No More Great Bear Tour

Butedale to Codville Lagoon

April 2/3

Covid has affected a lot of people a lot worse than it has affected us. That is for sure, we’re not dead, we didn’t lose our jobs, in fact, we made more money because of Covid. However, as safe from Covid as we were, we are at its mercy now. We have been isolated for a long time and now we have emerged into a different world.

I don’t completely understand the rationale behind closing a remote park where there are no people this time of year, but that’s what they’ve done. We were very much looking forward to visiting Bishop Bay Hot Springs but that was not to be. It is not only a Hot Spring but it’s also in the heart of the Great Bear Rain Forest. From here on, the likelihood of seeing a Kermode bear will become less and less, so I’m dropping the name.

Early the next morning and for the rest of our stay in Butedale, we were busy searching for dry wood for Toklat and then trying to dry it. At first we thought we’d hit the jackpot for firewood. There was a neatly stacked pile of firewood just outside one of the dilapidated old cabins – There was even an axe. It was all bucked to pretty short lengths too. Too long for Toklat but if I could cut them in half they’d be perfect. There was no cover over the pile and it was all wet so I chopped one in half to check it out. It split very nicely and appeared to be dry inside. I split up a bunch and we stuffed it in our gunny sack and headed for home.

So like I said, “it appeared to be dry inside” and it was – relative to the outside, anyway. It was good enough to keep and dry further but it was clear we needed to find better, dryer wood, and in a hurry too as we were running out of pressed fire logs from the hardware store. We also stocked up on cut ends of some rough cut cedar 2X12’s that we found. It too was quite wet but it sounded solid.

Inside the least rundown cabin we found four or five rounds of completely dry firewood – Beautifully seasoned poplar. That lead us to look in the other cabin but, alas, there was none.

We saw two other boats come in during our stay. One small aluminum fish boat that docked in front of us. They came in at about 11:00 o’clock one night and left the next morning. We never got a chance to speak with them.

The other boat was a large motor yacht. They came in late one afternoon and dropped their anchor in about 150 feet of water. Then one fellow set up a tripod and started taking pictures from the aft deck and the other proceeded to pull the anchor up with the wash pump on. I couldn’t tell that the anchor was coming up. All I could see was that a pump was discharging a huge volume of water. The last thing I expected to see was the anchor come out of the water but there it was, a great big shiny Rocna. And with that, they left – Strange, I thought. No flag on the boat either. It’s name was “Daybreak” and its port of call was Bow, Washington.

Sunday, April 4

Easter Sunday morning we untied from the dock and unceremoniously pushed off. We were headed for Horsefly Cove, not too far away, but when we got to the entrance, we decided to just keep on for Mary Cove, across Finlayson Channel from Klemtu. We were almost there when we altered course again and headed over to Klemtu to anchor in Clothes Bay where we could get some cell service.

First thing in cell service, I got a text message from our daughter with the awful news that there had been a death in the family. After several conversations with various relatives I got a weather report and then the next morning we left.

Monday, April 5

Welcome to Shearwater! While in Klemtu, naturally, I scouted ahead to Shearwater on the web. We would need fuel, some basic food stuffs and I was hoping to get the Racor filter that I couldn’t get in Prince Rupert. I expected there to be restrictions due to covid-19 but never expected to be greeted like we were. We were allowed to get fuel and thanks to a friend of a friend, got a couple of Racor filters but nothing else. We were kicked off the dock so spent the night at anchor and then left the next day. Definitely a place to add to never-go-back-to list. I would not have been so annoyed had it not been for their web site which gave no indication whatsoever that there was anything out of the ordinary. When we arrived at the dock I was not surprised to see a lot of empty space. Once docked we saw the sign that directed us to call the moorage manager on 66A who then told us that they were not offering moorage, but that the store was open. On our way up to the store she then intercepted us and prevented us from going to the store and essentially told us to get lost. We were allowed to anchor out and get fuel the next day. I paid for the filters over the phone and they sent them down to the fuel dock for me.

Tuesday, April 6

It was only a 4 hour motor down to Codville Lagoon from Shearwater. At 15:35 we pushed off the fuel dock and were quite happy to leave Shearwater, secure in the knowledge that we were never to return. Unfortunately, due to our heating issues and the persistent cold weather, we were forced to rush our trip through the Great Bear Rainforest which effectively ended our “Search for the Lost Spirit Bear Tour” and morphed it into more of a search for some warm weather tour.

Our exodus from the Outpost was about three months early. Over the winter, we were scouring the charts of the inside passage and taking notes from various friends and others in various groups on Facebook to find the best anchorages and places where we’d be likely to encounter the Kermode (Spirit Bear) as well as all the hot springs.Because we were three months early, we were certain the bears would all be tucked away in their dens for a while yet and due to covid, all the hot springs were closed. These were major disappointments for us but at least we saw some really beautiful scenery and experienced the Inside Passage.

Just from looking at Codville Lagoon on the chart and Google Earth, I had really wanted to visit and I’m glad we did. It was pretty cool in there, like its own little world. It was the strangest experience anchoring though. As usual, I’m on the bow and Wendi is at the helm. I tell her when to start backing and she drops the anchor marker and hits reverse. I pay out rode and at somewhere around 3 to 1 scope, I’ll stop paying out until I feel the anchor grab. Then, we resume backing while I continue to pay out rode until I’m satisfied. However this time, after the anchor grabbed the first time, and after I stopped paying out the second bunch of rode, I could hear a growling kind of sound transmitting up the chain and the bowsprit was bouncing a little. It seemed as though we were dragging the anchor across a large flat rock. Finally, we hit the end of the rode, came to a stop and then bounced forward. When Wendi set the anchor alarm the app had measured a total of 57 metres from where the anchor hit bottom. I had paid out 210 feet of chain in 40 feet of water so that was about right but it seemed as though we had moved so much further. Weird!

It was extremely calm in our anchorage so I had no immediate concerns about how we were anchored, so we retreated below to get the cabin warmed up.
 I had hoped to buy a hatchet while in Shearwater but that never happened so I was still bucking our firewood with the circular saw and chopping it with an old machete and ball peen hammer. It was messy but it worked. I am so happy we have our lithium iron phosphate batteries as we’re having to recharge our vacuum cleaner a lot more now and as well, the circular saw is a fairly heavy draw. The lithium batteries don’t even notice it but the Trojans certainly would.

Wednesday, April 7

We decided to try to receive a weather fax this morning. It was difficult to get enough reception to get a very clear transmission but a little persistence paid off enough that we could tell that the last Environment Canada forecast I had downloaded was, so far, developing as predicted.

With that weird anchoring experience still on my mind and an impending southwest gale coming, I decided to drop a lead line and see if I could find out what the actual bottom was. It was inconclusive, so I started Garth and proceeded to give the anchor another tug-test. I put her in reverse and the boat would not move at all. The anchor watch app had us sitting almost on top of the anchor but the boat was not moving. I increased the revs. Still, we were not moving. I asked Wendi to look to see if we were even churning any water. Confirmed! – Still no movement. I increased the revs to 1800 rpm and then finally we began to move. Wendi reported that the chain was taught until it appeared to break free, then slackened off as we began to move backward. This was while we were almost right on top of the anchor – very weird. I watched the anchor watch app as we backed out toward the edge of the ring. We backed just outside the ring and then came to a stop and began to move around to the starboard side. I was satisfied that we were well hooked. But still wasn’t really comfortable with the overall situation.

© Ron Morrison 2021

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