani on the foredeck scouting for rocks, anchoring in the lee of Turtle island a few hundred feet from an attractive American cutter. We paddled the Helios double kayak around the sheltered lagoon formed by Turtle and several other islands, finding several types of sea stars as well as a canoe run (a cleared rock lined channel) leading to an abandoned Indian Village. The following day we paddled across to Turret Island where there is a fish trap and an impressive cedar. The scramble along the coast from where we landed to the cedar was extremely taxing and made us realize how dependent the indigenous people must have been on their canoes. On the way home we had some exciting paddling and a little dissent in the ranks when I insisted against Rani's better judgement to paddle through a rocky and foam filled pass betwee two Islands. The Helios handled the white water and to her credit, Rani paddled like an olympic champion to get us through and into safe, if somewhat turbulent waters on the other side. My penance for this was both to make supper and do all the dishes...

The trip to Ucluelet was exciting with winds gusting beyond 25 knots. Despite carrying only a small jib and reefed main we dipped the rail in a couple of gusts producing some interesting sounds from the first mate. A nice meal at an Italian restaurant gave us time to discuss the day's events and mentally prepare for our departure today.

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