Archive for the ‘TnT North to Alaska’ Category

Harlequin Bay to Joe’s Bay

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

A gray morning greets us.  We time our departure on low tide just incase we the channel is a little too skinny.  If we are going to get stuck it best be on a rising tide.  Tim proves yet again his versatility as a shipmate guiding Avanti through the twist and turns to deep water with hand signals from the bowsprit.

Deep water and north we go.  The goal for the day.  Joe’s Bay.  By noon, the gray gives way to sunshine but no wind.  Tim fishes past Safety Cove on Calvert Island then we cross Fitz Hugh Sound  and thread our way to Joe’s Bay.  I wonder about Joe and how he happened to this spot of earth.  He must have come by water, the forest being so thick.  Was it the floating foam from the waterfalls where Lake Elizabeth spills into the salt chuck?  Was he hunting for safe anchorage from a storm?  Or was he just like me wanting to be someplace so pristine, so empty of mankind, as to make him feel the first ever to this place?  The only hint we find we’re not the first… a wooden sign on a tree on the south shore proclaiming this place for evermore to “JOE’S BAY”.

We anchor for the night.

Port Hardy and Beyond

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

Slugging out the Johnstone against the wind but with the current we came into Port Harding late and in darkness. AVANTI felt her way toward the back of the harbor for an anchorage, then bump, a log, bump bump, more logs. We had sailed right into an open log pen as invisible in the night as a Klingon Starship. AVANTI backed and pushed and bumped her way free and we found our anchorage for the night.

Next morning we fueled, watered and started out for some Canadian fishing. Tim’s the fisherman, but to just describe Tim as a fisherman isn’t enough. I search for just the right phrase. Tim is the fisherman who fishes just for the fish of it. His knowledge and respect for fish set him in a class to himself. Me, I just drive the boat and watch and learn. Not long and it’s salmon for dinner!

It’s a might skinny channel into Harlequin Bay on Hurst Island. (50° 50’ 34”N 127° 34’ 33” W) but it’s just the sort of place that draws me like a magnate. Tim takes station on the bowsprit and pilots us . It’s the kind of place a shore bound sailor visits in his mind when the days work is done, but the clock drags.


Tim with fish

Tim with fish

Harlequin Bay resized

Harlequin Bay on Hurst Island BC

Up the Johnstone

Wednesday, December 12th, 2012
Moon Venus and maybe Mercury

Moon Venus and maybe Mercury

The wind was still strong down the Strait in the breaking dawn. Our early start on the slack tide helped make the turn Chatham Point. The oncoming gust made the ride just as lively, but the light of day changes everything. Tim took first watch and kept close to shore to lessen the drag of the head wind. We persevered onward trusting the topography around the strait to afford us protection from the lumpy waters.

There are places on the Johnstone Strait where the current is squeezed between peninsulas jutting out from the Canadian Mainland and others where the water is stuffed among islands only to fall out the other side in its unrelenting pursuit of the moon and sun. The earth turns and the sea rushes to and fro in answer to the invisible lover’s call we know as gravity. It is on this slosh AVANTI rides westward, now faster with the ebb then slower with the flood.

Forward is what we want. The surface of the water is but the bottom of the sky. It is here we move at the grace of the nature world. Even the air is subject to the love of gravity and falls down the slopping mountains in williwaws to either help us or halt us in our progress forward.

Keep the water out and the boat will float, let the water in, the boat will sink. Oh how grateful I become for the simple laws of gravity keeping the water in its place and sky in its place and me right in between, right where I belong. It is a good thing to know where I belong.

Everyone has a Johnstone Strait story

Monday, November 12th, 2012

Up the anchor and underway for the Hole In The Wall. Timing is everything and my timing was off by an hour. At least the error was on the right side and only required waiting an additional hour for the slackening water to allow us through. A valuable lesson was learned early. The current tables of on the Inside Passage were not to be ignored. To cruise these latitudes in a small vessel demands an attunement with nature land travel never requires.

Having passed between Quadra and Sanora Islands, AVANTI joined the north flowing current of Johnstone Strait. We set our watches for a nights steaming hoping to ride the outward bound current as far as possible. There is current, then there is wind and when wind and current run strong in opposite directions water goes mad. Rounding Chatham Point we ran right into the teeth of a 40+ wind that stacked the tiderip onto itself in rolling waves with very short steep faces that tossed AVANTI like so much flotsam. From down below came the crashes and bangs of things being flung from what we thought to be very secure stowage for these seemingly protected waters. The sky was darkening early in the shadows of cloud and mountain and all fun had been washed overboard with the first three waves.

After thirty minutes of traveling up and down farther than we had traveled forward, I told Tim to brace himself, we were turning around. I watched for a lull which never came, then put the rudder hard over. We made the turn taking only one sea on the beam and then quickly gave up all our hard won progress. Acceptance is the only appropriate emotion with which to meet the sea.

We met two fishing boats coming north in what could only be interpreted as a race. As they closed in on the turn at Chatham Point , the large took the inside between the light and the rocks, (a mighty skinny channel I must add). Tim and I watched expecting a crash of hull against rock that never came. Local knowledge won the race. There are many captains willing to do things I’d never do.

I use every available source of information when on the water. I listen to weather reports and radio traffic. I watch the radar and scan the horizon. I check the plotter every thirty seconds. I read and reread the Coast Pilots and the cruising guides. Then I take that knowledge and blend it together to come to a course of action tempered with good seamanship. My mantra is this “situational awareness, keep your situational awareness”. Around the corner from Chatham Point Light is Otter Cove. We anchored and listened to the wind howling ashore. The Johnstone strait would be best taken in the light of day.

To Hole In The Wall

Monday, November 5th, 2012



The passage of mankind over the water leaves its mark as surely as it does on the land. Trash thoughtlessly discarded, bilges slops, plastics, cigarette butt; it’s all there. The oceans vastness can handle only so much before it pukes it back on the land. But, if one is careful though, and travels slowly in a small vessel, the impact can be so small as to take but a moment to erase the foot print on the water.

By motor sailing, that is running engine at just above an idle, a little extra lift is added to the light airs across the sails, AVANTI makes a scant 4 knots in a motor sail toward Desolation Sound. A beautiful cool night passed uneventfully. The bow cut the water, the stern stitched it closed again. The sound of the tea kettle whistling pulled away the deep sleep. The steady upright keel confirmed there was no wind, but then none was expected. It was morning and time for my watch.

I had given the watch to Tim at midnight with Texada Island to port and a track line on the GPS. Six hours later, I relieved him with Cortes Island to port. It had been a good run even though the currents dragged down the speed over the ground. My watch would see slack water, then a turn to north. The days goal was to reach Hole In The Wall, anchor and wait for the slack water that would allow us through the tight squeeze into northern Vancouver Island waters. I chose this route for its sheer beauty and remoteness. Seymour Narrows had more traffic and less interesting terrain. We would save that passage for another day.

AVANTI’s tender most times is my wonderful and old Easy Rider Beluga kayak. It looks a little odd hanging from the davits a full 5 feet wider than the boat but what function. I believe the kayak to be far superior to the dinghy as a ship’s boat. I’ve been in seas in it that would have swamped an open boat and felt completely safe.

We anchored AVANTI near shore to wait the turn of the tide. Tim went fishing and came back with a lingcod and a rockfish. Supper!

Ready for cleaning

Ready for cleaning


Friday, November 2nd, 2012

Transit of venus

Transit of venus

Alpha Male escorting us out of his domain

Alpha Male escorting us out of his domain

Into Canada

Into Canada

I found the perfect crew in Tim, the son of an old Coast Guard shipmate. Tim is a Marine Engineer with an immense amount of sea miles under foot having sailed on LNG tankers since graduating from Kings Point. At 27, he has seen more of the world and done more raw adventures than 99.9% of people will in a lifetime. To describe him in a sentence I would say “he is an adventures soul.” So when he off-handedly mentioned wanting to sail to Alaska some day. I simply told him, “I have boats, I have time, and I have the inclination. Lets do it” and we did.

Though far easier to say than do, it still had to be said to be set in motion. First, the idea, then the word, then the action, then the reality. We put dates on calendars, and began preparations. Three months, we worked with only a few breaks for important stuff like a trip to California to watch the Ring of Fire Eclipse of the sun, two weeks of unavoidable commitment to the Naval Reserve in Singapore for Tim and a day photographing the transit of Venus across the face of sun for me. Then we left Port Angeles on the turn of the tide on a beautiful Sunday morning sailing a light northwesterly breeze to Haro Straits

Northbound in Hero Strait an Alfa Male orca from the resident pod residing off Lime Kiln Point surfaced close aboard in AVANTI’s wake and escorted us clear of his territory. Off to port, close in to shore, the females were feeding. We reached Bedwell Harbor BC to clear customs into Canada just before they closed for the evening. The adventure was underway.

Our first anchorage was in Annette Inlet on Prevost Island BC. We came in the dark, drop the hook and settled to wait the turning of the tides. The ebb and flow of tidal currents became an integral part of our lives. What were the predicted currents and how did they reconcile to the reality of observation was always taken into consideration as we planned our next day. Though the laws of the tides are predictable and true, the depths and currents they produce need to be carefully observed for the sea is full of surprise. The art of navigation is perfected in constant situational awareness.

Tommy And Tim (TNT) heading north to Alaska

Friday, July 27th, 2012

July 15, 2012


Tim and Tommy, henceforth known as “T-N-T”, are off to see
the world again, again.  Four months of intense
work on AVANTI to prepare and today is the day of departure.  Alaska
is the destination, adventure is the goal, and to sail pristine uncrowded
waters the reason, not the only reason but reason enough.


The journey really started a year ago when Tim Roberts,
sail.  Little did he know that’s all it
would take to set this trip in motion. 
“Come help me work on AVANTI and I’ll teach you everything I know about
sailing,”  I tells him.  “That should take about 20 minutes, then
we’ll go sailing to somewhere cool.”   Of
course, he thinks by cool I mean really fun and tropical but what I meant was
some place about 55 degrees or lower, oh, and rainy too.  To my amazement , when he finds out I want to
sail to Alaska and that the 20 minutes wasn’t how long we would work on the
boat but how long it would take to teach all I know about sailing, and a three
month trip would take at least four months work on the boat, he came anyway.


On the 15th of April, AVANTI was hauled from the
dry yard to the ship yard after 2 years slumber in the log dust of the Port
water front to begin a bottom to top
overhaul.  Battle
scars from past encounters with harder than water objects in the un-deeps of
the Pacific Northwest were repaired.  She got new black bottom paint with a red
boot-top, then the top sides were painted a rich ivory and the gingerbread on
the bow and name board on the stern were coated in new varnished.  A month was gone. 


In the water again, no leaky-no sinky, and the wonderful
little engine starts right away, then the real works begin.  Varnish, decks re-caulked, lots of sanding
and lots of cleaning.   Tim took great
care with the decks and the bright work, while I started work on a hard
dodger.  Now a hard dodger is not to be
confused with a soft dodger which AVANTI proudly wore for 12 years.  Going north we wanted a Hard Dodger!  In my mind I’m thinking over and over about
gales, williwaws, rain, lots of rain as I screw and glue, screw and glue.  But in the end, the Hard Dodger looks as
though it is a part of the vessel and feels solidly anchored to the cabin top.


It wasn’t all work.  I
took a break to go to California
to watch the “Ring Of Fire” eclipse and then another day to take 200 + pictures
of the Transit of Venus across the face of the sun.  Tim went fishing and to Singapore
and to Arkansas.  Then came today and at 1055,  we sailed from the Port Angeles Boat Haven