Thursday, September 15, 2011

Leapfrogging: Harbor to Harbor

Leapfrogging? was that title just an excuse to feature my favorite hat?
Kumealon to Klewnuggit - let those names roll off your tongue, and be happy I didn't even mention Kxngeal. These names may be challenging, but they label harbors along the Grenville Channel that are welcome in any weather.

September 5-6 
Klewnuggit Inlet
Weather forecasts bumped today's wind predictions from gale to storm warnings in our region, calling for the first serious storm event of the season. Oh goody, notable nasty weather, not just the usual bad weather chunky stuff. We opted to move two inlets south, from Kumealon to Klewnuggit Inlet where we have previously sat out storms. It’s a well protected anchorage, but the surrounding high hills block out any VHF weather reports. No problem, we used the satellite phone to call EnvironmentCanada for recorded updates. Technology to the rescue!

The Capt works on the foredeck, while I supervise, warm and dry,  from inside the pilothouse.
Rain and more rain, buckets of rain, pouring down rain was in order for our two-day stay. Occasional wind gusts rocked the boat, but we rode it out comfortably. New waterfalls appeared all along the Grenville and inside Klewnuggit. Rain-swollen streams suddenly appeared where there had been none hours before. What happened to yesterday's sunshine and summery weather?

September 7
Rescue Bay
We cruised in rain and fog most of the morning, with blessedly little wind and calm water. Flat water was welcome but the fog was an issue. OMG! We were almost hit by a humpback whale in Wright Sound, near Whale Channel of all things. Ron spotted the whale when it first surfaced about 10 feet off the port side pilothouse door. He pulled the throttles back into neutral immediately, then reversed and we held our breath while the adrenaline rushed. I just saw the whale’s back as he slid underwater and disappeared - right under our bow. There was no contact, we never saw him again, not even a spout, and I cannot imagine why he chose to surface there. Too close. Don’t need to experience that again. We saw 8 more humpbacks in Graham Reach off Aaltanhash Inlet, but at a more comfortable distance.

Whale in the fog
Heli-logging along the route 
Heli-logging in the fog
I love our radar when we travel in the fog, and split my attention between scanning the water ahead for logs and watching the radar screen searching for other vessels. We saw a large blip on the screen slowly approach our position, the two courses converging unless one of us adjusted. We slowed and changed course slightly, enough to safely pass whatever the blip turned out to be. Why was it such a shock to see the B.C. ferry Northern Expedition loom high above us, appearing suddenly 1/4 mile away. The large radar dot was SO much larger  in real-time viewing. She passed without incident, disappearlng back into the fog. AIS, a vessel identification system, has just become more appealing.

September 8

Fog, fog and more fog for most of the day. This was serious fog, heavy pea soup fog, can’t see the water slow down below 5 knots kind of fog. Then the sun began to emerge, complicating things even further. Think about driving in the fog at night, and how high beams diminish visibility even further. That was the effect of the sun this morning. I had to don sunglasses to increase the contrast between ripples on water and solid objects.

The sun finally broke through after noon at Dryad Point and we enjoyed blue sky for the rest of the day. It seemed we had just cruised back into summer, with temperatures over 70 and sunshine all around.  

This fishing boat was one of the dots on our radar screen several hours ago. 

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