Night Shift

We heard the anchor go up at midnight and an indeterminate amount of time later we felt the start of the ocean swells. The bar is a place where not only does the open ocean hit a narrowing channel of land, but the depths rise from hundreds of fathoms to just six in a fairly short distance. This causes fast violent water with the potential for huge waves.

So you cross the bar at slack (the time when the tide pauses as it changes direction) and preferably at the ebb slack so you ride the new current out. But that does nothing for the swells and the whole boat twists and bounces. We didn’t sleep much.

At 3:30am we dutifully layered up, donned harnesses and life jackets and grabbed our headlamps. The Northwest Passage is an ocean boat so we had red lighting in the cabin to dress in and not destroy our night vision—nifty.

We arrived on deck to find Tim and Bob. Bob hadn’t been able to sleep so had come up early. Terry had succumbed to the motion and retired early. The boat was just approaching Point Scott and with overcast and no moon the light on the point was the only thing visible.

Soon enough Tim retired to try and sleep and the three of us took quick 15 minute shifts to experience navigating in the darkness before it lightened up too much. After that we settled in to 1 hour shifts. The weather was benign but the 3 to 6 foot swells in the dark made it an adventure anyway. All in all it wasn’t too cold and my seasickness factor was mostly about a 3 on a scale of 1 to 10. I even closed my eyes and braced myself on the cockpit cushions for a while.

The sun came up, Tim returned and I sailed on. Eventually, one by one, we succumbed to the call of bed and crawled back in to warm up and try and rest.

The wind never rose above 5 or 6 knots so it was motoring all the way. We made it offshore about 17nm before we turned and headed back towards Quatsino Sound and Winter Harbour and on the way back the wildlife came out to greet us. We saw a sea otter about 10nm off and a small bird hitched a ride on the life lines.

After my nap I headed up just as we reached the shallows at the entrance to the sound that was populated by fishing boats both large and small. One of the fisherman held up his huge halibut with happy yell as we motored by.

As we past the lighthouse guarding the entrance there was cell service so I took the opportunity to upload a post and a few pictures. A few minutes later the signal disappeared but hopefully I can catch it again on the way out.

Once again I screwed up the track by not starting it when we cast off at midnight and compounding the error by forgetting my phone belowdecks. So I didn’t get a chance to start it until half way through our watch.

The swell died as we entered the sound so Leslie and Bob both awoke to smooth water. 45 minutes or so we tied up to Winter Harbour’s fuel dock. We filled up, visited the store and took a long walk down a boardwalk the meanders along the shoreline. We caught sight of our 3rd sea otter of the day floating on his back in one of the small bays. Really cool town.

Leslie says this is Sunday May 17: Day 6. I guess I’ll believe her.

Back at the boat we performed some emergency sump repairs and washed down some filters that were clogged. Then we cast off once again and headed out into the ocean. Well technically we didn’t quite leave Brooks Bay but we were definitely back in the swell.

About 2 hours later we slipped past Rugged Islands into Evergreen Bay and dropped anchor. It’s a small bay that is open to the south and still gets a bit of swell but we want to get past Cape Cook early in the morning and the other anchorage possibilities would mean maneuvering through a lot of rocks and shoals. Besides it is stunning.

Best of all we are here early enough that we could unship the dinghy and go explore. Everyone is pretty tired so only Tim, Leslie and I decided to go. We grounded on the beach and spent an hour beachcombing and climbing on the rocks. We found dozens of fish floats, most of which were from Japan, some even had kanji painted on them. It’s stuff like this that makes it all worth while. I collected some rocks for Donna and a piece of wood I will arm wrestle Carmen for.

Back on the boat we waited for dinner and Tim broke out the rod and reel and wandered off in the dinghy. No luck though. Dinner was pasta and then we hunkered down for a well deserved rest.