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Fraser Reach and Graham Reach

Date/Time:Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Location: Horsefly Cove
Weather: Light winds, High overcast, Barometer falling slightly Plan: Hiekish Narrows, Finlayson Channel, Jackson Passage to Mathieson Channel

Coghlan is a good anchorage for a number of reasons–room, proper depth, good holding, etc. But it does get windy. The wind started building about midnight, so I double-checked the anchoring system and made sure everything on deck was secure. The Dinghy was well fendered and double-tied. The anchor alarms and GPS map were left on for frequent reference. I was up a few times to look around, and I was awakened about 4 a.m. by Elsie’s whining; she was worried because the boat was bobbing in a 2-foot chop and waves were splashing against the bow (she sleeps in the forepeak.) I let her come outside while I checked the anchor rode and made sure everything was secure. She relaxed and went back to sleep while I stayed awake on anchor watch. Another long night.

By 0700 hours things were still lively with gusty winds and lumpy seas, but life goes on…After breakfast Elsie got her run on the beach. As we were returning to the boat, two DeHavilland Beaver airplanes flew in, apparently with clients for the other (charter) sailboat in the anchorage.

We were preparing for departure when we heard a distress call on the radio. The s/v Wharf Rat, a beautiful little wooden schooner that we passed the previous day was having engine trouble in Bishop Bay and was being blown toward the rocks by the wind. We did a quick check and determined that we were about 4 hours away. The Canadian Coast Guard put out a marine assistance call that was answered by another power boat only 20 minutes away, so we went about our business. (The Wharf Rat was successfully towed and moored in Bishop Bay.)

The “outflow winds,” as they are called in Canada, were roaring down Douglas Channel and into Wright Sound, the body of water where we would be most exposed. Fortunately, it was a beam reach and we roared along in the wind and spray with a double reef in the main and 95 percent jib. Our hull speed is only 7.3 knots but today we saw 9 knots on the GPS! Though the strong winds continued until mid-afternoon, we spend most of the day in protected waters having a comfortable ride.

We passed a dozen boats today, nearly all sailboats or fishing boats. It seems that all of the power yachts have already left for the season. One of the sailboat skippers hailed us as we passed each other near Butedale and introduced himself. He had heard us check in on the morning ham radio net, knew we were headed his way, and just wanted to say, “Hi.”

Today was also notable for its wildlife: dozens of humpback whales (on one occasion two monsters surfaced together right behind the boat,) a pod of dolphins playing in the bow wake, and a bear on the beach where we took Elsie for her evening walk.

Tonight’s anchorage is much different that last night’s. Horsefly cove is a tiny little hole surrounded by little forested islands and barely enough swinging room for one boat. Though we are anchored deep (90 feet) and our scope is less than ideal, the winds would hardly touch us in here.

If all goes well, we’re about two days from Shearwater, the strategically located resort that supplies “one stop shopping” for most boaters traveling this part of the coast. It looks like this beautiful fall weather will last a little longer.

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