Due to high winds, we decided to spend an extra day at Nanaimo. A very wise decision! Instead, we decided to spend the afternoon hanging out at “The Dinghy Dock Pub.” To get there we took a little ferry called “The Protection Connection”. It was the kind of “hang out” that is my kind of place. The food was just OK, but the ambiance was perfect. Casual. Noisy. Fun. The wind even decided to drop and people were sitting outside wearing t-shirts.
Our original goal had been to anchor out at Lasquetti Island and then run to Campbell River, but because of the lost day, we decided to make the long run to Campbell River, 85nm (10 hours), in one long burst.
The weather report warned of gale force winds, but they never came. The water was as smooth as I’ve seen it. I can’t think of anything to say about our 85 mile run to Campbell River, other than that it was amazingly non-eventful.
At Campbell River we tied to a dock at April Point. During the summer April Point is a tourist lodge, with great docks, a great restaurant, spa, nice hotel, friendly staff, etc. But, it doesn’t open until May 1st. We just tied up late, and woke up early for departure. I couldn’t find anyone to pay. If anyone from April Point reads my blog, email me and I’ll call you to arrange payment.
Because the resort was closed, we were forced into “barbecue mode”. Don’t worry. We did not suffer.
Our goal for the next morning was to pass through Seymour Narrows. Our passage through Dodd Narrows a few days ago was just the warm-up. Seymour Narrows is the big leagues.
Wikipedia descibes Seymour Narrows like this:
Needless to say, I was feeling a bit intimidated by “Seymour Narrows.” However, as with most things, the trick is in the preperation. We studied the charts to figure out when the best possible time to go through was. There were two elements to plan:
1) Getting through Seymour Narrows when the tidal current is at slack
2) Once through Seymour Narrows, we had a long run to make along Johnstone Strait and wanted the current pushing us, not holding us back.
My Nobeltec chart software made this easy to figure out. Within minutes, I was able to figure out that I needed to clear Seymour Narrows at 7am, and this would give me a following current on the other side
Here’s a video showing us going through Seymour Narrows. If the video doesn’t appear below, it can be watched by clicking here:
Note: The second half of this video is for boat-geeks only. It shows the use of the monitoring system here on Sans Souci.
Johnstone Strait stretches for 100 nm between Seymour Narrows, and our next major stopping off point, Port Hardy. I had been warned that it could be nasty in a northwest wind, and as Murphy’s Law would have it, we not only had a northwest wind, but a 25-30 knot projection, complete the words “Gale Force Warning In Effect.” I’ve never been this far north, so I phoned a few friends who know this area, all of whom assured me that I’d be fine.
To our great surprise, Johnstone Strait was unseasonably calm. We never saw wind over 10 knots. We did however see some fog, but it didn’t last long. There was about one hour when we were in dense fog, running on totally calm seas. It felt “mysterious.” We happened to have some rock music blaring in the pilot house, and for some reason I was reminded of the guys running up the river in Apocalypse Now.
Currents tend to last only about six hours, and then reverse themselves. While the current was running, we had a great time. It was amusing seeing speeds over 13 knots appear, while running only 1300 rpm. We knew the good times couldn’t last forever, and that at the end of the first 50 miles we’d need to find a place to wait for the current to turn the right direction again, or, be happy with running at 6 knot speed (because of the current running against us).
We opted to make it a short day, and look for an anchorage. Roberta did the advance planning for our trip, and did an exceptional job. She had found a lovely anchorage called “Port Neville”. However, when I was laying out the route, I noticed that the British Columbia Coast Pilot suggested it not be attempted by persons without local knowledge. This prompted me to really study the chart in Nobeltec, plus look at other references. My bottom line was that it was possible, but difficult. I’d be navigating a very tight channel, with lots of rocks to steer around, a very shallow bottom, and a bit of a current. Possible, but not my style. The Coast Pilot suggested Port Harvey as an alternate destination, which had a nice wide channel leading to it, plus further investigation showed a new marina opening in a few days. This sounded promising.
I phoned Port Harvey, and spoke with the owner, George Cambridge. He said they were literally one day from installing his docks. He offered to let me tie along side the barge holding his soon-to-open pub and
store. I asked him if he was absolutely positive his pub could handle a 120 ton boat should the wind come up, and he suggested that I might enjoy a night at anchor.
Port Harvey has a few different places to anchor, but none seemed large enough to give Sans Souci the open space we like to have for anchoring. The best we could find was in front of the Port Harvey marina, which unfortunately, was surrounded by crab traps. I called George, who guided me to a workable location. Because of the gale warning, I was seeking a location where I could drop plenty of chain, and prepare for a serious wind-attack.
Soon after anchoring, we were visited by a frenchman from a sailboat we passed on the way in: “Pierre”. Pierre’s english was at the same level as my french. Thus, we had a very interesting conversation, mostly held with me speaking bad french, with Pierre responding in his borderline english. Incredibly, Pierre mentioned that he had just crossed the Pacific ALONE. Pierre said he had made a 4,200 passage from Raietea, in French Polynesia, to Victoria Canada non-stop.
I have heard of sailors single-handing across the Pacific alone, but couldn’t believe my luck to actually have one standing before me. My first thought was to say “What the ^#%& were you thinking?” but since I didn’t know the french word for ^#%& I sufficed by saying “How did you handle it when you wanted to sleep?”. Pierre said that he had two different devices to wake him up; an alarm on his AIS system that would wake him up if any other boats came close, as well as an alarm on his radar. I asked “Wasn’t it tough to be at sea for 32 days alone?” His response: “After the first week it is easy. You fall into a rhythm, and time passes quickly.” I asked: “What speed did you average?” “6 knots.” I mentioned we were going to Japan, but felt one-upped. I doubt he was impressed. Pierre’s blog is at: http://yachtkea.over-blog.com. It’s in french, but at least you can see the pictures. As much as I liked Pierre, I noticed that in typical sailboat style, he did not put on an anchor light, despite being anchored in the center of the channel. He also mentioned that his sailboat AIS was “receive only”. He certainly has my respect, but I worry for his safety.
No sooner had Pierre shoved off, when George, from the new Port Harvey Marina dropped by. We exchanged souvenir t-shirts, and had a very nice visit. George and his wife are putting in a new marina, that should be open within a week or so. The very spot I was anchored will soon be home to twin 300 foot docks. Port Harvey was a great stop. Protection from all directions, beautiful scenery, nice people, and most importantly, a way to break up the run up Johnstone Strait, so that you never have to buck the current. George is promising, in time for the season, a pub, coffee shop, ice cream shop, moorage, laundry, showers, hiking trails, and wireless internet. He has a blog going, at: http://portharvey.blogspot.com. Check it out.
The gale never happened. Sans Souci had the calmest night I can remember at anchor, followed by as smooth a run as can be imagined, all the way to Port Hardy, nearly at the tip of Vancouver Island.
One thing worth noting from the run north…
We crossed a fishing boat going against the current. Whereas I was running the center of the channel, he was pressed against the side. At first I thought “What a strange and risky way to go.” After thinking about it a bit, I’m fairly certain I understand what he was up to. The current was running around 4 knots in the center of the channel. My guess is that it was running much slower close to the edges. He was picking up a couple knots of speed by hiugging the shore! (Or, so goes my theory).
We are now in Port Hardy, near the tip of Vancouver Island. Port Hardy is the largest town on Northern Vancoucer Island, and feels bigger than its population of only 5,000 would indicate. Our tour yesterday was a bit depressing. The region has been hit hard by the recession, softness in the fishing industry, loss of the mining industry and softness in logging. It felt a bit like a ghost town, with empty shopping centers and hotels. It was a reminder that the current economic problems are global.
Port Hardy is our last stopping point before crossing Queen Charlotte Sound tomorrow morning. Here’s an article from Northwest Yachting describing what we’re in for:
My project for the next few hours is to do the detailed planning for the crossing.
And, on a completely different topic:
The flu has been much in the news the past few days. We have a home in Mexico where our son does catering. He said the government has canceled all events, restaurants are shutting down and everyone is wearing masks. We had friends who were to be staying at our home next week, who canceled their trip, out of fear. One of the readers of my blog sent this document, from the CDC talking about Flu Pandemics.
And.. back to boating…
My last blog entry ended with a question from “Bruce” who was trying to understand the issues associated with semi-displacement and full-displacement boats.
It triggered a response by Nordhavn’s President Dan Streech, and a new question from Bruce.
And, Bruce’s newest email:
Dale here again – my e-address is:
agentadams@a… – in hopes of connecting with other older Fleming Owners
We have a Fleming & we’re hoping to make contact with other Fleming owners – thanks
You are amazing! I’m impressed.
I definitely do not have the type of personality that is willing to explore narrow passages with Sans Souci. I had one “too-close” encounter with the ground (a 7 foot draft in 6 feet of water does NOT work), and NEVER want to repeat the experience.
In your email you say that “The Fleming is a full-displacement hull…”. I am 99% certain you are wrong, and that it is a semi-displacement hull. I say this with no disrespect to Fleming. In fact, Roberta and I came very close to buying one when we bought our N62 nine years ago.
Here’s a bit of a story…
We were at Trawlerfest, in Anacortes, and were on the Fleming 55. The sales lady was Tony Fleming’s daughter. When we told her we wanted to cross oceans, and really pushed her on the issue, she admitted that the Fleming was a great coastal cruiser, but not really designed for crossing oceans. We then visited a Nordhavn that was at the show, and Jim Leishman educated us as to the differences between a full-displacement and a semi-displacement hull.
This said, with your background, I suspect that you’d have no problem crossing any ocean in about any boat.
Have been piloting a Fleming 53′ for twenty years now. She handles beautifully and is extremely well built and very sea worthy. I captain her solo most of the time as my husband has a day job and can only take a couple of weeks off during the summers. I don’t think I’d ever have any other type of boat though I do like the Nordhavn. I have spent the last 30 summers cruising the waters from Washington to Alaska, either alone or with my two daughters (now grown) as crew. The Fleming is a full displacement hull: 55,000lbs. We have no stablizers, no thrusters. I came from a sailing background so I learned early how to handle a boat without all the bells and whistles. Good to know when something decides to quit, because it always does! Our first trip on the Fleming was in 1989, from Seattle to Glacier Bay. She took up to 20 foot seas with ease though it was uncomfortable for the crew. It’s a shame you missed Port Neville. It is quite lovely and really no problem to get into. You are going to miss many beautiful anchorages on your way north if you are too timid to poke around. Adopt the Captain Vancouver mind-set and explore!! You have a boat that craves it.
You sure picked a great time for stopping at Hakai. The weather forecast looks great for the next two days. I would have a hard time moving from there until the rain comes back LOL!
Andy, you cannot change the interval of the SPOT transmissions. The device is really very simple, only four buttons. It’s limited in what it can do, but it’s cheap and does its job well. I think it’s a great product.
Ken, one thing that I do with the SPOT is send an OK message when I arrive at the anchorage/marina that I’m staying at. After the OK is sent, I turn the device off. This saves battery and confirms that you have reached your destination for the day.
Is the transmit interval on the SPOT user adjustable? It seems like 10min interval is rather short for a 10knt boat.
Enjoy the adventure,
Keep the comments coming. All advice appreciated.
I have 85 pounds of paper charts on board, that are the best I could buy, covering everywhere from here to Japan. I also have three different charting programs (only Navnet 3d is missing charts) and various books. We shouldn’t get too lost.
We are moving fairly quick. I think we wanted to maximize exploration time in Alaska, and not spend too much time on British Columbia. That said, we are now far enough ahead of schedule that we can relax a bit. Tomorrow we’ll run to Shearwater, and then I’m not sure what comes next.
As you suggested, most of our tight channel “exploring” will happen on the tender. I’d call Port Neville “the grey edge” of what I’d be willing to attempt with the big boat. If I had spoken with someone who had been in before, I would have given it a try, but when I see the words “Local Knowledge Required” in a guidebook, that’s it for me.
Just dropped anchor! In front of Hakai lodge. Pretty amazing here. The only problem is crab pots, and having enough swing room. I dropped in over 50 feet of water, and crab pots are within 300 feet of me. I’ve got 300′ of chain down, so I should be fine, but this was the best I could find.
Going to go work on dropping the tender.
For those who are trying to find us .. the most reliable is the spot tracking device. Just go to the home page, and look for the menu item that says “Current location”
Cannot get an AIS feed by using Marine Traffic.com (http://Traffic.com) No reporting stations along the way. Is there another .com to look at?
Hummm…………thought you might be headed to Hakai Lodge for some fantastic fishing, photo ops of wildlife and such.
As you can tell by watching the AIS feed, or the Spot live feed, we are making good progress! Our run today is almost over. I’ll be turning to starboard in a few minutes headed for Pruth Bay. Our plan is to anchor tonight. My guess is that we’ll drop the tender. Perfect weather again today. Warmer here than in Seattle!
The best news of the day is that Seabird (the Argosy’s N62) is now on the move. They are going to try to catch us sometime over the next 10 days. I haven’t spoken to the Jones’ on Grey Pearl. The last I heard they were headed for Princess Louisa. My guess is that Seabird and Grey Pearl will meet up, then race to catch us before Ketchikan.
Back to driving… will respond to comments after I get the anchor down. (about 90 mins)
Ken has gone to great lengths and expense to get every chart available for his trip to Japan.
Do your ever feel your pilot house is crowded with all the people following your every move on AIS? We get to see your position, speed, heading. The only thing better would be a live camera feed. 🙂
Dear Mr. Williams
A couple of thoughts about your run up Johnstone Straits… Sounds as if you are keeping to a fairly tight schedule(out of necessity…?). Unfortunately you cruised right through an area known for one of the highest concentrations of Orca Whales in the Pacific Northwest. They will often congregate in an area called Robson’s Byte where they rub themselves on the rocks along the shore of the Vancouver Island side.
Regarding the fisherman you saw hugging the shore line during the flood tide a.k.a. bucking the current… yes he was enjoying a far less stressful run in reduced current velocity. This affect is generally true in most areas of the world in a narrow or restricted channel. In fact in some instances you may find back eddies along the sides of the channel that will actually give you a PUSH through the area. Once you get to know your Nobletec program better you will see that there is a current overlay which can be displayed, that will show you in real time where the highest current velocities are occurring and the direction relative to our position.
For your own safety and future well-being, limit your research of areas you are about to navigate to the particular Coast Pilot published by the Country you are currently making passage through. Wikapedia and other such informational sites on the web will never have the relevance or detail a Coast Pilot can offer. There is a Coast Pilot addendum to your Nobeltec Program… I hope you had the foresight to purchase it if you are not carrying any printed U.S or Canadian versions.
It’s too bad you avoided Port Neville as you missed a piece of history. There is an old building that at one time housed a general store and Post Office that served the early loggers and fishermen. The float you would tie to is maintained by the Province as it sees a fair amount of traffic from seaplanes and local fishermen. When I was last there a small store and Post Office was still being run by the Post Mistress and her family, and it wasn’t unusual to see fresh Cougar tracks along the high tide line.
Between your current location and Glacier Bay National Park you’re going to run across a lot of “Possible, but not my style” kinds of places. “Fords Terror” south of Juneau is just one spot that comes to mind… If you have misgivings about taking your big boat into some of these places, drop the hook and put your skiff over the side and go explore! Find a freshwater outfall, waterfall, mouth of a creek etc. and drop a shrimp pot. Fresh prawns are a great treat! By “driving by…” places like Port Neville and Fords Terror, you’re missing out on things that make the kind of trip your on so worth while. Otherwise you may as well have saved your money and gone on a cruise ship instead.
One last thought… I hope with your attention to detail and the planning of this trip you have stowed somewhere on board, paper charts of the areas you will be transiting. I think your Commercial Fishing friend Bill Harrington will agree that regardless of what you may have at your disposal in terms of the latest modern day electronic navigation, when all else fails, a magnetic compass and a paper chart will always get you home.
Kindest Regards and Good Sailing to you!
I have been watching your progress on AIS this morning and see that you have just crossed into Queen Charlotte Sound. The sea state looks pretty good from what I can see on the nearest NDBC buoys so it looks like you may again have a day with no excitement. One can only hope. Thank you for taking us all along with you!
I’m not a boater, I’m a boater want to be/will be. I followed Kosmos for the full 2 yrs and I will follow you. I just saw your video of “simon”. I have to say you have some very cool tech toys. I’m 43 and am on track to purchase a boat similar to yours by age 58. Good luck and God speed. P.S. I will be visiting Nordhavn next week on vacation from our home in Albuquerque.
The Canadian charts for Navnet 3d were $400, and I was feeling poor on the day I had to make the “buy” decision. I already have canadian charts for Maxsea and Nobeltec, plus an expensive pile of paper charts, plus several books of charts. For now, I am using Navnet 3d for the cameras, radar, depth and wind displays — but, Nobeltec for chart plotting. I’ll be back on Navnet 3d in a few days when I’m back in the US.
The problem you are referring to is the problem I had plotting the route with the air-mouse. I bought a normal wireless mouse I’m going to try, plus, I think it is nothing more than giving it a chance, and not giving up so easily. I accidentally deleted my route a couple times, and quit in frustration, rather than taking the time to read the manual.
Thank you for asking,
Ken – mention to mention that your quote on Ripple Rock being blown up brought back some memories. One of our local Seattle TV stations (I think KING since that was our best station on antenna in LaConner) had a story about that when it happened. Obviously in ’58 it wasn’t live, but it was sure interesting for a 13 year old to watch
Ken, you mentioned in your blog the day you left Roche Harbor (I think) that you were having problems doing your course planning on the 3D system; did you get that figured out?
Altavista.com (http://Altavista.com) has a decent translator for webpages. It translated Pierre’s blog pretty well.
PS. The Pacific NW looks absolutely beautiful. I love all of your photos, especially of Shelby! 🙂
Glad that we were able to give you nice weather for the trip through BC.
Keep having fun and really appreciate your blog. Hope the the other two start chasing you down pretty soon.
Bill: I do know the formula. Actually, to be accurate, I’ve known the formula at various points through the years, and know where to find it.
I’m looking forward to being in Kodiak with you, and just walking the docks. You can explain to me all the different types of fishing boats, how to recognize them, and how much space I need to give them. I usually steer at least a mile away from fishing boats, who look like they are fishing, just because I’m not sure what lines or nets they might have in the water.
Hi Ken. A little information. When going through passes and straits, by hugging the shore rather than navigating mid channel, you will often pick up a back eddy which will in essence be running the opposite direction of the predicted tide. In Whale Pass here in Kodiak many boats go so close to the shore when bucking tide that they say “You could p**s on the beach.”
Hi Ken. I was wondering if in all the discussion of hull speed etc. if you were aware of the formula: Square root of waterline length X 1.3=Hullspeed.
Not sure where you are headed next, but we liked Dawson’s Landing. It is very much an “oupost” but great flavor for the area.
Ken and Roberta,
As a banker located in Frankfurt, Germany, I read your blog with great interest. I am pretty sure that you are having more fun than I am.
As a former owner of a Fleming 55 and a future owner of a Nordhavn ( I am in early discussions about a 76), let me respond to Bruce D. The Fleming 55 is a semi-displacement boat with hull speed of 9.6 knots and a top speed of approximately 20. Mine spent 90% of it’s time running at hull speed — night, bad weather, unknown locations, etc. You just don’t use the extra speed that much.
The Fleming is a great boat and very well constructed. Similarly, I am a fan of David Marlow’s work and his boats have great engineering and beautiful fit and finish. If you want a costal cruiser for running up the ICW or cruising the Bahamas, I could recommend either one of these boats as an excellent choice.
However, if you are going to do serious passagemaking, you want a full displacement boat. Ken’s advice about the weight being a benefit is absolutely correct. In addition, rounded chine full-displacement boats have a much more sea kindly motion. Hard chine semi-displacement boats tend to be initially resistant to rolling but then “snap” once they finally do. This motion in heavy seas will wear you out. Some other terms you ought to research are stiff, tender, roll period and range of positive stability. All boats have a chance of getting knocked down (laid over) in heavy seas and a full displacement boat with lots of weight down low, lead ballast in the keel, etc will have a larger range of positive stabilty (ie. the ability to “stand back” up).
All boats are compromises based on their intended use. On a trip like Ken and Roberta’s my choice would be a Nordhavn.
I’m glad the trip has been fairly non-eventful and the boat is running great. The weather looks gorgeous, I don’t understand how or why you stay off the fly bridge in those conditions!! I know, have read, about Roberta’s concerns for her hair, isn’t that why we have hats. I’m sure in not too long the weather will keep you confined to the pilot house, so enjoy while it lasts.
After reading your entire blog archive and following the post delivery tribulations with the electrical problems I’m curious what was the final cause and fix for the problem. I know you mentioned something regarding the grounds on the generators, would you care to elaborate.
Thank you for the chance to live vicariously through you and your wife.
Don’t forget to change the batteries on “Spot” LOL
Hmmmm…. I re-read all my comments to Bruce, and have decided I was overly harsh. I didn’t at all mean to imply that semi-displacement boats, or planing boats are bad. Boats come in lots of different varieties and each has a designated purpose. In addition to my Nordhavn I also own a sport fisher, which is a planing boat, and it is good at what it is good at.
Were my needs primarily coastal cruising, or even island hopping in the Caribbean, a semi-displacement boat would certainly be a valid option.
However, I remain unconvinced that they are the best option for someone interested in ocean crossing, or as he said, a run up to the Aleutians. I should have asked Bruce more questions about his intended use of the boat before challenging his contention that a semi-displacement boat was the right option for him.
Oops… and, apologies to Bruce (and, Grand Banks and Fleming).
I just thought of something I probably should have added in my comments to “Bruce.”
He mentions running a semi-displacement boat, with twin 1,500 hp engines, below hull speed. My guess is that running a 72′ boat, at 9 knots, would require only about 300 hp total. In other words, he would be running his 3,000 hp of engines, at only 10% of their potential. On a long passage (which I doubt these boats carry the fuel for), such as to Hawaii, you would be running the engines for a couple weeks, at a fraction of their rated horsepower. Before attempting this, I’d want to speak to the engine manufacturer. I suspect they would frown.
Thanks for the update
re: fishing boat running along the side of the channel. It was most likely substantially shallower than the center and current increases as depth increases. I’m curious though, if there is a formula or rule of thumb for the delta v.