Anchorages Inside Passage

Bottleneck Inlet: Hiding Out

Saturday, February 13, 2016S.V. CAMBRIA

Our overall plan is to move south but to take our time and enjoy some of our favourite anchorages along the Central Coast as we do. So, we left Bishop Bay Wednesday morning and made our way down Princess Royal Reach, through Heikish Narrows, down Finlayson Channel and into Bottleneck Inlet for the night: we’d start there.

The forecast for the weekend wasn’t the best and we decided to wait out an approaching low and trough rather than continue to Shearwater – the protection would be a lot better. The barometer was falling and rain was on its way, but it was still nice on Thursday so I spent some time in the kayak and talked with another couple on a boat that had just arrived. They used to live in Sitka and spend every summer in Alaska. They said it was the best season weather-wise they’ve had for years . . . I’m pretty sure they were delusional.  

On Friday, the heavens opened and it rained down in buckets. The barometer was steady at 1003 Mb (down from 1014 Mb) and we hoped for the best. The wind blew a bit during the day but the protection is so good inside Bottleneck that we hardly noticed. Our Alaskan neighbours stayed put along with us but were off and running again on Saturday morning despite the barometer having fallen to 987 Mb overnight.  

It was a squally day and we were happy to be tucked up safely. Environment Canada bumped the forecast up to storm-force for the Central Coast as an intense cold front joined the mix and moved south. Listening to the radio in the afternoon, there were reports of 60 knot winds off McInnis Island and 40+ off Dryad Point (near Shearwater), combined with three to five metre seas along the coast. It was cold, wet and windy inside Bottleneck Inlet; but we were safe and feeling good about our decision to stay.

We were the only boat in the anchorage until four or five o’clock when a sailboat called Dreamketcher came in. We’d seen them a time or two when we were in Alaska and were really surprised to see them here – the entire coast of BC was feeling the pain from this weather system and it was ugly outside the anchorage, too ugly to be under way. Along with the intensifying cold front, we were dealing with low pressure systems from Oregon and the Gulf of Alaska and the remnants of a typhoon from Japan, all working together to create a wild ending to the month of August.

Cambria's movements in red and Dreamketcher's in blue. All distances are outside the range of scope either boat would have had out.

We were sitting in the same spot we’d been in since Wednesday: smack dab in the middle of the anchorage with a view out into Finlayson Channel. Dreamketcher was to the northeast of us, closer to the head of the bay and seemingly close to shore. David was sitting in the cockpit keeping an eye on things and playing the guitar. I was down below drawing, getting up every few minutes to look around as well. The wind was howling as the front moved inland and we were seeing swirling gusts in the 30s. We weren’t surprised: This was a wicked storm, but Bottleneck Inlet is a hurricane hole and the fact that we were seeing so much wind ourselves meant that the situation outside was pretty grim.

A little later, David said “take a peek at where we’re sitting now.” I looked out on the port side and could no longer see the entrance to the anchorage . . . it’d been replaced by a small waterfall. We’d moved 100 metres or so and were sitting close to the southern shore in 5 to 7 metres of water: We had dragged but were holding steady again. Another gust of wind soon followed, and we swung around to 2.1 metres. At that point, we jumped into action, upped anchor and moved into the middle of the bay. But we couldn’t go back to the spot we’d been sitting in for the last three or four days because Dreamketcher was there . . . they’d dragged somewhere in the neighbourhood of 150 metres (best guess), tripping our anchor in the process. The only thing we couldn’t figure out is how we missed it happening.

We dropped the anchor upwind of them and got a good set but wanted to keep a closer eye on things until we felt more comfortable with the situation. We kept the radar on for a while as an extra pair of eyes, but everything was fine after that. Meanwhile, all was quiet aboard Dreamketcher – they hadn’t noticed the commotion or, if they had, they kept themselves hidden. It’s possible that they were already asleep; their anchor light was turned on shortly after they arrived. Either way, it didn’t instill a lot of confidence in their anchoring abilities and we were happy to see they were gone when we woke up this morning.

Note: This blog was written on Sunday, 30 August 2015.

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