The Haida Gwaii orientation webinar started very late on Thursday morning (April 28) because of technical difficulties on the part of the presenters, but it was generally well-done and very informative for those, like us, who plan to visit the islands. In order to navigate the Skookumchuk Rapids at slack tide, we raised our anchor at 12:30 pm and motored north in Sechelt Inlet on a relatively mild, partly sunny, mostly dry, nearly windless morning. We reached the rapids when the water was only slightly ruffled, but the currents swayed Braesail about a bit more than they had when we’d passed through them on Monday morning.
We’d planned to “drop hook” (anchor) in Ballet Bay on Nelson Island after threading our way carefully through very narrow Telescope Passage, in which the rocky, tree-lined shore is VERY close to a boat’s hull as one navigates through the channel, while the depths immediately off the shores along the way are very great. We anchored safely in this bay many years ago, but in a much smaller sailboat, and this time we weren’t able to find a secure spot large enough to accommodate Braesail at 46 feet long and with a draft of about 7 feet. Walt motored VERY slowly and I was looking at the readout of the depth sounder (15 ft.; 12 ft.) when we heard an awful scraping sound and the boat lurched to a halt. I yelped and covered my eyes, but not before noticing that we were at a depth of only about 4 feet (the depth on Walt’s electronic chart was marked 20 feet at this spot). Braesail, treading carefully in her iron ballet slippers, had nonetheless tripped on an underwater rock! When motoring forward failed to free us, Walt stopped, left the cockpit, walked around the decks to see what was below, returned to the helm, and gently backed us off the rock so that the dance could continue. I was trembling, wondering if the keel had suffered any damage; Walt was sure that all was well (Braesail has experienced some too-close encounters of the rocky kind in the past and survived with only some scraped bottom paint).
We motored slowly around several other likely anchoring spots, but the depth markings on Walt’s chart did NOT match the depth sounder’s read-outs (chart: 16 ft.; actual depth, 60 ft. etc.). We decided that this area, thick with invisible, incorrectly-charted rocks, was not going to provide safe anchorage, and so we motored up Malaspina Strait and arrived at the Texada Boat Club docks in Sturt Bay in the town of Van Anda on *Texada Island at about 6:30 pm.
The evening was clear and mild, the mountain and forest views were lovely as we journeyed, and docking here was straightforward, but we have found ourselves somewhat tired after our rocky adventure and a total of six hours of motoring. I am ready for an early night after what seems, looking back, like a long day!
*Once a major gold, iron, and copper mining, limestone quarrying, and logging center with a fairly large population, Texada Island’s extractive industries have mostly disappeared and its population has diminished greatly over the last 70 years. It is now largely a recreational area known for its warm waters (in the summer!) and scenic beaches.