“Rockin’-‘n’-rollin’ in Hecate Strait . . .

. . . to Haida Gwaii we go! The chart shows the way ‘cross the water today through the white and swirling foam! Over the ocean and through the waves, now the islands’ shores we spy. Hurrah for the Haida whose home this is, hurrah for a sunny sky!”

WE MADE IT! And it was quite a trip from Bent Harbour, which we left at 6:30 am in the rain, across Hecate Strait, to Ikeda Cove on Moresby Island in Haida Gwaii, where we anchored at about 7:30 pm and where it is raining gently as I type this on the morning of Sunday, June 5. Forecasts indicated that we should have good sailing winds from the south and relatively small ocean swells in a tolerably comfortable direction over the course of the 85-mile, approximately-11-hour journey, but the wind decided to blow from the east instead of the south and dropped earlier that expected, and the southerly swells became very confused and so were higher and choppier and much more uncomfortable that we’d hoped they would be.

We motor-sailed with the large foresail (the jib) raised for about an hour after leaving Bent Harbor, then raised the mainsail as the rain tapered off, the skies brightened, and the wind rose to around 15 kts., and we finally sailed at a good speed for about eight hours, though the direction of the swells caused the sails to swing and bang and snap with frighteningly loud (in my opinion!) reports until I felt as if I were at a rifle range during target practice. I had begun to feel unwell by mid-morning, and having to climb down below-decks and make my way into the aft head to answer calls of nature made the queasiness worse. I couldn’t fall asleep in the cockpit because of the explosive slapping and banging of the sails, and so I chewed ginger chunks and pastilles, curled up on one of the cockpit benches, and rested my head on the outside edge of the cockpit where I could take deep breaths of fresh air and see the horizon, while Walt had to spend the entire duration of the trip at the helm, most of the time using the autopilot but steering the boat manually when the seas were particularly troublesome.

When the wind dropped, at about 4 pm, to speeds too low to allow sailing, the Captain furled the sails, started the engine, and turned the boat so that the seas weren’t so choppy and rough and weren’t coming at the boat from all directions at once, and on we went, with the Braesail rocking and rolling back and forth and pitching a little, and the First Mate recovering somewhat from her “mal de mare” (I managed to avoid “tossing my cookies,” but neither of us felt like eating the peanut butter cookies I’d made on Friday!). Showers alternated with sun-breaks throughout the day, and as we approached–at last!–the misty shores of the islands of the Haida Gwaii archipelago, with sun-diamonds sprinkled over the water and gauzy blue-gray clouds resting on the mountain tops like gigantic mounds of combed cotton wool, what a magical experience we shared!

Because the Captain (also the Navigator) had changed course to run WITH the sea swells instead of fighting them as evening drew on, we decided to drop hook in long, well protected, empty, QUIET, Ikeda Cove, instead of attaching Braesail to a bouncing mooring buoy in Rose Harbour, directly to the south, as we’d planned. And so Ikeda Cove, surrounded by very tall evergreens, jagged rocks, some high hills, and a soft-green meadow in which I could see deer grazing as we anchored, became our first Haida Gwaii anchorage.

Sunset in Ikeda Cove on our first night in Haida Gwaii (taken at about 10 pm)

We were too tired to be hungry, and so finished some of the snacks I’d brought up to the cockpit and went to bed a little after 10 pm. We both needed, and were blessed with, a long, sound sleep, and are spending the day at anchor, resting and reading, and doing more trip planning for the upcoming several weeks after sharing the Pentecost Sunday Eucharist around the table in our main cabin. We ARE looking forward to seeing some sunshine this evening.

NOTE: While we are in remote areas with no connectivity, we cannot supply maps with our blog posts, but you can follow our travels, and see where we are, on the Web sites listed in the very first post you’ll see when you visit https://braesail.com.

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