Friday August 24th – We left Roche and headed south again across the Strait of Juan De Fuca. It was a beautiful crossing in what can be a nasty piece of water. Our destination today is Seattle’s Bell Harbor for 4 nights.
But first we stopped by Port Townsand’s Fort Warden state park and had some fun playing on the beach. Then we were off, motoring south for a nice cruise through Admiralty Inlet.
The goal in Seattle is to have some fun but also get some school clothes shopping done. By the time we get home school will start in just a couple days and we won’t have much time to get the kids ready.
Skylar loves this company called Evo. It’s a mostly online, outdoor equipment company that sells a lot of skiing stuff. They have one retail outlet that we found in the Ballard area and Skylar just had to go. It was a great store and we actually found some nice school clothes for Skylar.
Our friends Todd & Tami who left us to head home when we were up in Desolation Sound found their way back to Seattle to meet up with us for a couple days. The 8 of us walked south to the tallest building this side of the Mississippi. Ok maybe not now, but in 1914 when the Smith Tower was built it held that title. We all had a lot of fun exploring the old building that has been beautifully maintained and lunch at the top was fantastic!
Tuesday August 21st – The anchor came up off the Canadian sea floor and locked into place on the boat. Free to put the engine in gear now we pointed our bow toward the US and crossed Haro Strait. After clearing customs in Roche Harbor, we made our way to our assigned slip for the next 3 nights.
Skylar and I went hiking and fly fishing in the nasty little ponds above the harbor but didn’t catch a thing. Then we all tried some salmon fishing just outside of Mosquito Pass but once again we struck out. The smoke continued to be super thick and was now getting extremely annoying. Not only did it make you feel terrible, but all the beautiful scenery and sunsets were blocked by a blanket of smoke.
Sometimes at Roche yacht brokers will have boats open for you to tour. One such boat was the “Sea Lion” a beastly boat stretching 70 feet long and what seemed like almost as tall. Built in the 80’s with a complete interior remodel a few years ago it was a really cool boat that made you feel like you could go anywhere and do anything. Skylar and Ava loved it. They wouldn’t quit talking about it. Trying unsuccessfully to get us to buy it they devised an elaborate dreamy plan to buy it themselves and live on it together. They talked about it for days.
Sunday August 19th – We Left Manson’s Landing and started heading south in the Georgia Strait under the cover of some serious wildfire smoke. No specific destination in mind we just need to start heading south. After some weather forecast research, it looked like the weather was changing. It called for mostly calm winds today then rising in the evening to windy conditions for the next few days.
So, we decided to bust it south! Normally you try and limit your exposure in the Strait of Georgia but today we cruised 70 miles straight down. We didn’t want to get stuck waiting for a weather window in the coming days. Building following seas pushed us right into Gabriola Pass where we caught somewhat decent slack water. But why stop here. We pushed on but now I transferred the helm to Skylar where he navigated us all the way to Sidney Spit in the southern Gulf Islands.
In all we cruised 120nm in one day, an all-time record for us. We anchored off the spit and spent the next 2 nights just relaxing on the beach, watching the Orca whales pass by and taking the dinghy to dinner in Sidney.
Saturday August 18th – Today we left Prideaux Haven and made our way west to Manson’s Landing, tucked in a little area we always anchor. It’s a fun spot, complete with a saltwater lagoon, a nice beach, and short hike leads to a beautiful lake but the weather must be calm. The anchorage opens up to the south end of the Georgia Strait. If the wind was blowing out of the south, it would not be comfortable. Lucky for us things were calm, and the forecast was for more of the same the next day.
It’s kind of a tricky anchorage in 80’ of water but we managed to secure a spot right where we always anchor. A few others were not so lucky as they came in after us trying repeatedly to set the hook within acceptable range of other boats. After feeling like the boat wasn’t going to drift off anywhere, we set out for some beach time and exploring the area.
Just as we were getting in the dinghy to leave Skylar said quietly but clearly “oh no, that’s not good”. What, I said. “My tooth just fell out” he said. He turned to Julie and I and the hillbilly was suddenly turned on. Years ago, when Skylar was about 8 years old, he was sliding on his stomach down our long, slippery, hardwood floors. He wouldn’t quit sliding even though it was time to leave the house. Finally, he put on his sweatshirt to leave but just had to slide one more time. Except this time the grippy logo on the front of his sweatshirt took hold on the hardwood and planted his face smack on the hardwood. When he came up, blood was everywhere, his tooth almost went through his lip and his front tooth had a big chip out of it. The dentist was able to fill it but warned that it would not last forever.
Today, miles from a dentist, in a different county, on a boat, it decided to fall out. He played it off like no big deal, but he was embarrassed. We decided to wait until we got home to get it fixed but Skylar is resourceful. He found the chunk and was able to put it back in until he had to eat then took it back out. That lasted for quite a few days until he lost the chunk!
After some exploring time, Skylar “Hillbilly” Heyer and I took a run in the dingy to Gorge Harbor to fuel up and get some much-needed groceries. It was a fun run, then we all took a sunset cruise and fishing expedition. Skylar of course hooked into a nice Lingcod. Must have been the tooth.
Wednesday August 15th – We left Walsh Cove and headed back to Prideaux Haven for a few nights in the warm water. After getting all 3 boats anchored, rafted and shore tied, we all ran to Refuge Cove for some lunch, groceries and dinghy fuel.
On our return we witnessed a guy on a sailboat who admittedly said he didn’t really know what he was doing, catch about a 25lb salmon. Landing a big fish from the back of a sailboat is a serious challenge so the Steels helped them out from their dinghy. We all cheered as the fish rested securely in the net and onboard the sailboat. It was fun to see the proud fishermen so surprised and excited.
With that, we all had a renewed ambition to get out there ourselves and catch some fish! It was a race! Get back to the boat, gear up the dinghy and catch ourselves a fish. Back on the fishing grounds, wham, Bruce catches a fish right away. Then Skylar and I get one on but loose it. Then another one and loose it too! We kept on it then Skylar landed a nice fish! After all 3 boats brought in fish we headed back with our prize.
That evening was warm and calm as we cruised the bay in the dinghy while the sun set. The next day we were back out on the fishing grounds and luckily the fish were still there. Wham! More fish that day and the next! It was super fun except we had to organize both of our freezers just perfect to get all the fish to fit.
Todd and Tami had to leave the group and head south for some obligations at home, so we motored just a few hundred yards away and anchored in a tight little cove. The anchor didn’t seem to set good, so I pulled it up and tried again. The 2nd time was better, but I still didn’t feel 100% comfortable. Against my better judgement I let it be, justifying my inaction by calm weather but that uneasy feeling didn’t go away. High tide, about 10pm, just as it was getting really dark, we felt and heard a loud boom. It was really startling! It seemed like something ran into the boat or we hit rocks. After a quick assessment of the situation with a flashlight and checking for intrusion of water, it looked like all was good.
All I can think of was the anchor abruptly slipped off a rock during the high tide. Definitely scared us but we seemed to be holding position. I evaluated our options and decided it was safer to stay put rather than try and re-anchor in the dark. Not a restful night’s sleep.
Tuesday August 14th – Time to head south. Leaving Dent, we have to wait for slack water until 12:30. Skylar heard from one of the care takers kids that there was spot that you can fish for Lingcod off the shore. So, Zach and Skylar set out through the trail to go find the magic spot. They returned a couple hours later with 1 nice fish. Skylar said it was tough getting the fish to shore without it diving in the rocks then when he got it there, he wasn’t prepared. They had no way to kill it. They wanted a painless death so using a Leatherman knife they “stabbed it in the brain, killing it instantly then cut the gills to bleed it out” (their words). Zach said it looked like “a crime scene.”
Saying farewell to Dent Island, we traveled south though Yuculta Rapids headed for Walsh Cove. Along the way whales pop up and we all stop our boats to watch them slowly slip by us. An awesome sight.
Anchored in Walsh Cove we all prep the tenders for some salmon fishing in the channel. After a couple hours all we had on the line are those squirrely Dog Fish. But it sure was a nice calm relaxing evening.