Wednesday, September 30, 2015

British Columbia by boat Day 6: Tenedos Bay

We got up at 6:00am and drove away from West View, projecting an arrival at Prideux Haven at 11:00am. The drive out was pretty, but knowing what I knew now, I'd drive through Thulin passage instead of bothering to go out beyond Savory island. Not only is the return between Hernando and Savary gave us some shallow areas with tricky navigation that added unwelcome tension to the vacation.
It turned out that the guidebooks on the boat which had mentioned the mandatory speed limits in the Thulin passage neglected to mention that the speed limit was all of 8 knots, which was what the Stray Cat could do at maximum speed. In other words, as far as we were concerned, there werre no speed limits anywhere in the area.

Turning Sarah Point into Desolation Sound, however, all was forgotten as the natural beauty of the area just stunned us. Tall mountains that come all the way down to the sea greeted us, as did a bevy of sailboats, kayakers, and motor cruisers. We originally thought about going to Prideux Haven, but a quick look at Tenedos Bay indicated that not only was it closer, it was also very sheltered and had access to a warm fresh water lake for swimming.

Arriving at low tide, we looked at anchoring, but quickly decided that the harbor was too crowded for just one anchor, and so did what everyone else did by dropping anchor at around 25m and then backing the boat towards shore for a stern line. Larry unfortunately injured his leg climbing onto the rocks to tie the stern line, but he said it was OK. We backed with the boat 10' from the shore. Unadvisable with ground tackle that I didn't know well, but on the other hand, I hauled hard on the stern line without being able to shift the anchor. I'd had plenty of experience anchoring just off a shore, and felt confident that it would hold.

The reason you need to stern tie in these deep harbors is that the ground under the water is curved steeply away from the shore. If the wind were to shift the boat around while you were anchor'd thus, the anchor would simply hold no traction and lift off the ground, dragging or coming loose in deep water. In strong tidal waters, you had to have enough rode for high tide while not having so much rode on low tide that you'd swing onto shore, but on a high tide you'd actually get more space from shore, so it's OK to have what looks like a dangerously long rode when anchoring.

After lunch (which doubled as a way to observe the boat's behavior over a period of rising tide), I satisfied myself that the Stray Cat was in no danger, and we dingy'd over to the trailhead to Unwin lake. We discovered once again that our boat briefing was inadequate when we couldn't figure out how to raise the motor, but fortunately a group of people were leaving as we were arriving and showed Arturo how to push that button. We tied the boat down firmly as we were in tidal waters and I fully expected to come back to find that the rock we'd tied the dinghy to would be under water.

We hiked to Unwin lake, with everyone except Xiaoqin, Bowen, and I spotting a bear while we were there, indicating that we were in bear country.
Unwin lake turned out to have 72F water: warm enough to swim in, but not so warm that I could last for more than about 15-20 minutes in the water. Bowen, however, complained that it was too cold despite the wet suit, but everyone else got a chance in the water. We returned to the dinghy to find that indeed, we had tied it to a stone that was underwater, but since our tie-down had held, we were in good shape for going back to the Stray Cat, where we had dinner and settled in for what would be a windy night.

We'd checked the hand compass to ensure that we were going to be aligned with the prevailing wind that night, so I slept well, but at 1:00am was awoken by lights pointing into my eyes from other boats in the area. I wondered if things were going wrong, and so got up with the flash light to check the boat, but didn't find anything disturbing. I went back to sleep, and only discovered in the morning that one of the other skippers had panicked, dropped his stern lined, and moved out into the middle of the harbor to re-anchor. One benefit of being so close to shore was that the land really did act as a wind break for the Stray Cat, so we might have had a much easier night than those who had a longer anchor line.
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