May 11th, 2016 | By: Gregory Smart | Leg 1: Inside Passage
We got underway in the grey predawn this morning, our schedule dictated by the formidable Hole-in-the-wall and Okisollo tidal rapids, which transform into impassable whitewater for a few hours with each flood or ebb of the tide. Captain Brian made his calculations correctly today, and the narrow channels were placid and serene. Boat traffic often stacks up waiting in the eddies above and below the rapids for the tides to shift, and slack water becomes a green light. Tugs pulling log booms, fishing boats, water taxis and yachts all jockey for space during the brief windows of opportunity.
Safely past the rapids we turned our attention to the shoreline. The number of homes and cabins has slowly begun to diminish as we enter more and more remote waters. Logging camps and commercial salmon farms dot the many small protected inlets and bays, and the small rugged aluminum boats that serve as the regions’ link to the outside world skim from island to island.
Okisollo Channel opens to the east into the broad and often wild waters of Johnstone Strait which is the only northward route on this section of the inside passage. South of Chatham Point it was smooth sailing, with wonderful views of the snowcapped spine of Vancouver Island, but as we round the point a fresh northwest breeze began to build, blowing straight down the length of the channel. By early afternoon it built to a steady 20-25 knots directly off our bows. The ebbing tide ran against the wind and the result was a steep short period chop of about 4 feet that sent coffee mugs skittering across the countertops.
Due to the shift in the weather, we decided to press on past our intended anchorage and head instead to the protected comfort of Lagoon Cove, where the prospect of tying up to a dock for the famous happy hour and buckets of fresh prawns made for great motivation.
All the boats and the crews performed spectacularly as we beat north, and soon enough we cruised through a narrow gap in the Broken Islands and entered the flat calm waters of Havannah Channel. The warm sun flooded through the windows and we were all in good spirits by time we slipped through The Blow Hole- the narrow entrance to lagoon cove.
Jeanne, the gracious and generous proprietress of the remote marina welcomed us in along with her assistants Dave, a Yukon gold miner and Jam, an effusive and diminutive emergency room nurse from Vancouver, who sailed in a few weeks ago and loved it so much they’ve decided to stay for the summer to assist Jeanne. Once all the boats were tied up and secure Jeanne soon had us all cleaning the days’ catch of spot prawns for the evening’s happy hour, which stretched on long into the evening as we visited with other boaters, local fisherman, and even a couple of bear hunters who stopped by for fuel and a chat. A relaxing end to a long and satisfying day. Adventure, community, scenery, and fresh seafood… Who could ask for anything more?