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Friday Harbor Sailing Club cruise to Barkley Sound and the Broken Islands

On May 15, 2017, Leslie and Val on Cat’s Cradle headed ‘out to sea’ to visit a complex archipelago on the southwestern side of Vancouver Island. This is a diverse group of islands within which there is good protection from the prevailing northwest winds and swell from the northeast Pacific Ocean. But, to get there we have to face that ocean and its winds and waves head on. Three 6-8 hour days of motoring (with just a few hours of sailing when the wind came from the south) brought us to Effingham Bay.  This area has good protection from the waves we had watched sending up towers of spray as they ended their ocean-wide journey on the rock-torn coast.

En route, we had picked up Colorado Springs friends, Ron and Kathy, in Victoria. Ron started teaching Biology at Colorado College the same year that Val joined the Physics Department in 1972 and our kids  grew up together. It was great to have so many things to remember and talk about and Ron’s marine biology background lead us to discussions, with a bit of Latin, on many creatures that we found on intertidal walks and dingy excursions.


After a calm night in Effingham Bay, we sailed off with light and pleasant winds exploring  the outer islands of the Broken Group. This is part of Canada’s Pacific Rim National Park. It seemed that we were the only boat in these waters.  Then we got a call on the VHF radio from Friday Harbor Sailing Club friends, Ken and Ruth, on Misty Blue. They met us and the club cruise officially began. We had been expecting the club’s cruising commodore, Stefan, and his wife, Georgia, to join us on this trip, but the health of their aging dog intervened so the cruise became a two-boat event.

From the outer islands we worked our way northward to the inner group, had a motorized trip to Ucluelet to drop Ron and Kathy off so they could get a bus that started a trip that would take them back to Colorado. Returning from Ucluelet to the inner group, we had a sparkling day with a perfect 10-15 kt following breeze. We sailed and sailed, stopping at Island Harbor, a large fairly well protected region between Jacque and Jarvis Islands (also known as Joe’s Bay). There we met Pam and Dave from Friday Harbor who travel in a cute little power boat named Smuggler.

We then took the little electric outboard (some of you may remember our report on last summer’s horrible experience when the little outboard we had ‘jumped’ off the transom and disappeared into the deep, dark sea) and circumnavigated Dempster Island which has very steep cliffs intermingled with surging sea caves. This was by far the most productive and beautiful intertidal area we visited. In one trip we saw literally hundreds of sea stars and zillions of clams, oysters, mussels and anemones.

Our last stop in the Broken Islands was Nettle Island where we dropped our anchor near shore and then stern-tied to a big log. Misty Blue matched the perfectly blue and calm bay surrounded by tall green trees with snow-covered mountains ringing the skyline in the distance.

These cirrus clouds portend a big change in the weather!

At each of our anchorages we took walks on beaches and on trails through dense forests and used our little electric outboard motor to quietly explore the edges of the sea. It was a special delight, especially when venturing off near low tide when all the intertidal creatures are on display.

From Nettle we sailed east to take a spot on the Port Alberni Yacht Club dock on Flemming Island (Deer Group) where two gregarious members, Dennis and Gary, welcomed us. Here we waited out a forecast gale force storm and the wind did blow!  But the blow was ‘out there’ where the water was filled with white caps and ‘in here’ at the dock, all was calm.
Bamfield was another stop.  This picturesque village has long, wandering paths and boardwalks along the shore connecting little cottages, various docks and a few commercial operations.  We walked and talked to many friendly passersby and tested many of the benches facing the water. We took the dingy over to the Bamfield Marine Sciences Center and chatted with various students.

We ended our Barkley Sound Cruise with a celebratory dinner out at  Bamfield’s Hawk’s Nest Pub.  Ken, Ruth, Leslie and Val all agreed that this has been a challenging and beautiful exploration of a lightly visited corner of the Northeast Pacific Ocean.

At this point, the open ocean faced us again. We had to listen to the weather forecasts and make a decision as to when to head back out and turn toward home, 100 nautical miles away. The forecast for Thursday, May 25th looked OK, so at 4:30 a.m. we set off just as the sun was getting ready to rise. Hours of motoring followed by 5 hours of sailing, most with our big green spinnaker pulling us home, brought us back to Sooke Harbor.  Then on Friday, we motored on home with very little wind. At Sooke, we were anchored very close to where three Great Blue Herons were very successfully foraging on blennies of various forms and Leslie got these  photos:

Both on our outbound trip and again on our return we drifted past Race Rocks (www.racerocks.com) and took in the scene of sea lions and seals hauled out and barking at us in a threatening fashion as we passed by.

And, Laura’s beautiful Mother’s Day flowers traveled with us. Here they are at the start and again 2 weeks later.

14 Responses to “Friday Harbor Sailing Club cruise to Barkley Sound and the Broken Islands”

  1. Tami Beitzel Barriquand says:

    What an amazing voyage among such lovely islands!

  2. Lesley says:

    Love your logs and photos. We’re just now on a cruise ship (from Kobe Japan) heading for the Inland Passage and home. We’re just about as far as you got last summer. Beautiful scenery and good weather.

  3. Ric and Dorry says:

    Beautiful blog, as usual. What wonderful pictures and what interesting accounts. Oh, to be 75 again so I could join you on some of those maritime excursions!

    Not much news from here. I’m so glad we had a chance to visit with you when you were here several weeks ago. Time marches on: Buzz Kutsche died recently. The class of ’17 graduated without a drop of rain to dampen the ceremony. Barbara Whitten is now retired. I added another year to my resume and Dorry and I will celebrate our 70th in a few days. Dick Lamm was featured in a news story today — about to retire but not ready to step aside. Please keep those exceptional blogs coming!
    Much love — Ric

  4. Howard Lange says:

    Enjoyed your blog.
    Howard

  5. Robin says:

    Once again, a beautiful, challenging and adventure for you. Loved the informative blog and great photos. I can just imagine you so well then as you explore yet another amazing part of our world. And the roses said it all…..the blooms still on the rose!

  6. Kathy Brandt says:

    Ron and I had a fantastic week sailing on Cats Cradle wirh you guys! Ron’s been researching another sailing expedition. How is your knee Leslie? xoKathy

  7. Sam & Sandy Johnston says:

    Wonderful photos and informative blog. Thank you so much for sharing.

  8. virginia garlitz says:

    Dear Val and Leslie, Always enjoy the tales of your many adventures ; the lively commentary and your beautiful photos. How nice you could connect with so many friends. Please keep us on your list. We are always ready to hear and see more. Hope to be among the friends you run into sometime soon. WE STILL REMEMBER THAT TRAIN MEET UP IN 1969!
    va

  9. Barbara says:

    Love these beautiful pictures. The ones of the intertidal animals are particularly wonderful–reminds me of my own time on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. Thanks for sharing.

    Barbara

  10. Dottie Lamm says:

    Looked at every photo and followed your whole journey. Photography took my breath away, as usual, as I’m sure the journey took away yours. You have mastered so much technology that must enhance your enjoyment as much as it contributes to that of others. Thanks for sharing! Don’t stop! And please come inland to Colorado again soon! Missing you – Dottie and dick Lamm

  11. Julia R says:

    Another amazing beautiful trip and so close to home. What a planet we live on.
    Have a great summer and we hope to see you soon. Julia

  12. Jane Smith says:

    Dear friends,
    I love your voyages; your photos are breathtaking….makes me miss the ocean a bit…..love the colorful sea stars: so beautiful.
    Ho w great to have a brief visit with Ron and Kathy from Colorado Springs. We sure do all look 70+….Don is all white haired and now has a white beard and mustache like Val and Ron. Alas I continue to be brown haired with a few gray hairs here and there…so I have some blonde streaks thrown in…my hairdresser calls it sun and shade!!!!

    It is great to enjoy these mini trips via the internet. With a hefty mortgage and Don’s diminishing vision and hearing it is not travel time for us much. We have lots to do around our house and our grands keep us busy with baseball and softball games; etc.
    This month we celebrate our 50th…Kirsten and Henry are coming out west to be with us and the other Smiths . We’ve got a whitewater trip planned down the American river thanks to a rainy and snowy winter.

    We send hugs and happiness to you both. Janie and Don Smith

  13. Lynne Hobbs says:

    Your photos are incredible and I love reading blogs of your adventures. Thanks for sharing.

  14. Stormy Burns says:

    Another excellent adventure for you! The photos of the islands give me hope for the planet. Thanks for documenting the beauty and sharing the story. Sending love from Colorado.


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