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[KensBlog 2017-03] Sullivan Bay



Roberta and I have cruised 40,000 miles, but amazingly we have never really cruised our own home waters; the Pacific Northwest.

I’m the culprit, not Roberta. I am not into fishing, and I don’t like cruising in cold water.

I guess I can’t say that we’ve never cruised the area, because we did pass through here on our way to Alaska in 2009, but we were moving quickly in a hurry on our way to Japan. And, we cruised the region twenty years ago, in a much smaller boat, never making it this far north.

To us, even though the language is English, this feels like the most unusual cruising we’ve done. And, I mean that in a good way.

There are some challenges with currents, tides and weather. But this area is very well documented. The challenges are accurately described on the charts and there are plenty of places to hide from the wind. There are enormous anchorages and no lack of places to go. And, the anchorages are exceptionally well protected.

I’ve been wanting to try out my new “at rest stabilization” (an expensive feature that allows the boat to remain relatively calm when in a rough anchorage). But, I haven’t been able to find an anchorage rough enough! I’m sure that will change before our trip is over, but for now... I’ve been unable to try it.

I now understand why there are so many boaters who cruise back and forth between Seattle and Alaska for a lifetime and never become bored. There is a lot here!

As I type this, Sans Souci is in the Broughton islands, about midway between Seattle and Alaska. This is an area we’ve never been to at all, so we didn’t know what to expect.

Before entering the Broughtons we wanted to stock up on provisions (groceries). We’re in Canada, and when you bring the boat across the border there are rules about what can and can’t come in. We’ve crossed the border a few  times over the years and never been searched, but we are cautious types and don’t ever want to risk being accused of trying to smuggle a head of lettuce or a tomato across the border. Thus, we wanted to do the bulk of our provisioning here in Canada, and had heard Port McNeill had a nice supermarket.

Port McNeill
Port McNeill


I sent emails to the North Island Marina in Port McNeill asking if they could take us, and the harbormaster said he thought he could find room. But, then when we arrived, we discovered that the place that he had set aside for us was occupied by a boat who had been unable to leave the dock due to mechanical problems.

This was not a problem. We dropped anchor in a lovely bay across from the marina and liked it so much we stayed several days. I think the marina staff felt bad that they hadn’t found room for us. Or, perhaps they treat everyone like kings, but they offered us the use of their dinghy dock and trash facility throughout our stay. Amazingly nice people.

At Port McNeill we had planned to enter the marina but when there was no space we anchored in the bay. It turned out to be a perfect place to anchor and we enjoyed four days
At Port McNeill we had planned to enter the marina but when there was no space we anchored in the bay. It turned out to be a perfect place to anchor and we enjoyed four days


Tendering into town several times a day from where we were anchored at Port McNeill
Tendering into town several times a day from where we were anchored at Port McNeill


Provisioning in Port McNeill was made easier by the supermarket being an easy walk from the docks. We filled up a shopping cart and as we were checking out we mentioned that we were on a boat. The clerk said to just take the shopping cart to the marina and leave  it. Very easy! We weren’t sure when we’d be in a city again, so we took the opportunity to try out the local restaurants and found some good ones. Port McNeill turned out to be a great place to stop.

Our first destination in the Broughtons would be Sullivan Bay. I had seen pictures of it in other boater’s blogs and always wanted to see it personally.  I had assumed we’d be able to anchor, but when I looked at the chart there didn’t appear to be good anchorage in the bay. I phoned the office at Sullivan Bay and asked about nearby anchorage and they said I should come to their marina. I asked if she was sure they could take our boat and she said, “Absolutely!”

Our route from Port McNeill to Sullivan Bay. We took the LONG way around
Our route from Port McNeill to Sullivan Bay. We took the LONG way around


Sullivan Bay was a short ride from Port McNeill; around 40 miles. I spoke with a boater on another boat who encouraged me to take a short cut but the second he said, “It’s easy. Come over to my boat and I’ll show you the route through the shallow water” – that was it. I decided the long way around sounded just fine with me. Plus... we were in the mood for a nice easy passage.

Our big decision prior to any passage is, “Do we have to put the tender on deck?” Raising or lowering our tender really only takes about 20 minutes. We have a fantastic davit (crane) on the bow that makes the process relatively simple. But, as easy as it is, we don’t like to do it any more often than is needed. The process starts with attaching an aluminum ladder to the side of the boat. Try as we might, this part of the process occasionally results in dinging the boat’s fiberglass. There’s also bit of a challenge to climbing the ten feet or so up/down the ladder onto the tender. Generally we leave the tender in the water and tow it behind the boat whenever possible. This is fine when the water is calm, but if the seas are rough you don’t want to be towing the tender. I’m not sure what would happen if the tender were to flip in rough seas while being towed behind the boat, but I doubt it would be much fun.

All of our planning paid off. We wanted a calm run across Johnstone Strait and that’s what we had. We towed the tender and made great time. We left about six in the morning and by 11am were tied up at Sullivan Bay.

Using radar overlay to verify that I am where I think I am
Using radar overlay to verify that I am where I think I am


We have been traversing a lot of narrow passages. One fast way to verify that the chart is accurate to the surroundings is to turn on the radar overlay. In the picture above you see the bright orange radar reflections showing that the land around us matches to the land shown on the chart. In passages this narrow, if the chart were off by even twenty-five feet, we could find ourselves aground.

Floating home at Sullivan Bay
Floating home at Sullivan Bay


I’m not sure what the history of Sullivan Bay is. It is a community comprised of floating homes, located on North Broughton Island (50 53.124N, 126 49.684W). There is no power, no roads, and no way to get there except by boat or seaplane. We’re tied to a dock very close to shore, and the depth is 168 feet! It is a very steep shoreline.

Sans Souci at the dock at Sullivan Bay
Sans Souci at the dock at Sullivan Bay


We’re only 300 miles north of Seattle, but it feels closer to one trillion
We’re only 300 miles north of Seattle, but it feels closer to one trillion


On the right side of the picture above you see some white plastic chairs and the corner of an awning. This is where each evening the boaters gather for a pot luck dinner. Everyone brings a dish and shares. It’s a great way to meet your fellow boaters, and a key part of what makes Sullivan Bay such a special place.

The floating docks
The floating docks




Someone mentioned that they had counted the boats at the docks. There were 43 boats here! Our Sans Souci was probably one of the largest, with most boats around 40 to 50’ long.

Sullivan Bay has a small (very small, but not bad!) store and a fuel dock, as well as a restaurant that I’ll talk about in detail in a few minutes. I offered my credit card when “checking in” and they said, “No – just pay us when you check out. And, until then you can run a tab under your boat name.” She added, “Store hours are nine to six every day. We make fresh cinnamon rolls each morning. To be sure of getting one make sure you reserve in advance. And, if you want something from the store outside store hours, just let us know and we’ll open for you.” Wow!

Sans Souci at the dock, tender tied alongside
Sans Souci at the dock, tender tied alongside


Roberta and Keely busted and in the Sullivan Bay jail. Fortunately I was able to bail them out
Roberta and Keely busted and in the Sullivan Bay jail. Fortunately I was able to bail them out


I must speak about the dinners….

Dinner is served on Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights. It’s quite an experience, and unlike any restaurant you’ve ever visited. Everyone eats the same thing. Seating is assigned and you can expect to be paired at the table with other people.

Everyone lines up to get their food, a table at a time, and the chef was very proud that he could serve all the diners (I’d guess there were 75 to 100 of us) in under twelve minutes. The evening’s food is described on a chalk board outside the restaurant and dinners during the season usually sell out. Reservations for dinner are required.

We were seated with a charming Seattle-based couple who had arrived on their sailboat.

As we finished eating, suddenly the Sullivan Bay staff came into the room singing to loud music and dancing. A conga line was formed. Fortunately no pictures exist as far as I know, although I did get some video of the staff singing and dancing (which I will post when I can). And... when I say “staff” I am not talking a big staff. Sullivan Bay is not a fancy resort. I don’t know who owns it or runs it, but it would be fair to say that it is a very unusual place. It doesn’t feel like a business as much as it does a preserved and evolving part of history. The floating homes are beautiful, but … they also seem completely impractical, being accessible only three or four months a year.

Dinner comes with free entertainment. Not quite Las Vegas, but darn entertaining!
Dinner comes with free entertainment. Not quite Las Vegas, but darn entertaining!


The most amazing part of the evening happened after the meal and the “show”.

The staff asked everyone in the restaurant to introduce themselves and talk about their boat and their visit to Sullivan Bay.

There were some surprises, at least for me…

- All of the boaters, except two, were American even though we are in Canada.

- The median age was “older:” 60s to 80s, but there also a few younger boaters.

- Roberta and I, and one other couple, were the only ones making our first visit to Sullivan Bay. As they went around the room several people talked about having come every year for over 25 years. Others had been coming for 30 years, and there was even a couple who had been coming for over 50 years!

- The couple who had been coming for 50 years mentioned that at one time this was a busy seaplane airport. He said he once stood on the docks and counted over 60 planes in one day.

- Many of the people knew each other and the staff. Sullivan is a slice of “the old frontier” such as I haven’t seen in a very long time. I can see that this would be a must-stop on every cruisers agenda.

- Three of the people owned floating homes in the community. One lady said she “had just floated her home and attached it to the community.” She was there because she “didn’t feel like cooking tonight.”

- One gentleman mentioned that in all the time he had been coming here he had never had less than two people standing on the dock to catch his lines.

- The most interesting comment for me was from someone who said he had been coming for thirty years and was sad to note that he wasn’t seeing kids here anymore. He wondered if the next generation might not be into boating or at least not into stopping at Sullivan Bay. He said he remembered hordes of youngsters wandering the docks and was sad that the kids seemed to be disappearing.

Golf every day at 5:30pm. Closest to the pin gets a free night of moorage!
Golf every day at 5:30pm. Closest to the pin gets a free night of moorage!


I edited a video showing Sullivan Bay and wanted to post it, but all I have for Internet is my vsat and even that has a poor connection. Hopefully someday I’ll have “real internet” again and will post the video then.

Several people have asked about the drone videos I promised. The good news is that I do have the drone with me, and the bad news is that I’ve been too much of a coward to run it. Everyone has been very nice to us here on the docks and drones have a bad reputation. I worry that if I fire up my drone I’ll create some controversy on the docks. We’re about to move to an anchorage, so if there aren’t a lot of other boats nearby I will fire up the drone. And, of course, my other issue is that with severely limited internet, drone videos aren’t going to be able to be uploaded anyhow…

As to boat tech issues….

Overall I don’t have much to report. The boat is doing great!

My Atlas shorepower converter stopped working for some reason. I tend to run most the time on the generator, so it isn’t a huge issue. I think it is something simple but have deferred trying to figure it out until the end of the season.

My shorepower cable is being a headache. 100 amp shorepower cables are heavy and awkward. When Roberta and I went to deploy it the mechanism that puts out the cable came unbolted from the wall of the lazarette. Reattaching it would be easy if only I were three feet shorter, 100 pounds skinnier, and able to crawl into a very tight place.

On the positive side, Roberta and I did our first oil change of the season (I put her to work!). It took roughly 90 minutes. Usually I can get through them in under 20 minutes, but I’m out of practice. We run the generator 24x7 so oil changes happen every eight days.

That’s it for this edition of the blog! Tomorrow we depart for an anchorage.

-Ken, Roberta, Toundra and Keely Williams
Nordhavn 68, Sans Souci
www.kensblog.com


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Current Blog Article: [KensBlog 2017-03] Sullivan Bay

Comments


Response to a post by Ken Williams who said:

Our address was something like: 36765 Mudge Ranch Road -- that was our original house. Then .. we moved to a house on Goldside road, but I don't remember the address. The old Sierra building was behind the post office. Odds are if you ask people if t...


Ken, I thought you and Roberta built a big one on bass lake?

 Brad Smith  7/27/2017

 Reply


Response to a post by Brad Smith who said:

Ken, speaking of oakhurst, we are in bass lake at a rental house next week while visiting yosemite valley. Not to change the subject from boating but what road did you all used to live on up there? so we can drive by and take a look. Have fun and we ...


Our address was something like: 36765 Mudge Ranch Road -- that was our original house. Then .. we moved to a house on Goldside road, but I don't remember the address. The old Sierra building was behind the post office. Odds are if you ask people if they remember Sierra you'll get some wild stories. It was a "company town" in those days.

 Ken Williams  7/26/2017

 Reply


Response to a post by Ken Williams who said:

Greetings! Roberta and I once lived in Oakhurst Ca (near Merced). We cruised he Delta many times on a small speed boat, and even on rental houseboats. We have many fond memories. It has been thirty years since those days.... The boat will be headin...


Ken, speaking of oakhurst, we are in bass lake at a rental house next week while visiting yosemite valley. Not to change the subject from boating but what road did you all used to live on up there? so we can drive by and take a look. Have fun and we enjoyed all your cruising ocean under power books!
-Brad

 Brad Smith  7/26/2017

 Reply


Response to a post by Ken Williams who said:

Great information! Short-term we are heading to McKenzie Sound (currently anchored at Turnbull Cove) .. for a dinner at Nimmo Bay .. which should be an adventure. Then .. Octopus Island (which I've never been to, but have heard good things about) ....


I've heard about the Nimmo Bay resort, good reports on the meal. On your way south you might try the Blind Channel Resort and the very high end Dent Island Lodge, just West of Stuart Island.

 Hal Wyman  7/24/2017

 Reply


Response to a post by Hal Wyman who said:

I suspect it is some sort of cooperative venture but I really don't know. There is a settlement with similar ambience on West Redondo Island, Refuge Cove. There is room there for a few boats to anchor but it's pretty deep. You could spend a month in ...


Great information!

Short-term we are heading to McKenzie Sound (currently anchored at Turnbull Cove) .. for a dinner at Nimmo Bay .. which should be an adventure.

Then .. Octopus Island (which I've never been to, but have heard good things about) .. and then .. Desolation! Where we shall test your theory of fun for a month.

That said .. Victoria could also be fun for a few days.

Definitely not a season that will be making magazine covers -- but, LOTS of fun for us.

 Ken Williams  7/24/2017

 Reply


Response to a post by Ken Williams who said:

Greetings Hal! I don't think we're going farther north than we are. Our current plan is to mosey south stopping at various anchorages. It's a lazy year. We'll do another big adventure, but this isn't the year (and, I doubt next year is either. Too m...


I suspect it is some sort of cooperative venture but I really don't know. There is a settlement with similar ambience on West Redondo Island, Refuge Cove. There is room there for a few boats to anchor but it's pretty deep. You could spend a month in the area of Desolation Sound and not see it all. Some of my favorite spots include several spots on Cortez Island, Squirrel Cove, Gorge Harbour and Von Donop Inlet. For the warmest water go to Pendrell Sound, lots of people will be swimming and water-skiing there.

There is a wonderful restaurant in Okeover Inlet, just due east from Lund, I forget the name, it is a very short walk from a Government Dock.

 Hal Wyman  7/24/2017

 Reply


Response to a post by Steven Argosy who said:

I was saying that you told me that two of your computers used more than 15 amps!


Roberta and I have new laptops (Surface Books) that use a lot less electricity. That said .. Sans Souci is a power pig. No way around it.

I just checked.. and 17 amps (at 240v) is going to the pilot house. That is 4kw!

Bill Harrington was right when he said .. "Sans Souci isn't a boat .. it's an f-ing video game!"

We wouldn't have it any other way.

As I always say, "When my blog entries are boring, we are having the most fun. It's always a battle between us and the blog readers with only one of us winning" So far this trip, we are winning!

I hope you are also having a winning season.

We shall never recreate the adventure and excitement of our Bering Sea Adventure. Or .. I don't know how. But .. if you get any ideas...

 Ken Williams  7/24/2017

 Reply


Response to a post by Hal Wyman who said:

Ken, when you get to Calvert Island I suggest that you anchor in Pruth Bay. From the Hakai Institute dock you can hike about .3 miles to a nice beach on the open Pacific Ocean. And with your dinghy the trip from Shearwater to Bella Bella would be muc...


Greetings Hal!

I don't think we're going farther north than we are. Our current plan is to mosey south stopping at various anchorages. It's a lazy year. We'll do another big adventure, but this isn't the year (and, I doubt next year is either. Too many personal conflicts.) We have to be back in Seattle by Sept 10th and want to spend the majority of our time just hanging out at anchor.

You are someone who might know who owns Sullivan Bay. Do you know anything of the history? There isn't much online.

 Ken Williams  7/24/2017

 Reply


Response to a post by Garrett Lambert who said:

As you head north from Ocean Falls via the Inside Passage, a short detour will take you to Shearwater, a former air force base on Denny Island. If you need anything before Prince Rupert. It's got full service marine repair facilities and other amenit...


As crazy as this sounds ... I doubt we'll go back via the west side of Vancouver Island. That's open ocean and the kind of trip I like to be prepared for.

As far as I know .. we are prepared, but ... I'd really want to do some planning and think it through before heading down the west coast. We just didn't plan for it.

That said .. the idea is appealing, and I know that much less seaworthy boats than Sans Souci have made the trip.

It may come down to -- We're not really in the mood for being challenged this year. I had my knee surgery and am recovering ahead of schedule, but still not 100%. Simple things like climbing on/off the tender, or crawling around the lazarette are not easy.

We actually scheduled to be at Dent Island for a full month so that I could recover. We only stayed a little over a week, because I am doing so well. I'm good, but not 100%.

I'll study it on the charts, but don't see it happening. I think this summer will be about barbecuing, hot tubbing, and quiet anchorages. It's boring for the blog .. but .. is what it is... And .. more fun than it sounds!

 Ken Williams  7/24/2017

 Reply

Ken, when you get to Calvert Island I suggest that you anchor in Pruth Bay. From the Hakai Institute dock you can hike about .3 miles to a nice beach on the open Pacific Ocean. And with your dinghy the trip from Shearwater to Bella Bella would be much quicker, it's about 2.5 nm. Best to you and Roberta.

 Hal Wyman  7/24/2017

 Reply


Response to a post by loueloue who said:

SUBJECT: Re: [KensBlog 2017-03] Sullivan Bay Hello from Lou and Char Erickson We have enjoyed your travels thru the Mediterranean and back home to Seattle. We have enjoyed cruises on various yachts in the Gulf of Mexico, Bahamas, and islands out of ...


Greetings! Roberta and I once lived in Oakhurst Ca (near Merced).

We cruised he Delta many times on a small speed boat, and even on rental houseboats. We have many fond memories.

It has been thirty years since those days.... The boat will be heading south at the end of this season or next. So ... maybe!

-Ken W

 Ken Williams  7/24/2017

 Reply

SUBJECT: Re: [KensBlog 2017-03] Sullivan Bay

Hello from Lou and Char Erickson
We have enjoyed your travels thru the Mediterranean and back home to Seattle.
We have enjoyed cruises on various yachts in the Gulf of Mexico, Bahamas, and islands out of Goteborg Sweden.
We live in a 1,200 estuary up river from San Francisco called the Sacramento San Joaquin Delta. (N37-54-185 by 121-35-273.
We would welcome you to explore our river archapeigo . We have cruised extensively from Tacoma to Sitka

 loueloue  7/23/2017

 Reply

As you head north from Ocean Falls via the Inside Passage, a short detour will take you to Shearwater, a former air force base on Denny Island. If you need anything before Prince Rupert. It's got full service marine repair facilities and other amenities. However, best food shopping is a 25 minute dinghy ride to Bella Bella, but prices are high because of delivery costs. You should see lots of Humpback whales, and possibly some Orcas.

Yes, there is a hot spring in Hot Spring Cove about a 45 minute walk through the forest on a well-maintained boardwalk. Many of the boardwalk's planks have boat names carved into them including mine, 'Legato'. There's also a plank proposing marriage! The spring's ponds are cozy and shallow, and range in temp from hot to warm.

 Garrett Lambert  7/23/2017

 Reply


Response to a post by Ken Williams who said:

Steven -- the last of your message got chopped.. what were you saying!?


I was saying that you told me that two of your computers used more than 15 amps!

 Steven Argosy  7/23/2017

 Reply


Response to a post by Garrett Lambert who said:

Hi Roberta and Ken On your way north be sure to go into Ocean Falls and wander the large ghost town abandoned in 1972 (?) when the mill closed. Spruce for WWII planes was produced here as was newsprint. If you're lucky, you'll be greeted and shown a...


I've never heard of Ocean Falls, but it sounds like our kind of place. I'll hunt it down.

Are there hot springs at Hot Springs Cove? If so ... We'll find them!

-Ken W

 Ken Williams  7/23/2017

 Reply

Hi Roberta and Ken

On your way north be sure to go into Ocean Falls and wander the large ghost town abandoned in 1972 (?) when the mill closed. Spruce for WWII planes was produced here as was newsprint. If you're lucky, you'll be greeted and shown around by 'Nearly Normal Norman' as he introduces himself. There's a functioning marina and major hydro plant with nowhere for the electricity to go! On your way back south, I highly recommend the west coast of Vancouver Island despite the availability of provisioning until you get well south. Wonderful fjiords, scenery and anchorages all along the way. You can spend a week or more in Hot Springs Cove and Clayquot Sound and several weeks in Barkely Sound. Bamfield is particularly charming. You'll want to go back.

Cheers, Garrett in Victoria

 Garrett Lambert  7/23/2017

 Reply


Response to a post by sargosy who said:

SUBJECT: Re: [KensBlog 2017-03] Sullivan Bay I feel your pain on electricity. After the practice run in 2009 for the GSSR traveling up that way I found it difficult to even find a 50 amp power supply. So, for our next trip with you and Braun, I had ...


Steven -- the last of your message got chopped.. what were you saying!?

 Ken Williams  7/23/2017

 Reply


Response to a post by Alan Muskett who said:

Great to have you back in the "saddle". We are PNW cruisers, and like many of them, are somewhat evangelical in our enthusiasm for the area. Are you having a good time? Your report, as always, is excellent, but I can't tell if you are really excited ...


Alan:

You are right. I understand why people cruise here their entire lives, but it just isn't my kind of cruising. I would say that I am enjoying this, but also feel like I am putting in time.

There are three issues:

1) I miss civilization and fast internet. I also miss having access to nice restaurants.

2) I miss being able to jump in the water

3) I miss being in a place that is "new and exciting". It feels like there is nothing I can add to the discussion in cruising the Pacific NW. Everyone cruises here. When you've cruised all the countries we have it is hard to feel excited about cruising a few miles from home. Call me spoiled (and, you'd be accurate!)

-Ken W

 Ken Williams  7/23/2017

 Reply

SUBJECT: Re: [KensBlog 2017-03] Sullivan Bay

I feel your pain on electricity. After the practice run in 2009 for the GSSR traveling up that way I found it difficult to even find a 50 amp power supply. So, for our next trip with you and Braun, I had Seabird rigged to run off of 15 amps or 30 amps. We didn''t need air conditioning up there so we simply had to start the generator for an hour a day to heat the water for showers and such. You and I had that discussion and you told me that two of

 sargosy  7/23/2017

 Reply

Great to have you back in the "saddle". We are PNW cruisers, and like many of them, are somewhat evangelical in our enthusiasm for the area. Are you having a good time? Your report, as always, is excellent, but I can't tell if you are really excited by the trip. It is not only cold water, but culturally different as well.

 Alan Muskett  7/23/2017

 Reply
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