Important News:

  • Bella Bella – The grocery, liquor store, cafe and post office in New Bella Bella had a massive fire on the morning of July 12th. New supplies were barged up with plans to have the band store open by Monday July 15th.
  • Other Fire News – Fourth of July fireworks fires claimed a number of dry storage boats on the north end of Lake Union. Fireworks were also responsible for a grass fire on Cap Sante Head. One of the Crowley tugs assisted putting the fire out with its powerful water guns. In Roche Harbor, a brand new Ocean Alexander 86’ yacht burned at the dock for unknown reasons and eventually sunk. Operations at the resort were back to normal by the next day. Add to this a fire in Des Moines that destroyed six boats in late June. This was not a good month for boat fires and the insurance companies.
  • Namu – Pete, Rene and Teresa are packing up their belongings at the old cannery in Namu. We hear they will be floating everything to a new location in Lizzie Cove on Lama Passage, just south of Shearwater. We aren’t yet sure whether they will be welcoming guests next season at this new location.
  • Deer Harbor has a new BBQ float, covered with a white tent, for marina guests and group events.

[We have a few days from June to report on the San Juan and Gulf Islands and Puget Sound updates.]

June 26

I flew from Bella Bella to Vancouver to attend to business in Anacortes and around Puget Sound. The next week is time for cruising in the land yacht to visit customers and marinas in the San Juan Islands.

June 28 – San Juan Island

Snug Harbor – Watch at the end of the season for massive renovations. New cabins will be built to match the existing new cabins as this cozy resort goes upscale. For those who like to cruise in a fast boat with minimal accommodations, cruise to Snug Harbor on Mitchell Bay and enjoy one of their cabins. Very secluded.

The highlight of the afternoon was speaking at the Tollycraft Rendezvous in Roche Harbor. This is a very spirited group.

Roche Harbor was in all of its glory with more red, white and blue bunting for their Fourth of July celebration than I have ever seen. As always, the place was rocking with people there to have fun.

July 1 – Orcas Island

Any day out on the water in sunny weather is a good day, even on the WA State Ferry to Orcas. An early morning departure from Anacortes had us in East Sound by 8:00 am. Rosario Resort is continuing its renovations. The pools are all open. General Manager Christopher Peacock proudly showed us their new showcase kitchen with large windows open to the dining room. It should be operational soon. Watch for new renovations to the hotel and restaurant area this fall including new rooms for next season.

Eastsound offers more and more each year and is a short 3 mile dinghy ride from Rosario Resort and Marina. You can also anchor, just outside of the Eel Grass preservation zone, and dinghy to the county dock. The shops in town look spruced up and there is a lot to do. Things do change. I noticed that what was a small cafe offering fresh pies all day long last season is now a farm-to-table pizza restaurant. Eastsound is worth exploring if you are out in the San Juan Islands.

We stopped at Doe Bay Resort, always a pleasant and relaxing place. They still have two mooring balls and you can anchor in Doe Bay and dinghy to the beach. The restaurant is worth the trip as are the hot tubs.

Deer Harbor is also going through a renovation. The cabins above the marina are closed and are all being renovated this year. The good news is the pool is still open and available for marina guests. They also have a new barbecue barge, with a tent enclosure for guest use or small groups and rendezvous.

June 29 – 30

We continued with our land yacht exploration with an ad sales trip to Seattle with stops at the Delta shipyard, where they continue to build beautiful large yachts and provide expert maintenance services for many smaller vessels too. Elliott Bay Marina is offering more and more social activities for their marina guests. Check out their web site for barbecues and other events throughout the year.

In the evening, we made it down to Percival Landing in Olympia. This area went through a major marina renovation two years ago and now the walking areas are beautifully landscaped. Restaurants and other businesses have come back and the place is alive. Add the new Olympia Children’s Museum in the middle of the Swantown Marina area and you have a great destination. We had dinner with well-known boat builder Sam Devlin, and his wife Soetsa. They had just gotten back that afternoon from leading a trip to Desolation Sound with a group of Sam Devlin designed and built boats. Great fun and great stories from their trip.

The next morning was a quick pass along the Gig Harbor waterfront. Arabella’s Landing looked tidy and busy for the 4th of July weekend. We were in Poulsbo by mid-morning and their marina was just about full. The downtown looked great with many old favorites and a few new shops, too. Another classic waterfront destination worth visiting. We stopped in to see Longship Marine’s new owner, Aaron. They have a great webcam of the Poulsbo marina at:

Our last stop of the day was Bremerton Marina to see harbormaster Kathie and learn more about the specials they are offering for long term moorage.

July 5-6 – Celebration in Shearwater

After time with family over the Fourth of July, on Friday, I flew Pacific Coastal Airlines from Vancouver to Bella Bella. There was a lot of excitement on the plane as many of us were flying up for the celebration the next day at Shearwater.

This trip is always an interesting transition. I left my home in Anacortes that morning, crossed the Canadian border by car to the Vancouver airport. Then a commuter size plane to the short airstrip at the tribal village of Bella Bella, about 100 miles north of the top of Vancouver Island. After a 2 mile taxi-van ride down to the waterfront, I jumped on the Sea-Bus for a 20 minute boat ride to Shearwater Resort & Marina where my boat had been moored for the last week and a half. Lots of jumping between cars, planes, vans and boats to get there. It was good to get back to the boat, my summer home.

Saturday was a spectacular day at Shearwater. The sun was shining and over 250 people gathered to celebrate the heritage of Bella Bella and Shearwater. Craig Widsten, the principal owner of Shearwater, a community and business founded by his late father, Andrew, 67 years ago, lead a 7-hour celebration program with community members, chiefs and members of 14 area tribes, guests, government officials and most importantly the families of the historic people that were part of of Bella Bella and Shearwater, right back to its founding by the Hudson Bay Company. The speeches were moving and became part of the oral history of the area.

Shearwater Celebration

The ceremony at Shearwater drew a big crowd.

Shearwater Celebration

Craig Widsten, principal owner of Shearwater, put on a marvelous celebration.

A cenotaph, war memorial, was dedicated, complete with a newly carved eagle pole and a 17’ wingspan model of the Stranraer flying boat that was stationed at the base during WWII. The 120‘x22’ mural featuring the faces of 17 people that were key to the development of Bella Bella and Shearwater was also dedicated with a family member for each personal telling a bit of personal history about their ancestor.

It was a great day for the communities of Bella Bella, Shearwater and the Heiltsuk tribe.

July 7 – Salmon Fishing

Sunday was salmon fishing time with Shawn Kennedy and his family. We were on the Shearwater group boat F/V Pacific Lure. The boat is a Shearwater 43 yacht, built in the 1980s in Shearwater. The catch was 15 good sized salmon amongst 5 of us including a 24 pound white salmon. My freezer is full with juicy salmon fillets. Shearwater is situated in a great area with a variety of productive fishing spots close by.


Our catch after a day of fishing in Shearwater.

July 8 – Shearwater to Roscoe Inlet

I finally left Shearwater after the boat was there for almost two weeks, grateful to Craig Widsten and the staff at Shearwater. The celebration left an impression of the people and the heritage of Shearwater, the staff was wonderful, and the restaurant and pub were very good. I made many new friends, too.

The afternoon and the next morning were spent exploring Roscoe Inlet. Roscoe Inlet is a 21 mile long fjord of snow capped mountains and sheer granite faces. It is stunning and should be on everyone’s cruising bucket list. It winds back with valleys, waterfalls and grassy meadows, another place where the layered peaks and the different colors of green offset by sheer rock faces takes your breath away. It was now late in the day. The goal was to anchor in Quartcha Bay. A check of the bays showed that Quartcha might be too deep and I decided to go to Boukind Bay and join two sailboats at anchor there. The depth of 30’-40’ leaves plenty of room to swing on the anchor if the winds shift. It was a quiet evening in this beautiful location with – you guessed it for dinner – fresh salmon.

Roscoe Inlet

Beautiful Roscoe Inlet under misty skies.

Roscoe Inlet

A Selene 55’ anchored in Roscoe Inlet.

I prepared one of my favorite salmon recipes and I had a feeling I would be making 8-10 different salmon recipes before I made a dent in the eight fillets in the freezer. I saved one fillet from freezing, so tonight’s was fresh caught and bright red with oil. Yum… I stripped the skin off the fillet and cut the salmon into chunks. Then dredged the salmon cubes in egg and italian bread crumbs with a few other choice spices. The breaded cubes go into the hot pan with olive oil and are flipped after a few minutes. I add a little bit of butter and lemon to finish. Keep the salmon moist in the middle by not overcooking and they are excellent! (My thanks to salmon-meister John Leoni of Anacortes for this one.) A few roasted red potatoes with rosemary, a glass of wine and it is the end to a wonderful day of cruising.

July 9 – Roscoe Bay to Ocean Falls

From my berth I could hear rain falling on the deck at 6:00 am. No need to start early today, and I hoped the rain and overcast might break to reveal some of the blue skies of the last several days. Blue skies are better for compelling photography for the Waggoner.

Paradise is not always perfect, and despite my best efforts, my anchor line jammed in the windlass hawser. This has been one of the few problems on the boat and I have tried two different splices. I thought I had a technique down, but not quite. I had to cut the line and will re-splice it with my other anchor rode when we get to Ocean Falls. I was not sure whether to bother cruising to the head of Roscoe Inlet. The overcast was low and I might not see the towering mountains. But as I tell my kids – never say never. The passage was beautiful as the skies broke and blue sky peaked in around the sheer granite walled mountains. There were waterfalls and grassy meadows. At the head of the inlet were friends in their 55’ Selene, perfect for pictures.

The passage back down was completely different than the ride up, thanks to the higher clouds. There were valleys and waterfalls I was not able to see earlier. It reminded me of a smaller scale Misty Fjords. Roscoe Inlet is well worth seeing.

Roscoe Inlet

Sunshine in Roscoe Inlet.

By 4:00 pm I stopped on the way in to Cousins Inlet to drop a crab trap on my way into Ocean Falls. The American Tug group of 11 tugs would be arriving on Wednesday and Thursday and it would be good to have a few things besides salmon to share at the inevitable potluck on the dock.

Ocean Falls

Approaching Ocean Falls

July 10 – Ocean Falls

Arrived in “sunny” Ocean Falls, B.C. last night – a ghost town and home of the Rain People. The picture shows the falls in white to the right and the mill building. The large building was a 270 room hotel – The Martin Inn – now empty and deserted. Pouring rain today, more typical of Ocean Falls, perfect for joining the Ocean Falls “men only Wednesday stew pot lunch.” Two bottles of unique hot sauce got me in to Herb Carpenter’s weekly event. They added it to the collection of over 100 hot sauces. In case you are wondering, lunch was a bean soup stew with elk. Delicious! The final score for the day: three large Dungeness crabs caught in front of the waterfall. Bean Elk stew for lunch, fresh steamed crab for dinner! Life is good.

Ocean Falls Lunch

Men’s lunch at Ocean Falls was delicious and informative.

Hot Sauce

Over a 100 bottles of unique hot sauce at Ocean Falls.

The afternoon included using my folding bike and getting some exercise. Between rain showers, I rode down to the Rain Country Store two miles away. The store is only open three days a week, and only between 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm. Gwen, the new owner, bakes and sells incredible pineapple banana bread. The store is not very big but has all the basics. For beer or wine, you go next door to Saggo’s Saloon.

Ocean Falls Store

The small store at Ocean Falls.

Dinner was at the Darke Waters Inn for chicken and ribs. Corrina and Rob do a great job in remote and beautiful Ocean Falls. Stop in and ask Rob about the fishing in Link Lake above the falls. Rob will even take you there for a guided boat trip to catch some of the good-sized cutthroat trout up there.

July 12 – Fire Destroys the Waglisla Store in Bella Bella, B.C.

News travels fast in the north islands. Around mid-day we learned a fire early this morning destroyed the grocery, liquor store, cafe and post office at the top of the dock in Bella Bella.

Note how close the fire came to their fuel tanks.

Replacement supplies are being shipped up by barge and a store will be established in the community center.

Hard to believe I was just there on Monday.

Mid-afternoon, four American Tugs arrived as part of the American Tugs and Trawlers Summer Expedition, led by my good friends Steve and Cindy Scruggs. They had spent the last two and a half weeks working their way to this area of Northern British Columbia as a group, with a number of fun activities. The evening was spent with the entire group in the Shack on the Ocean Falls dock with a potluck dinner, a few cocktails and a lot of laughs.

July 13 – Ocean Falls to Bella Coola

Steve and Cindy joined me for a ride to Port McNeill, where their truck was waiting. But first we took the round about route to check out Bella Coola. It is a scenic cruise up Dean Channel and down Labouchere Channel. We stopped to see the cairn and the carved inscription at Sir Alexander Mackenzie Rock. Interesting that this was the western most point traveled by the explorer Mackenzie.

Mackenzie Rock

Mackenzie Rock

At the bottom of Labouchere Channel, at Mesachie Nose, I was disappointed to see that cruisers had left their own graffiti with names, dates and a cartoon character in the beautiful rock facings at water level. It seems that one person started and then others added more, including a cartoon character. This is not the place for it with such natural beauty all around.

We arrived in Bella Coola and decided to add fuel. While I felt badly calling the standby number for a weekend call-out to open the fuel dock, the attendant said I was the 15th call-out that day. The fisherman had an opening coming up and many were fueling at the last minute. We elected not to go into the town of Bella Coola as there was some question whether the taxi service was even operating. At 4:00 pm we continue on with the goal of Fougner Bay at the end of Burke Channel for our overnight stay. We passed Cathedral Point, where there is a small cove with beautiful pink/orange rock facings. I made a note for a future trip that this would be worth an overnight stay.

We entered Fougner Bay at 11:00 pm on the last of the sunset light and worked our way back around the rocks to anchor in the back bay. Beautiful with a crescent moon.

July 14 – Fougner Bay to Port McNeill, Rounding Cape Caution

It was a 5:00 am start for a day where sunrise was 5:46 am. The anchor came up with a little bit of mud on it. A good sign. We crept out of very pretty Fougner Bay, wishing we could stay and enjoy it for the day.

At the end of Burke Channel we started south and soon passed Namu in the early morning light. The word was that Pete, Rene and Teresa were packing up everything and leaving Namu. Docks are still open for moorage but by the end of the season they will be taking their floating homes, shop, and docks to Lizzie Cove, off Lama Passage. Namu Cove will no longer be a destination. It is not clear if Pete, Rene and Teresa will be offering moorage in their new location next season.

Fitz Hugh Sound was full of whales and the sightings were numerous, one less than 50 yards from the boat. Flukes, tail fins and down they would go. Our last set of whales near Safety Cove was a group of 4-5 sounding and diving together.

Cape Caution

Flat water crossing of Queen Charlotte Sound.

I had been watching the weather coming across the Pacific for several days and a nice high pressure area would come over the Cape Caution area on Sunday morning. I would have liked to stay another day in Rivers Inlet, but the conditions were ideal for a very smooth crossing. As we crossed, the conditions were glassy seas with a slight swell. The forecast called for less than a meter and West Sea Otter was reporting about 2 feet with hardly any wind at all. What this really means is the waves are just a light ocean swell – it does not get much better than this – perfect conditions. We took a side trip to Bull Harbour and by late afternoon we had a 4-foot following sea. But crossing Cape Caution was beautiful.

Bull Harbour

The public dock at Bull Harbour.

Bull Harbour is historic and beautiful, a great jumping-off point anchorage if you are awaiting good weather for rounding Cape Scott to the West Coast of Vancouver Island.

We arrived in Port McNeill at 5:00 pm after a good day of cruising and exploring.

Next, I will be headed back to the Broughtons and then points south. I will be giving a talk on “Heading North of Vancouver Island” at Pierre’s Echo Bay on the afternoon of Saturday, July 20th. Over the next couple of weeks, I will head down to the Gulf Islands. Enjoy your time on the water.

– Mark

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