2023 / #4 Around Cape Caution to Fury Cove

by | Jun 19, 2023 | 2023 Posts

Wednesday, June 14. We’ve spent two nights in Blunden Harbour, mostly being blown around. The wind has been severe, even in the Harbour. Karen thinks we’ve been hanging on by a thread. And we haven’t been alone; on Monday some nice folks came in out of the waves just after us in their Nordhavn 68 and we’ve both been waiting for the weather to moderate so we could continue north. On the plus side, the local weather has been pretty good; we had a five minute shower yesterday morning and after that it has been mostly cool and sunny.

The forecast for the Cape Caution area over the last two days has been gales with winds to 35 knots and seas to 4 meters. And Blunden Harbour hasn’t been immune to those winds. The afternoons and evenings have been the worst; I measured 18 knots average with gusts to 22 knots with a wind meter at deck level. And I know there have been stronger gusts. And all this time the boat just sits there. I’m really glad I paid particular attention to setting the anchor well when we came in on Monday. Unfortunately, we haven’t felt comfortable going out in our rowing dinghy in the strong winds so we have been on the boat the whole time. Time for chores.

Of course, even though the anchor hasn’t moved the boat hasn’t really stayed still. As fellow boaters all know, when anchored by the bow a boat doesn’t stay facing the wind but changes the direction it is pointing, veers, continuously from one side to the other. And the stronger the wind the greater the veering. In the case of Mischief, she veers over a range of 50 degrees, first 25 degrees to one side of the wind, then 25 degrees to the other side. Then repeat. Some boats actually move in the direction they are pointing but as far as I can tell, Mischief actually stays in one spot, only the direction she is pointing changes. From inside the boat the scene is constantly changing and the sound of the wind changes as it hits the boat, first one side then the other.

Thursday marks a one day respite from the weather with light winds forecast for the morning, building after that. That means an early start to a long day.

Thursday, June 15. We actually set an alarm, two alarms actually but one was set to 4:45 pm, and were up before dawn. The scene was beautiful with just the right amount of clouds and color reflecting off the still water. The wind stayed light as we headed out into Queen Charlotte Strait but after two days of blowing hard the water was still a bit choppy. It was now 5:30 in the morning.

Cape Caution is exposed to the full force of the Pacific Ocean, which is what makes its passage a serious undertaking. In the three and a half hours from Blunden Harbour to Cape Caution the chop of the Strait morphed into the distinct swell of the ocean with waves of about 3 feet; 24 hours earlier they had been 13 feet. So it was up-and-down, up-and-down; no spray but lots of motion. We both put on sea sickness bands and drank ginger tea. And it worked because we never got sick, though at various times one or the other of us thought that might change.

Smith Sound is the first inlet past Cape Caution but the conditions were still good so we continued on to Rivers Inlet which is just a bit further. We reached sheltered water by noon, and none too soon. The 10:30 forecast again had gale warnings for this section of coast. As it turned out our weather window was about 12 hours, total.

We headed for Goose Bay because the crabbing is reputed to be good; and also because we had never been there. There are several private fishing resorts on the bay and we watched float planes and helicopters come and go with clients. We even got a closeup view of a Grumman Goose taking off after visiting one of them. We dropped our crab pot, went exploring and sat in the cockpit watching the happenings. The rain started at about 5, the first real rain we have seen on our trip so far. Now it feels like northern BC.

Saturday, June 17. Goose Bay was fruitful; our trap had seven crabs in it, four of which were large males of seven inches or so. Lots of crab meals coming up.

It rained in the morning but let up in the afternoon so we went rowing, exploring the end of the bay around us. Luckily, the tide was high because most of the end of the bay is a large mud flat. We rowed around and saw the sights including the remains of a shipwreck and a family of mergansers, a mom followed by nine chicks doing their own tour of the bay. Another boat pulled into the bay and anchored near us so we stopped to chat. Like many of the cruisers up this far, they were retired, living on their boat in the summer and would return to their winter home come September. They had come around Cape Caution during the same weather window as we had. It’s always interesting to share stories.

After two days in Goose Bay we needed a change of scenery so we headed out, accompanied by a hard rain storm. We continued up-inlet, exploring potential stopping points along the way. Some were really nice, some were not so good and some fell into the category of “it would due in a pinch.” A number of bays are the sites old salmon canneries. Some have disintegrated with only pilings left. Others have been refurbished as private fishing/eco tourism lodges.

And thanks to the rain we saw our first waterfalls. The low rain clouds hid the mountains around us so our views were truncated by a layer of gray. We decided to spend the night at Dawson’s Landing which is a very funky marina with lots of rustic charm. But it has nice long docks to stretch our legs and a small store with actual groceries including a few fresh fruits and veggies. It sometimes has grizzly bears, too. On the dock. Now that’s rustic.

Monday, June 19. We left Dawson’s fairly early, though not as early as the commercial prawn boats that ran their generators all night long. Then there were the logs floating around our boat and sometimes bumping into it. For Karen, leaving meant backing around logs to find a narrow channel. She gives Dawson’s one star.

From Dawson’s we headed towards Fury Cove, checking out sheltered bays as potential anchorages along the way. As we entered the more open water of Fitz Hugh Sound we passed two people rowing a boat headed north. We thought they might be participants in the Race to Alaska that left Victoria on June 9th. They were headed directly into wind and waves but were rowing strongly and didn’t seem to be in any distress. We wish them luck.

The last two nights we have been at Fury Cove. This is a popular anchorage for good reason. The anchoring is good, protected by islands and reefs, and there is room for many boats. Plus, there is shore leave. There are beautiful white shell beaches to walk along and at low tide you can walk to additional, more exposed, beaches on the outside. And there are many tide pools. Low tide was in the morning so we stayed a day to explore. In the past the tide pools have been spectacular but this year they were pretty subdued and much clamoring over slippery rocks was required. Luckily we didn’t take any serious tumbles. The wind in the cove was light and back at the boat we could look over the reefs to see ferries and cruise ships headed up and down the channel outside; we turned on the AIS to get their particulars; their length, their speed, where they were going, when they expect to get there and more. Fury Cove is a relaxing and entertaining place.

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