Resort Week Part 2: Gorge Harbour Arrival

(August 27th, 2017)

Okay, so we didn’t get an entire week at resorts, but after the remote wilderness of Alaska and northern BC, the three nights in a row we spent in small, family-run resorts was more than enough luxury to last a week.

The next morning, still in Blind Channel Resort, I was up by 5:00AM.  We’d planned a 5:30 departure, but once again, we found it was too dark to leave right away.  After stalling for about 15 minutes, it was light enough to see the logs, so we could go.  Stan helped me off the dock, and we were off in a beautiful sunrise.

We were leaving as early as possible to ensure we hit Seymour Narrows right.  If you arrive at Seymour Narrows at the wrong time, depending on your direction and the direction of the current, you could find yourself making negative progress, even at full engine power, or cruising through on a current faster than your boat, skating every which way without any control.  We were going to try to hit it just before slack, so that a light current would first help us get to the narrows on time, and then gently push us through.  If we arrived too late, we wouldn’t be able to make it through for another 6 hours.

It turns out that the current in Johnstone Strait approaching Seymour Narrows experiences a bit of a funnel effect; so, instead of the light current with us we’d expected, we were getting a huge push.

11 kts over ground! That’s over a 3-kt push!

The push was so strong, in fact, that we were on track to reach Seymour Narrows too early, and face a current that could whip our boats out of control in the narrow passage.  This was great news for me, as it meant we got to slow down and fish and even do some sailing in the light northerly we’d been gifted with.  For Breakaway, though, the push was trouble – she had to slow down to make sure she didn’t arrive at Seymour too early.  But of course, slowing down meant she might lose forward gear completely.  So, Stan and Laurel deftly balanced speed versus risk all the way down the channel.

Breakaway, unable to slow much, arrived at Seymour Narrows first.  They were earlier than planned, but with a five-knot current with them through the channel, they decided to chance the narrows rather than chance losing their transmission.  Their ride through was rough, with less control than they would have liked in a few points.  What made their passage even hairier was the large float of logs being maneuvered through the channel (and blocking most of the channel) by three tugs.  The current clearly wanted Breakaway on the logs, no doubt snagged in the log boom – but Breakaway managed to maintain control and navigate the narrows safely.  Once on the other side, the seas and wind were calm, and they had no trouble keeping the motor at a comfortable and reliable forward rpm.

Back on Mobert, the fishing was a bust.  We caught our second king of the trip – which was also the second puniest salmon we’d caught.  At 16 inches, Puny King was thrown back.  Dozens of salmon continued to tease me as they jumped all around our boat, not bothering to bite my lure.  Instead, we pulled up our lures and unfurled the sails, riding the northerly breeze that had kicked up – our first northerly during our entire trip south.

Ellie on Mobert
Ellie lazing about with her dolly during a nice sail down Johnstone Strait.

By the time we arrived at Seymour Narrows, the current had calmed to about three knots.  We made our way through easily, with only a two-tug log raft attempting to snare us, rather than the roiling, wandering three-tug monstrosity Breakaway had encountered.  On the other side of the narrows, the wind died, so we motored past Campbell River and out into the bay.  There, fishing boats littered the waters, so thick they required constant adjustment to navigate.  It was only after we passed the prime fishing grounds that we decided we had plenty of time to do some sailing (in pretty much no wind, but hey, it’s sailing), and some fishing-while-sailing.  Again, the fishing was a bust.

It was early afternoon when we arrived at Gorge Harbour Marina.  Breakaway had arrived first, and after several attempts to dock in their assigned slip without a functioning forward gear, they gracefully backed into an end-tie.  After returning a very enthusiastic wave from the local naked sunbathing pirate out in the moorings, we docked Mobert right in front of Breakaway.  Before I could blink, the girls were ready to hit the pool.

Laurel joined the girls and me for a relaxing afternoon poolside.  The girls swam for hours; Laurel and I swore at and occasionally used the slow wifi internet (actually, Laurel is a lady and refrained from swearing – I’m far less of a lady); and I worked to research potential stops as we make our way down the California coast.  Rich joined us after a bit, and he and the girls had a great time playing.  After all the long, hard, COLD days we’d spent motoring, covering over 700 miles in a week and a half, and completely missing summer weather, this hot pool day was exactly what all of us needed.

Pool day!
Ellie leaps into the pool at Gorge Harbour Marina

We headed back to the boat for a dinner of shrimp sandwiches, and saw the stars for the first time during our trip.  Morgan even got to make her first solo trip to the grocery store.  “Was it scary?” I asked her.

“Yes, but I did it,” she replied, with a serenity beyond her 7 years.

“But it won’t be scary next time, right?” I prodded.

“Yes, it will, but the third time should be fine.”

So, there you have it.  First and second solo trips to the grocery store are scary, but the third one should be fine.

Discuss!

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