We got up and checked the weather. It looked like there was wind out in the Strait today but it would calm after the next few. The plan had been to visit Billy Proctor and his museum today and then go a short distance to some anchorage, then head across the strait tomorrow. But with the prospect of wind we decided to go to McNeill today and give up on Billy.
Today is Zak Day… I walked up to the cell-phone booster by the store and sent him a birthday text. Supposedly he is coming out to visit in a week so I’ll give him a hug then. We just have to figure out where we will be and how to get him from Vancouver to wherever that is.
After we cast off we headed down Fife Channel. i decided to veer off and take the narrow but scenic Indian Passage so we could swing by Eden Island.
It was a beautiful passage and the monks and crannies certainly warrant another visit. As we emerged from around Eden Island we caught sight of R Shack Island with her main up and slightly behind us.
At the entrance to the Strait you could see the fog flowing in and gently creeping up the sides of the islands. But since R Shack was having intermittent rev issues again we decided, what the hell, let’s sail in the fog. So we did. Since the forecast was for 15-20 we decided to start with a reed in.
We sailed for 40 minutes or so tacking back and forth between the rocks and islets at the mouth of the channel. The visibility was the worst we had ever experienced at less than a 1/4 mile. The radar was working fine and the only other boat “in sight” was R Shack although we couldn’t actually see them after the first tack.
Unfortunately, despite the forecasts, the winds slowly died. we shook out the reef but eventually we had to fire up the motor. We left the main up though, just in case. And then it got really foggy. It was eerie and tough to maintain a course without a lot of concentration but we managed. At one point as we were coming up on Penfold Islets I actually steered towards them to try and get a sense of the visibility. The sky overhead was starting to show some blue but ahead was only gloom. When I finally spotted the big gray-green mass of the rocks and trees they were well within the 1/4 mile range ring.
As we approached the sw corner of Malcolm Island the fog continued to dissipate and eventually R Shack slowly appeared out of the most 1/3 of a mile off our port bow. and the sun peeked out creating a great rainbow around it.
Passing the point of Malcom island we entered the Cormorant Passage and the winds came back. So we killed the motor and rolled out the jib. And then the winds started to climb. When they hit gusts of 20 knots there were rumblings of mutiny so I veered off the wind and coasted for a bit. After some negotiations we tried again. Too tacks and the rumblings started again so we finally hove to and put in a big reef.
Then we sailed in 12-15 knots with gusts up to 22 knots. Gusts are killer since you get used to the angle of the boat and suddenly it tilts over like a drunken teenager and you have to reorient (read that as get over being terrified) and then it settles again. Then the whole thing happens again and again at random intervals. Kinda nerve-wracking. But we sailed all if Cormorant Channel and finally dropped the sails outside Port McNeill.
It was late-ish (after 5:30) when we rounded the breakwater headed for North Island Marina. My slip assignment was the end of B-dock, stern in, starboard tie. And for the first time this trip, there was no one to meet me in the dock. It was a bad bad bad docking; my first in this boat. And it was bad. Bad bad. Let’s put it this way, it took 6 people to get the boat in backwards. Bad.
One of the best things about civilization was clean water for the tanks and honest to god garbage bins. No more garbage! First jobs after we finally got tied up.
Then we signed in and decided we needed a beer and greasy burger so we headed ashore to Gus’ Pub (note the proper use of the possessive…Leslie certainly did). I had Gus’s Famous Double Burger (my apostrophe not his) and was stuffed to the gills afterwards. The it was back to the boat and time to sack out. Long, long day.