Friday, June 3, 2011

Alaska Trip 2011: Around Cape Caution and into Fitz Hugh Sound

Day 7:  Port McNeill and into the Pacific, then to Fury Island Cove - 67 miles

Click to see larger - The "Waggoner" Pine Island route

Most cruisers on the Inside Passage are concerned about only two legs, those exposed to the Pacific Ocean.  Cape Caution just north of Vancouver Island, and Dixon Entrance between Prince Rupert & Ketchikan.  The rest of the trip is mostly fjords and are very protected.  Today's leg was the Cape Caution run...and it was super smooth and easy for Cinnamon Girl!

I started listening to the Environment Canada weather broadcasts on the VHF a few days in advance.  Well actually I listen everyday, but I started paying closer attention while anchored up near Echo Bay.  I even wrote down some notes, and listened for the buoy wave height data for West Sea Otter.  The weather can also be found on the internet at:  This is a really great resource.  The guest moorage in Port McNeill has a new wireless internet service they installed this spring.  Thank you!!

The weather pattern we are experiencing is very calm.  Wind 5-15 knots and wave heights of 1 meter.  This is super mild and was exactly what I was hoping for.  The American Tugs are tough boats and capable of rough weather, but I am not.  Cindy's stomach is a bit stronger than mine...

On the longer legs I like to get out on the water early, first light is about 5 am now.  This is before the land heats up and draws in the wind.  Leaving early also means that I get more time in the afternoon to screw around and explore.  Cruising is about the journey and not the destination!

Port McNeill at 5am - no wind...just what we wanted to see!

I read Bob Hale's article on rounding Cape Caution in the 2011 Waggoner Guide about three times, read similar articles in a few other guides and decided to follow Bob's advice.  Larry Morrison who owns the American Tug 34 "Forever Friday" also wrote me a great email with all sorts of tips, he and Laura have spent the better part of two summers cruising the Fitz Hugh Sound area. 

Notes from my Log of  June 2nd, 2011 for Cinnamon Girl:
5:00 am - Performed all engine checks, all OK. 
5:10 am - Fired up the engine.  1863.7 hours on the engine, 1020Mb on barometer.  Weather calm, no wind
5:20 am - Depart Port McNeill

7:30 am - "Island Princess" Cruise ship in Gordon Channel.  AIS says it is 960' loa, and going 11-kts.

9:15 am - Pilot Vessel "Riley" to port, they are returning from escorting the cruise ship past Pine Island

9:25 am - Pine Island lighthouse to starboard.  Wind 5-kts
11:00 am - Rounded Cape Caution - 3-miles offshore.  Wind 8-kts, small swell
12:45 pm - Entered Rivers Inlet & Fitz Hugh Sound.   Wind 6-kts

12:45 pm - Alaska Marine Highway ferry "Columbia" heading south to Bellingham

1:30 pm - Anchored in Fury Island Cove.  Beautiful white sand beach!

Then I took a nap!   Yacht brokers are not supposed to get up at 4:45 am.   Ranchers and farmers get up that early.

It was a really great day on the water.  Navigating was fun.  Cinnamon Girl performed great.  The AT's are wonderful boats in a sea way.  They do not have any tendency to roll because of the hard chines, so are  very comfortable to be aboard.  Life is good.
After my nap I puttered around the boat, and relaxed.  Fury Island Cove has a beautiful white sand beach and a view towards the west.  I fired up the barbecue and we had grilled chicken and a salad.  It was nice to have a break from crab, never thought I would say those words... 

Cindy and I folded out the big "Inside Passage Route Planning Map" on the dining table and put "post-it's" all over it with places we want to see or others have recommended.   Some are day stops, others factors are cell phone access (I still work, call if I can help you find your next boat 206-321-7496), power or water, or the now important internet access.  I like quiet anchorages, First Nations history, and good holding.  We are planning to stop at Pruth Bay (Bob Linton & Larry Morrision both said it is great), Ocean Falls (always read about it), Shearwater and Bottleneck Inlet before we start laying down more northerly miles.  The places we will see another day are; the outside of Hunter Island, Namu, Codville Lagoon, New Bella Bella (we might dinghy over there this time), Klemtu and Butedale.  There is always next year!

If you have any suggestions of things for us to see or do, please email me at:

Thanks for tuning in.  Steve & Cindy