Saturday, August 15, 2015

Desolation Sound

A  Refresher on Anchoring Properly...

As I sat down to write this entry at 23:25 on Friday night, our depth alarm went off - warning us we were in less than 15 ft of water.  I popped upstairs with our spotlight to see how close to the cobble spit we were and take a look at our position to see if we had dragged our anchor during the afternoon thunderstorm and ensuing gusts.  All seemed calm and our position ok.  But, now I'm on alert, again.

After three weeks of relatively easy anchoring in the San Juan and Gulf Island coves, Desolation Sound gave us a quick wake up call during our second night.  We had run into Island friends upon entering Roscoe Bay and rafted up with them for the night.  When they pulled anchor the next day, we cavalierly threw out our new trusty 65 lb spade anchor, gave a quick tug on it and continued on with our afternoon of playing in the warm water.  Just after midnight the winds started howling down the hill and through the bay in a variety of directions.  Nick woke me to double check our location, fearing we had dragged anchor. Sure enough we were closer to the two boats rafted together nearby.  Roscoe Bay is narrow and crowded so we chose to take turns on anchor watch and agreed we would pick up anchor and reset if needed, otherwise we would wait till morning to reset.  We could see several people out on deck shining their spotlights onshore to check their position.

Sleeping on deck in a sleeping bag was definitely the best way to stay alert and the stars were amazing - worth the nerve racking business of shifty winds and an anchor that isn't holding well.  By morning it was dead calm in the bay and we were about 20 feet from our neighbors with fir needles covering the decks.  We chatted with our new Canadian friends over morning coffee before we fired up the engine and reset our anchor just a little farther away.

After that evening at Roscoe Bay we were on high alert - setting our anchor harder, putting out more chain and stern tying as well.  Most of the shoreline in Desolation Sound is rather vertical, so finding a spot where you can get enough scope out and not end up stern tied 2 feet from shore is a trick.  Our favorite anchorage was in Teakerne Arm - it took three tries to find the right spot and our windlass almost gave out, but the view from the companionway was worth the third effort to anchor-with a rock wall jutting straight up behind Agamere. 

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Orcas and Salmon

Reid Harbor is a favorite of ours - with a trail to it's one room school house that is open for teaching as long as there are kids on Stuart Island to attend.  This last year it was closed but the library as always was open for visitors with its inspiring walls lined with books and hand printed postcards to purchase and send on.  We went to Reid Harbor while Simi was at Camp Orkila and planned to spend several days there - hiking out to the Turn Point Light House and playing on the beach.

On heading into Reid Harbor we spent many hours  fishing for pink salmon that seemed so abundant that we should be able to just catch them with our large net.  We all took turns casting our pink buzz bomb into the water but finally gave up and went inside to set our anchor.  After dinner we rallied for an evening fishing session from our dinghy.  We were one of four boats out on the unusually calm waters of Haro Strait with the sun heading down towards the horizon.  For sure we would catch a good sunset if nothing else!  

Inspired by seeing other fisherman landing their fish, at last we got a bite, pulled in the line hauled in our first salmon.  The kids were ecstatic!  Since we had just provisioned the boat with lots of food and also had our new freezer compressor stop working, we had to get crafty about preserving and using the meat on board.  We decided to make gravlox which is a three-four day process of cold cooking the fish in salt, pepper, sugar and dill and weighting it down with cans (or gravel - which is where the Swedish name comes from). 

Finished lox - four days later!
Covering salmon with salt/sugar mixture
On Day 2 at Reid Harbor we joined the crack of noon club for a hike to Turn Point.  The stars aligned and when we at last made it out to turn point at 2:00pm, a pod of Orcas surfaced in the waters right below the lighthouse cliffs!  There was a large male Orca and at least seven others in the pod with a young calf and mother in tow.  It seemed there were at least as many whale watching boats, streaming behind the pod keeping some distance.  The majestic presence of seeing an Orca surface does not change from one encounter to the next, simply amazing. 

Whale boats chasing fast moving Orca pod down Stuart Island
The kids hiked a total of almost 5 miles and really didn’t complain much at all.  William loved seeing the grassy airstrip that islanders use, Maggie listened for animals and we talked about the geology and different ecosystems.  We saw a swampy area with chewed on skunk cabbage, dry grassy fields, saltwater marsh, thick Madrona and Fir forests and chatted with the many walkers up and down the road who encouraged the kids (and us the few times they actually ran ahead!).