Quatsino Sound West Coast Vancouver Island

Quatsino Sound: North Harbour

Sunday, July 21, 2013S.V. CAMBRIA

Approaching Quatsino Sound

Still moored in Sea Otter Cove, we waited until high tide and departed around one o’clock for North Harbour, Quatsino Sound – a 25 nautical mile run along the coast.  I could feel the butterflies building as we prepped the boat to leave . . . and for good reason.  Not only is entering and exiting Sea Otter Cove difficult, the Pacific Coast is nothing to trifle with and we know it from first hand experience.  So in addition to a healthy respect for the ocean, I get nervous as hell from time to time.  And this was one of those times.  Until we get a real feel for the coastline and how Environment Canada’s forecasts stack up, I’m sure the butterflies will return again and again.  But that’s okay.  I’d rather have them than not – it’s important to remain humble on the water.  David’s always been able to maintain respect without fear so butterflies aren’t part of the equation with him, which is good– one “Nervous Nelly” aboard a boat is plenty. 

To keep myself as calm (and confident) as possible, I do all of the research for our trips: I chose the anchorages, create my own routes on Navionics and hang on every word of the forecast for our current areas.  None of these things are set in stone and David, as captain, always makes the final decisions and puts together the actual routes that we follow.  But armed with as much information as I can gather helps me work through any what ifs that may pop into my mind.  The ones I can’t answer or need more reassurance on, David takes care of.  And if all that fails, I hold on tight and concentrate on whatever I can in order to get through it.  Today, it was the depth sounder.  And that’s how I can say, unequivocally, that the depths in the southern entrance are not, once again, anywhere near those reported on the charts.  At low tide, there should be close to 14 metres through the unmarked channel, but we never saw more than eight . . . at high. 

Whether it’s a real memory or only in my mind I’m not exactly sure, but we let out a collective sigh of relief once we cleared the entrance and made our way back into open water.  It was a good but, at times, uncomfortable run down to Quatsino Sound with a low 1 to 1.5 metre northwesterly swell, six or seven seconds apart and beam on.  David says all the time we’ve spent along the Inside Passage has softened us.  And I have to agree – both literally and figuratively.  It’s definitely time to rebuild those stomach and back muscles and get my head around the fact that our days of flat, deep waters are, for the next month or so, behind us.  It’s just a little difficult for me to comprehend sailing in only 25 metres of water at this stage, but I’ll get there. . .  eventually.

The winds didn’t pick up until late in the afternoon, so we motored the entire way which made the four hours seem even longer.  But by five o’clock we dropped the hook in North Harbour, a completely average anchorage.  Apart from the fact that it’s convenient to the open ocean and Winter Harbour, where we’ll fuel up, buy a few provisions and shower, there doesn’t seem to be much point to it.  Even Sally wasn’t impressed.  Using the beach strictly as a loo and sniffing around a bit, she headed straight back to the dinghy – apparently the thought of her evening doggy treats was more interesting than the shoreline. 

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