June 1, 2022 Day 5: Wigham Cove to North Kelp Passage Cove: 177 miles. 710 total miles.
We have a good weather window to cross Dixon Entrance Thursday June 2, so we are in somewhat of a hurry. So we woke up around 6:00 AM, made some oatmeal for breakfast and pulled anchor around 7:00 AM and off we went.
We are around 600 miles north of where we live and its staying brighter considerably longer. Last night Ellen had the hardest time falling asleep because it was still pretty bright at 11:00 PM. I woke up around midnight and it wasn’t all the way dark either, not bright enough to read a book, but bright enough to see enough details/have a conversation with someone. One morning I woke up at 4:30 and it was as light as it was when I went to bed. For a second I wondered if I had even slept at all, I checked the time and sure enough I had. That means it’s only normal night time dark for about 3 or 4 hours. I think that helps it not feel quite so spooky when we are anchored all alone.
We needed fuel for the day and Klemtu is the last spot before Prince Rupert. Actually, there is another gas place in Hartley Bay inbetween Klemtu and Prince Rupert, but our understanding is it may not be open since Covid. We didn’t have cell service for most of this leg of the trip, and we didn’t have enough gas to if they didn’t have any, so it wasn’t worth the risk for us. If we were to do it again, when we did have cell service in Klemtu we would have called Hartley Bay to see if they were open and if they had fuel.
Between Wigham Cove and Klemtu we got to a place that had a lot of debris and driftwood, we had to slow way down to make sure we weren’t going to hit anything. We have encountered plenty of drift wood on this trip, but this spot was the worst.
We made it to Klemtu and got fuel. In Canada we all have to get out of the boat when Chris fills up, only the filler is allowed to stay on. I don’t think we have to do this in The States, but maybe? We never have before. It does give us all a chance to spread out a bit. We got there at low tide and it was fun to see all the things in the water. In Klemtu we saw a lot of starfish and sea cucumbers. The big kids loved it. Ellen loves finding rocks and plopping them in the water. She’d also go right in the water if I didn’t watch her closely and hold on to her, but she doesn’t always want to be held onto.
One thing that I never knew for the longest time is that the further from the equator the bigger the tide change is. According to NOAA :
“As the moon revolves around the Earth, its angle increases and decreases in relation to the equator. This is known as its declination. The two tidal bulges track the changes in lunar declination, also increasing or decreasing their angles to the equator. Similarly, the sun’s relative position to the equator changes over the course of a year as the Earth rotates around it. The sun’s declination affects the seasons as well as the tides. During the vernal and autumnal equinoxes—March 21 and September 23, respectively—the sun is at its minimum declination because it is positioned directly above the equator. On June 21 and December 22—the summer and winter solstices, respectively—the sun is at its maximum declination, i.e., its largest angle to the equator (Sumich, J.L., 1996).”
Anyway, in Alaska we could encounter 25 foot tidal swings, which is a lot. Klemtu is pretty far north in British Columbia, so the tidal swings are pretty big here. Docks and in this case the fuel dock is set up where it rises and falls with the tide. But the store, the town, where you pay, etc. is all on land. There is a ramp that connects the two and the higher the tide the less steep it is, the lower the tide the more steep it is. Since we were getting gas at Klmetu at low tide the ramp was very steep. We didn’t want to take Ellen on it, so Chris just went up to check out the store. We didn’t need anything, but Chris said they had a decent amount of stuff. Klemtu was a beautiful place to get some gas and stretch our legs.
After Klemtu we stopped at an old cannery/ghost town and got out to walk around. They are doing construction on it according the signs so we didn’t go far. But it was a beautiful place right near a big waterfall. The swallows were out swooping all around us. It’s right on the way and a nice spot to get out and walk around.
In-between Klemtu and Prince Rupert is a little inlet called Lowell Inlet, there is a little waterfall and sometimes people see bears. I really wanted to go there so our goal was to go there and anchor for dinner and then hopefully head on to Prince Rupert for the night. So off we went!
This section of the trip is really incredible. We are in this valley in-between these beautiful mountains covered in pine trees. The tops of the mountains are covered in snow/glaciers. We saw so many waterfalls from all the snow melt, truly a stunning place. As we were puttering along we saw a whale. This time it was a fin whale. It was our first time seeing a fin whale so we were incredibly excited about that. So far that puts us at seeing orcas, minke, humpback, and now fin whales.
As we got closer to Lowell inlet we were getting lower on gas. This whole trip we’ve been moving at a fairly quick pace of around 17-20 knots. When driving a boat going that fast isn’t great for fuel mileage, but if you go at hull speed (there is a formula that you can put in your boat length and it will tell you what your hull speed is. Ours is around 4 knots.) you get a lot better fuel mileage. We also were going the wrong way on some tidal exchanges which didn’t help our fuel mileage either. We decided that for a few hours we would need to go hull speed, which meant we wouldn’t have enough time to get to Prince Rupert that night. We decided getting there later than we wanted was better than running out of gas.
Since we have auto pilot and going hull speed is less risky to hit some logs, Chris was able to watch Ellen for a bit and he let me go through the pictures we took so far on the trip. It was nice to get a little break from watching Ellen. She really requires full attention, and while most of the time it is fun, breaking up routine is also nice.
We made it to Lowell Inlet and I pulled out the binoculars to glass the beaches. Sure enough there was a bear. Our first one of the trip. We watched it walk around eating grass on the beach for awhile. After a bit we decided to go a bit closer. I’ve heard some bears up here are really skittish and when they hear the boat they run off. Others couldn’t care less and keep going about their day. As we got closer you could tell the moment it realized we were there, or at least the moment it was concerned about our presence. It stopped what it was doing and slowly turned to look at us. After a bit it just kept on eating and ignored us completely. We then decided to go around the inlet to see the waterfall, but on the other side of the inlet was another bear. This one Chris found. This one was a bit lighter in color. The first one had a black snout, and this one had a light brown snout. This one noticed us, and also went back to grazing on the grass. The kids were really excited to see bears.
We dropped anchor and cooked up dinner, and then we were on our way. By this point the wind was picking up and Chris was getting nervous about gas. If the weather is worse it uses more fuel. Luckily as we were going the wind downed down and we had pretty ideal conditions.
We anchored at North Kelp Passage. We got there pretty late that night and dropped anchor at 10:40 PM. Remember it stays light pretty late so we had enough light to not be concerned. As we were coming into our anchorage we had a beautiful sunset. After watching the sunset a bit we were able to set up beds while we were still getting to our anchorage. As soon as we dropped anchor we were able to go to sleep.
Ryan’s Thoughts: We saw a fin whale and a bunch of starfish we even saw bears!!! And I am trying to get better armor.
Lillian’s Thoughts: Today was amazing!!! We started off with oatmeal for breakfast and we went to this cool gas place! There were a ton of starfish and sea pickles, and sea anemone, and sea urchins! Then we think we saw a fin whale? (Once we had internet we checked and it was a fin whale). Then we saw our first bears! One by one we saw bears!! It was so fun and now it’s time to brush, mmmm.