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Fuzzy Math, Fast Water

Date/Time: Friday, September 19, 2014
Location: Squirrel Cove, Cortez Island, BC
Weather: Clear, calm, warm

Departing Forward Harbor

Departing Forward Harbor

Tides, reversing rapids, and calculating boat speed and transition times has consumed us for the past two days. But this evening we are in Desolation Sound and most of the hard parts of our voyage are behind.

This morning we awoke to light wisps of fog drifting through the anchorage, but by departure time it was thick. We pulled the anchor by hand (we still haven’t found a foot switch for the deck) as we listened to our friends ghost by in the fog ahead of us. We left the anchorage at 1000 hours.

Our first rapids, Whirlpool Rapids lay just outside of our anchorage. I expected the flood current to be flowing west, and we could go nice and slow, jogging in the current until the fog dissipated as forecast. After a few minutes, however I realized that we were doing 5.5 knots eastbound with the engine at idle. I had not double checked the direction of current flow on the chart, and instead of jogging against the current, we were being swept into the rapids! I recalled reading that Whirlpool Rapids has no overfalls or dangerous features, and the channel is wide, so we went ahead on compass bearings, radar, gps and what little we could see of the water around us. Our boat was jostled a little, but by the time we were through, the fog was lifting and we were making 9 knots!

Two miles later we entered Chancellor Passage, which is a tame piece of water even when current is running. We had time to look at our calculations and found that the next three rapids all flow east on the flood, the opposite of what I had calculated. A stupid mistake, but today it worked to our benefit. All of the times we calculated were correct, but our speed was so much faster that what we had planned as a two day transit could all be done in one day.

We shot through Green Point Rapids 1 hour and 40 minutes before slack water, went through Dent Rapids 45 minutes before slack, and aced Yaculta Rapids about 20 minutes before slack, all within safe time parameters recommended by our guidebooks for this area. By 1500 hours we were through all of the tricky parts, and needed only to select a good place to end today’s journey.

Now we’re tied to a dock in Squirrel Cove with easy access to the beach (for Elsie,) a store (for that anchor switch?) and no anchor to pull in the morning (for me.) We talked to Barb’s brother Don, and her nephew Brian and his wife Jan on the ham radio. The sky is clear, the wind and seas calm, and life is good again.


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