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ADVENTURES

ALASKA: 2015 LEG 6 – FORWARD HARBOR TO OCTOPUS ISLANDS

Whirlpool rapids had been silenced by the slack of the tide as we passed through, lazy currents circling indecisively between the rocky shores, supplanting the seething whitewater that had boiled through the pass an hour earlier. Even at slack the current pushed on our sterns, whisking us south towards the bustling ports of the Salish Sea.

The weather has continued to improve as we move through the Broughtons, and shorts and bare feet are today’s attire of choice. The landscape too has changed in reflection of the drier and warmer climate. Deep beds of dry mosses and sparse beds of leathery-leaved salal grow around the trunks of spindly-trunked dry shore pines that line the rocky ledges above the water. Douglas fir has begun to replace the vast forests of Sitka spruce and Western hemlock that dominate the northern reaches of the inside passage.

The radio is filled constantly now with the voices of fishermen and cruisers hailing one another, gossiping, discussing the weather, arguing over the merits of different fishing lures.

An enormous log boom cautiously enters Greene Point Rapids, sweeping slowly around the wide corner into Mayne Passage, a stout tugboat at each end.  We continue out into the waters of Johnstone Strait and the tugs are lost to view. Out in the wide reach of the strait yesterday’s northwest breeze has picked up again, and sailboats make wide northbound tacks, heeled over smartly against a backdrop of high green peaks. Log trucks rumble along dusty trucks high over our heads. Fishing boats cluster around Chatham Point, waiting for the tides to bring the salmon to them.

At midday we pulled out of the channel above Okisolo Rapids and dropped the hook in spacious Owen Bay, waiting for easy passage at slack tide. The crew of Deception takes advantage of the downtime to wash the boat, scrubbing months of Alaskan mildew off the teak. Old floathouses and ramshackle cabins ring the bay, remnants of the small logging and fishing community that existed here for most of the last century. An old man motors slowly across the bay in an ancient skiff checking his crab pots. We leave on the swing of the tide and slip around the corner to our destination.

The Octopus Islands are a beautiful chain of small, dry islands with a multitude of small anchorages.  It is a popular destination, and a crowd of southbound vessels sits at anchor among the islands and across wide Waiat Bay to the south. Nevertheless there is plenty of room and we all tuck in to the spot of our choosing to enjoy the afternoon sunshine. Great blue herons stalk the shoreline and kingfishers hunt from overhanging snags while the currents outside the islands swirl and thrash through the night.

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