At this point I am 3 weeks behind on this blog and just in the middle of my haulout and have a lotttttt to say about getting ready for offshore, meaning this will be a bit of a quick highlight reel of the trip from when I left Kyla et all and headed back South (rather than going day by day/location by location as I have previously). Almost the whole way back was retracing the route up there anyway, so here are just the bits that really stuck out.
Up to now I hadn’t really done any salmon fishing. This changed once we left the others and I took the Fernwehs advice to just fish whenever we were under sail and under 3 knots, by keeping a rod always ready with a slipweight/flasher on it. And it worked like a charm. In one period of around 3 hours we had about 8 fish to the boat, losing/returning most of them due to netting issues/size (I was out of practice and Emilie had never done it before) before I managed a really nice 8lb spring just outside Bella Bella. A couple of days later Emilie managed to get two Coho of around 4/5lbs each on the way to Port Hardy (using downriggers this time). Kept us in food for quite some time! SALMON IS SO TASTY
In the Broughtons we spent a day bottom fishing (I figured out to use a hali spreader ring – should have been doing this ages ago, it’s pretty easy) and caught a bunch of interesting and tasty stuff, including this 3lb Starry Flounder (left eyed)
a kelp greenling
a 2/3 foot long dogfish (a very common type of shark with poisonous spines on it’s back).
I’ve heard they are actually good to eat and it was a lot bigger than the ones I was catching with Emma 2 years ago so I decided to keep it. Was halfway through (VERY CAREFULLY) filleting it when my rod suddenly bent right over and stripping line slowly.
Excitedly I grabbed it, set the hook and started winching. Finally, a halibut! I hoped it wasn’t too big to fit in the boat!
Well, not quite a halibut.
It was a huge skate! (I think a long-nosed skate from my ID book) Probably about 4 foot long from what I could see. It looks exactly like a stingray and has a creepy mouth – apparently I’d hooked a small sculpin which then got bitten in half by the skate. Anyway, I had NO idea how to fillet it and no internet to look it up and didn’t want to kill something unless I could treat it with respect, so I put it back and watched it swim off. It was huge and impressive. Definitely very cool. We made all the fish we kept into fish and chips and they were all super tasty, and kept us going again for a while!
Oh my goodness, so many Whales, especially up above Cape Caution. Leaving Pruth Bay we were slowly fishing under sail when WHOOOOSH, a huge humpback head broke the surface and snapped it’s mouth shut. Think sandworm from Dune. We heaved to and watched them for a while before we headed off again. One emerged 150 foot off the starboard side (unfortunately I didn’t see that one, just turned around in time to see it sink back under) and then a bit later one off the port side around 60 feet away O_o (which I also missed). Very cool, and the only time I’ve seen bubble-netting. (EDIT: After some more research I think what we saw was actually Lunge Feeding)
We saw a LOT of humpbacks generally, not only up the central coast but all the way down the strait of georgia too. Emilie saw one fully breach (again, I only saw the splash as it landed) and we saw all kinds of behaviour, including tail lobs, spy hopping and just generally thrashing around. There was an anchorage opposite gods pocket near Port Hardy where we watched humpbacks just outside for around 3 hours, pretty amazing. And then an orca pod rolled through!
Despite the vast amount of humpbacks seen, I didn’t actually manage to get any photos/video of any of them, unless you count this one which isn’t great
I also saw my first confirmed Minke whale that looked like a log just lying on the surface – until we got close and it blew. We watched it for about ten minutes at a safe distance and saw it dive – the dorsal fin gave away that it was a Minke (as well as the fact you can’t see the blow – only hear it, you can see it blow at the end of the video).
Also saw a small transient orca pod in Pendrell Sound which was neat!
Aside for that we saw a TON of harbour porpoises and quite a few Pacific white sided dolphins and a small pod of Dall porpoises – going down the Johnstone Strait we had a pod of Dall’s bow ride for around 15 seconds before they ditched Gudge for a faster boat, but then a small pod of dolphins showed up and bow rode for around 10 minutes – very very cool.
So had some pretty good sails – across the Queen Charlotte Strait in 20/25 knots was pretty nice as it was a broad reach, and I was surprised at some of the size of the waves. Had a great close reach down Fitz Hugh Sound as well, were really ripping in lovely flat water
The hardest day was probably leaving Comox to go to Tribune Harbour, Hornby Island in a stiff South Easterly blow. The bay is completely exposed to the strait of georgia from the South and despite common sense and the guide book saying not to anchor there in a Southerly I thought it would be ok as the forecast was 5-15.
*Narrator*: It was not ok.
It blew up to 20-25, meaning it was a really tough beat into heavy 4/5 foot chop – gudge is a bit bow heavy right now so she was just burying her bow constantly. These were all taken before it got REALLY knarly.
Finally made it around Hornby only to find the bay had literal 6 foot rollers coming in – dropped anchor anyway and then spent a very very uncomfortable four hours on the edge of seasickness as Gudge hobbyhorsed over each steep wave. Barf. It calmed down a little right before sunset and we made a run for it before the sunset to a more sheltered, calm anchorage.
Pruth Bay is AMAZING and I am sad we only spent one evening and part of a day there. I’d love to go back at some point! I’ll just let the pictures do the talking
After managing to do an entire trip around the island 2 years ago without anything breaking, this trip had its fair share of stuff breaking – and it all seemed to happen at once. In the space of a week I had
- starter shorted out against a wire on the engine
- coolant tube blocked and all the coolant boiled off
- alternator stopped working
- fresh water pump stopped working
- solar panel stopped charging
- raw water intake on the engine failed (TWICE, once impeller, once a clog on intake)
and I am sure there are a couple more bits I am forgetting. I fixed all of it (except the water pump that has a REALLY shitty design with a cheap switch in the pressure taking the full current – I need to replace that and will probably add in a relay to stop it arcing – luckily I still had my old water pump so I just switched that in)
Bonus picture of broken impellor – amazing how fast you can change this when you are just drifting
I got a nice video of Nanaimo harbour
And sailing through Desolation Sound another sailboat took some pictures of us and radioed me for my email address. Thanks Bert from S/V Natasha!
Though wow that porta-bote looks ugly sat on front, typical the one day I decide to try that Gudge gets her photo taken…
And here is a nice sunrise over Sidney Spit
So that’s caught up to where I am now – in Canoe Cove boatyard to get my rudder looked at after the ding in Desolation Sound and to do a few other bits and bobs before I head offshore (GULP)
And the final total for all of the trip so far – 1281 nautical miles. Not bad!