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Photo: Sailing the Inside Passage of BC

_Excerpt from 'Sailing to Alaska' blog_

Aug 22-23: Today we witnessed a large concentration of Humpback whales in Wright Sound. It was quiet and the water was still and they were all over the place in this large expanse of water as the sun was setting. We switched the engine off and coasted quietly watching them blowing air loudly echoing all around and hitting the water hard with their fins making it sound like thunder. Humpback whales come here in the summer to feed on the abundant fish in the area before they migrate to Hawaii where they mate and give birth in the winter.

Our next stop was the Native Indian village of Hartley Bay. Here we encountered very heavy rains making life on the boat pretty miserable since there are a few leaks. We make the most of it in the rain by exploring the small village which interestingly has no sidewalks or roads but only boardwalks that continue off the dock all around town. I think it's because it rains here so much. We then visit a First Nation's lady's house that is known to bake bread for sale and buy two loafs. Gale force winds force us to spend an extra night here.

Aug 24-25: In heavy rain we make our way through Verney Passage to Bishop Bay. This time around instead of beautiful mountain vistas in sunshine we are however treated to a show of waterfalls. In the rainy, misty and gloomy weather waterfalls spring out of every corner of the hills that we pass. Even without the sun the mountains with peaks shrouded in fog and trickles of water cascading over their entire faces made for an impressive site.

In the very deep Bishop Bay where I had troubles anchoring last time. Due to no dock space, I'm forced to again anchor not so securely in the steeply sloping bottom. At 4 am in the morning Karolina and I are awakened by a violent jolt and sounds of the hull scraping. I dart out of bed ready to pull on the anchor thinking we hit rocks on shore, but realize a giant log (or rather full size delimbed tree complete with roots) has hung up on the anchor rope and is being pushed hard against the length of the boat by a strong current in the bay.

Excited from being so rudely awakened in the pitch dark and cold rain, Karolina helps me push the tree off the boat as I slacken up the anchor line. The heavy rains washed lots of logs into the bay and later that night a couple more bumped the boat, making for a sleepless night. The next day, I realize my anchor is fouled, either from the tree pulling on it, or from me creating too much slack. I spend 20 minutes trying to free the anchor, really hoping not to have to cut it, as my spare is only half as good. But the anchor finally gives, and I pull the rope up with frayed parts and rust stains on the line.

To relax we enjoy the hot springs in the bay where the water is nice and hot without the sulphur smell. We later meet Marty and Mae, a sailing couple from Prince Rupert. They invite us over for wine and we talk about spots to visit while Mae teaches me some fine skills for salmon fishing and is nice enough to give me some of her fishing lures to assure success.

Marty and Mae are big opponents of the discussed tanker traffic that will ship crude oil extracted in the Alberta oil sands from Kitimat and through parts of this beautiful Inside Passage. Marty with his "No Tankers" sign pasted all over his sailboat believes that with one tanker a week coming in and out, year round even in stormy weather in these narrow passages is too high of a risk for an oil spill. Considering how serious the weather can get here in the winters, including the highest wind speeds recorded in all of Canada, at a 120 knots (over 200 km/h), at the tip of the Haida Gwaii, I think the chance for a spill is definitely there.

Message to Canadians: This is a place of immense natural beauty on earth.

http://www.davidsuzuki.org/issues/oceans/projects/healthy-oceans/pacific-ocean-stories/sailing-the-inside-passage-of-bc/

By Dominik Domanski

Warsaw, Poland | Victoria BC

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1 Comment

Aug 08, 2013
5:53 PM

I made my first cruise to Glacier bay in 1966, and absolutely loved the beauty of Alaska. I was a young man than, but I would love to make the same trip one more time. It was a wonderful experience.

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