Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Seaplane Trip

Our Alaska cruise ended weeks earlier than usual this year as we returned for a scheduled haulout at the shipyard to rework the finish on the teak caprail. Well-finished brightwork is beautiful, the jewelry so to speak decorating a vessel, but  ours needed work, a lot of work. While the boat rested in a shed up on the hard, I flew south for several appointments and a few house projects. 

I traveled via Kenmore Air in a deHaviland Otter, flying from Campbell River, B.C. to the north end of Seattle's Lake Washington in 2.5 hours, and that included a brief stop in Nanaimo. That was tons more fun than driving for 6+ hours to get home. My return flight was even more fun, landing at 3 locations in Desolation Sound to drop off other passengers before depositing me back at the seaplane base on Tyee Spit. Refuge Cove, Manson's Landing and Gorge Harbor look so different from the air, small patches of development dotting the many islands that pepper this coastal area. Omigosh, I love seaplane flights, especially ones with 5 take-offs and landings! 

Photo: Seattle and Puget Sound on a sunny morning

Photo: Puget Sound islands look so different from the air.

Photo: Mt.Baker rises above the clouds.

Photo: A Canadian mountain range looks young and jagged.
Photo: Busy Nanaimo Harbor
Photo: Taxiing into Campbell River at Tyee Spit

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Finally... the Coho are Running

All season long we have heard "the fish are late". Reasons (or guesses) ranged from the believable " the water is still too cold so they stayed offshore longer", to the more fanciful "the hatchery-release of fish had been devoured by whales 3 years earlier", or... Whatever! The reality is that fishing was slow earlier in the spring. Fish were caught, but not in great numbers. But now, oh my, the coho are returning in BIG numbers and it's Fish On!

Photo: a fine catch of coho salmon
Photo: cleaning the catch takes time
Photo: JS demonstrates his fast filleting technique
Photo: these coho fillets are destined for the barbecue
Photo: Save that carcass for crab or prawn trap bait!
RL loves the fishing, and I get pretty excited about netting a big salmon. Note: I'm even more enthusiastic about the cooking and eating that follows.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Returning An Eagle's Fishy Gift

Fog and driftwood kept us alert until we left Reid Passage and entered Seaforth Channel. Then the fog lifted and we spotted a flotilla of small boats clustered around Idol Point, all trolling for salmon. Ooh, it must mean the coho are running! Friends in their fishing skiff greeted us at Idol Point and led the way through Rait Narrows, yet another shallow-water, skinny, serpentine passage. Reality proved the run less intimidating than the Nobeltec chart view, so we’ll return comfortably to this anchorage again. Nearby Kynumpt Bay has been a destination in the past if we opted to anchor out instead of mooring at Shearwater, but Rait's South Cove is better protected and a lot more attractive. We rafted up, caught up on the highlights of the past two months, and then launched our skiff and went fishing in the late afternoon sunshine. The fishing was so good we stayed a few days.

As we arrived at the cove an eagle flew past the boat, struggling to stay aloft with his talons holding a large salmon. Oops! he dropped the salmon and it sank near the rocky shore. Tanya quickly grabbed a gaff, scooped up the fish and tossed it uphill onto the rocks, ready for the eagle to swoop down and retrieve it. With any luck we would have a terrific photo op of  the eagle snatching his fish. No such luck, that cautious eagle remained perched high in a tree, warily watching us and his fish for a v-e-r-y long time. By late afternoon the salmon was gone and so was the eagle.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Laredo Inlet

Laredo Inlet holds several interesting bays to explore, but strong thermals kept us inside one bay, Bay of Plenty, for most of our stay. We did venture a skiff run to neighboring bay, Mellis Inlet, late in the morning to set 3 prawn traps, setting out at 25 knots and returning at about 7 knots on a bumpy, uncomfortable ride over increasingly chunky water. Crabbing inside Bay of Plenty netted us 1 legal-sized male, along with a mob of females and undersized males to return to the water. Drat!

Hurry up, then wait describes the following day. Just after dawn we hurried up to retrieve our prawn traps in Mellis Inlet before the winds came up and chop developed. Pot 1 yielded 6 medium prawns, pulled from around 270’. One independent critter was halfway out the entrance gate, making a break for freedom. How many others escaped overnight? I know it took more than our 6-prawn catch to devour all of that bait! Pot 2 yielded 36 jumbo prawns, pulled from about 380’. The pot-puller made this retrieval a much easier chore than the old manual method; an investment well worth the price for speed and sore muscle prevention. 

Pot 3 was empty, but all of the bait was gone, every last morsel. Oops, operator error; the large door on top of the trap was still hooked open. We had provided a nice snack for some overnight visitors who ate and left. All in all, an adequate effort and enough prawns for two meals. (click to link to Lime and Chili Prawns recipe)

Hurry up some more to rinse and put the prawning gear back into Rhapsody’s cockpit, clean and hoist the skiff and then pull anchor and get underway. I cleaned the prawns while we traveled, RL had a lot of time to organize and stow gear later in the day.

Wait soon came into play later in the morning as we changed to an inside route, approached Thistle Passage and realized we would be too early to comfortably transit Meyers Passage. 6 feet of water at a zero tide is not a good choice when the boat draws 5’. We dawdled along, ran on one engine and finally just shut down, drifting in Kitasoo Bay while we waited another hour for the incoming tide to add a few more feet to the channel. There was a slight “pucker effect” when the 10’ alarm sounded, but the Capt. was right on course and we had no unplanned excitement.

Princess Royal is renowned for a large concentration of rare white kermodi bear, but none showed during our stay. We haven’t seen any bear since we left Red Bluff Bay, black, brown or white. I realize that salmon aren’t running, but don’t Canadian bears eat shoreline bear grass?!