To see this report with photos, click here.
The weather in the Pacific Northwest, British Columbia and along the Inside Passage has been spectacular for boating during May and June. While this may not be good news for future water supplies and forest fires, the marinas and resorts in the San Juan Islands are already saying this will be one of their record years. In BC, the summer for boating is just revving up.
In May, a Pacific high set in for over three weeks just as we started our first flotilla to Alaska. We all pinched ourselves that we enjoyed so many warm, sunny and calm days of cruising. But our passage of Cape Caution demonstrated what surprises Mother Nature can provide. West Sea Otter buoy, located offshore north of Vancouver Island, teased us with a report of seas of 1.4 meters and an interval of 11 seconds. While we crossed, the interval changed to four seconds – and I think all can say it was not comfortable but still very doable. We soldiered on and it settled down a bit after Egg Island. In Fury Cove we were all thrilled to have the crossing behind us.
After a pleasant cruise through northern BC and Fiordland, we had a smooth crossing to Ketchikan, skipping Foggy Bay, and ahead of an approaching gale. Our weather calls were pretty much on-target and it was a good feeling to deliver our flotilla group to Ketchikan safe and sound.
Flotilla 2, under the direction of Waggoner managing editor Sam Landsman and Kevin Monahan, was already underway with a different set of weather conditions. They delayed their transit of Cape Caution by two days for a very pleasant passage. Their last crossing of Dixon Entrance to Alaska was very smooth, in fact, it was hard to believe it was open ocean. Another group had made it to Ketchikan safely and much more knowledgeable about the weather and cruising. In addition, our groups have bonded and are now fast friends, all sharing tips via email as they explore Southeast Alaska.
Two more Waggoner flotillas are now underway to Desolation Sound, all having fun. I will be leading our last group to the Broughton Islands on July 5. Everyone is very excited to go and we will all have a great time. We have a full schedule of social activities planned along the way with visits to some very special marinas and anchorages. Like our other flotillas, a lot of boating education will be going on, too. Cruising friendships will be made while we spend our three weeks together.
We have already started our updates for the 2016 Waggoner Guide, many of which we have noted in this issue. Things do change and there are a lot of facilities changing hands as a generation plans their retirements after 15 to 20 years of running their destination resorts.
I can also report that many marinas continue to invest and make improvements, some visible and some not. There is new energy in the air along the Inside Passage and we point this out in our cruising updates. With the improving economy, low fuel prices and a favorable US dollar we expect to see a record number of boats out on the water.
If you make it up to the Broughton Archipelago, stop in and try the new wood-fired hot tub sponsored by the Waggoner Cruising Guide at Pierre’s Echo Bay Resort and Marina. We dedicated it complete with proclamations and rum on May 24. The view from the hot tub is pretty unique.
At the Waggoner Guide, we are all excited about this summer. Sam Landsman will be visiting Haida Gwaii and reporting on what is often called “…the Galapagos of the Northwest,” as well as on the Puget Sound area. I will concentrate on the Broughtons down through the San Juan Islands. It is going to be a great summer. Say hello if you see us on the water.