Voyage Alaska 2005

Follow Peter's journals as he sails the Pacific NW.

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September 26, 2005

August 29, 2005 Walker Island Cove to Port Hardy Day 182

It was an easy hop from Walker Island Cove to Port Hardy this morning. We took advantage of a sunny afternoon and gutted the boat, cleaning and making space for Jakob. I went into town and bought a large sledgehammer and splitting maul to break down the larger pieces of firewood on the boat. I must've been a sight with that sledgehammer and big beard. All traffic stopped 30 feet away from me and I received a few frightened stares from shop owners behind plate-glass windows. Ahh, my immersion back into civilization! Port Hardy, is the first city connected to a road system since Whittier! Being in Port Hardy is a lot like being in 1983. Every store seems to be locked into this time frame. Justin and I enjoyed dinner in one such establishment, when in the door walked Jakob! We drank a few rounds and toasted to a safe transit of the wild west side of Vancouver Island.

August 28, 2005 Philip Inlet to Walker Island Cove Day 181

Vic and I rousted the crews early this morning after receiving a favorable forecast for the ocean crossing around Cape Caution. At the narrow entrance of Philip Inlet a mammoth humpback whale surfaced right behind the boat. As my friend Reeb says " remarkable and yet an everyday occurance, a wonderful combination". Once out in the strait we saw a giant white fin plying the surface. Further investigation revealed that it was a humongous skate, with a "wingspan" of perhaps 6 feet! I took these to be good omens for our crossing. Up ahead, Vic radioed back to us that conditions were looking very good. Indeed, it was a smooth crossing, and my sixth time around Cape Caution. Vancouver Island loomed up on the horizon. Vancouver Island, which can be seen from Bellingham too!! I have been at sea for a full 6 months now, and here was home turf comming into view. In Walker Island Cove Justin and I made an attempt at fishing. Justin caught a rockfisk, and soon it began to pour rain again. It is a warm rain--we are really starting to feel the heat of the southern latitudes again. Back aboard we almost roasted ourselves out of the boat with a fire, and Justin cooked a large batch of tortes. Neither of us really knows what a torte is, but we figure it is something like what we're eating. It is the last night of just Justin and I aboard "Silent Partner". Tomorrrow in Port Hardy we pick up a third crewmember, Jakob.

September 24, 2005

August 27, 2005 Pruth Bay to Philip Inlet Day 180

A fierce easterly wind funneled into the bay last night. I was awake for the greater part of the darkest hours, monitoring our position in the harbor. It was spitting rain in the grey morning, and it came down on the deck in thundering waves. The crab trap produced many more fine specimens of large Dungeness crab. I threw them all back, however. Justin and I have eaten our fill of crab (never thought I'd ever say that!) for now. Plus, we're still revelling in the glory of last nights "triple crown" meal. Justin and I turned the last of the halibut into an incredibly gourmet dip. Restaurant quality for sure. We're very proud of consuming the whole fish and of catching so many crab and other fish with its entrails. Toward afternoon we became restless and decided to make a run down Fitz Hugh Sound to an inlet, that would get us closer to our big crossing jump-off point into Southern B.C. I have never experienced such a rain! Squall after squall rolled up the sound. Visibility was reduced to near zero, and the whole surface of the sea began "smoking". It was a true flash flood, and every brook and stream exploded from the mountainsides in violent torrents of brown water, tearing through the trees. The tide remained permanetly high all day! Winds and seas rose sharply until we heard light-house reports of 35 knots with 45 knots expected. Fitz Hugh Sound became a windswept seascape of smothering foam and vertical chop, and waves started breaking over our bows. We sought the immediate shelter of Philip Inlet, which was calm and complete. What an incredible feeling it is to come into a safe harbor in a storm! There was scarely a ripple to be seen as we watched the clouds scuttle across the sky at incredible speeds above the mountaintops. We hunkered down and built a hot fire in the stove to dry the boat out. In the evening we were pleased to see Vic and Matt pull into the anchorage, too. Vic recommended this place in a storm. Thanks Vic! We pulled our anchor and rafted "Silent Partner" to "Galaxy" for the night. We all sat on Galaxy's deck and enjoyed a bottle of port while watching an Osprey hunt for fish. Justin baked a remarkable batch of tortes in the dutch oven. It was a most excellent evening of good company, good food, drink, and being safe and comfortable in a calm anchorage.

September 23, 2005

August 26, 2005 Spider Anchorage to Pruth Bay Day 179

In the early morning we departed our fruitful kingdom by the sea. I hauled the trap which was stuffed with another load of Dungeness and Red Rock crabs, and kept two. We're really making our way south now. I entered back into "home waters" when we steamed across the Hakai Passage. However, after we pick up Jakob in Port Hardy we'll swing back up around Cape Scott at the northern tip of Vancouver Island and head down the west side. We dropped anchor in Pruth Bay and hiked a short trail overland to a white sand beach on the west side of the island. The scene before us was almost tropical and intoxicating. Nothing quite smells like a sand beach in the sunshine, with the surf pounding and gulls wheeling through the air. The pink beach cliffs and rounded rocks, set in the sand had a Fred Flinstone quality about them. It was as if a confusion of times and geographical locations had collided on this one stretch of beach. We picked our way along, squinting into the glare of the sun on such a vast area of white sand. Far off into the distance we saw two figures near the surf line gesturing to us. Then a faint "Pete! Pete!" At first I became alarmed that something had happened to the boat at anchor and that someone had come to find me. But we soon realized it was our friends Vic and Matt, from Baranoff! It was an uncanny reunion, on that beach in the middle of nowhere. Matt is hitching a ride south with Vic--the two of them bumped into each other in Petersburg. In the evening, the four of us put together the most remarkable dinner, which I call the "triple crown". Just before rowing over to Vic's boat "Galaxy" we pulled up many more large crab from the trap. Vic prepared a king salmon to perfection, and we baked the last of my halibut. And so, we ate fresh king salmon, halibut, crab, rice and salad for dinner, washed down with a bottle of beer! We eat well out here. A sharp rain and SE wind picked up throughout the evening, and the forecast is a grim one. Vic and I are both pleased to stall our southbound navigation for another day. We stayed up late playing guitar and singing. Vic knows some great songs of the sea. It has been yet another unexpected and wonderful day of the voyage.

September 22, 2005

August 25, 2005 Stryker Island to Spider Anchorage Day 178

I challenged my navigational skills in transiting the length of the Queen's Sound area today. In the afternoon we anchored in the Spider Islands complex. Justin and I stuffed ourselves with poached and fried halibut for lunch, and then launched a major fishing expedition in Modulus. We prepared lures, bait buckets, and the crab trap and set out to catch fish. And catch fish we did!! Within 5 minutes Justin reeled in a kelp greenling. I threw out a chunk of halibut guts on a hook with a squid, and in ten minutes I was shouting for Justin to get my shirt and stuff it against my abdomen. The pole began to dig in and I knew I had a big one! An unbelievably huge ling cod surfaced, with a large rockfish in his mouth too! The ling cod was in the act of swallowing the rockfish (a meal in itself) whole! My line snapped in the retrieval however. It was "the big one that got away". I would have been heartbroken except that we still have some halibut meat. This ling cod was just as big as the halibut and would have been too much meat to handle! Still, I felt bad about putting it through the misery of being caught and not killed and eaten. I tried to catch it again and instead immediately pulled up a medium sized rock cod. Justin and I threw up our arms and agreed that it was ridiculous to go on fishing. Every cast would bring one in! On our way back we pulled the crab trap, which was teeming with crab! Today is a turning point for us as fishermen. We are currently living off of the sea, and now have the confidence that we could procure enough meat each day to survive indefinately. We have reached a point where we can tell all the species of crab and fish apart, know a bit about where to find them and which times and places are best to fish, and what species we are likely to find in each locale. We clean and cook our catch, fresh from the sea, and are learning tons about the lifestyles and habits of the creatures we eat. It all brings on a great deal of respect for this amazing place, as well as a deep interest in the continuing health of this ecosystem. Tonight we ate halibut, greenling, tiger rockfish, and crab for dinner! Bon Appetit!!

September 21, 2005

August 24, 2005 Shearwater to Stryker Island Nook Day 177

We went out with the tide from Shearwater, and dropped down through a series of narrow passageways into the incredible Queen's Sound. We are in an area with thousands upon thousands of tiny rocky islands that form a giant maze and border the sea. We anchored early in the afternoon in a snug cove. For lunch: halibut cheeks fried in garlic butter, and halibut curry with rice and mango chutney. It was so delicious that we both began laughing uncontrollably. The remainder of the day was spent in a state of sublime relaxation. I did a little reading, puttered around on the boat, went beachcombing, and listened to music. Despite the seriousness of the voyage, we still live an extremely relaxing lifestyle. Days like this have a euphoric quality about them. In the evening a thick blanket of fog descended upon us, and we stood quietly in the cockpit listening to the sounds of dripping water and a gurgling noise that issued from a nearby cliff, as the tide dropped and water drained from a crevice deep within.

September 20, 2005

August 23, 2005 Klemtu to Shearwater Day 176

I woke up several hours before sunrise in order to get us running for Shearwater ASAP. Before my eyes opened, I thought "Halibut" to myself and sprang out into the cockpit. The monster lay quietly in the cockpit, taking up all of my foot room. It glistened in the moonlight and looked like it would come back to life thrashing at any moment. We had a smooth ride all the way to Shearwater. It was quite a relief to get the halibut filleted and on ice! We took advantage of town life on a sunny afternoon and took showers, did our laundry, and cleaned up the boat a bit. In the evening I cooked fresh fish and chips aboard Silent Partner. They were bar none the best fish and chips we'd ever tasted! After we had semi-recovered from the massive amount of fish we'd just eaten ( and only made a small dent in our entire stock) we walked up to the bar at the end of the dock. They were the worst margaritas we'd ever had. We raised our glasses in a toast "the worst margaritas ever for the best halibut ever!" We downed our drinks in merriment and went to sleep happy, well-fed, and showered. We each have a full wardrobe of fresh laundry and an ice-chest full of delicious meat. The best things in life are unexpected! It is amazing how one fish has changed the course of the trip entirely.

September 19, 2005

August 22, 2005 Langley Passage to Klemtu Day 175

In the morning I pored over my charts, tables, and indexes and estimated the time of low water slack for our infamous narrows. We idled up to it and held off for a half hour, and waited for the waters to become absolutely still. Justin cast out a fishing line as we slipped through and immediately caught a rockfish! This time we had a much more pleasant experience in the narrows. The fish went straight to the frying pan and we ate it as we headed out into the main channel. I was very content as I dined on that fine tasting fish and watched the depths drop off to 650 feet and more. Later in the evening after a long day of motoring against a strong spring tide we tried our luck again with fishing. We went up to an underwater pinnacle that goes from 950 feet deep to 8 feet deep within 50 yards. I rigged up the halibut pole with several pounds of lead weight, and put the head of the rockfish on a giant hook, and threw the setup down to the bottom 200 feet below. Five minutes later I felt a powerful tugging. "Justin" I said. "Justin! Justin!" I began to reel frantically and the pole dug into my stomach. Justin sprang down below and grabbed my sweater. I balled it up and used it as a cushion for my abdomen. Sweat began to flow and I used all of my strength to reel in. Justin tore through the boat, throwing things about while looking for the nets and gaff hook. It was pandemonium. Out of the corner of my eye the giant halibut floated to the surface!! I don't remember doing it, but somehow I managed to spear the halibut with the gaff hook and flip it into the cockpit. It then started thrashing violently and so powerfully--like a pair of kicking human legs. The halibut thundered against the sides of the cockpit, slamming the fiberglass, knocking everything into a confused heap and showering the entire boat in a spray of fish slime and blood! We began to scream like a couple of schoolgirls (we had a good laugh about that one later). Justin recalls a moment in time where all three of us--himself, myself and the halibut--were all flying through the air in the cockpit. With great effort we eventually pinned it down, avoiding the sharp hooks that were whipping around. It was so powerful that it took both of us to hold it to the floor. We sat there for a moment, sweating and deciding upon what to do. Axe? No. Too dangerous with the sharp blade. I grabbed the nearest metal winch handle and struck the fish hard blows. Even after it died it continued to thrash occasionally, threatening to flop out of the cockpit and injure the helmsman. We used metal wires to lash the halibut to the cockpit. After all had settled down we surveyed the wreckage of the cockpit. Charts, cruising guide, dodger,lines--everything was drenched in a shower of slime and blood. The fishing poles lay in a tangled heap amongst a pile of dishes and sailing gear that had been knocked over in the thrashing. And most of all, the giant halibut lay sprawled in the bottom of it all, dominating the whole cockpit. The fish's lips alone were larger than our own! For the next hour we cleaned the boat and cleared away the wreckage. "This changes everything, Pete," said Justin. Indeed. We needed to formulate a plan in which to get to the nearest town so we could get the fish on ice. We now had an incredible amount of meat, and must not let any of it go to waste. We were way out in the middle of nowhere. Almost as if it were meant to be, the boat had drifted right back onto course by the time we were able to get up and running again. I looked at a chart and found Klemtu, a small village, to be the nearest "civilization". We ran all through the night carrying "all canvas and steam" and made haste for Klemtu. On the long run there we encountered fog, rain, and darkness. But none of that mattered. I was so thrilled and grateful for catching the huge fish that my only thoughts were of preparing it and getting ice. We finally reached Klemtu in the middle of the night, and tied up to a public dock. Our neighbors were a begrudging fisherman and a drink skipper of a large powerboat. He was half-naked and messing around with the fuse box on the dock. His wife was yelling at him from somewhere inside the boat as the lights on the dock flickered on and off. Nobody in town--not even the cannery or a large coast guard ship--had any ice whatsoever! We would have to make another 30 mile run to the village of Shearwater in the morning. I constructed a crude fortress of buckets and boat cushions around the halibut to keep the birds off it, and fell into an exhausted sleep.

September 17, 2005

August 21, 2005 Geodetic Cove to Langley Passage Day 174

It was an eerie and restless night. Early on, massive swarms of fierce biting gnats descended upon the boat and gathered in clouds under the dodger. We were forced to seal up the hatches. Several times in the night I had to adjust the anchor rode length. The cove is narrow and the tides extreme, and we had little swinging room. In the morning Justin remarked that there was something different about the day. Indeed, it was a strange one! In our crab trap we found a rock sole (too small to eat) and the most incredible crab ever! It was a rainbow of purple, red, and orange spikes, covered in barnacles, and the size of a football. It was too beautiful to eat, and we released it. We never know what we're going to pull up from the bottom. I always eagerly peer over the side of the boat as the trap comes into view to get the first glimpse of the strange creatures inside. We didn't have to travel far today, but it was a most unnerving and hazardous day of navigation. Making our way around the uncharted Estevan complex, we entered Langley Narrows. The chart was a black and white hand-drawn sketch from WWII. I reduced speed to bare minimum and glanced nervously from the sketch to the shore many times as we picked our way along. Suddenly the current became very strong and we were pulled at a high speed into the narrows! The water was clear and ony 10 feet deep or so, with many rocks, reefs, and ledges waiting to puncture a boat hull. The treacherous waters ahead turned into an unexpected full-blown rapids, and we were whisked along at a heart-stopping 7 knots through a notch that was no wider than two boat lengths!! A side channel entered in, catching our stern and whipping it around and into a backeddy like the boat was nothing more than a matchstick. All around, the whitewater roared, and suddenly we were going through the narrows backwards! I shouted one loud and well-pronounced swear word and went into "combat mode". The next 30 seconds of my life were spent entirely on studying the swirling waters, applying quick manoeuvres with throttle and tiller (in reverse!!), and appealing to a higher power. And then, as soon as it came, the the waters panned out and we were left bobbing in peace and disbelief. I felt like a fool, relieved, and extremely lucky! We plucked our way through the intricate channel of the inner chamber for several miles, winding through a maze and clutter of islands. This was true exploration! After dropping anchor in a sunny and calm basin we poured ourselves two tots of rum and relaxed. In the afternoon Justin and I explored the blank areas of the sketch with Modulus. We slipped through a narrow notch in one corner of our anchorage. The tide carried us along and into another chamber with several forested "hallways" and more chambers at the end of each. It was a neverending maze! At each junction, we carefully studied the trees and rocks around it so that we could find our way back. I was in my element. Eventually we came across a bay with some buildings and boats in a corner, reportedly an abalone farm. We stepped out onto the rickety docks and called out for the owners. Dan and Danielle Pollock greeted us, and allowed us to explore the property. The place was built during WWII as a loran station. It has been long out of service and much of it lay in disrepair and ruin. We walked along a massive wooden road that led deep into the heart of the island. The scene was a strange one--stunted bonzai trees, muskeg, and small lakes everywhere. Water filtered up through neon-colored mosses and soaked my shoes when I stepped off the planking. The road led up a small mountain and became increasingly rickety. We tested the boards before commiting our weight to them. At the top we came across the old heliocopter pad! A dozen barrels of jet fuel still lay tipped over in the bushes beside the pad. A soft breeze blew across the concrete, and we surveyed the vast, lonely expanse of islands and water all around us. Even on this sunny warm day, Justin and I felt a sense of desolation about the area. Several antennae bristled atop a nearby mountain peak. They were used during the cold war as a first-defense anti-ballistic missle unit. In the mud beside us, I found the largest canine track I'd ever seen. Back at the docks we talked with Dan and Danielle. They said the tracks belonged to a huge black wolf that makes a circuit by there every full moon, and that there were about 60 wolves on the island. They pointed out ancient petroglyphs on the rocks, told us how to get up to the antennaes, and taught us many ways of collecting seafood. "I'll be writing in my journal about how you guys are the first boat to come through the narrows backwards and throw away a box crab!" said Danielle, and we all laughed. They were such nice people and interesting people. Upon our leaving, Danielle gifted us with a bottle of salal syrup which she had made on the island, and then we let the tide caay us back through the islands to our boat.

September 16, 2005

August 20, 2005 Ramsay Passage to Geoetic Cove Day 173

Today goes down in "Silent Partner" history as one of her finest sails. It was A+, world-class sailing! We awoke, tapped the barometer, and listened to the 0400 forecast over the radio. Winds S, to 30 knots, then weakening. Our course was E by NE. Under a full moon and still at anchor, we hoisted the main and secured a reef. On our way out of the cove we picked up our crab trap, which revealed two fine specimens! Perfect for dinner. Justin put them into a bucket and they began fighting each other, but soon mellowed out. It proved to be a clear morning. "Silent Partner" rose to the swell and punched through the waves like a champion! The wind freshened and it blew a sweet and a pleasant gale. With a bone in her teeth, "Silent Partner" tore through the water leaving a twin-tailed wake of hissing foam. My god, but it was excellent sailing the whole way! Sea-spray curled over the deck and blew off to leeward over the bows, one of my favorite things to watch. Occasionally a wave thumped the hull, and thick globules of Hecate Strait waters slapped the deck and my back. At the turn of the tide the seas steeped and began to break, with an ugly 6 foot chop on top of the swell. But we reefed down even more and flew right along at 7.5 knots and greater. In all, our crossing to the mainland was one continuous 70 mile tack. I am so proud of the way "Silent Partner" handled in those seas. We made landfall in the uncharted Estevan Islands complex, and encountered steep tide rips where the Inside Passage pours into the sea. The full moon makes for strong tides! We passed by a pod of real killer whales this time--about 6 ot them--and one large gray whale. Justin killed and cooked the crabs for dinner, and here we sit in Geodetic Cove. A family of river otters plays by a small waterfall and we're ready for another peaceful night at anchor. Amen.

September 15, 2005

August 19, 2005 Layover day: Ramsey Passage Cove

With rain on the deck and pressure systems on the move, we decided to lay in today and linger one more day in Haida Gwaii. We are perched at the edge of Hecate Strait, preparing for the crossing back to the BC mainland coast. Justin and I had a "day of silence" in which we don't speak to each other for the whole day. It is our way of giving each other personal space every now and then, and works quite well. He's just wrapping up another long love letter to his girlfriend Christina with a flourish. In the morning mist Modulus and I went for the most incredible row among the tide pools. Crystal water revealed a scene equally as colorful and varied as any I've seen in the tropics! I discovered many new life forms that I didn't know even existed, both plant and animal. Bright blue and purple starfish, billions of sea urchins, kelp forests, and pink corals slathered every rock, pool, and ledge. I was followed around by a large school of perch, and an occasional kelp greenling poked his head out from under the rocks 30 feet below. I snuck up on a mink and an oystercatcher that was whacking apart a sea urchin. There were sea cucumbers and all kinds of crabs. The kelp rocked back and forth in the gentle surge. I rested my hands on the gunnels and took it all in as I drifted along in the current. Like an old friend, Modulus is always there during these extra-special moments of the voyage. The water was so flat I may as well have been snorkeling. When the tide came up enough I passed over a shallow sandbar and back to the boat, where Justin was cooking johnny cakes for breakfast. In the afternoon I went for an "extreme row" in Modulus to Hot Springs Island. Wind and current were both against me on the long, hard row and waves continually splashed into the boat, soaking me. I took pleasure in the workout and on the way discovered a thundering and gushing blowhole! As I was paddling around a rocky cliff I felt the whole face of it shake each time the swell came up on the rocks. Water was forced through an underground fissure and shot up in a violent plume! I hopped out onto the cliffs for a closer investigation, so that I might become showered in the mist and hear it at its loudest booming. Today I had Hot Springs Island all to myself. I soaked for several hours and watched the ravens fly close overhead. Justin had pointed out the other day how they cant their tails to shift direction of flight. They continually hovered overhead, cocking their tails and eyeing me in the pools below. Both my boats were safe in harbor--Silent Partner tied snug to a mooring buoy with Justin aboard and Modulus hauled high on the beach and tied to an alder tree. I was able to enjoy my soak to its fullest. On my row back it began to pour a warm rain, and I had my second "soak". We are running out of fresh water on the boat. The mountains of Haida Gwaii are relatively lower and water on the islands is scant. I rigged up a raincatcher on the bow with one of those tinfoil space blankets and a few clothespins. It did quite well and the water is soft and sweet. We got a fire going inside to keep everything dry in the cabin, and boiled a pot of pasta and several cups of tea over the firebox.

August 18, 2005 Sac Bay to Ramsay Passage Cove Day 171

Where is August going? The days snap by. As we left Sac Bay fingers of fog and cloud curled over the mountain tops. Further out into the channel we saw a massive wall of cloud quickly advancing toward us! As the wind struck the peaks, lenticular clouds formed over them, mimicking the silhoutte of the ridge. There was a doomsday quality about the whole scene, like a giant curtain dropping. A dozen dolphins swam by off the starboard bow as the mohawked Justin handed me a plate of eggs and toast. Ahh, life is good. An hour later we anchored off of Hot Springs Island and rowed to shore for a soak. Justin and I found G.I. Joe figures washed up on the beach, a major find! Needless to say, the island is complete paradise. Several large hot pools overlooked the sea. I jumped into the ocean and didn't even shiver. Apparently the water here is warmer than ever recorded this year. We relaxed in a particularly nice pool for hours. I would say that we soaked the stress of our daily lives away, but there was none to be had. Later we picked up a mooring buoy in a cove a mile away and took long afternoon naps in the sun. The rest of the day melted away into relaxation, cooking, dinner, reading, and writing.

September 14, 2005

August 17, 2005 Bag Harbour to Sac Bay Day 170

I was exhilirated when I opened my eyes this morning to blue windows and hot sunshine pouring into the boat. Winds were light and we made a safe passage around the outside of Burnaby Island while the weather was good. I decided not to take the shortcut of Dolomite Narrows. There is no reason to put the boat into a potentially hazardous situation. Justin has become very good about understanding my conservative decisions regarding navigation. Our common goal, as we head closer to Washington state, is a safe return. Together we take a certain pride in being prudent (but not overly so). The wind freshened in the afternoon and we had an excellent tack into Sac Bay. Sunshine kept our spirits high, although we acknowledged a high cirrus developing, bringing the promise of rain. At anchor I gave my very first haircut to Justin. He now sports a wonderful, well-defined mohawk. I don't know which of us is pleased with it more! We rowed to shore so that Justin could jump into the river and clean the itchy hair bits off. I bolted up the side of the mountain and searched for a swimming hole in the sun. Running higher and higher up the mountain and into the alpine country I became almost frantic in my quest to find a swimming hole in the sunshine. The long shadows of the jagged mountain peaks were fast making their way up the valley. It became a race against time, and I flew with sweat in my eyes and cedar limbs tearing at my arms and legs. Finally I broke out into the sunshine, and there before me was a thundering waterfall with several plunge pools and basins! I cast off my clothing and stepped in...the plunge pool was much deeper than I thought and the water warm! Very quickly it became one of the best swims of my life. The rocks were covered in short moss, perfect for sitting on. The hydraulic flow of the waterfall washed my hair in two seconds flat and the view of the surreal mountains couldn't be beat. Far below I could see the white speck of "Silent Patner" at anchor and somewhere down there Justin was enjoying his new mohawk. Life is good! I couldn't help but jump back into the pools and under the waterfalls 10 times or so. I followed the cascading waterfalls over the boulders all the way back down to the sea, and came across countless stellar swimming holes. On the way back I made a major botanical discovery--an insect-eating plant that catches bugs with its sticky antennae. I've been looking to find these strange plants for years. It is a shining moment in time.

August 16, 2005 Ikeda Cove to Bag Harbour Day 169

We decided upon sleeping in when we heard rain pattering on the deck in the early morning. It never let up and we eventually set out into the gray Hectate Strait. We were on an excellent tack into Bag Harbour when a small gaff-rig sailboat closed in on us. In it was a man with a large beard and smile. We talked for a bit as our vessels were each making the same speed. I believe that it was the first time I've "had a gam" with another skipper on the open sea. The waters around Dolomite narrows turned a vibrant electric blue neon color, almost scarey! Dolomite narrows apparently has the highest concentration of protein per square meter than anywhere else on earth. It is too shallow to navigate for my liking, so we anchored up and explored it with Modulus. 10 deer greeted us on the lush tidal flats as we made our way through the waters. The bottom was littered with huge barnacles, starfish of all colors, and irridescent seaweeds. At one point we reached in and pulled out a red rock crab. The marine life is so abundant here that you can just stick your arm in the water and pull out your dinner! We found two old cabins that reminded me of the puestos of Chile. And there were all manner of eagles, seals, sandhill cranes, and deer, deer everywhere. And then we saw the killer whales! A pod of 10 or so of them was feeding at the tideline about a mile from where we were drifting. We could see their large dorsal fins arc-ing through the waters. A stillness hung over the whole channel. The only sounds to be heard were the chuffing of the whales, punctuating the air, and the occasional chittering of a bald eagle. "Justin", I said. For lack of a coin, we flipped the spare oarlock. All three times indicted that we should head back to the boat. I promptly swung Modulus around and made a bee-line for the squadron of whales. Suddenly one appeared very close to us, its dorsal cutting a path directly for us! Justin hunkered down and away from the gunnels, until we realized our killer whales were in fact a pod of very large dolphins. We were only momentarily disappointed, for we found ourselves in the center of the pod! They were big as cows and surrounded us on all quadrants. According to the field guide, they were feeding on squid. I rowed faster and the squadron veered toward us. They came to within 10 feet of us, several times leaping completely out of the water. Each one had intricate markings and patterns on its sides. It made for quite another experience seeing the dolphins leaping around us from Modulus! We had to look UP when they jumped! "Ten feet, Pete! Ten feet" shouted Justin. We laughed about the "ten foot" rule that seems to be following us. Grizzly and black bears, countless humpbacks, and even the sperm whale surfacing event were all within ten feet. Ten feet is also a lot smaller when you're dealing with the world's largest mammals and cow-sized dolphins! Our row amongst the dolphins gave us a pure adrenaline rush. What an incredible animal. We rowed home in the drizzle and had a quick fire to dry out the cabin before we went to bed.

August 15, 2005 Cadman Point Cove to Ikeda Cove Day 168

I rose early, hauled anchor, and got the boat underweigh while Justin slept below. I enjoyed the fog-free morning, and we passed the southern tip of Moresby Island with a good tide. We are anchored up in Ikeda Cove. An extensive search for some Japanese tombstones proved fruitless, although it was a stellar exploration. The forest was a cathedral of alder trees, interspersed with huge, silent cedar trees. A thick layer of bright green moss covered the entire forest floor, with an occasional clearing of grass where many deer could be found. The effect it gave was like being in a quiet churchyard. We stalked our way among the green shadows and "hunted" deer with small stones. Justin and I came across many ruins--old barges, boats, rusting wood stoves, tram tracks, and cabin remains. We even found a rotting mass of bamboo, possibly left from those who are buried here! Justin remarked that every anchorage has the same trees, rocks, animals etc, but that every one has a totally different feel to it. I agree. Each place has its own different concentrations of flora and fauna, but it is amazing how much of a contrast there is to each cove on this coast. We spent the evening sorting and consolidating our food supplies, and cleaning the boat. Our food locker has gone from being a "bottomless and mysterious treasure chest" as Christoph put it, to a sober and organized pile with all contents visible.

August 14, 2005 Tcuga Cove and Lagoon to Cadman Point Cove Day 167

The great fog persisted until afternoon, when we suddenly sailed out from under it and a sharp line of blue sky appeared where it ended. Favorable winds and a building swell dictated that we not linger any more on the wild west coast of the Queen Charlottes. We have been lucky! Around noon we anchored in a rocky and windy area and explored the island and village of SGaang Gwaii. SGaang Gwaii was a village inhabited by the Haida people for over 10,000 years! Today there are still several Haida watchmen living there who showed us around the old village site.

August 13, 2005 Kootenay Inlet to Tcuga Cove and Lagoon Day 166

Today was a continuation of what Justin and I are starting to call the "great fog". A weather pattern is firmly established in which there are calm evenings and mornings followed by windy afternoons. The winds are from the northwest and the fog at sea is ever-present, never lifting. We take advantage of the calm mornings and do our west coast transit before the swells and breakers become too violent. The ocean continues to cast up great miracles. The first of which was a plate of crab cakes with fried eggs on top for breakfast! Not a bad way to start the day. Justin and I can safely say that we have had our fill of crab for now. The satellite phone crab cakes worked! Through the billows of fog we made our way back out to the abyss. A sea lion broke the surface with a blaze-orange canary rockfish in its mouth. The rock fish was the size of a basketball and still alive and thrashing! Farther out the swell picked up. Suddenly a whale spouted and surfaced right by the boat! Justin and I found ourselves not but 10 feet away from the largest whale we'd ever seen--a sperm whale! Its blunt head resembled those giant ice breakers on supertankers. The waters all around the boat began to boil, and our shallow water alarm sounded when it read a depth of 4 feet. To be so close to one of the world's largest animals, and see every wrinkle and fold in its skin, was something else. "Silent Partner" was dwarfed by the immensity of the whale. I was so dumbfounded by the sight that the possibility of collision didn't enter my mind until after the event. How lucky we are to be witness to such a spectacular animal. Tcuga Cove is poised at the edge of the sea, and "Silent Partner" rocks gently in the surge. We found piles and piles of fascinating shells all over the beaches, towering old-growth spruce forests, and deer that were unafraid of us. We walked right up to 5 of them and they continued to keep their heads bent to the grass, feeding. We found an ancient wooden shipwreck on the rocks and explored the storm-beaten coast. There was flotsam and jetsam of all sorts washed high up on shore--numerous fenders, trawling buoys, and bottles from China, Japan, and even Brazil. Today the foggy coastline is an extremely lonely place. The roaring crash of surf fills our ears and there isn't a speck of humanity (except for the jetsam) anywhere. It is an extremely remote and uncharted coast! A cove just north of here is said to contain the long-lost village of Saolangai, but today is was hidden in the fog.

September 13, 2005

August 12, 2005 Armentieres Channel to Kootenay Inlet Day 165

The crab trap produced more fantastic specimens this morning. Popeye went on the defense--claws up-- when I stepped out into the cockpit to take my morning pee over the side. Heavy and billowing fog settled onto the entire coast. Within the anchorage giant schools of herring roiled the surface of the water. It was a constant and fantastic show. Justin caught a herring with our buzz bomb. It swam countless circles around the anchor chain and fouled things up pretty well! After much deliberation I decided to run in the fog. The whole west coast of Moresby is uncharted and seldom traveled. We struck a route well out to sea, off the edge of an abyss that quickly dropped to depths of 3,000 feet and greater. With the axe, Justin made quick work of the crabs. Popeye gave Justin a fright and actually gripped the axe and held on tight. We boiled them and had fresh crab for breakfast! I shelled the rest and put the meat into a big pot. All the claws were so large that I had to use the hammer to break the meat out. The fog never lifted on the ocean. It made for an exciting entrance into the uncharted Kootenay Inlet. As we neared land I reduced speed to one knot and a giant rock island came into view, directly in front of us. It was well over 100 feet tall and very large with reefs around it, and I could scarecly believe something that big wouldn't even show up on a chart! Small breaks in the fog revealed a totally rugged, wave-scoured shoreline of unforgiving rock. Once inside the inlet the fog bank ended abruptly and it was a sunny day 1/2 mile in-shore! We proceeded with caution around many uncharted reefs, my heart pounding when the depth sounder alarm went off, indicating shallow water. Justin and I were awed by the view that unfolded before us. On the sunny side we watched as the fog bank broke over the first chain of mountains and spilled down through the trees below. The treetops ripped the fog bank to shreds. It was like seeing a silent Niagara Falls of fog cascading into the inlet, because of the enormous proportions. The fog that damned our navigation that day gave us a moment of incredible beauty and made it all worthwhile right then. Dr. Suess lorax trees cling to the cliff walls of our anchorage. We ate crab claw sandwiches for lunch in the sunshine, and the thick wall of fog remained poised on the edge of the sea all day without letting up. Justin and I explored a river valley. Like all the rest, it was pristine and had trees of dizzying proportions. I cannot emphasize enough how incredible it feels just being in such places as this. Time and space fly out the window and every footstep reveals new treasures. I found a perfect swimming hole in the gravel by the river. I took a warm soak in the sun with trout and sculpins swimming around me. Just as I was getting out the tide rose and began spilling cold saltwater over the lip into the pool. In the evening I called my Mom on the satellite phone to get a recipe for crab cakes. The signal was very broken but I managed to hear about half of the ingredients she listed before the phone cut out. Justin is very good at improvising in the galley, and he served up a large batch of delicious crab cakes! We laughed at our success and enjoy living off the bounty of the sea.

September 12, 2005

August 11 Continued.........

Out of the corner of my eye a large black potential cougar shot like an arrow silently through the forest. Soon we found the tracks of a cat and its scat. And at the river we encountered a bear. Never before had we seen so much bear scat. There were mounds of it literally every 5 feet in all directions out on the grassy tidal flats. And then we came to an abrupt stop on the edge of the beach where we saw the most remarkable thing of all: A giant squid had surfaced from the depths and washed itself onto the beach! We had never seen anything like it before, couldn't have imagined such a foreign life form. It was if we had landed in Modulus on the shores of a different planet in a different time. Within 10 minutes we had encountered a bear, a large cat, and a giant squid! I experienced a moment of infinite expansion and asked myself "What else is possible?" The huge trees of the forest drew us onward. They were trees with all kinds of other species of large trees growing from them from 100 feet up in the canopy. Cedar trees supported their own forests of alder, spruce, ferns, hemlock, and always a thick cloak of moss hanging from every branch. It was a privilege being amongst such a forest, the last of it's kind. Losing myself in thought I stepped unsuspectingly into a pool of quicksand. Justin and I exchanged a glance as if to say " Could this place get any cooler?" as I pulled my legs out of the mud. Suddenly we heard human voices and instinctively dove for cover. Kayakers. They couldn't see us, but then one of them looked right at the bush we were hiding behind. "Is that a deer on the beach? I wish I had my shotgun". The deer was directly below us and we were happy he didn't have a gun! We stalked the kayakers until their boats vanished into the curve of the horizon. Eagles chirruped overhead and the onset of darkness allowed the first thoughts of returning to the mothership. The tide had come out more, exposing a larger area of beaches. And there, the North Pacific Ocean had thrown up more of her wonders of the deep. Justin and I refer to it as the "Giant Squid Beaching Event" and stared unbelievingly at seven of the massive creatures, all in a cluster. Some appeared to have just died and stared at us with empty eyes, while others had been sampled by the eagles and bears. "The bears are eating god-damned calamari for dinner out here" said Justin. "Calamari for dinner" I replied. Every beach was strewn with these giant squid! Deer and vibrant green tree frogs had also come out for the sunset. We pushed away from that amazing shore with a new perspective on life and time. On our way back we hauled the crab trap. The line was heavy and we expected kelp or a 19-armed starfish. Nope-- MOTHERLODE!! The pot was stuffed with Red Rock crab and one enormous Dungeness crab. All male, all well over legal size. They had torn open the bait jars and were stuffing themselves. Justin and I started howling and somewhere in the excitement I lost my sunglasses overboard. We don't know how the big dungeness even fit into the trap! One of the crabs had ridiculously large claws, that were very disproportionate to his body. And he really knew how to use them! He locked onto the trap and then tried to nip off my finger as he drove his other pointy legs into my glove. We nick-named him "Popeye". Popeye began pinching the legs off of the other crabs that got close to him. We put him in "solitary confinement" for the night, another crab's leg in his robust pincher, and the others in an another bucket. As the sun went down a thick fog rolled into the anchorage from the sea. Periodically throughout the night I was woken by the rustling of crab legs as they moved about in the buckets in the cockpit. When I went out to check on them and change the water, a sea bird flew smack into my flashlight beam and landed in the bucket! I quickly turned out the light out, and hoped the bird would escape before popeye got to him.

August 11, 2005 Queen Charlotte City to Armentieres Channel Day 164

The day began with eggs benedict at the local restaurant. It was a good square meal and an omen of the rest of the day's unusually odd and fantastic events! Justin went off and did his last-minute town chores while I combed the docks asking for local advice on timing Skidegate Narrows correctly. Everyone gave me a completely different answer. The coast guard said "If you go on the rocks, just do it after 1600 hours so we can get overtime pay." I topped off our water tanks and hitchhiked to the gas station up the road with two jerry cans. Expensive gas!! 10 gallons for $50.00 Canadian. Ouch! Hitching back was an experience. My car did a U-turn in the road and swerved over to pick me up. Inside was a questionable man that was prepared to take me down the road in the direction he had just come from. "Just throw the cans in the back seat there. You see, if I was an airline pilot I would say "no" because you have dangerous and illegal and flammable cargo, but we're not in an airplane so I don't care". OK, I thought, this will work. On the way he told me of his idea he'd been formulating to hitchhike across Canada with a hinged jerry can, containing his whole camp. "Then everybody'd pick you up, heh, because you look like you're out gas. So I saw you standing there with those cans and couldn't believe it, so I had to pick you up. Then when you get to town you just put the can into a canvas sack and you look normal". At the marina I hopped out and thanked him for the ride, met Justin, and we cast off and bid farewell to Queen Charlotte City. A brisk wind piped up as we entered the infamous narrows. Mile after mile of shallow winding passage, with strong currents and a constantly changing bottom. Large parts of it go completely dry on a 6-foot tide! Today we were lucky and passed without incident. Once through we found ourselves on the wild west side of the Queen Charlotte Islands. The combination of gale-force westerlies, steep chop, and an alternation of thick fog and searing sunshine forced us to seek immediate shelter. Any harbor in a storm. After anchoring and relaxing the tension of our narrows transit away for a few hours, we set the crab trap and rowed to shore. What we found there was an experience like no other. We picked our way along colossal pillars of cedar and spruce in complete silence. The place had a feel about it. Not only were we in an unimaginably vibrant and healthy ecosystem, it also felt like we had gone back in time somehow. Eventually bringing ourselves to speak in whispers we agreed that the feeling was not of our imaginations, but of something instinctual and rooted to a deeper past. I have no idea why it was, but I felt ageless and was brought to the verge of tears of joy.

August 10, 2005 Larsen Harbor to Queen Charlotte City Day 163

Alarm goes off at 4AM. Listen to forecast. Great! The sky was clear, brilliant stars and planets. Yes, no fog!! Wake Justin, reef the mainsail, prepare for the crossing. We had a totally successful crossing in bright sunshine and almost no swell. Justin even caught a bit of sleep on the lee rail. In the late afternoon we arrived at Sandpit with the hopes of obtaining fuel. But the dock was only open from 6PM to 9PM. "Welcome to the Charlottes" said a local when we asked why the hours were so strange. We steamed on another 6 miles to Queen Charlotte City. It turned out to be our favorite city in B.C.! We met many nice people. At Howlers Pub I had the most pleasant bar experience I've ever had. We spent the evening talking with a great group of Canadians and making new friends.

August 9, 2005 Lawson Harbor to Larsen Harbor Day 162

I almost fell off overboard while peeing off the stern in the black of night. I jumpd when a sudden splash and flash of light erupted in the water below me. It was a surprised seal, and I could clearly see it swimming underwater in a brilliant cloud of phosphorescence. We slept in this morning, napping, while listening to the lonely fog horns of the big ships in the channel. It remained completely socked in until noon. It was good to wait for a better tide anyways. The wind came up in the afternoon and gave us high-adrenaline beam seas on our way to Larsen Harbor. Larsen Harbor is an awesome place that we had all to ourselves. It is sea-swept and perched on the edge of the Hecate Strait. Tomorrow we make the jump to the Queen Charlotte Islands, 60 nautical miles away.

August 8, 2005 Prince Rupert to Lawson Harbour Day 161

What a hot, sweltering day to be on land! Ugh. We ran around and did necessary chores until I was drenched in sweat and ready to hit the water again. I rode our shopping cart down a long hill and all the way to the boat, Picking up speed I pulled into the main traffic lane and enjoyed the breeze. Traffic began to yield for me as the cart achieved "terminal velocity". Several kids whose strength I underestimated helped me to lower the cart the final step to the dock, and I unloaded our precious cargo of perishable foods into the cool lockers of the boat before the sun had a chance to get to them. We had a good little sail down Chatham Strait, to Lawson Harbor. A strong outflow wind blew down off the Fraser River delta, making our anchorage a bit windy, but nice and cool.

August 7, 2005 Charlie's Cove to Prince Rupert Day 160

Today marks a major turning point in the voyage. Crossing the international maritime boundry back into upper British Columbia, "Silent Partner" bid farewell to Alaskan waters. She is ready to make her fourth trip down the B.C. coast. Morningtime found us in a thick fog, making it impossible to see even the shoreline of our anchorage 100 feet away. However, we had a long day ahead of us sailing down the middle of Dixon Entrance, and we prepared for sea. One last time we broke the anchor out of Alaskan mud and hauled it aboard and steamed from the foggy archipelago of the Barrier Islands. For several hours visibility was zero. Strange shapes of blurred logs, kelp, birds, and nearby islands loomed past and then vaporized into the thick billows of fog. We proceeded out to sea issuing "securite" broadcasts on the radio and blowing our fog horn every two minutes. Once in the Dixon Entrance the sun began to break through, creating "fogbows" and revealing a cloudless blue sky above. Several humpback whales were far out in the entrance, feeding. The fog finally cleared and afforded us one last look at the magnificent shores of Alaska before it faded into obscurity with haze and increasing distance. I have seen the most amazing natural wonders here in Alaska, far beyond anything I could ever have imagined. Already even my own memories of the place seem legendary to me--some instances have been so spectacular and beyond the description of words that I can scarecly believe what I saw! But all those images are permanently etched in my mind, and I will never forget them. I will return. I had many mixed feelings as we sailed into British Columbia. First and foremost was the exhilration at having safely navigated the coast of Alaska all the way to Homer. I am also beginning to ask myself why am I heading back down to all the madness and pandemonium of Puget Sound? This morning all we could hear were the echoes of chattering eagles, the splash of salmon, and the soft sounds of rushing water from the sea surge. And despite the pure remoteness of the place, we have met so many incredible people with whom we share common bonds with, just because we're there. Everybody has adventures to share. We celebrated our crossing the line with a few cans of Canada Dry ginger ale. I became morose upon leaving incredible Alaska, although I can't complain about the coast of B.C. Dixon Entrance treated us well today. We sailed right down the middle of it, losing all sight of land for several hours. Towering cumulus clouds built up over all the continental landmasses. It was remarkable to see the shapes of the shorelines mimicked by the clouds, but not the land itself. In the evening we caught a perfect tide into Venn Passage. All the mountains of the B.C. mainland coast turned a deep purple in the sunset. I cleared customs by telephone ( a long way to go for a phone call!) and we marched up to the bar and had victory margaritas.

August 6, 2005 Dunbar Inlet to Charlie's Cove Day 159

We finally saw sunbreaks today! In Charlie's Cove, I took my last exploration of Alaskan soil for this trip. We watched a stellar sunset while dining on sockeye salmon. Justin made an attempt at dessert: bananas fried in rum with chocolate and toasted walnuts on top. I thought it was pretty good, but Justin was dissatisfied with the presentation. The meal looked as if a seagull might have visited the plate. Oh well. I have come to really appreciate all of Justin's cooking. He takes great pride in it, is good at experimenting in the galley, and always hands me the nicer plate of food. A true chef, and a true friend. While Justin is growing ecstatic about entering BC tomorrow, I am sad to be leaving Alaska. The "Alaska" chapter of Voyage Alaska 2005 is coming to an end. I will return. This place is in my blood.

August 5, 2005 Craig to Dunbar Inlet Day 158

Justin and I skipped out of town in the rain, happy to be on the road again. We have a lot of British Columbia stretching out below us, and not a lot of time to explore it. Before leaving we took on a load of wood scraps from the dock. Good cedar planings, perfect for kindling! Overall, it was a fairly uneventful day. Lots of motoring in the rain. Kit left us a gift of red snapper which we found in the cockpit. Justin and I stopped the boat in the afternoon when the weather cleared a bit. We took a "siesta" and ate the delicious red snapper in the cockpit. Jakob and Amos gave us halibut and salmon, and once again we have all the fish we can handle. Kit offered us another salmon before we left, too, and I had to regretfully decline. I timed the tides wrong in the Tlevak narrows and we managed to just barely get through, going one knot with the engine full-out.

August 2-4, 2005 Waiting out Storm in Craig Days 155-157

The weather collapsed the following week and we were storm-bound in Craig for several days. Jakob, Amos, Alison, and Davis (whom I fished with last fall) came into town on their day off. It was a great rendez-vous! Fishing has been going well for them, despite a bit more rain than usual and lower prices for the fish. Several days blended into one another, with nights in the bars and days frittered away doing town chores.

August 1, 2005 Nagasay Cove to Craig Day 154

A light westerly breeze produced a fantastic sail across the Gulf of Esquibel this morning. The humpback whales were out in full force, putting on quite a show! It turned into a beautiful sunny day, as is usual when we come into a town. Justin and I secured a berth in the marina, then walked all over town, stretching our legs. In the evening we even went for a run (a long run!) down the road to Klawock and it got very dark out. We tried hitchhiking back to Craig, with no luck! It must be a combination of the darkness, my beard, and our sweaty appearance. Still, we stood under a light and over 40 cars passed us! Finally we gave up in disgust and started running the long dark road back. Thank god we got picked up mid-way back by a man named Kit! We were exhausted after our ambitious run. One of the fishermen let me use the shower on his seiner. "You a water person? Good. Shower's right here, I just got the hot water hooked up today". Later on I was invited to a salmon dinner aboard his boat. I spent the evening with him and his crew, and two fine young ladies who are living aboard another boat adjacent to ours. I am beginning to love this life of the traveller.

September 05, 2005

July 31, 2005 Gedney Harbor to Nagasay Cove Day 153

By 5:10 AM I had seen whales, bears, eagles, and salmon again. As I hauled anchor in the early morning light I watched a massive grizzly strut the beach, pawing at the boulders in search for crab. Out in the straits many humpback whales continued to breach completely out of the water. Viewing such a colossal animal--even from as close as we were--is like watching a slow motion re-play. Sort of like watching waves crash on a beach from an airplane. When the whales hit the water again they made gigantic splashes accompanied by big foaming piles of seething white water. "Storm white" is what my family uses to describe the remarkable color that white objects take on when viewed at sea on an overcast day. This morning the whales leapt as if in slow motion and created billowing storm-white splashes all around. The whole scene was quite surreal. In the afternoon we enjoyed sunshine and had an uneventful yet beautiful passage into the Gulf of Esquibel. The Gulf turned out to be another major whale feeding ground. I was surprised when the giant arched back surfaced directly under our bow. The whale threw its flukes to the side and narrowly missed hitting the boat. Whenever I see a whale this close I am too preoccupied by the unbelievability of it all to think about a collision. But I suppose, on a rare event, one of these giant leviathans could surface under the boat. At 50 feet long they are almost twice as long as "Silent Partner" and weigh who knows how many times as much. We wove our way into the Maurelle Islands archipelago in the Gulf of Esquibel, past kelp-covered reefs, forested inlets, storm-beaten cliffs, and the ever-present humpback whales. Our anchorage is teeming with deer. Everywhere they are grazing on tall green beachgrasses and don't seem to mind us being here at all.

September 03, 2005

July 30, 2005 Gut Bay to Gedney Harbor Day 152

The wildlife that Justin and I witnessed from the decks of "Silent Partner" and Modulus today has forever changed my outlook on the world. I will begin by simply presenting a list of some of the animals we saw today:
--Sitka deer
--100+ humpback whales
--River otters
--Sea otters
--Bald eagles by the hundred
--Salmon by the million
--One dozen grizzly bears
--Kingfishers and hundreds of ther kinds of birds

I got up early in the morning to take in more of our awesome surroundings. Thick swirls and bands of salmon swam tornadoes around Modulus as I rowed through the channel. A few of the thigh-sized fish jumped close enough to splash me, and I was actually surprised that one of them didn't just jump into the boat. When they become airborne they shake their bodies and tails very powerfully. It makes the sound similar to that of a heliocopter, and is heard constantly due to their phenomenal numbers. On shore I watched a tan sitka black-tailed deer feeding at the edge of a clearing. I was surprised to see the deer so close to so many bears! In mid-afternoon we steamed from Gut Bay and out into Chatham Strait. The humpback whales were lunging and breaching completely out of the water in great numbers! For several hours I could see a whale everywhere I looked. Justin cooked a great meal over the wood stove while we were underweigh. Midway through he gashed his finger with a cleaver. We dressed the wound and he insisted that the meal must go on. He maintained the fire, monitored multiple cast-irons, and stirred the soup while trying to control the bleeding as we bounced around in the waves. It was a truly heroic feat! The meal was excellent and Justin promised there was no blood in any of it. I whittled a wooden splint for his finger and signed it as friends will sign a cast. The things we do to amuse ourselves on a sailboat...We enjoyed our meal as we watched the whales lunge-feeding in the strait. Gedney Harbor turned out to be a true adventure. Right away upon entering the bay we saw a grizzly bear on shore. We anchored the boat off of a stream, around which was growing a towering forest as impressive as the one we found in Gut Bay. We could scarcely contain our excitement as we clambered into the Modulus to gain a closer view of the bear. Nearing the beach another grizzly bear materialized from the tall grasses on shore. They were beautiful 600 pound bears with glossy coats and rippling layers of fat. And then the bears just kept on coming. A mother with two cubs emerged from a streambed to the right, then we saw two more on the stream to the left, and several more romping along the far shore. It was a smorgasboard of grizzly bears, and we saw perhaps a dozen on this short outing. Drawn to the skyrocketing and massive trees on shore, we rowed a little ways up a stream. We briefly stepped into the woods. What a fantastic forest! We went no more than 15 feet into the woods when a massive brown bear charged out of the bushes directly in front of our faces. Without thinking I began shouting at the advancing bear. It was followed by a moment of terror as the bear reared back and tore off into the woods in mild agitation. Our legs felt like jello as we clambered back into the dinghy and rowed out into the bay. Going to shore was simply out of the question. As we watched several bears on the beach a large salmon breached right behind us. It gave us quite a scare! We were completely inundated by all the wildlife around us. A beautiful sunset broke through the pink and orange clouds, casting a glow over the families of grizzly bears on shore. Out in the straits leapt the whales, and in the bay leapt the salmon. Bald eagles perched in the tops of all the tallest trees. I have never seen such a remarkable abundance of animals or old-growth lowland timber. It is beyond anything I had ever imagined. "Silent Partner" sits proud and peacefully at anchor, and we feel priviledged to be in such an amazing part of the world.