Day 5 - Friday, August 17, 2012- Sea Otter Cove (GPS 50.39.82N, 128.20.95W)
We made it! We are safely tied to a hurricane mooring buoy in Sea Otter Cove, just south of Cape Scott. We’re heading back South and East now on the outside West coast of Vancouver Island. It’s wild out here!
Last night, before bed, we asked God to give us a safe crossing or to keep us put. We asked for His blessing of clear skies and flat seas and a boat that ran perfectly. During the night, I woke to check the anchor and stepped outside to the most clear beautiful sky…so many brilliant stars and the magnificent Big Dipper taking a scoop out of the Northern Pacific. Wow! No fog.
This morning, the alarm went off at 6AM and our great crew was immediately up and at it. Connor did dog duty and secured the dinghy. Val got the wet suits, life jackets, and emergency kit all set out in a laundry basket in the v-berth, just in case. We learned that the hard way. Many years ago, we had a really frightening attempt at a crossing in Juan DeFuca Strait and were taking massive waves over the bow only to realize all of our life jackets were safely secured outside in an aft hatch...not so smart. Experience is a good teacher. While all of that was happening, I was dialing in my charts, hoisting the anchor, and warming the engines.
It turned out be foggy again but not pea-soup thick. We were hoping and praying it would burn off. Of course, as we were exiting Bull Harbor, I ran through some kelp and, upon engine inspection, noticed I had sucked a bunch into my sea strainers. Connor took the helm and shut down one engine while I cleaned it out, then the other. For those of you that don’t know, Ron gave me a great deal on a 2011 twin engine version of our old boat. Everything else is nearly identical. After our lost outdrive experience in 2009, I feel a lot more confident doing a trip like this with twins, although, there are many advantages to a single as well. At any rate, 20 minutes behind schedule and we’re on our way. We throttled up and got up on plane with barely enough visibility to be comfortable. There were no other boats on radar and we hadn’t seen any logs…just lots of seaweed.
Soon the swells were coming. We were crossing Nahwitti Bar and it was getting a bit rough. We had to throttle back and ride ‘em like a bucking bronco. Connor turned green and went to his berth and ultimately ended up feeding the fish last night’s salmon salad. No waves over the bow but the 33 footer was pitching pretty good. It was still a predictable landing. I had a little cigar case that decided to leap to its death spilling its guts all over the floor. Val leaped to the rescue and actually left the floor twice while executing her heroic event. Oh, the sacrifices she makes. My fuel burn was terrible as I wasn’t on plane and wasn’t at hull speed either. I didn’t like that but wanted to beat the changing of the tide. Soon, the fog was so thick we weren’t comfortable even at 13 knots so we dropped down to 8 knots in thick fog. While the fuel burn was a lot better, the speed was going to put us further off schedule and I was concerned about the tide changing. After Nahwitti Bar, the swells went down considerably. It wasn’t a half an hour later and it was bright enough to get back on plane again. Now, we’re makin’ progress!
As we turned the corner south at Cape Scott, our ride got pretty decent and the sun was doing its job: burning off the fog. We really didn’t get to see much until that point. We decided the weather was good enough to poke our nose into Guise Bay and check out the beach there. We’re really glad we did!
By the time we picked our way through the kelp and approached the beach, it was getting to be really nice out. We set the anchor hard in the sand in 15’ on a tide that was supposed to rise another 10’. I let out 100’ of rode and was confident we were going to stay put.
I decided it was warm enough for shorts but Val kept her jeans on. Connor launched the dinghy and we were off to hike to the Cape Scott Lighthouse and check out the beaches. Words cannot describe the wild beauty here and the pictures will only give you a tiny bit of what it was like.
We had a great hike to the lighthouse and had a nice chat with Todd, the operator, who spends his entire year out here except his five weeks of vacation. After climbing the lighthouse, we hiked back down and all around both Experiment Bight and Guise Bay Beaches. Remember how much Val hates snakes? Well, I missed a Golden Globe opportunity when she went freakin’ bzerk screaming at the top of her lungs at a 6” garter snake. As I lunged to cover my neck from her claws, she jumped on my back and I had to carry her for 20’ past the pit of hell.
Lucky, Tanner, and Connor are all happiest when they are running all out on a beach. The sand was soft between our toes, although the water was too cold to swim, at least for Val and I. The dogs don’t mind it and Connor endures it.
We were back on the boat by 1PM and Val made us beautiful prime rib sandwiches. She feeds the crew really well when we’re cruising! The weather was perfect and settling down to calm. We motored out and back into the open ocean and it was very comfortable for the 7 miles over to Sea Otter Cove, where we picked up one of the four hurricane buoys. All day long, we were the only boat around. We saw a fishing boat out at sea and a tiny dot on the horizon many miles away. It’s pretty desolate out here and there’s little or no weather radio reception or cell reception. I did find comfort in the fact that Todd, the lighthouse operator, does monitor channel 16.
Thank you, Lord, for answering our prayers and blessing us with this day.
Once secured to our mooring buoy, Val and I laid down in the v-berth for some much needed rest after our early morning and intense crossing. Connor sat out on the back deck and worked on his Bible and Spanish homework. I think we all like his decision to home school!