Inside Passage Queen Charlotte Strait

Groundhog Day . . . in April?

Saturday, May 02, 2015S.V. CAMBRIA

The chart of Blunden Harbour (situated at a slant to the west).  We're anchored off Grave Islet.
You know the movie “Groundhog Day”?  The one where Bill Murray plays an obnoxious weather man stuck in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania and is destined to relive the same day over and over again?  Yeah.  That pretty much describes our life right now:  Groundhog Day.

We’ve been sitting in the same anchorage for six seven eight days now waiting on the weather conditions to settle.  And every day has been similar to the last.

Faced with an ugly forecast, we upped anchor Friday morning (that would be last Friday) and left Forward Harbour in search of someplace to ride out the storm.  By Sunday, winds were expected to reach 35 knots from the southeast in Johnstone Strait, 40 knots in Queen Charlotte Strait and 50 knots in Queen Charlotte Sound – it was promising to be an active weekend!

Choosing the right anchorage wasn’t an easy decision.  On the one hand, we wanted to get as far down the “road” as we could before we had to stop.  But on the other hand, the weather was predicted to be worse to the north.  So, we came up with a few options – Blunden Harbour, Allison Harbour, Deserters Group, the Walker Group and Clam Cove (Nigei Island).  In the end, it was “a better the devil you know” decision and we chose Blunden Harbour, an anchorage we’ve visited several times over the years.

Red sky dawning.  Sailors take warning.
“Cue the wind.”

Round one started early Sunday morning.  The wind filled in and blew steadily.  All.  Day. Long.  The anchorage was uncomfortable as the chop built up, but the anchor held its own while reports of 50+ knot winds (with gusts to 60) hit Cape Scott, only 45 miles to the northwest of us. 

The wind softened over night, giving us some relief, but continued to blow on Monday and built again around 11 that night.  We already knew we could take it, but David stayed up until the wee hours of the morning to keep an eye on things.  I was awake as well, listening to the wind howl all around us, but stayed in bed after realizing there was nothing for me to do.  David finally gave up the watch himself around 3 o’clock, long after it was clear our biggest issue would be finding a way to sleep through the noise and motion. 

By late-morning, the worst of the weather was past us; but it was the fourth night (out of five) that one (or both) of us had lost sleep because of the conditions, and we were beginning to feel the effects. 

“Well, it’s Groundhog Day . . . again.”

Since we arrived in Blunden Harbour, we’ve fallen into a regular routine and every day looks pretty much the same: 

  • Get out of bed, crank up the heater and take a look at the day.
  • It’s pouring down rain and blowing like crazy, so go back to bed.
  • Get up again an hour later and make a cup of tea.
  • Listen to the 4:00 am weather report (at 9:00 am).
  • Make another cup of tea.
  • Charge the batteries.
  • Pull down the 10:30 am weather report and radio-faxes from the internet.
  • Study the 10:30 am weather.
  • Have a cup of tea.
  • Lunch!
  • Take care of boat chores or find something else to pass the time (but not before making another cup of tea).
  • Listen to the 4:30 pm weather report.
  • Make a cup of tea.
  • Dinner!
  • Top up the batteries.
  • Watch a movie.
  • Make a cup of tea.
  • Listen to the 9:30 pm weather report.
  • Go to bed.
 Rinse and repeat.

“Watch that first step.  It’s a doozie!”

With the worst of the weather behind us, we’re now waiting for the sea state to die down.  Our next leg takes us across a 20-mile stretch of open ocean, not a great distance by any means, but it’s . . . a doozie.  Or at least it can be. 

Dramatic shoaling occurs along Cape Caution (a well-named landmark) and the seas there can be high and steep.  Local knowledge dictates that boaters wait until the swell is in the one-metre range before going around.  And, after reaching a high of more than five metres on Sunday, the wave height seems to be stuck around 2.2.  I know that doesn’t sound like much, especially in open water.  But add counter-currents, shallow depths and wind on top of the swell and you get short, square seas – all beam on – that can knock your teeth out.

So, here we are in Blunden Harbour, eight days after we first arrived, but it looks like our patience may finally pay off.  The wind is forecasted to go light overnight and, hopefully, that will result in a more favourable sea . . . or at least it should.

If we do make it out of here tomorrow, the irony won’t be lost on me.  The date, after all, will be the third of the month . . . the day after Groundhog’s.  

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