transiting the Inside Passage  aboard "room Seven"

An hour and a half later, we bid goodbye to Lou and his cat, Tiger, and continued N to Bishop's Bay. Ever since Julie and Monica learned there was the possibility of a hot springs shore excursion, it became deal my job was to make it happen. We reached the head of the bay at 1530 to find the small dock full, and both of the mooring buoys occupied.


The bay is so deep, and the shoreline so steep and rocky, that the driftwood logs that gather here cannot find a way to ground themselves on the beach. The result is a rag-tag mass of sticks and logs that had be steering a beeline course from the upper helm, searching for open leads that would get me into water with an anchoring depth of less than 15 fathoms.


After gathering towels, soap, and bottled water, we pulled on our rain gear for the dinghy trip ashore; it wouldn't due to get wet before our soak!


The spring pools have been funneled into a series of small, rock lined pools with a small outer "tub" for soapy washing, and a covered pool above which visitors have hung a makeshift mobile of fishing floats, flags, beer cans, and other mementos of their visit. The water is a perfect temperature, clear and odorless.


Even with a shower aboard the boat, it was a real luxury to stretch out and relax in the springs while we listed to the relentless patter of rain on the metal roof.



Day 7

16 June 2012: Butedale  & Bishop's Bay, British Columbia


So far we're keeping on our self-imposed schedule, even ending each day a couple of hours farther along our watery road. Our goal is to hit Grenville Channel on Sunday, which means that we started today with the fanciful idea of having a relaxed day of short travel, sightseeing, and hot springs soaking. That only mostly worked out.

I am fascinated by ghost towns, old mill sites, shipwrecks, canneries, abandoned mines, and other places where people once labored to bring industry to the wilderness. The Inside Passage is jam-packed with these places, many of them far off the beaten path. We took a slow pass through Swanson Bay, which contains what one of our guides calls

Underway at 0650 through the foggy entrance of Bottleneck Inlet, and immediately ran into a brisk wind chop that hadn't been there the night before. We quartered into them, enjoying a nice 2-knot push from a flood tide. Again, lots of big logs in our path (although our definition of "lots" would later be adjusted). We passed this tree drifting in deep water just as we turned NW in Hiekish Strait. Too bad they're not all this easy to see!


Steamed through Hiekish Narrows, still enjoying an extra couple of knots tailwind. We put Sarah Head abeam at 0815 and rejoined the main route of Graham Reach. Tons of waterfalls along this route, and we had to resist the urge to zig-zag back and forth across the channel, snapping pictures first of this rushing torrent, then that cascading flume.


Where does all this surface water come from? It seems to rain here. A lot. There is a continuous drizzle, which periodically builds to a downpour so heavy that it seems as though a celestial fireman has opened a 2-inch nozzle directed straight down at the boat. The rain "drops" are so heavy that the radar picks up nothing but a solid mass of suspended water in every direction, creating this spooky "Devil's Eye" effect on the screen, which we would later learn to eliminate using the Garmin's electronic noise filter.


"the remains of a crumbling industrial operation." Like many of the bays along these channels, this one is hundreds of feet deep almost right to the beach. Although we were all intrigued by the forest of pilings, and the red-brick chimney peeking over the trees, dropping the hook to go ashore was not in the cards..

A self-taught engineer (like everybody who makes their home in such a remote locale), Lou has rigged a bank of batteries to a 12-volt inverter powered by the cannery's old hydro-electric plant. It might not pass a code inspection, but the arrangement produces an endless supply of free power that keep the lights on in the old cannery store where Lou makes his home.

At 1100 we pulled into Butedale, a crumbling salmon cannery and herring oil rendering plant built in the early 1900s that ceased operations after WW II. the place remained more or less intact for decades, but in recent years has suffered from the combined effects of vandalism and the relentless onslaught of the elements.


The caretaker, Lou, has lived a solitary existence here for nearly a dozen years. He invited us to tie up to the rustic float fronting the remains of the old cannery dock, and led us on a tour of the place.

Too soon, it was time to retrace our steps back through the log-jam and back into Ursula Channel toward McKay Reach. Again, logs everywhere! Kent drove while I kept a lookout with the binocs, calling out "Log ahead! Come 15 degrees right!" Several times, logs materialized out of the mist on both sides simultaneously, and we would nervously aim at the gap in the middle and thread the needle.


When we got to Point Cumming, we found 4- to 6-footers coming from the S out of Whale Channel and had to jog across Wright Sound toward Promise Island. These were the biggest seas we've encountered on this trip so far, and the boat did fine.


Anchored for the night in Coghlan Anchorage for an early start to catch the last of the flood into Grenville Channel. Long day, dropping the hook more than 14 hours after Bottleneck, but everyone agreed the experience was worth the journey.