British Columbia the Inside Passage

Blunden Harbour

Tuesday, July 17, 2012S.V. CAMBRIA

All that remains of the former First Nation's village.

Blunden Harbour is one of the best anchorages along Queen Charlotte Strait, which is exactly why we’re here.  For the past four days the wind has blown steadily, easing off at night, only to increase again by eight in the morning.  Along with the wind comes an increased sea state, three to four metres (10 to 14 feet), making any northern progress difficult. 

Apart from my trips to shore with Sally, we’ve kept to the boat along with most of the others anchored here.  I did have a chat with a couple of lady kayakers from Seattle the other day who are on their way to Ketchikan, Alaska.  The two Traceys left a month ago (sadly, they’re making better progress than we are) and were recently been chased off The Broken Islands (just outside the entrance to Port Harvey off Johnstone Strait) by a grizzly bear while camping.  It’s been a difficult journey for them with the weather, but they’ve still managed to paddle 20 to 30 nautical miles each day.  I would have loved to have stayed and talked with them longer but it was getting late and they were planning to leave in the morning, so we said our goodnights and I drug Sally back to the boat.

And earlier today I was talking to a couple who told me that you can still find trading beads on the beach here.  The wife described what they look like and while playing tug with Sally tonight, I happened to find one.  All I can say is that the Europeans were cheap, conniving bastards (they traded the worthless pieces of glass for otter pelts).  I found several more broken pieces while we walked up and down the beach, but that wasn’t the end of our excitement for the evening.  Sally’s been full of herself lately and decided to climb up a ten foot rock and jump down, landing flat on her face (she doesn’t have the leg muscles for a proper landing anymore).  I had visions of shattered bones but, apart from a bloody lip, she’s fine. No aches, pains or sprains.   

Now that the wind has started to back off to the normal range of 15 to 20 knots, we’ve been getting up early to listen to the latest forecast and current conditions.  It looks like our patience will pay off either tomorrow or Thursday at which point we’ll (finally) up anchor and say goodbye to Blunden Harbour. 

David says we’re getting soft because when we were living in New Zealand we didn’t give 25 knots a second thought.  I say we’re getting smarter.  But I had to laugh when I recalled a morning that it was blowing 30 knots outside and we were trying to decide whether or not we should leave our berth for a scheduled haul-out about ten miles south of the marina.  Funnily enough, it was the chance of rain that kept us put. 

Wind is a major issue but so is the sea state.  Case in point, we were leaving the Bay of Islands in January of 2007 to sail down to Auckland to meet the ship that would eventually carry Cambria to Mexico.  We had waited several days for a weather system to pass through the area and were getting a little nervous about making it down with plenty of time to spare – at that stage we didn’t have an exact departure date.  Auckland is only 150 nm south of the Bay of Islands, but it’s a difficult coast and the weather can hold you up for days at a time.  So we left our anchorage in Opua and motored out to the open bay where we were met with a one metre swell.  David asked if I wanted to wait another day for the sea state to improve.  I thought it’d be fine, so I said no.  But once we got close to Cape Brett, things really got ugly.  We had four metre seas (close together) and no wind – the boat was all over the place.  After a couple of hours, we ducked into the nearest port (Whangaruru, I believe), surfing down waves in order to enter.  The next morning when we left, the seas were flat calm.  I learned my lesson well: the sea needs time to rid itself of the wind’s energy.  Point is, if I can avoid them, my four metre sea days are behind me – I’ve gotten smarter even if he hasn’t!

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