Prince Rupert to Shearwater

Originally I had intended on taking Opus from Prince Rupert to Shearwater single handedly. This would have been a multi-stage process over the course of a week or so. The first leg would have been Prince Rupert to Hartley Bay at the end of the Grenville Channel, a grueling 16-18 hour trip. After a couple of days of recovery, another grueling leg from Hartley Bay to Klemtu, another few days recovery, and then an easy day from Klemtu to Shearwater.

However, due to the goodness of Social Media, at the last moment (I was due to depart the next day) I found a crew person to make the trip with me. This necessitated delaying departure for a few days, though the delay was worthwhile to be able to share the duties and, therefore, have no recovery days.

Hubert boarded on July 3rd and we moved over to Pillsbury Cove to anchor for the night because there weren’t any moorages available. After carefully picking our way through the shallows at the entrance, with Hubert at the helm, we anchored deep in the cove, though we could still easily look out at Prince Rupert Harbour. I knew my ground tackle (i.e. “Anchor” would hold no matter what came up, but I had some concerns about the comfort overnight. Fortunately, those concerns were needless as we lay at anchor and the waters were calm. We headed to sleep early as we had a very early start planned for the next morning.

When we woke up, fog lay heavily upon the world, with visibility measured in tens of meters — the first time this trip that I had seen fog so thick, of course. Fortunately, since the distance was relatively short, we could wait, though we would be unable to take my preferred route and, instead, would have to take the longer route. At around 9:00 AM, the fog seemed to be lifting , and we cautiously felt our way out with radar probing the area around us and our chart plotter keeping us safely in the deeper channel. Once out of Pillsbury cove, with the range on our radar set large enough to see the two shores, we headed southwards down Prince Rupert Harbour, keeping an electronic as well as organic eye out (thank goodness for Radar and AIS!)

Fog was to dog our stern almost the entire way to the end of the Malacca Passage, including a concerning encounter with BC Ferries “Northern Expedition” in thick fog. We could see him on our radar and AIS, but weren’t sure if they saw us, so we called them on channel 16. They didn’t answer. So we called them again. They didn’t answer. Despite calling them with continued urgency and frequency (to the point that the coast guard got involved), they never answered our hails, we never knew if they knew we were there, and we took evasive action, to the best that we could – though our speed is paltry compared to theirs. They passed less than 1/4 of a mile from us, in fog thick enough that we could see, maybe, 100 meters, and never answered a single radio call.

We arrived at our destination, “Captain’s Cove” and anchored for the night in the same place that we had anchored with Quijote on the northbound trip. We woke to an absolutely fabulous day and headed south, ostensibly to Ire Cove, with a “stretch goal” of McMicking Inlet if we felt really good and making good time at Ire. However, upon reaching Ire, we felt really good, discussed it among the crew, and elected to keep going. And we did, traveling from Captain’s Cove to Shearwater in one overnight trip. Hubert was a joy to have aboard and we arrived at Shearwater after navigating via Radar fixes, chart plotters, and ded reckoning, in good spirits and still feeling like we could take on even more.

We had arrived in Shearwater early, and weren’t due to pick up our third crew member, Patrick, for a few days, so had the opportunity to run about and enjoy the delightful Cow Bay Marina for a few days before the next part of the journey.

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