M/V Cloud Nine

M/V Cloud Nine
A 1973 North Sea 38' pilothouse Trawler, made in Osaka, Japan by Kita Trading Co. Ltd.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Conclusion to The Trip of a Lifetime

We have long ago settled in for winter in Puget Sound, and it wasn't until seeing one of our blog "followers" recently on a trip that I realized I never finished the blog of our journey south.  (Thank you, Pamela!)

Our story left off in the Broughton Archipelago, a large grouping of islands off the mainland of British Columbia.  Of all the places we've visited on this journey, the Broughtons (pronounced "brow-tons") is our second favorite, closely following Tracy Arm.  This beautiful area contains numerous channels and "arms" going into pristine areas, with mountains seemingly growing out of the water and climbing 4,000 feet into the air.  The channels are filled with porpoises that can't wait to come play in the wake of your boat or ride your bow for endless minutes.  It's a magical place, the home to six family-run marinas, all filled with unique individuals.  It's no wonder the Broughtons have become a popular destination for boaters.

We pick up after leaving Shawl Bay Marina.  We headed up the channel to Kwatsi Bay, a place we missed on our way south.  Clouds had settled in and rain was the constant for the day.  As we made the turn into Kwatsi Bay, the low clouds prevented us seeing the grandeur and beauty we had heard so much about.  We dropped anchor in the bay, rather than going to the marina, and waited out the weather. 

Kwatsi Bay

The next morning, fog hung onto the sides of the mountain, but we patiently waited for the sun to burn it all off, and glad we did!  We were anchored in the back cove of Kwatsi Bay, surrounded by granite walls that climbed out of the water straight up in the air.  We threw out the idea of leaving, and settled in for a day of exploring in the dinghy, enjoying the beauty of this bay.

After leaving Kwatsi Bay and heading south, heavy fog was our daily "constant", and we knew we needed to get further south and out of the fog that was now dominating the region.  Many days we traveled solely on instruments, not able to see more than 30 yards in front of our boat.  One day, in particularly dense fog, a fishing boat decided to follow, staying off our starboard quarter as we traveled down a channel.  Hailing him on the radio to see if we needed to get out of his way, he laughed and said, "No thanks, I'll let you lead."  

Tired of driving in the fog one day, we pulled into Thurston Bay Marine Park, and anchored on the east side of Bruce Pt, near Tully Island.  A protected anchorage, it was a nice respite from the fog.  The next day, the fog lifted, and we watched a barge come in off Tully Island and drop its ramp and let about 20 people walk off and around on the Island.  Curious, we dropped our kayaks and paddled over to the group.  Twelve women were traveling on the barge as tourists, two to a cabin, friends for many years, and their itinerary was dependent on the cargo the barge was hauling and where it needed to be delivered.  The rest of the people were either crew or others traveling to isolated areas.  We visited with the women and they told us of the fabulous food they were presented each day, and we shared with them stories of our journey.  

Moon rising over Goose Spit, Comox, B.C.

We continued south towards the warm sun and clear skies, arriving in Comox on a beautifully clear day.  With temperatures in the 70's, and the forecast calling for the same for a few days, we decided a break from the "daily" voyaging was in order.  Each night at 6:00 p.m. a commercial shrimp boat came in with its daily catch, and we bought shrimp each evening for $6/pound.  We enjoyed being in one place for a few days, with access to the grocery store, pubs, and marine store.  It didn't hurt that the sun "baked" us each day.  We soaked it ALL in!

Nanaimo saw us again on our trip south, and then we ventured toward our friends on Saturna Island, in the Gulf Islands.  Brian and Patty, from S/V Elusive, live on Saturna Island and offered use of their dock for as long as we wanted.  Turned out a week was what we wanted, and they were gracious tour guides showing us their island, gracious hosts having us join them for dinner.  We, then, were gracious guests, leaving them to enjoy their time with visiting family.  

We watched this buck walk along the shoreline right off their dock.

S/V Elusive in all her glory!  Beautiful boat!
One beautiful afternoon, with the wind just right, Brian and Patty took out Elusive and we actually got to see her with sails up!  After cruising with them for about 3 weeks on our northward trip, we never saw her sails go up.  Now, amongst the Gulf Islands, they enjoyed an afternoon sail with their kids, and we enjoyed watching from Cloud Nine.

Saying good-bye to our friends, we headed across the border and back to the U.S.A.  A couple of days with friends in the San Juan Islands, and then a few days with friends outside of Bellingham, left us with time to kill before settling in for winter.  We headed to one of our favorite places, La Conner, for a visit, where herons are plentiful.

A night in Coupeville and Everett and then a couple of days anchored out in Port Ludlow, got us closer to our winter destination, but we still needed a few days anchored out, so we pulled into Port Madison and anchored deep in the bay amongst the beautiful homes and their personal boats at docks and hooked to buoys. 

Another heron liked this area and we actually caught him sitting on the railing of our boat, but, alas, we did not have camera in hand.  Here he was, though, at the nearby dock.

How does one sum up this trip?  IT'S IMPOSSIBLE!  Our blog only puts into words our travels and adventures, but does not express the excitement, the beauty, the thrill and the real adventure of the trip.  It's an experience that will last a lifetime in our minds.  We encourage all of those boaters that say "one day we hope to do the same thing," not to wait!  Do it now!