Today was all about covering ground. Our goal was to get close enough to Butedale that we could afford the luxury of a midday shore excursion, and still have time to continue on to Bishop Bay Hot Springs and arrive early enough for a well-deserved soak. We'll see how that works out.
We got underway from Kwakame Inlet at 0740 (slackers!) and passed Bella Bella just before noon. Here's a shot of the lighthouse complex at Dryad Point just N of town. These Canuck lighthouse-keepers are sure a tidy lot. In another life, I'd like that job.
An hour and a half later, we rounded Ivory Island and entered Milbanke Sound. This is another stretch that's open to the whims of the North Pacific, and I'm told it can be a real bear when the ocean swells stack up under an offshore wind. Our extraordinary weather luck was holding strong, though, and we enjoyed a low, 2-foot swell with zero wind; a magnificent ride!
Here's the lighthouse at Ivory Island. See those giant, foamy breakers breaking on the rocks? That's because there aren't any. We've renamed this body of water "Millpond Sound".
At Vancouver Rock, we finished our turn and headed NE into Finlayson Channel. The ebb was against us, and the slog into the current cost us a couple of knots. We had paced two fishing boats for an hour when a large BC Ferry appeared out of the mist, and passed our rag-tag flotilla on his way to Klemtu and points north.
The ferry and the fishermen all steered toward Tolmie Channel, which is the continuation of the main Inside Passage route. We steered a course to starboard, setting the AP for our anchorage on the E side of Finlayson Channel.
We're used to bold headlands and deep water close to shore, but these passages give Alaska a run for its money. We ran in depths over a thousand feet while staying close enough to shore that we could see the eagles' nests. These cliffs drop STRAIGHT down to the water, and according to the chart, they keep on going. We were in water more than 1,600 feet deep when I snapped this picture.
I'm still loving the new Garmin electronics, and already can't imagine among this trip without auto-pilot. Also really glad that I sprung for the dual 7212 monitors instead of just going with a single. I can display just about any engine function or plotter display anywhere I want it. Spent some time experimenting with different displays (all are user-configurable) and came up with this one that I think will be my new default data display. Here is part of Room Seven's full instrument display (note the compass heading). Alaska, here we come!
An hour away from stopping for the night, and lots of logs floating everywhere. Played with the jog feature on the AP, trying to get a feel for how quickly we could slalom around these nasty obstacles. Even from our (standing) perspective 10 feet above the waterline, they're hard to see. Here comes one now. Closer.... Closer... Now! Fifteen degrees to starboard, and off it goes into our wake. Have we really got another thousand miles of this?
We reached our night's destination at last, the aptly-named Bottleneck Inlet. The cruising guide calls it "one of the most peaceful anchor sites in this area", and it welcomed us into its misty confines. The entrance is narrow and shallow, but free from obstructions. Here's the view from outside looking in, and another shot looking back toward the entrance after we dropped the hook.