RoRC Report from British Columbia

RoRC Report from British Columbia

In September, our route entered the Canadian Province of British Columbia at Prince Rupert, the largest town visited since leaving Japan.

By Sue & Andy Warman - 24/01/2019

A splendid pit-stop for stocking up with food and essentials. Transient berths are available at a marina and yacht club. Checking out from the USA, and entry into Canada was all done via telephone. We are still not convinced movements are centrally logged at both sides of the border, systems appear tailored around Canadian and US nationals, international visitors aboard yachts seem a novelty, different officials give alternative interpretations. When we left Canada into Washington state a month later, the answer to the question “How do you know we have truly left Canada?” was met with a brisk “We trust you!”

Southwards along the coast of British Columbia, although late in the season, the climate became noticeably warmer. Scenery changed but was still spectacular. Channels were narrower, more protected, anchorages closer spaced, glaciers no more. Ice caps on distant mountain tops occasionally protruded above lush green forest. Other vessels were few, mainly late transit pleasure craft or crewed charter yachts treating their guests to unseasonably good weather in October. Occasional wet-windy spells rapidly gave way to more blue skies and light winds. A reliable engine is an essential piece of equipment, as is a respectable fuel capacity. Opportunities for a leg-stretching hike are limited due to tree cover and a lack of trails. Those of us used to British woodlands have little comprehension of multiyear forest. A jumble of fallen trees, dense undergrowth, no regular woodland management between widely spaced periods of logging. It becomes apparent why explorers and natives made extensive use of fjords and the rivers that penetrate into the otherwise impenetrable hinterland. Cruising after the summer visitors have departed allows one to imagine the land entered by early European visitors: the Spanish Bodega y Quadra, James Cook, George Vancouver and the astonishing Alexander Mackenzie who reached this coast travelling overland across Canada in 1793.

BC is notorious for fast streams and narrow passes. Careful examination of current data, weather forecast and refuges near to critical locations enables those with flexible timescales to manage risk with relative ease. Johnstone Strait gave less current than predicted, the infamous Seymour Narrows (once the location of ship-wrecking Ripple Rock before it was blown up) was approached on the last of the foul current, working back eddies. A tug coming north with the last of the stream slowed suddenly, as the tide switched, almost instantly 2-knots fair, we whisked through on the burgeoning flow. We overshot the entrance to Campbell River Marina and fought 4-knots to make our entry.

Popular spots for cruisers just south of the Seymour Narrows are many. Locals told us tales of over crowding in the summer months, 40+ visiting boats during July and August, reports of generators noisily running aboard large power boats seemed the main complaint. For us, Doubtful Sound offered gorgeous anchorages, birdlife, otters and whales more numerous than cruisers. Princess Louisa Reach, 40-miles inland via Jervis Inlet was worth the detour. Cliffs, mountains, snowcaps, steep rocky edges that climb upwards to the skies. The vista lacked the teaming waterfalls of the springtime meltwater, but came high in our “Wow-Scores”!

OCC Port Officers, Andy & Liza Copeland made us very welcome. They kindly arranged a berth at their club the Royal Vancouver YC for a few days, showed us the city sights and invited us to dinner. Vancouver must be one of the nicest cities to visit, tree lined avenues, open spaces and a general friendliness abounds.

For the winter we are at Blaine Marina, just across the US border in Washington State. In 2019 we plan to cruise BC, California and move south to Mexico.

s/y Spruce – Blaine, Washington State, USA

Photo: Sue Warman with Liza Copeland in Vancouver BC

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