British Columbia Desolation Sound

Rebecca Spit Marine Park, Quadra Island

Wednesday, July 04, 2012S.V. CAMBRIA

Cambria at anchor in Rebecca Spit.

It rained most of the day again yesterday but visibility was good, so we moved to Rebecca Spit Marine Park on nearby Quadra Island to buy provisions and set ourselves up to go through the first set of rapids, Beazley Passage, today. 

The best time to transit arapid is at or near slack tide, this is especially true for sailboats.  And, like most things associated with this lifestyle, there’s preparation involved.  First you need to know what time slack tide occurs.  We have several sources aboard, and all of them seem to differ slightly.  So we always go with Canadian Hydro, using the others to support this choice (they’re all in the same ballpark, after all).  Then you need to know the distance from your current position to the rapids and what speed you’ll be travelling so that you can determine what time to leave your current anchorage.  Today it was 4:30 pm.  You can always be early but being late isn’t an option or you’ll be waiting another six hours for the next slack tide to arrive (again, I’m talking sailboats here).  Depending on the rapids, you may have a five to ten minute window of opportunity, sometimes less.

Beazley Passage is the southernmost of the rapids, or gates, separating the tidal flow.  Since we crossed the Strait of Juan de Fuca in May, the tide has been flooding to the north and ebbing to the south.  Once we transit the rapids, that will change and it’ll flood to the south.  The moon is currently full, so we’re having what are called “spring tides” which are larger than normal.  At spring floods, Beazley runs at about twelve knots.  We have a sixty horsepower engine that can make about seven knots.  I’ll leave the math to you. 

Today we were a little early.  Seven minutes to be exact.  And as we approached the passage, we could see an elephant parade of boats (ten in all) waiting to transit.  When we were within a half mile, they started to go through, one by one.  We decided to go as well and, by the time we saw the lively waters in the channel, it was too late – we were committed.  There was still a two-knot head current with turbulent waters and Cambria was getting pushed around bit.  Adding to the difficulty is the fact that it’s a narrow passage with two major obstacles that you can’t see – a reef along the western edge and a rock on the eastern one (hence the turbulence).  But David helmed the boat beautifully and we made it through without incident, cursing the large tides once we were through.  

With Beazley Passage behind us, we carried on to Octopus Islands Marine Park, another one of our favourite anchorages, for a night or two.  As much as we like it here, we can’t afford to linger.  Because of the haul-out in Nanaimo and the recent bad weather, we’re a couple of weeks behind where we thought we’d be at this stage in the season and need to keep moving while we can. 

You Might Also Like