Following our long day travelling through Johnstone Strait and our late arrival in Otter Cove, we had to get up early the next morning on September 26th to be able to transit Upper Rapids in Okisollo Channel north of Hole in the Wall. These rapids, like many in the Discovery Passage are dangerous unless run at or near slack water which of course meant an early morning rise. As we left the anchorage, the fog started to settled in all around the bay and our boat. We left Otter Cove very slowly with the radar on and made our way through Okis Islands with visibility less than 1.5 kilometre (about 1 mile). We followed the pilot instructions to avoid Lower Rapids located to the northwest of Upper Rapids by going through Barnes Bay north of the Okis Islands as these rapids turn at virtually the same time as Upper Rapids. As we neared Upper Rapids, we felt the usual pull and push of the current and our boat increased in speed as it hit the eddies. Once through the rapids, we motored through a narrow cut, which we have named “Octopus Islands Passage” to get to Waiatt Bay (50°15.961’N, 125°14.792’W). The cut is tight (10 metres wide) and shallow (3 metres) and needs a lot of caution when transiting and it is advisable to have someone up at the bow as a lookout. Sophia was our bow lookout while Rob was at the helm.
Waiatt Bay is broad and protected, with convenient anchoring depths located behind Octopus Islands Marine Park, a popular anchorage in the summer months. We were one of only two boats anchored for the night with us anchored in Waiatt Bay and the other boat anchored in Octopus Islands.
Following an uneventful night of cleaning the boat, catching up on notes and taking a cold shower in our cockpit using our solar bags – which did not warm up at all during the sail, we discovered our ‘stinky’ German cheese which we bought in Westview and stored in our bilge during that time was very, very, very stinky. It did not take much discussion to make the decision to chuck the cheese over the side. We worried slightly about the fish and other marine life, but none came floating up after the cheese was chucked over.
On September 27th, we left Waiatt Bay through the entrance and if we thought entering the bay through Octopus Islands Passage was nerve-racking, leaving through the bay was… well, even more nerve-racking. The bay’s entrance is choked with islets and rocks, and the Sailing Directions which is written for large vessels warns against entering but with the use of a large-scale chart (#3537) and the chart plotter any small boat can pick its way in along through the rocks. Sophia actually navigated through most of the entrance without the aid of the chart plotter (ok, there was an occasional peek to make sure we were on the right track), with Rob at the bow.
We travelled further south and made our way through Surge Narrows and Beazley Passage near slack water to avoid another set of strong currents. Our travels took us through Hoskyn Channel and Uganda Passage towards our final destination, Gorge Harbour, Cortes Island. The entrance to Gorge Harbour is through a narrow cleft in the rock cliff, something that could have been right out of a pirate’s movie.
We stayed a few nights at Gorge Harbour Marina Resort (50°05.984’N, 125°01.448’W), on the north-west shore, enjoying the many amenities offered by the marina including an empty dock (it was off-season), warm shower and the restaurant! We also met some interesting boaters during our stay including Amanda Glickman on s/v Papa Rumba (she lives in Gorge Harbour with her husband), David & Sylvia on s/v Salubrious and liveaboards David & Stephanie on s/v Cambria. ~Sophia & Rob