The weather has been awesome since we started our journey up the coast, with mostly sunny days and only a few short rainy days, which is atypical of the west coast during this time of season. The weather started to change once we started our trip across Queen Charlotte Strait towards the Broughton Islands with our sunny days disappearing and the rainy days increasing. In the early morning on September 22nd at our anchorage in Waddington Bay, the rain started to come down hard waking us up and continued most of the morning. The rain slowed down to a light shower later late morning and we decided to bring the anchor up and move on to our next location. We weren’t sure yet where we would end up for the night but our goal was to get as far south as possible before it got dark, the wind picked up or the fog returned. We decided that we would try for Port Harvey but had several back up anchoring locations just in case the winds increased in Johnstone Strait. The forecast for Johnstone Strait was a “Gale Warning in Effect” with winds predicted to be up to 30 knots.
We left Waddington Bay and travelled slowly through the southern part of the Broughton Islands with the fog lifting occasionally giving us a glimpse of the islands beyond. The current was strong as we travelled from the southern portion of the Broughton Islands through Blackfish Sound and Blackney Passage where our boat speed was around 7 knots when we should have been doing 4 knots. We also started to see some dolphins and sealions travelling north into the sound!
We kept an eye on the weather and listened to the VHF radio as we travelled through the islands and decided to make the run all the way to Port Harvey as it is the safest anchorage within Johnstone Strait for us to wait out the gale weather for the next few days. Once we were in Johnstone Strait we encountered waves up to 1.5 metres and strong winds gusting to 15 knots but nothing our boat couldn’t handle. After travelling about 8 hours and 38 nautical miles (NM) we finally made our way into the harbour of Port Harvey and anchored for the night. We ended up staying three nights in Port Harvey (50°33.977’N, 126°16.294’W) with continuous rain and the forecast for Johnstone Strait predicting gale force winds between 35 to 40 knots. We had some bumpy nights in the anchorage but otherwise where safe and comfy . We spent the time catching up on reading, cleaning the boat and working on trying to figure out why our diesel cabin heater (Fab-All) wasn’t working properly. During some of the windy evenings, we experienced back-drafts with soot coming into the cabin, not overly amusing! By day three, we decided to give up on heating the boat and wore warmer clothing instead. By day three (September 25th), we were ready to leave Port Harvey and started on our way again. The forecast for the morning was 20 to 30 knots but the land station on Fanny Island within Johnstone Strait was reading 7 knot winds, so we decided to try and see what we encountered within Johnstone Strait.
We entered Johnstone Strait with strong winds and decided to start sailing with two reefs in the main sail and only the staysail. After sailing for about an hour we decided that we were going slower than we wanted too (only 3.2 knots) and we raised our yankee jib. This helped with our speed and at some point our speed increased to 7.4 knots with the boat healing over 25 degrees. A little nerve wrecking for our first experience with high winds (ok…Sophia was a bit nervous when she was not at the helm) and Rob had fun with the high speeds. Once we approached Current Passage, we brought in the sails and turned on the motor to travel with the strong current conditions (current can be up to 5 knots). We travelled through the passage with speeds up to 9.4 knots and the boat was pushed around by eddies and some whirlpools but we were able to get out with no problem and kept on motoring to Otter Cove. After travelling about 50.3 NM and 12 hours, we entered the cove in the dark and anchored for the night (50°19.479’N, 125°26.998’W). We were both tired and happy to have been able to travel through Johnstone Strait in almost one day. ~Sophia & Rob