Going North Again!

At noon on August 3rd, we left a very busy Gorge Harbour bound for Octopus Islands Marine Provincial Park on the north end of Quadra Island. We had planned to pass through Beazley Passage and Surge Narrows at the 1522 hours slack time. This meant that we had to motor to get there in time. Trystan took us through the obstacle course at Uganda Passage

Timing is everything at Surge Narrows!

by Shark Spit without incident and we arrived at the passage with time to spare for lunch. When we speak of slack time it means that that is the time that we should plan on moving through the channels between the land masses in a particular direction. With the changes in tides (four times a day), the water will move one direction or the other. It is really important to check the tide charts and the slack times to know when to go through those passages. If you do not do this, you can be pushing through water that is going against you (in some places 10-15 knots against you!); there will be very dangerous eddies, whirlpools and currents and it becomes a very hazardous situation. The slack time for us to go through was at 1522 and it lasted for only 5 minutes…it will not wait for you to get there. Time and Tide wait for no man as the expression goes. (Apparently, even orcas will wait for slack times before proceeding through certain passages.) We were there and made it through without any problems despite a strong wind against us. We were not far from the Octopus Islands!

We arrived around 1630 hours and dropped our anchor in the southern part of Waiatt Bay which is close to the Octopus Islands. A very grouchy American power boater told us that we had to move because we had anchored too close to him according to him and his faulty math. (Again, most of the bay was filled with American boats…they certainly know where the good spots are!) Second time of anchoring was the charm and we settled into the nice big bay by cooking up a fry pan lasagna.

Our first day there was spent exploring, playing and (for Trystan) painting the aft companionway hatch. The Octopus Islands were incredible to explore….we saw tide pools with many signs of life, filter feeding clams and duelling crabs in the mud and many types of fish and sea stars close to shore.

Decorator Crabs!

We explored different islands and saw bull kelp with decorator and red rock crabs fighting for a spot near the bulb at the surface. We returned to the boat for reading and Lego time and set off again to explore, quickly before supper, the south end of Waiatt bay.

Our second day at Waiatt Bay was spent with further exploration of the south end. We came ashore and realized that the shore line was built up 3-4 feet tall by shells. It was the location of an ancient shell midden and must have been the site of a Native village. Middens are mounds of clam shells formed over thousands of years by people eating the clams and dropping their shells on the beach. It would have been a perfect village with fishing close by, a freshwater creek for a source of water and a beautiful forest to find shelter.

We found the trail into the forest and hiked past the stumps of old growth forest and what was now second growth forest for approximately half mile to a small inlet on the west side of Quadra Island. There was another trail from there to Newton Lake (a freshwater swimming lake) but that was another two miles and steep so we decided to return to Finn. We returned along the trail with a family from Calgary that was portaging with their canoe from Small Inlet to Waiatt Bay. Very enthusiastic and energetic family to portage that far!

Trystan and Jerome did more painting on the aft companionway and I figured out how to make apple loaves using the pressure cooker as an oven. Thank you to Steve and Ilene for leaving a perfect sized loaf pan on board Finn! Our time at Waiatt Bay was very productive and interesting amidst a beautiful setting with the call of the loons, cool nights with dew in the mornings and herons and seagulls watching us come and go in their bay.

One challenge that we had that we have not talked about yet was constructing bug screens for our hatches, companionways, dorads and portholes. We have fifteen portholes, four dorads, two hatches and two companionways on Finn. We knew that we would need screens for travelling particularly the further north and remote that we went. Porthole screens can be purchased at about $60 each which very quickly became too expensive. Hatch and companionway covers and dorad screens would be expensive as well because they would have to be custom made. So because we wanted to get going and not break the budget, we made our screens. The hatch screens and companionway screens were made by buying large pieces of netting (approximately 4 feet X 3 feet) and sewing it by hand to lengths of our old halyard rope. Jerome whipped the ends of the rope so that it would not fray too. We simply throw the screens over top of the openings and the rope is heavy enough to hold the screen in place, it is quick to move if you need in or out and it folds up into a small bundle for storage. The porthole screens took much more time to make. We started by going to the local Dollar store and buying plastic flower pots with tapered sides that fit in the porthole. We cut two rings from the pots using an oscillating saw…one ring was the size of the porthole and the other was slightly smaller. We glued screen to the smaller ring and slid the other ring over top of it to pull the screen tight (similar to an embroidery hoop). We drilled two holes each on what would be the top and bottom of the screens and tied cord in a loop so that we can push the screens out and pull them in when we want. The portholes open and close as normal with the screens in place. The dorad screens were made by making circles out of plastic tubing (from the plumbing section at the local hardware store) and sewing screens to the circles with yarn. The screened circle was then slid up the dorad tube from the inside of the boat. So far, the screens have been wonderful and have kept the mosquitoes, horseflies and wasps out of our boat. (Yes, it was sad that we had to sacrifice so many flower pots but a lady at the recycling centre happily took them all even though they ended up being really short pots.)