Monday, April 12
We pulled anchor early in the morning and motored all the way into Port McNeill. It was about a six-hour trip under sunny skies, and we arrived in the afternoon. We dropped anchor, packed up our shower pack with some clean clothes, and dropped Shanté in the water. We anchored as close to the entrance to the marina as we could because we still don’t have a battery for Shanté’s electric trolling motor, and then we rowed in for our much-anticipated showers.
We entered the marina office with happy faces and left with unhappy faces. The showers were closed until May 1st. Our luck certainly hadn’t changed!
With that, we headed for the grocery store and then to the beer and wine store for some nice, cold Blue Buck. Make that Heineken, UGH! 🙁
Tuesday, April 13
First thing in the morning, we headed back to shore to see if I could find a seal for the spare gearbox that I had bought several years earlier with the intention of having it ready to go should we need it. I guess I got caught snoozing on that one! They didn’t have one in stock but said we should be able to get one easily, and they gave me the part number they found based on the measurements of the old seal that I had removed and saved.
We had some favourable winds forecast for a couple of days, so we opted not to wait for it to be shipped in. We then grabbed a few essentials for the journey and headed back to the boat. Once we were all ready to go, we said, F’ it, we’ll go tomorrow.
Wednesday, April 14
Even with an entire extra day to get ready to leave, we were still an hour late and missed part of the flood tide to help us get started down Johnstone Strait.
We made it all the way to Port Neville that day. It was a beautiful day with light north-westerlies forecast. We motored from Port McNeill down into Johnstone Strait and put up some sail with a little wind just aft of the beam. We hoisted the Yankee/Stays’l/Mains’l combo while we hauled out the spinnaker and worked on getting it rigged up and ready. By the time we had it ready—it took quite a while—the wind was picking up and was good enough that we left the spinnaker bagged. Later in the day, it built to 20 knots, gusting to 25ish. We tied up at the free dock at Port Neville and had a good night’s sleep. A good sail does that to me every time.
Thursday, April 15
We were up at 06:00 and left the dock around 08:00. I knew we’d be a little early for the tide change at Race Passage but figured that a little fight against the current would be worth it in order to get to Seymour Narrows on time for slack water. Boy, was I wrong! The current in Race Passage had us at a near standstill and made us so late for slack water at Seymour Narrows that we actually went through at maximum flood. The end result was really kind of fun, though; we hit 16.2 knots of speed over ground. Not bad for a boat with a hull speed of seven and a half knots. Throughout the quick transit of the rapids, Wendi was at the barbeque, grilling up another fine meal.
We’ve transited those rapids several times in the past, but never at that speed. On the south side of Ripple Rock, there were two massive whirlpools, one close to Maude Island and the other directly in front of us as we came out of the narrows. They both looked absolutely evil, but there was more than enough space between them to navigate through without getting caught up in either of them. It’s really quite amazing how far beyond the narrows the current carries on so violently. I had always been very careful to time our transits to slack tide before, so we had never seen it at its worst.
An hour later, we were anchored at Gowlland Harbour, across the channel from Campbell River, and enjoyed another beautiful sunset in the stillness. We have anchored so many times in Gowlland Harbour in sunny and calm conditions that it almost seems as though there can be no other weather in there. To play it safe with the transmission, I chose to drop the anchor while still coasting forward after shifting out of forward gear.
SAILING INFIDEL: Def. An unbeliever, heathen, pagan, heretic, agnostic, atheist, non-theist, freethinker, libertine, dissenter, or nonconformist of the sailing variety