Saturday, April 25, 2015

Rounding Cape Caution


Sunrise, Blunden Harbour
Positioning ourselves at Blunden Harbour provided the opportunity to use a two-day weather window to round Cape Caution and tuck into the “Inside Passage” protected from storm tracks.  It was Friday and winds of 40-50 knots were forecasted to arrive on Sunday for the area we would be transiting.  We decided to motor for 12 hours to Shearwater/Bella Bella, located off Lama Passage well into the protected zone, rather than stopping and anchoring in Fitz Hugh Sound – this plan would provide an extra cushion in case the weather arrived sooner than predicted.  
Tug, Western Titan in Richards Channel
We departed at 6am in the morning greeted by a beautiful sunrise and relatively calm seas.  As we exited Blunden Harbour, we saw a tug & barge also heading north on a similar track through Richards Channel between the Islets, we made room for each other and communicated each other’s intentions over the radio for safe passage.  The tug, Western Titan, became our serendipitous buddy boat to Cape Caution; the tug eventually passed us doing 9 knots as we approached Fitz High Sound to head up the “Inside Passage.”  Western Titan out of Seattle is with the Western Towboat Co. whose sister tug, Ocean Ranger, was the tug we rode on going to Juneau in 1999.  We had purchased the ride at a benefit auction and enjoyed seeing Skagway on that particular trip.  
Our Buddy Tug Barge with cars, trucks, boats, and tour buses stacked on top; Cape Caution
Ok, back to the present, we headed out into some gentle ocean swell that increased near the Cape from 6 to 7 foot swells, nicely spaced at 11-13 seconds apart, gently lifting us up and setting us back down with little to no roll.  
Ocean Swell hitting the Islets
We reached Clark Point on Calvert Island at the entrance to Fitz Hugh Sound around 11:30am; seas were calm with light chop.  We had lunch along the way and enjoyed the scenery in Fitz Hugh Sound with lingering clouds; it would be another four hours before reaching Lama Passage.  
Are We There Yet?
Java had the “are we there yet look” in her face.  At around 4:30pm we entered Lama Passage formed by the three islands of Hunter, Denny, and Campbell. 

Lama Passage
After another two hours of motoring, we arrived in Shearwater near Bella Bella; Shearwater is like an oasis for boaters, offering fuel, groceries, and a pub with good food plus a nice laundry and gift shop.  An attractive hotel is on the property and a well-stocked marine supply store, helicopters fly in and out on a regular basis delivering people or picking up supplies.  The nearby Native village of Bella Bella is within an easy dinghy ride or can be accessed via water taxi and has a new grocery store.  
Shearwater played an interesting role in WWII; you can read more in our 2011 blog to Southeast Alaska described in the post date of May28th at  
New Mural at Shearwater
We were curious to see if the forecasted winds of 40-50 knots would materialize as predicted, we checked the weather that following morning and sure enough, a strong storm warning was predicted for the entrance to Fitz High Sound for late Saturday afternoon with the higher 40-50 knot winds arriving overnight along the stretch around Cape Caution.  
Resident Eagle at Shearwater
No worries, the passages and inlets of the “Inside Passage” are surprisingly unaffected by the storms at sea.

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