July 20, 2017: 40 miles up Johnstone Strait

Walt and I awoke at 6 am to a fragrant, rain-freshened world and dressed warmly. Walt had a short phone meeting with a fellow conference paper presenter at 6:30, and by 7:00 we were off, under silver-gray skies, to the Campbell River fuel dock. We then began motoring toward Seymour Narrows in Discovery Passage so as to arrive there at about 8:30 when the current was favorable and not too formidable. We transited the Narrows without difficulty; there were small whirls and ripples sufficient to keep Walt occupied at the helm, but nothing about which to be concerned. Because the current was flowing our way and there were light and variable headwinds, we kept motoring, mile after mile, up Discovery Passage and then Johnstone Strait, notorious for confronting boaters with challenging conditions, but docile today. The sun won its struggle with huge cumulus clouds by about 11:30, and we enjoyed the journey of somewhat over 40 miles to Port Neville, a long, quiet inlet that burrows into the BC coast, crossing waters at times gently breeze-ruffled and at other times quite swirlingly turbulent as currents played tag between the shores above which high, densely-forested hills gazed silently down upon us and tried with breezy hands to brush away clinging mists left by the recent rain. We did encounter one disturbing difficulty: our sewage pump refused to drain our nearly-full 30-gallon holding tank. While I was at the helm, Walt managed to remove a small blockage from the pump and render it functional again–EEEW and WHEW!!

At one point in the afternoon we were pleased to discover in our vicinity, via our vessel-tracking system, the 49-ft. ketch (a sailboat with two masts), Persistence, whose skipper, John, had assisted us in Campbell River, with both the extracting of Walt from the anchor locker and with the installation of the new windlass! John hailed us, asked if we had the windlass problem sorted out, inquired about our anchoring plans for the night, suggested a particularly pleasant spot for “dropping hook” in Port Neville, and told us where his boat and crew planned to be over the next day or two. We formed a convoy of two ships for a good distance up Johnstone Strait with Persistence gradually pulling away from us (being a larger vessel traveling at a higher speed) before we turned off to visit Port Neville.

We found that, once inside the inlet and past the small wharf and now-closed store near the entrance, we found that we had the harbor, bounded by brawny green hills, granite chunks, and a number of lovely little beaches, some of sand and gravel with driftwood borders, some of white shells, and others fringed by patches of emerald grass, to ourselves. We chose a lovely spot in the shelter of a rock outcropping called “Robbers’ Knob” in which to drop anchor at about 2:30, and were happy that the new windlass performed splendidly, letting down the anchor and chain both more quickly and less noisily than the defunct one. When all was secure, Walt and I took long naps, he in the aft cabin and I in one of my favorite spots in the cockpit from which I could glimpse a sprinkling of snow on one of the soaring peaks far inland beyond the hills. Our anchorage was nearly soundless–only the whispery liquid sounds of water caressing Braesail’s hull and an occasional bird call rippled the surface of the surrounding sea of silence–quite magical!

As evening approached, we found that we had sufficient connectivity to allow us to catch up on some email, and after sharing a toothsome pork chop dinner, cleaning up the galley and cabin, and doing some research using our nautical charts, cruising guides, and tide, current, and weather information, Walt developed a rough “float plan” for the next week. I examined, discussed, and approved of his choices of possible destinations in the Broughton Islands and then began to write this blot post. Soon, however, having risen unusually early, we decided to go to bed early too.