2011 Report #1 from Lagoon Cove Marina

July 1, 2011

Ever since my forties I’ve said I would work until I was 70. On April 4, a few days before I turned 71, papers were signed and the Waggoner became the property of Mark Bunzel. I’m not completely retired because a number of loose ends remain, but I’m not “working” any more. Mark Bunzel is visiting the many stops up the coast to research the 2012 Waggoner. Marilynn and I can go cruising strictly for fun.

So here we are two weeks from home, cruising for fun, and it’s hard to shift gears. We keep thinking we need to move on, to see the next place. Eighteen years of habit are hard to break.

It’s July 1, Canada Day. We’re at Lagoon Cove Marina in the Broughtons cruising grounds. For those who don’t know the geography, the Broughtons are on the mainland side, across from the north end of Vancouver Island. It’s wilderness. Cougars and grizzly bears live here. Black bears too, of course. The only roads are logging tracks from the woods to the water, where logs are dumped in and boomed up for tow to mill. Electricity at the resorts and outposts is from diesel generators purring in shacks located away from the docks and the house. Cell phone coverage is spotty. Internet and email, however, are through dishes aimed at a satellite. Not everything is wild in the wilderness.

alt text

Big doings today. The Lagoon Cove Canada Day Crab Races are scheduled for 3:00 this afternoon. More than 15 years of crab races, and this is the first time we’ve seen them. Around the corner at Port Harvey Marina fireworks will be shot off this evening. We can’t be at both places. We decided to stop at Port Harvey on our way south. It’s a perfect jumping-off location for the run down Johnstone Strait.

We’re without a lower helm station depth sounder. Shortly after setting out, the display was delivering numbers from zero to 500 feet to 1000 feet and more, all within minutes. Since we were in the Gulf Islands we went to Nanaimo for repairs. In Nanaimo we learned that the nearest marine electronics repairs were in Victoria or Campbell River.

We opted for Campbell River, and a few days later we got there. The problem turned out to be the ancient transducer in the bottom of the boat. Haulout required. We could be hauled at 3:30, but the yard closed at 4:30. It was Friday and they don’t work weekends. So much for repairs. Fortunately, the antique Coastal Navigator flasher depth sounder at the upper helm station works like a champ. We used it a few nights later when we anchored in Squirrel Cove. We’ll get the lower station sounder problem resolved when we get home. Our little depth sounder problem is nothing compared with what’s happened to others this year.

When we cleared customs at Bedwell Harbour we were surprised that the customs floats were much shorter than before. The float that paralleled the beach had a damaged float tied to it, with yellow Do Not Cross ribbon attached to both. That accounted for the lost float space, but didn’t explain it.

Later, we read Linda Lewis’s waggonerguide.com (and fineedge.com) report that the 72-foot Hatteras Jamal had powered into one of the floats, damaging it and the 38-foot sailboat Misty, tied there to clear customs. Misty, now repaired, sits about 20 feet away from us here at Lagoon Cove. It is a 1985 center cockpit Pearson P385 masthead sloop, owned by Charles and Julia Miller. The Millers live in Tallahassee, Florida, where Charles is Assistant Manager of the West Marine store. They keep the boat at Cap Sante Marina in Anacortes. This was their long-planned Alaska trip, now cut short.

At Bedwell Harbour Julia was on the dock attending the bow line when she looked up and saw the bow of the powerful 72-footer headed straight for her with no one at the controls. She screamed and got out of the way as the boat sliced into the dock and across the bow of their boat, bending the anchor roller, twisting the bow pulpit and carrying away the roller furling jib assembly. A head appeared at the Hatteras’s helm station and the engines were stopped. A deck hand said they had been working on a mechanical problem. Things were pretty confused.

Customs officers showed up, along with the RCMP and the Coast Guard. Within an hour an insurance adjuster arrived by float plane from Vancouver. He didn’t know much about boats, though, and went through the usual “get three estimates” routine.

By this time the RCMP and Coast Guard had completed their reports and Jamal had departed. The Millers were in no mood for multiple repair estimates, and called Jamal’s owner-skipper. He told Millers to take Misty straight to Philbrook’s Boatyard in Sidney, and he’d work out the insurance problem. Which apparently he did, because Philbrook’s had a crew ready to make repairs, which took two and one-half weeks to complete. The Millers can’t say enough good things about the quality of the repairs, the courtesy, and the overall experience at Philbrook’s. Everything was first-rate.

Except that the Alaska trip, with all its preparations, had to be put on hold until another year. Guests who’d bought tickets to fly in had to cancel. Insurance purchased for the trip will go unused.

There’s more, but this is enough.

The big news in Campbell River was the 80-foot motor yacht Antares, hauled out at the Ocean Pacific yard for major repairs. The boat had struck a rock on a falling tide somewhere on the east side of Quadra Island, and lay perched on the rock until the next tide could lift her off. Because we were in a hurry to get going I didn’t learn a lot more.

Our next stop, however, was the comfortable Seattle Yacht Club outstation in Cortes Bay, where a Coast Guard rescue boat is stationed and its crew is lodged in a cabin provided by the club. They were the crew that was on scene during the event. Jeremy, one of the crew, filled in the details. Antares grounded on Tusko Rock, a menace extending nearly halfway into Beazley Passage, the south entry to the Octopus Islands area of Desolation Sound. Beazley Passage is narrow and the current runs fast through it, flooding south, ebbing north. At the time Antares hit, the current was ebbing north at about 4 knots. Antares was northbound at a leisurely flat water speed of 7 knots. Seven knots plus 4 knots equals 11 knots over the bottom, and Tusko Rock came up faster than expected. Antares didn’t swing away in time and she struck.

Although I heard conflicting reports on the exact nature of the damage, it was very serious. Even so, Jeremy said Antares was able to get to Campbell River under her own power. I’m not aware of any injuries.

Then there was the medical emergency at Shoal Bay. Shoal Bay is in Cordero Channel, about midway between Dent Rapids and Greene Point Rapids. It’s a good place to await slack water at either of the rapids, and it’s the location of Mark MacDonald’s relaxed and popular pub, garden, and never-ending construction projects. Waggoner readers know it’s one of our favorite stops.

Mark MacDonald looked different when we saw him this year. His usual mop of hair was cut short, and his left eye seemed partly closed. A scar was over the left eye. They were evidence of the alder tree that almost killed him.

Although I heard conflicting reports on the exact nature of the damage, it was very serious. Even so, Jeremy said Antares was able to get to Campbell River under her own power. I’m not aware of any injuries.

It was only a small alder tree, about five inches in diameter. It was leaning to one side and needed to be cut down. Earlier, Mark had removed a much larger alder, undercutting it with the chain saw so it would fall in the desired direction. This little one would be easy. Mark put the chain saw to the upper side of the leaning tree and pulled the string. Experienced fallers know what happened next. Alders are dangerous. They split vertically. Some fallers won’t touch them. They definitely won’t touch one that’s leaning. Mark’s leaning alder split and the top half the tree shot up. It hit Mark just above the left eye and peeled back his scalp. Dazed, Mark sought out his new wife, Cynthia, who reacted in horror to the sight of the injury. An emergency call was placed. A helicopter arrived, and Mark ended up in a Victoria hospital.

(It should be noted that only a few years ago the popular manager of Vancouver’s False Creek Fishermen’s Wharf was killed while helping a friend clear alder.)

But enough of disasters and near-death scrapes. Let me tell you about our new kayak. It’s a Sea Eagle inflatable kayak, pumped up once at home before we left, then deflated and put back in its bag. Safely tied to the SYC outstation in Pender Harbour’s Garden Bay, we decided to give the kayak its first sea trial. I inflated it on the dock, then slipped it in the water alongside the swim step. Carefully, with Marilynn watching, I attempted to get in. I’m not as flexible or as trim as I once was. My knees hurt and my right foot doesn’t bend properly. The words clumsy and awkward do not begin to describe how I looked as I tried to climb into that tippy little boat.

At last, tired of failure, I made my move. So did the kayak. Partway aboard, it slid away from the swim step and deposited me in the drink. The water was warm. At least something was going right, and my life jacket kept me afloat. We unclipped the collapsible three-step ladder from the underside of the swim step and I climbed out, laughing. On my second effort I got in the kayak successfully and away I went, water dripping from the paddles and from me. It was kind of fun. We’ll try it again sometime.

So here we are at Lagoon Cove with the crab races about to begin. The sky is gray and rain is falling, which isn’t unusual for this time of year. We’ve actually had some sunny weather along the way, and all our running has been in flat, wind-free waters. We’re having a good time.

Order a Guide today! The Waggoner is the Northwest’s best selling, most popular cruising guide. Cruisers call the Waggoner “the bible” for Northwest cruising.
© 2013 Burrows Bay Associates LLC. All rights reserved.