Egmont to Blind Channel

After our trip to Princess Louisa Inlet we returned to Egmont, this time to the public wharf where I messed up the mooring, I had assumed that as the tide was flooding I would be pushed away from the boat we were rafting to, so got really close, as it turned out the tide was running the other way, so my bow was pushed onto the boats quarter, and my stern was soon pushed onto the boat behind him. How embarrassing, I thought I was getting better at this. However the tide wasn’t strong and we pushed off, the fenders prevented any damage, but as always some part of my boat wanted to leave me for the other boat, and in this case it was the barbeque that was trying to merge with some steelwork on the other boat. A good push and we were all sorted. The reason the current was the opposite to what I expected was due to it reversing direction near the shore, I should have considered this especially given the name of the marina next door ‘BackEddy Marina’.
The other thing I have learnt here is that often the top of the water, sometimes a foot or more deep can be freshwater that doesnt mix with the saltwater below, and this can cause confusion in currents. Logs can also float on the saltwater and be a foot or more under the surface, but this boat has such a large and deep underwater surface, that it really can grip the currents there that you often don’t see on the surface.

We decided to spend an extra day and visit the Sechelt/Skookumchuck rapids, which were going to be running at 14 knots, if I couldn’t motor through one, at least I could watch it.
It was a great one hour walk through a forest to get there.

The rapids were impressive, and a few fast motor boats were racing back and forth through them, I guess it can get boring around here.

From Egmont we headed northwest to Lund, the only place with a decent grocery store and fuel supply before we headed into Desolation sound.

Like most places we visited, being in the shoulder season it was quiet and we had a whole pontoon to ourselves. For some reason I don’t understand, there was a Scottish Ceilidh planned for that night in the pub, you can see the musicians with their bagpipes below. We opted for a lovely restaurant the other side of the cove and sadly missed the bagpipes 😉

We stayed an extra night here as well as it was so peaceful and relaxing, but soon enough we were on our way to Prideaux Haven in the area known as Desolation Sound. This is considered to be one of the most beautiful areas in the whole of the inside passage, certainly it looked lovely, but I think we had already been spoiled by princess Louisa inlet. 

We anchored in a deserted spot at the end of the bay, whith a couple of yachts off in the distance.

The next day we headed over to Pendrell Sound, this is supposed to be one of the warmest waters around. Partly as it isn’t flooded by the pacific waters every day, also as it’s a dead end, but has a shore, the water heats up more. I needed warm water as I planned to dive on the boat and clean the prop and bow thruster, the prop is not working 100% and the bow thruster hardly works at all. I did dive, and I don’t know who said the waters were warm, presumably an eskimo, as it was freezing. I couldn’t find my wetsuit which didn’t help. The prop didn’t look too bad, but was too deep for me to work on in the cold, so I focussed on cleaning the bow thruster prop with a bent teaspoon which allowed me to get around the back of the prop blades where all the growth was. That worked out well and I have a lot more thrust from it now.
The hotter and very clear water is great for oysters and besides the oyster farms lining the coast here, there were zillions of shells covering the shoreline rocks.

I was worried about slicing the dinghy on them when we went ashore, but it wasn’t a problem 

We dinghied around the head of the inlet amazed at how deep and clear the water was. The cliffs are very fiord like and go down to the water quite steeply and continue down just as steep.

The next day we headed off to Teakerne Arm, Captain Vancouver spent two weeks anchored here recuperating from the horrendous time he was having in Desolation Sound, he gave it that name more because of his mental state at the time, we thought it was a fantastic place, but it was sunny for us, he was there in storms, and couldn’t find anywhere to anchor, eventually getting into Teakerne Arm. My main reason for for visiting this Arm was simply because if he spent so long here, it can’t have been that bad. As it turned out it was a great spot with wonderful waterfalls at the head.Anchoring was fun, three boat lengths from the shore it is 60m deep, two boat lengths off it’s 20m. so we dropped the hook in 30m and reversed until the anchor gripped the side of the near vertical wall below us. We ran a stern tie ashore, tightened up on the chain and the anchor seemed happy. 

We had towed the dinghy for the first time since Malaysia, and headed off to explore a trail that leads to a large lake up above  that feeds the waterfalls, it was a good climb and at the top of the waterfalls we spotted this winch, used, I presume, for pulling logs from the lake over the top of the waterfall and down to below to be rafted up in log booms.

In a small cove beside the waterfall we spotted a house that seemed to be in trouble.The following morning we pushed on to Blind Channel, this was slightly challenging as we had to pass through three sets of rapids, Yaculta, Gillard & Dent, each about 2 miles apart. We were going against a flood tide, so to make the first rapid at slack water meant we would be 30 minutes late for the last rapid. So we aimed to get to the first on the end of the ebb, and race through arriving at the middle rapids just before slack and the final and most dangerous rapids at Dent at slack water. I spent an hour working out tides and passage planning, we ended up having to leave at 07:30 and we arrived just 15 minutes early at 11:38, we dawdled for 10 minutes then went for it. Everything went well right up until the last set of rapids, Dent, featuring the scarily named ‘Devils Hole whirlpool’, which the pilot says “Those who have looked into the Devils hole won’t ever want to revisit it”. Just as we approached I saw a tug emerging but couldn’t yet see its tow. The tugs rarely are pointing, or even travelling in the same direction as their tow, and require a very wide berth. I had to steer to starboard a lot to miss him and that put our course directly over ‘Devils Hole’, looking through the binoculars I couldn’t see any holes in the water so we pushed on, I was soon able to scoot around the back of the tow and hugged the coast, just missing the hole, which just looked like flat water to me. Yet again, my timing worked out well, except for the fact we had another 2 hours of sailing to go, and when I looked on the chart 2 hours later, I saw Greene Point rapids coming up in a few minutes. I hadn’t even realised they were there. Kathy took the helm, slowed us down, while I scanned the pilot books and found out they can be quite dangerous on spring tides, and we were bang on the highest tides and arriving at maximum flood, the worst time. I couldn’t quite understand what all the fuss was about as we approached and decided we should give it a whirl anyway, we turned into the turbulent waters and headed for the resort we could see in the distance. Everything worked out well, besides one bit of a shove and a splash of waves on the boat we were through. It was only later that I worked out the chart was wrong and the rapids were over to our starboard side as we turned to port, missing the worst of it.

Arriving at Blind Channel was easy enough, despite a strong current from the rapids running through the pontoons, the manager here helped us with our lines and we were soon tied up and basking in the lovely hot sunshine. The resort is family run and you can see they have put a lot of love and effort into making it a gorgeous relaxing place. The restaurant was shut as we are well and truly off season now. One other yacht was stranded here waiting for a water pump to be shipped, but besides them we had the place to ourselves.

A walk along the beach revealed this old winch, again used for logging. A trip through the forest led to a 600 year old cedar tree. I sent a postcard to an old friend from here, and the very next day the postman turned up in their plane to collect the mail and deliver new mail. We really are in the middle of nowhere here, It’s a big island, but has no electric, water or telephone. Electricity comes from a generator and a water powered turbine that makes use of the strong currents here. Water from a brook. Amazingly the internet is very good, but I think that is via satellite. I had wondered how you tie up a plane to a dock?It seems a round turn and one half hitch is all that’s needed!

We saw a few creatures on the way here and around the marina. I dropped them into a little video below.

Tomorrow we head of towards Siontula, taking in a few more towns and anchorages on the way.

Paul Collister

Highlights of Seattle

Fishermen’s Terminal was always going to be our first place to visit in Seattle. Locations mean so much more after you’ve read about them and had your interest ignited. We’d both read Jonathan Raban’s book about travelling to Juneau, Alaska along The Inside Passage, when his journey had begun at Fishermen’s Terminal in the late 1990s. We set off early on Tuesday morning August 21st on our bikes. Seattle is great for cyclists; it has designated cycle paths and there were only a few hills on the route to Elliott Bay. We called in to Elliott Bay Marina on the way, to book a berth there for two weeks. It’s another huge one with a great view of the Seattle skyline. We stopped for lunch in the restaurant there, trying not to grimace too much at the cost for a bowl of clam chowder, a portion of chips and a coke and glass of wine (we didn’t eat there again).

Maggie’s Bluff Restaurant, Elliott Bay Marina
Seattle’s iconic skyline from Elliott Bay Marina
Mount Rainier can be seen in the middle of the picture (apparently, it’s not a case of if its active volcano will erupt, more a case of when!)
Main building, Fishermen’s Terminal
Bascule bridge allowing a yacht through near the terminal
One of Seattle’s excellent cycle paths


Fishermen’s Terminal looked like a great place to stay. Paul had enquired about a berth there but there was a huge demand this year and they were totally booked up; preference is naturally given to commercial vessels. We had a look at the memorial and read the information boards about its history. The bronze and stone memorial commemorates over 500 people who lost their lives while fishing in Alaska. Flowers and hand-written tributes are sadly constantly in place relating to most recent losses.

The bronze memorial: a fisherman hauling in a giant halibut on a longline

The port is home to the huge boats that have featured in documentaries such as ‘Deadliest Catch’. Jonathan Raban was here in the month of April and he watched boats being fitted out for their spring migration. He described the hive of activity involved in the work, with generations of families taking part and concludes that the place felt older than the city itself. I could understand that and also what he meant about the past being ‘alive and usable’, when looking at the old and well-used vessels around me; all their modern navigational aids were hidden from view below. Wooden tables and chairs outside the main building were in use by people eating food from the kiosks and drinks from the bar, enjoying the afternoon sunshine. Nearby were a couple of seafood restaurants and a shop selling organic produce and artisan gifts – all predictably expensive.

Cycling on, we arrived at the outskirts of Seattle, getting ever closer to the Space Needle. It was a hot afternoon and the hills were steep in the city centre. I was flagging badly on one extremely steep one as we pushed the bikes up so Paul did the gentlemanly thing and pushed both of them to the top. The Museum of Pop Culture is right next to the Space Needle (which, after looking up at it and then checking the admission fee of over £70 for the two of us, we unanimously decided to omit from our itinerary).

The steep hill leading to The Space Needle

The museum, however, was a definite on my list of places to visit. Knowing it would be too late to enter and do it justice, we went in to have a quick look around. There was plenty of information about what was on, including a recently opened exhibition celebrating 80 years of Marvel comics and one on the music and gigs of Pearl Jam. These, and a lot more were all available to see for the princely sum of £22. The museum promptly went on Paul’s list of things he could do without seeing ;-). I resolved to return another day on my own. We had a drink in the venue’s café before cycling along the waterfront to find a store called Fred Meyer, one of the US’s ‘everything under one roof’ shops. It was here that Paul began to feel the pain of the infection that he described in an earlier blog post. It had been a long day of cycling around and we put it down to that at the time, little realising it was the beginning of another visit to a hospital in a foreign country. Pics from our cycle ride round Seattle below.

International Space Fountain, Seattle
Another view of Fishermen’s Terminal
Lake Union, Seattle

Despite the pain and discomfort, Paul felt up to moving on the next day. We left Shilshole Marina late in the morning for the hour’s journey to Elliott Bay. It was hazy when we left with what we thought was fog but later discovered to be smoke from all the fires on Vancouver Island.  Entering our new marina, I was thrilled to spot several seals basking on the rocks at the bottom of the breakwater (hard to spot in the pics but they are there).

Once settled in the berth, Paul gave in to the need to rest and as time went on, it became clear that moving around for any length of time was painful and uncomfortable for him. We decided to wait until after the weekend and seek advice if he was no better. In the meantime, I made any necessary trips to the marina office or the shops.

Saw this bear during one of my walks (still haven’t seen a real one)
View from the bridge near the marina
Elliott Bay Marina

I liked Elliott Bay. The Seattle skyline was a delight to see at night when it was clear enough, and it was very peaceful there. Walking the pontoons I often saw seals popping their heads up, and several large pink and purple starfish could be seen in the clear water, clinging to the metal under the pontoons. On Saturday, Paul felt up to a trip to Pike Place Market on Seattle’s waterfront. An Uber taxi dropped us there and we had a slow amble around as Paul was finding walking painful by then. Pike Place Market was established in 1907 when citizens, outraged by the middlemen hiking up prices for fresh produce, demanded a solution, which came in the form of a public market. Over the years, it’s grown into a vibrant place with lots of homes above the storefronts – the majority of whom are low-income elderly people or people living with disability. As well as the usual market stall there are speciality shops, artists and craftspeople, buskers and an abundance of cafes and restaurants. It was predictably busy on a summer Saturday, especially as visiting cruise ships had disgorged passengers into downtown Seattle, and although the historic buildings and winding alleys were attractive and intriguing, we didn’t want to risk Paul feeling worse by walking too much.

Busy Pike Place Market

We sought out a coffee bar to check whether Seattle’s reputation as a coffee capital is justified. The first ever Starbucks, which opened in 1971 is located at Pike Place but I’ve never been a fan of the chain so we found an independent one in a side street and shared pumpkin cake to go with it (both very nice).

From there it was a short walk to the city public library, a huge, shimmering glass and steel building which has 11 levels. It was a very impressive library and I was pleased to see it was well attended on all the floors. Level ten was a viewing floor with great views across the city, and was also the reading room where we spent a pleasant half hour reading books about Seattle’s music and history and looking at old photos of the city.

A short cycle ride was necessary the next day to buy a part for the electricity shore power connection, having been told off for not having the correct fitting earlier in the day. That short ride confirmed that Paul was getting no better and first thing on Monday morning we set off to seek medical advice. The hospital experience was very fast and efficient and it was such a relief when the experts diagnosed and prescribed treatment, as opposed to our guess work and online research. The cost of the medicine nearly gave me health problems of my own when the chemist told me the amount! The pills, along with days of rest would at least ensure his recovery, albeit not a quick (or cheap) one.

I took myself off to the centre of the city a couple of days later for the promised visit to the Museum of Pop Culture. As well as the Marvel and Science fiction exhibitions, there was one entitled ‘Scared to Death: The Thrill of Horror Film’. I sat and watched clips of the 100 scariest films in a setting with blood on the floor and ‘bodies’ hanging in a serial killer’s lair. Among the exhibits, I was particularly thrilled to see what is claimed to be the actual axe Jack Nicholson used in one of my favourite films, ‘The Shining’. I browsed the grunge music section to my heart’s content and looked at the clothes, instruments and memorabilia of Seattle’s Jimi Hendrix, then finished off with an entertaining look at the ‘Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic’ room. Some pics of the visit below.

It wasn’t until a week later that Paul felt up to venturing into Seattle. We had a list of places we wanted to see and the first of these was The Klondike Gold Rush Historical Park. It was located in the historic district of the city; picturesque Pioneer Square which, as location of the heart of the gold rush era had some fantastic old buildings. The museum tells the story of the late 1890s stampede to find gold in the Yukon and after watching a short film outlining the timeline of the period we both enjoyed a slow walk through the exhibits, reading and listening to fascinating first-hand accounts about the event and looking at old photographs. All for free, too!

Loved this picture from the period
Pioneer Square, Seattle’s old district
Memorial to firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty

The Elliott Bay Book Company was next. It was our intention to walk there, but the map I’d used turned out to be completely out of scale and was way too far to walk to. We were in Chinatown by the time this was discovered but didn’t have time to linger long there. We did stop for a while to watch a guy playing an instrument similar to a violin while a couple had fun playing pavement chess.

Resting in Downtown Seattle

An Uber taxi took us to the book store. He dropped us right by the Jimi Hendrix statue, which ticked off another attraction on the list.

Elliott Book Company’s claim to be ‘a must for bibliophiles’ was spot on. A huge store, on two levels with an obligatory coffee shop, it sold a mix of new titles along with a sizable section of ‘reduced in price’ stock. I had a long browse while Paul sat in the café. Next door I’d spotted a likely bar/restaurant for a late lunch and we walked through its door just after three. The hours between 3 and 5 was ‘Happy Hour’, the guy who greeted us explained. Unfortunately this didn’t translate to any discounts or two for one, as other establishments offer during these hours, it meant that they only served some of what was on the full menu so that they could concentrate on getting ready for dinner service. As he went on to explain the permutations in further detail I couldn’t help thinking they had overcomplicated things: I had to keep asking for clarification until he produced a little slip of paper listing what was on offer. A somewhat dubious interpretation of Happy Hour in my opinion. Still, the bowl of chips and glass of wine for me and meatball sandwich and coke for Paul were welcome refreshments.

We strolled through a small city centre park after that, en route to get the Seattle Center Monorail. This mode of transport provides a fast route between downtown and central locations, and along with several other Seattle landmarks, was built for the 1962 World’s Fair.

The Space Needle, where we got off was another one and we sat on the grass for a while watching it whisk people up to its top observation deck and down again at stomach-lurching speed. This was Labor Day weekend, the equivalent of Britain’s May Day Bank holiday weekend, and alongside the park a festival called Bumbershoot was taking place. This is a three day event when performers from all over the world converge for concerts, theatre productions, independent film screenings and literary events. Apparently it’s permitted to smoke pot in there and we watched a queue of people having their bags searched, presumably for weapons or drugs that weren’t cannabis, before entering the gates to join in the fun.  I mention weapons because signs on the doors of quite a few premises bear the words ‘no firearms or weapons permitted inside’ – words that are somehow simultaneously worrying and reassuring.

With Paul now well on the road to recovery we decided to brave another bike ride on Labor Day Sunday. Paul had found a park that he said didn’t look too far away or too strenuous. At least it wasn’t far away! It’s a shame that the steep hills hadn’t shown show up on the map, however. It had started off well; a cool breeze, long empty roads, interesting upmarket neighbourhoods with pretty and unique houses to look at as we cycled effortlessly along. Further on, we had to ascend in order to reach Discovery Park. It had got hotter by then and the hills were much too steep to cycle up. We ended up pushing them for most of the way – I thought the hills would never stop coming (I think I may even have whined about that a little bit ;-)).  The park was well worth the effort, though. It was fascinating. I knew little about it until afterwards but we came upon such beautiful, big, empty cream-coloured houses as we rode through. They looked like the sort of houses used for American movies, particularly in supernatural ones, such as The Amityville Horror. The pictures show what I mean. There were several of them but none seemed to be occupied. I would have dearly loved to look inside. Signs indicated they were military-owned but it wasn’t until I looked online that I found out they were part of the US Army’s Fort Lawton base. Apparently some of the territory had been sold to the city but part of the park is still used for training and officers’ accommodation. I spent an inordinate amount of time just staring at those enigmatic houses in the late afternoon light.

Cycling through Discovery Park

Oh for a chance to have seen inside

Discovery Park
Seattle’s suburbs

We took a slight detour on the way back, to visit Fishermen’s Terminal for refreshments at the pub there. I love sitting on the high stools in American bars where they place a coaster in front of you on the counter with a flourish before you’ve even ordered a drink. To our left were three guys who had clearly been there for quite some time. When we took our seats, one of them moved his belongings from the one next to us and we had a polite and humorous interaction about it being ok to sit there. At least, I hope it was polite and humorous because I couldn’t make out what he was saying to me due to the background noise and the less than sober words he spoke – but he chuckled a lot so I took that as a positive sign. Paul tried the pub’s clam chowder and we shared some fries with ranch and barbecue sauce (a new one to us, and very tasty). As we ate, the conversation between two of the three guys next to us gradually changed from a tone of amiable chat to one of goading confrontation.  I could hear it building up beside me, with phrases like ‘I’m just stating my opinion – didn’t intend to cause offence’, and ‘we’re having a discussion, it shouldn’t need to turn into an argument’. Thankfully the third guy, who I guessed was the captain of the fishing boat they had come from managed to calm the situation before it turned into a classic bar room brawl.

No doubt there was plenty more of Seattle that we would have loved to see if we’d had more time and, more crucially, money but we felt we had seen the parts we wanted to and had definitely soaked up the vibrant atmosphere of the city. The car we had booked for the next couple of days would allow us to explore locations further afield.



Back to Canada, and hitting 60 ( I’m 60 years old you know)

Tuesday the 11th of September saw us leave Port Townsend for Canada. We crossed the Straits of Juan de Fuca and headed into the safety of the San Juan Islands. These are a group of islands close to the Canadian border, they belong to America, but could have easily have been Canadian if the circumstances had been slightly different. I believe the USA thought of them as a very strategic place to control the waters around the straits and the routes north towards Alaska.
We anchored in Parks Bay, a lovely secluded spot and very secure from wind and waves, however there is nowhere to go ashore, as in so many places around here, the land bordering the water has been bought up and built on. I think there may be a right to access below the high water mark, but that would just allow you to walk up to the “PRIVATE- GO AWAY” signs you see along the way. To be fair, both Canada and the USA have an amazing amount of very well kept public marine parks in this area.

From Parks bay we left the San Juan islands and motored over to the Canadian coast on Vancouver Island to the town of Sidney. Here we could clear into the country. We had checked on the restrictions again for what food is allowed in and what is restricted, potatoes being the main problem. Kathy always travels with a few handy spuds, so these had to be consumed. We ate a lot of potatoes that morning. Kathy was also a little over on the wine quota so she put a good effort into that issue the previous night. As it turned out, we arrived, called customs on the dock phone and was asked a few questions and then told we were cleared in and to enjoy our stay. No visits, no searches, Job done. (Just realised I’m repeating a bit of the last post)

I loved this boat, looked like it had sailed through a time vortex into this century from some distant past.

They like to keep their boats out of the rain here in SidneyAfter two days in Sidney, a town with a lot of book shops, we had to leave as the marina was booked up for a regata, we had gone there to have a break and enjoy Kathy’s birthday, we had hoped to find a good Indian restaurant, but the only one there had closed down. So we had to move along the coast to Van Isle marina which was also quite a posh affair, but a few miles out of the main town. It did have a lot of marinas and boat repair yards, I wandered around and found two chandleries, one with a load of Sikaflex (Marine Sealant) at a silly low price, I had to buy two tubes, even though I don’t think I can use them before their ‘use by date’

That night we celebrated Kathy’s birthday in the plush restaurant overlooking the marina.

The next morning we left early and headed out to Pirates cove marine park which I had hoped to be a bit deserted as it’s a very small area and quite shallow. when we arrived it was chocca, we motored around pondering what to do, passing between the anchored boats so close that we had a few conversations with those sitting enjoying the peaceful surroundings from their cockpits. Eventually I decided we should try out the new rope I had bought specifically for this scenario where we need a stern tie. This setup can be achieved in several ways, but we decided to drop our anchor, get it to set, then reverse over to the shore and tie the boats stern to a metal chain and ring thoughtfully provided by the park. Some people do it the other way around, but I can see problem with ropes getting tangled up that way. The big problem was getting the anchor to set, there was so little room to manoeuvre, and a boat lay just in front of us and another already stern tied on our side that we could only get about ten metres of chain out in 5 metres of water with about 2 metres for us to reverse and test the anchors set. We did this but I was not convinced how well we had set. Thankfully our neighbour jumped in his dinghy and motored over and took our line ashore, passed it through the ring and returned it to us, saving me the bother of lowering our dinghy. here you can see how close to the shore we got, at low water the next morning we were about ten foot from the shore, with about 40ft in front to the anchor, yet we held, even with a good breeze in the night.

The main reason for going to Pirates cove was that it was just an hour from Dodd Narrows, as I mentioned before, a quite scary pass where the currents run fast and dangerous. we needed to pass through around 9am so this was a great spot to leave from. As it turned out, there was no drama, passing through at slack water makes life very easy.

From there we scooted north west to Boho Bay on Lasqueti Island. A beautiful picturesque spot. very calm and shallow so I was able to anchor in 5 metres of water between a rock face and a big rock with a fish farm thing just off to the side.

Early the next morning we were on the move again, Lasqueti is about half way across the Strait of Georgia and we needed to get right over to the North eastern side in order to visit Desolation sound and the other back channels that we had heard so much about. Around this time I asked Kathy to check out if there was anywhere she really wanted to see, or could find any ‘must see’ places on the net, she quickly came up with the idea to visit Prince Louisa Inlet, a small inlet of outstanding beauty with a giant waterfall at the head called Chatterbox Falls. Looking at the chart, this was an easy diversion from here, so we headed north and cut through the Agamemnon channel up to Jervis Inlet which lead to our inlet.
Going up  Agamemnon meant we had to pass under two sets of overhead high voltage power cables, the chart said 35 metres clearance, now I need 14 metres so there’s no problem, unless I’m getting confused and I need 35 and they were 14, and what about the height of the tide. I knew there was no issue, yet I still checked my numbers and then double checked, it was only the next day that I read you should leave at least 5 metres gap as the voltage can jump that far from the cables to your mast. The idea of the mast hitting 100,000 + volt cables doesn’t bear thinking about.  As we passed under the cables they just seemed to get lower and lower, I really don’t think I could ever do the intercoastal waterway up the eastern side of the USA as so many of the bridges there are just a little bigger than my mast and I think I would freak at each one. However we passed through and looking back felt a bit silly as for some reason now they seemed to be about a mile up in the sky. Around here we passed another sailing boat who was making about 1 knot under sail, there was next to no wind. I admired him for not rushing and burning fuel like us. He was sitting in his boat saying to himself “Sister Midnight, I know that name…??”

Turning to starboard at the top of Agamemnon we made to the government wharf at Egmont, thinking it would be the cheapest option. I took the time to check the pilot books about entering the bay and was shocked to find it right next to the Sechelt rapids or Skookumchuck Narrows, a very serious stretch of water as I will explain later. I checked my tables and saw that the current would be flowing at ten knots through the rapids and wondered how bad the current would be at the wharf. Sideways currents can be a pain when docking. We were passing a small marina / resort in Backeddy with fuel just before the wharf, so pulled over to fill up, while there they told me they were in the ‘shoulder season’ now and rates dropped, so we tied up there for the night and walked down to Egmont which had a shop, and the smallest post office in Canada. On a side note I have noticed a tendency for many countries to have multiple instances of the smallest whatever all over the country, I have visited the smallest house in England while in Cornwall and also in the lake district, I’m sure there are other contenders too. While we were at Egmont checking out the wharf we had intended to visit, we saw a yacht arriving, in fact the one we passed under the pylons. I watched to see how he would cope with the pontoons being full and nowhere to raft on the public visitor side. He wandered around a bit then rafted to a fishing boat in the private area. We went to the shop and waited for it to open to get some supplies. kathy sat outside on the bench which seems to be a bit on the ‘well made’ side.We headed down to the pontoons to see how it all worked when we met the sailor heading up to the shop, I stopped and asked him if he was the skipper on the yacht that just arrived, he said yes and we chatted, I told him we had passed him under the pylons and he told us he  was down from Sointula and I explained that we were heading up there. At this point he realised why he thought he knew Sister Midnight, he asked my full name, then introduced himself as Jim the guy I had been emailing with over the last few months as he was going to be looking after our boat while we returned to the UK. he had just sailed down here for a few days exploring. Quite a coincidence. We bumped into him later in the grocery store, but that was less of a coincidence as the grocery store was the only shop for 5 miles and there was nothing else to do 🙂

Walking around the dock we saw a lot of very sad neglected boats.

We walked back to Backeddy and had a lovely meal in the resort restaurant.

When we arrived it was lovely and sunny but in the morning the fog had descended and I worried if we would be ably to make the 35 miles up to Princess Louisa Inlet, but a local arrived in a small skiff and he told me the fog was only around the marina and was caused by the colder water you get around the rapids. We set off and sure enough the fog was very isolated around the marina, the pic below is looking  back to the marina from about a mile away.

We now headed north up Jervis Inlet, a long 35 mile fiord like passage that ends in a small bay. Captain Vancouver had traversed this route in the late 18th Century looking for the north west passage to the Atlantic. He was disappointed yet again, but he also missed the inlet to the Prince Louisa Inlet which as you can see below is not very wide. The entrance leads to the Malibu rapids, again not recommended at full flood. We arrived at slack water and passed through into an even more striking fiord like passage. 


Hard to believe this fills and empties through that little opening

At the head of this inlet is the famous chatterbox Falls, in June the sheer mountainside vertical walls all along the inlet are flowing with waterfalls We found space on a public dock maintained by the park authorities. I’m not used to having to moor next to planes but I just treated it like a boat and all went wellThe small float plane had just arrived with a bride and groom and photographer for some wedding shots in front of the waterfall, after those shots they pranced around on the pontoon for ages before shooting off in the plane. Watching the plane go round and round in circles to gain enough height to clear the mountains made me realise just how high these granite walls reached. The next day a big motor launch $4.5Million dollars worth, arrived and I helped the skipper by taking his stern lines, we chatted and he had seen my “Liverpool” reg on the hull and explained his guests on the boat were two ladies from the UK, so later we were surprised when two giggly northern women turned up, banging on our hull and insisting we join them for drinks on the mega yacht, one of them was from Preston, the other frm Nottingham. We had a nice time chatting with them and a few other guests on the boat,  a very luxurious affair, I noted the kitchen was way better than my own, and I’m talking about the one in my house!

Later that evening we all went over to the hut on the shore, set-up for people to have barbeques, the ship’s crew built a great bonfire, using lots of petrol on the wet wood they found.  Today we left Princess Louisa Inlet early to pass the rapids at slack water, this time at low tide, making the channel even narrower. On the way out we saw some new waterfalls that had been dry on the way in.

This time we went back to Egmont Public wharf, and tied up to the same fishing boat that Jim had tied up to when he was there. One reason he had gone there was to take the 5 km hike to the rapids from the wharf, he had timed it to see the rapids flowing at 12 knots, we are going to do the same tomorrow, but the rapids will be running at 14 knots and the wind will be up so it should be impressive. Many lives have been lost in these rapids, just a few years ago the local search and rescue volunteers, an organisation like the RNLI did some exercises in the rapids and lost two of their crew when the boat capsized and the two women were trapped underneath. More details are here .

Oh I nearly forgot, I celebrated my 60th birthday in the Inlet to the sound of chatterbox Falls, with some lovely presents from Kathy.

Paul Collister


Port Townsend Boat Heaven then onto Canada

I was sad to be leaving Seattle, I was getting used to the ‘in your face’ friendliness of the locals, or Seattelites as they are known, and had been bowled over by how helpful and friendly some of the people we met had genuinely been. It seemed like the whole of the sailing community there worked well together, with shops happily recommending competitor shops to me when they were out of stock. But having spent all my money on bits and bobs for the boat, it was time to move on. We had planned to get to the Wooden Boat Festival for Friday, but the mainsail repair delayed us so we would miss the first day.
Friday morning saw us heading north to Port Townsend, there was no wind, but we had good currents pushing us along and made good progress. The biggest drag was another submarine was heading out, the coastguard escort came and told me I had to clear the exclusion zone, and escorted me towards the beach, in almost the opposite direction to where we were heading, we were already a couple of miles from the subs CPA (Closest point of approach) but that wasn’t enough.  We took 8 hours to cover the 37 NM, arriving at 4pm, once we checked in we headed down to the festival as I read that bands were performing until late each night and we were pleased to find the gates open and free after 5pm, so we wandered around the stalls, mostly closing, bought some french fries and watched the bands performing on the music stage.  There were about six different stages setup for demonstrations and talks each day with maybe a hundred different talks all in all. Over the next two days I attended a talk on sharpening tools, this came from a guy who said he will sharpen his chisel maybe every ten minutes during a serious bit of boat building! I was thinking it was more of an annual thing. I also watched an impressive lady talk about varnishing tips, she had been varnishing for 31 years in Port Townsend, and really knew her stuff. I missed talks from Nigel Calder, a god in the boat maintenance world, and Brion Toss, a master rigger, both of these guys books have been on my bookshelf for many years. What was a bit worrying was that Brion was hobbling around in a plaster cast on his arm and leg, making me wonder if something had gone wrong while he was up a mast?

The festival consisted of scores of wooden boats, mostly quite old, demonstrations on the stages, a boat building competition, where 4 teams competed over the three days to build boats from scratch, launch and race them, live music, sea shanties, trips on the water on classic yachts/ tall ships and loads of other activities for kids. All in all it was a great festival, and I wished I had got there a day earlier and got to the festival earlier each day. In the harbour that held the festival there is an adjacent school of boatbuilding where demonstrations of woodworking were going on.

Some pictures from the festival are below.

“La Boheme is one in a series of William Atkin designed double-enders. This one is the Eric. Modeled after Norwegian rescue boats at the turn of the century, the Eric is said to be “the best boat for the worst weather”. La Boheme’s keel was laid in 1926. She was completed and launched in 1938 out of Victoria, BC and has plied the waters of the North West ever since. Constructed of Port Orford cedar on oak frames, La Boheme is stout, sea-kindly and extremely comfortable as cruiser.”

Boheme comes from the same Norwegian heritage as our own baba / tashiba boats, except those plank lines are for real.


One for Taffy.



Back at the boat we took advantage of a giant safeway store opposite the marina to stock up with everything we need for the next few weeks as we will be mostly at anchor on our way back to Malcolm Island.

It’s actually called the boat haven, but I think of it as boat heaven, it’s a decent walk from the haven to town and the other marina of Port Hudson where the festival is staged, but the Haven has everything a boat owner could desire, there are loads of workshops, I counted four travel lifts, a west Marine, a really good cheap hardware store that has a good range of stainless fittings. Shops, cafes, a fish stall and loads of classic and odd ball boats in every direction give the place a very nautical feel. It’s also has a huge area of hard standingBoats like this one above are scattered around the yard, this is an old classic cruise ship. One morning I looked up after hearing some swishing of the water next to us to see this yacht (below) passing by. A fairly common sight here. I think I will bring the boat back here next year to do any big jobs like the mast refurb I’m thinking of.

Kathy got herself into trouble again and I had to go downtown and bail her out. 

Actually it’s one of these cells under the old courtroom, now a museum, where Jack London spent the night once en-route to the Klondike.

Port Townsend was once, in the 1880s bigger than Seattle, and was scheduled for great things, but the panic/depression of 1893 put paid to that and the town went into decline. But not before several countries had built their imposing embassies here, and several very grand buildings were erected on the main roads.
Above one of these buildings we found an old cinema where we watched ‘Crazy Rich Asians’ The cinema was great, you could take a meal in, drink your wine from a glass glass and sit on a very comfortable sofa. The film was also fun as it was set in Singapore and Malaysia, so we recognised many of the locations.

Port Townsend is a lovely place, it seems when woodstock ended, a lot of people left for here to carry on the party, the general vibe is that of a laid back town, full of artists, lovely coffee bars, lots of art and craft shops, and of course this sits well with so many skilled boat workers, carpenters, steel workers etc. They even have a famous ‘forge’ here where you can get any rare kind of boat fitting cast. I could quite easily spend a year or two here.

Sadly we had to leave and start our trek north to Siontula, the days are getting shorter and colder, there’s less sunshine these last few days and I worry we will hit bad weather along the way. So I want to push on.

Today (Wed) we arrived in Sidney, Canada, a large town near Victoria on Vancouver Island. Check-in to Canada was as simple as saying hello , boat name, and no to ten questions, all on the phone, then we were in.

We are here until Saturday when we head over to Desolation Sound and explore the eastern side of the inside passage. We mostly stayed on the Vancouver Island side on the way down here. We will celebrate Kathy’s birthday here in Sidney, hopefully finding a nice restaurant, my birthday follows a few days later, but I’m more than happy with a cheese butty at anchor in desolation sound.

Paul Collister


‘Ok By Me In America’

A line from West Side Story, my favourite musical, and one that aptly describes my experience of the US so far. Well, maybe the high prices of things here are not quite so ok by me but it’s still thrilling to be here. My last visit had been way back in 1983, a trip to California that took in Los Angeles and San Francisco – places we’ll hopefully get round to seeing next year. This time we started off in Port of Friday Harbor, or ‘Friday Harbor’ as it’s popularly known. We arrived there on August 16th on a beautiful sunny afternoon after crossing the invisible border from Canada to America earlier that morning en route from Sidney Spit. The sunshine and warmth that greeted us on the approach were welcome after a chilly journey with gusts of cold wind up to 23 knots. Not so welcome was the amount of other yachts jostling for position in the bay. The position we were all after was a space to tie up on the customs dock. We also had to give low flying sea planes a wide berth before edging closer to the pontoon.

Customs Dock, Friday Harbor

After Paul returned from showing our documents in the tiny office that you can see in the pic above, our clean, tidy and legal boat didn’t get so much as a cursory inspection, just a quick glance and a couple of questions relating to fresh produce. Paul began to explain that we weren’t sure if cheese was permitted and was interrupted with a ‘cheese is ok!’ declaration from the seemingly lone officer before she hurried on to deal with the next yacht.

Port Friday is a pretty town. We had a customary walk through its wide main streets after tying up in Port of Friday Harbor Marina (‘where Friday begins’). The shops were typical of those in most seaside places – gifts, souvenirs and artisan products displayed in creative emporiums along with plenty of ice cream parlours, bars and cafes. Spring Street was so neat and picturesque in fact that it reminded me of the manufactured high streets you find in theme parks such as Disneyland.

Friday Harbor

Port of Friday Harbor Marina

Naturally, the supermarket was of most interest to me, having used up all our fruit and veg to comply with entry regulations. It didn’t disappoint with its wide range of veggie products and unfamiliar but obviously popular food such as corn dogs, Twinkies, beef jerky and a staggering array of nut butters. Unfortunately it was just as, if not more, expensive as Canada had been. Some examples of basic products: a punnet of small tomatoes is £3.92; a loaf of bread is around £2.20-£4.50, a box of cereal is £4.00 and a bag of salad is around £3.50. Veggie and vegan products are even more expensive. I chose carefully. Pics below show examples of what are very high prices to me when compared with those in Asia and even in the UK, but as Paul says, the wages here are likely to be a lot higher. Luckily we have still got a lot of things we bought for the Pacific crossing which will help stretch the budget.

£4.71 and £5.49

It was a very early start the following morning for our journey to Port Ludlow. The early morning air had us both donning our thermals with a welcome mug of hot coffee as we left Friday Harbor at 5 50 am. The sun had just risen over a mountain leaving the sky with a gorgeous pinky-orange hue and a grey seal popped its head out of the water just before we hit the open sea. I love mornings like that at sea. I saw my first ever submarine on the passage; a rather eerie, long grey-coloured tube just on the surface of the water, flanked on either side by military escorts. We assumed we were too close to it because a coastguard approached us on our port beam and warned us via a loudspeaker of its presence. We found out later that it’s normal practice for them to let all vessels in the vicinity know there’s a submarine nearby in that way.

Leaving Friday Harbor

Port Ludlow is the venue each year for a rendezvous for owners of yachts designed by Bob Perry. It’s a chance to meet and chat with skippers and crew of the same or similar boats. The leaflet pictured below outlines its aims in a more humorous manner 🙂 Paul got talking to people immediately after arriving.

Port Ludlow Marina has 300 berths and we spotted several Baba and Tashiba designs on the pontoons. There was a small shop and a covered communal area with tables and benches for event hire, which was where the live music would be on Saturday night. We joined our pontoon neighbours, Larry and his friend Monica and another couple at the outdoor seating area for a few drinks that evening until the chilly evening breeze forced us all back inside.

Port Ludlow Marina

We went for a walk next morning along the main road to the tiny village about 30 minutes’ walk away. There was no obvious ‘sidewalk’, just a narrow lane adjoining the busy main road which was bordered on both sides by thick trees. It wasn’t the sort of walk you’d want to do in the dark. The village store was similar to petrol station convenience stores and predictably pricey. On the counter I noticed a collection box for donations to help pay the medical bills for cancer treatment of one the members of staff. It reminded me how tough it must be to receive such a diagnosis here when you can’t afford the health care.

The marina viewed from the path above

On Saturday afternoon we joined everyone in the tented area to listen to talks from the guest speakers. I had a great time looking at and fussing the several friendly dogs in attendance. I’ve noticed that lots of US skippers have one or more dogs as part of their crew.

A gorgeous crew member 🙂

After the talks Paul had a chance to speak to Bob Perry and a few other guys he knew from his online Baba boat group and some of them came on board to have a look around and a chat. Later, we joined Larry and Monica on ‘Gone With the Wind’ (its fenders were labelled ‘Tara’), Larry’s beautifully fitted out Baba 35, for more drinks and chat.

Paul and Bob Perry

All of this was very nice but I was looking forward to hearing some live music. Bob Perry is part of a six man band called ‘The Perry Rendezvous All Star Band’. Given their ages I knew the sort of music they would play was likely to be the kind I love and I wasn’t wrong. We’d all taken food contributions to the buffet, which was fabulous and plentiful, with drinks laid on for us to help ourselves. It was an extremely enjoyable evening – we didn’t dance, but we tapped our feet and sang along to some great rock, folk and country songs (or maybe that was just me – :-).

Enjoying the tunes
The Perry Rendezvous All Star Band

Quite a few boats had left by Sunday afternoon. We would be staying an extra day so went to have a look at the totem pole that had been erected in recognition of Native American art and culture overlooking the bay on Burner Point, and took a few pictures up there. A plaque informed us that the imposing 40-foot pole was created from a 720-year-old red cedar tree and the carved figures on it represent the history of Port Ludlow. Later that afternoon we had a visit from Karl, the solo sailor we’d met in Port Hardy. He told us about his trip along the west coast of Vancouver Island which sounded glorious, especially as he’d been lucky enough to see black bears on the way! I’m still hoping to see one before we return to the UK in October.

Burner Point, Port Ludlow

Leaving Port Ludlow early on Monday morning

Our first stop in Seattle the following day was Shilshole Marina, a huge place near the Ballard district. The row of pontoons seemed to stretch for miles, and almost all of them were full.

Entering Shilshole Marina

After checking in we set off to check out Ballard. It was about a thirty minute walk from the marina but on the way we stopped at Ballard Locks, the passageway between Puget Sound and the docks in Lakes Washington and Union, which forms a barrier between fresh and salt water.  Close by is the place where the salmon can be observed on the fish ladder. We spent quite a lot of time in both these places, just watching the action. Locks have always fascinated me with their intricate machinery and construction. I did feel for the woman in charge of the lines on the boat we all stood watching from above as the lock staff issued commands to her and the captain. She must have been hoping nothing would go wrong being under such public scrutiny.

Ballard Locks

I found it a bit distressing watching the salmon attempt the seemingly impossible task of ascending the stone steps to return to the freshwater area where they had been born. The current was so strong and they had to extend so much effort to leap up onto the next rung, it looked certain they would be flushed back down by the current. We kept losing sight of the one we were watching and it made me breathless just looking at them so I left Paul to it while I looked out for seals in the bay.

Salmon on their way to the fish ladder

Ballard has a distinct ‘new-age’ feel to it. It reminded me of places in Brighton and Hove in parts, with its lively bars and cafes and ethnic gift shops. It’s an old district, the waterfront established in the late 19th century by Scandinavian loggers and fishermen. Their heritage and culture is celebrated in a Nordic Museum which had closed by the time we walked past it at 4 30. Our main mission was to obtain a data plan for our phones, and once this was done we took a slow walk back, taking in a pub on the way – the first ‘pub’ I’d been in for a very long time and it happened to be happy hour so that was even better.

Ballard Main Street

Our stay in Seattle would be a welcome break where we could be tourists for a couple of weeks and my plan was to research some of the attractions the city has to offer. I wondered if we would be brave enough (or more realistically, rich enough) to have a trip up the city’s iconic Space Needle. This is 605 feet high with a revolving glass floor on the top and a lift that shoots you up there in 43 seconds.  There is a lot to see and in the next few weeks we aimed to see as much as we could.


Leaving Seattle

Having almost fully recovered from my infection, we have decided to head north to Port Townsend for the wooden boat festival; It’s a lot more than just wooden boats. From there we head north to Malcolm Island in Canada where we will stash the boat for the winter. We will be flying home on the 15th October.

We have made the most of seattle over the last few days, I hired a car so I could get around all the shops and other stores and we used it to get out of town too.

I’m quite warming to Seattle, it’s slightly whacky, and you see everything from the very poor to the very rich walking around in most areas. I would gladly stay put here for another 6 months if it wasn’t for the high cost of keeping a boat here, and the general cost of things. A decent loaf is usually $4-$5.

Halloween has started here, I did like the range of pumpkin on offer at safeway, Morrisons could learn a thing or two here. 

One of the highlights was finally finding a place to get my LPG Cooking gas cylinders re-certified and then filled. I took them to Amerigas down in Kent, 30 mins drive south of the centre. They sent me on to Pacific, anoth 15 mins south where I was told it would take two days for the engineer to test them. When I explained I was leaving in 2 days, early, the engineer came out to say he would test them there and then. Result, but one of the tanks failed the leak test inside the valve, totally safe but he replaced the valve and refilled both tanks. Brilliant, we now have 40lb of propane, that should provide all our cooking needs for over a year.

I also bought a new dual tank switch / regulator and new pigtails for the tanks, so once I fit them we will have a pretty safe setup. However with all the fitting and removing the old gas pipe off the cylinder, it became quite weak. During the evening 2 nights ago, the gas pipe burst releasing a stack of propane gas at very high pressure. Kathy and I jumped out of our skins as a huge roar came from the cockpit. I quickly managed to turn off the cylinder and made sure the gasses had all vented away. Later I tested it by lighting a match in the cockpit, I don’t like doing this as it’s not a fair test, in as much as you know the only outcome you could ever possibly see is the good one. Fortunately the boat design allows gas to escape in the locker and be sent safely on its way.

Today I collected the repaired mainsail from the sail loft. They did a pretty good job patching it up, you can see the latest fitting below. It takes me a couple of hours to get the mainsail on, the full length  battens, which are the 5 long bits of plastic rod, running horizontally across the sail are fitted in a fancy case held together by 4 nuts/bolts. I have adjusted the batten tensions in a hope to make the sail work better.

A few days ago we went to the big West Marine, and now we checked out Fisheries Supply, these are supposed to be less arty farty about stuff, they come from a commercial background rather than leisure. However I couldn’t really see much difference between the two, other than Fisheries is a bit cheaper. It was still like an Aladdin’s cave for me. I spent far too much there.

Later on I was to discover Seattle Marine and Fisheries Company, clevery shortened to Seamar. Now these are more like the real thing, I got the usual “Hi there, see anything I could help you with” type greeting, but did I suspect an underlying tone of “You look like a yachtie/Timewaster who wants to buy 3 1/2 foot of rope”, but that might just be my apprehension of walking into any type of professional setup I don’t belong in. Especially ocean hardened fishermen. It didn’t help that he knew nothing about the underlying construction of his three strand nylon, requests to know if it was three or four part, balanced rope just provoked a look of surprise.
Anyway, it looked the business and the price was 23c / foot, in West or Fisheries this was about $1/foot. So we went off to another warehouse, where they keep the rope, and I was going to get a half drum of 300ft, but suddenly came over all macho and decided to take the full 600ft (200m) drum. I was starting to feel like a real fisherman now. Hopefully I have enough anchor rode now for anywhere I want to stop in the world. Below you can see the anchor rode, a massive drum of polyprop and a smaller drum of 3/16th” wire for the new guard rails. I also bought tons of tins of chemicals, from paint stripper/acetone/thinners through to no-seize paste , locking glues, polyester resins/ varnishes, gloss and matt, engine oil/gearbox oil, cutting oil. I have two extra winch handle holders to make life easier in the cockpit and at the mast.


After all the shopping we needed a break so we drove out to Snoqualmie Falls. The fall is a lot bigger than it looks, and provides some power to Seattle from the underground turbines.

A little further along we wandered a country trail down to one of the river beds that feeds the falls.

A bit further on we went to the train museum. Kathy has the pictures of that. Just along from the museum we realised we were in Twin Peaks country land, so we drove out to the back road where David lynch turned up one day and planted the sign below. They took some pictures, pulled the sign and drove off. Much later the city of Snoqualmie put up a replica sign, but it has since been stolen.

So in an effort to immerse ourselves in seattle culture, we have been to , Walmart, Walgreave,Safeway,Target,Fred Meyer but not McDonalds or Starbucks. We have travelled the light railway, done the monorail and taken many uber rides.

The view from the west end of the marina looking west

And a little later the view looking east from our berth.

Paul Collister