Westview marina also had something we’d been without for over a week – WiFi. It happens to be that this day was Amazon Prime Day so a little online shopping happened. We now have Christmas presents to be given out in Mexico checked off the list. You’re welcome Santa! We did some final loads of laundry and preparations to leave. The plan was to go to the next anchorage about 13 miles away but once we got moving we decided to continue north to the next sound, Quatsino, with a quick overnight stop at a temporary anchorage. The next morning we got moving early to head to Quatsino Sound. Gale force winds had unexpectedly shown up on the forecasts so we skipped a couple of places we’d planed to stop in favor of a more protected spot to anchor for a few nights. On the way up the coast we spotted a group of humpbacks breaching and diving. We also got to see a mama bear and her cubs foraging on the beach just a few hundred yards from where we anchored. AND Queue the kids’ non-interest in amazing wildlife after they looked at the trio for about 30 seconds… well, we still have sea otters.
Overnight we had the forecasted high winds and quite a bit of rain. The anchorage we were in didn’t have much of a shore so we couldn’t go play. The weather wasn’t great anyway, so we took the dinghy a couple of miles to the village of Winter Harbour. They have little store with miscellaneous groceries and other various supplies. We grabbed a few veggies and a special soap that we’ve been looking for the entire trip. The last time we’d found said soap was 9 years ago at a fuel dock store in a remote and desolate cove on the east side of Vancouver Island.
The store also offered internet (for a price) that promised streaming movies and the ability to video chat. Not exactly. We couldn’t even load our email log-in page. We sat there for a better part of an hour trying to get something, anything, to load without success. The kids found other kids to play with so they were occupied. The village has quite a few public docks for sport fishing boats and the kids’ new friends wanted to show Victoria and Alex their fishing boat and poles so we abandoned our attempts to get online and went off with new friends. We had hoped to meet up with a southbound boat with kids in Quatsino Sound but the weather that forced us north to seek shelter kept them even farther north. We were without any cell or internet service and tried to get in touch with them via our satellite device without avail.
We had been watching the winds and decided the next morning we would make our run north to round Cape Scott and make our way east to the side of the island that has better weather. After another night of squall after squall of torrential rain we got up a bit later than planned but had our anchor up and were headed out of the anchorage a little after 6am. As we rounded the corner and made our way west we were greeted with a huge swell and breaking waves but there wasn’t enough wind to sail. Our options were to spend the entire day pounding into the waves or turning around and trying the trip another day. When we encounter steep waves at the bow while motoring, the boat tends to pound into the waves with about every 3rd wave breaking over the bow and a wall of water rushing back towards the cockpit. However, when sailing in the same conditions the pressure of the wind in the sails keeps the boat from pounding quite so much. Sailing is always our preferred method of moving Samadhi – it is “free” since we are not using any diesel as when we are motoring. The other advantage is the boat’s movements when sailing are easier on those prone to seasickness, the sound of the motor and smell of exhaust can also exasperate seasickness. Well, someone got a bit sick this morning so we decided to make the trek back into the Sound. We were able to get a weather report from a few sources while out. The following day’s wind was not going to be any better but the sea state was going to be a meter smaller (3 meters vs the 3-4 we were in) and the days following were going to be no wind at all. After finding a new anchorage for the night we settled in for a day of intermittent rain and gusty winds. Again there wasn’t any shore for us to explore so it was just a day on the boat that we had to endure being inside all day. The following morning we got ourselves ready for our final trip north, up the west coast of Vancouver Island. The winds were as forecasted and thankfully the sea state was smaller than the day before. We had to motor the entire trip but it was much more comfortable. Since we weren’t sailing we couldn’t use the monitor wind vane to steer the boat and figured we’d give our autopilot a break for the day so we hand-steered the boat all day, something we hardly ever do. Dan and I took hour shifts and Victoria took half an hour shifts. This was Victoria’s first time on a watch and she did an amazing job. Dan spent her first shift by her side instructing her on what to watch for, when to turn into the larger waves and how to anticipate Samadhi’s movements. It requires a lot of attention in the seas that we were in and Victoria took right to the task. She was very proud to assist in something as important as being on watch in the ocean. She came up with a saying to remind herself what she was looking for “land, compass, kelp”. The shelf off the west coast of Vancouver Island is fairly shallow so there are large rafts of bull kelp to avoid. We rounded Cape Scott and crossed the bar with an hour and half of tide still behind us (you don’t want to cross a bar going against the current – especially if the wind is counter to the current). Eventually we got enough wind to sail for a bit but it quickly died and we motored into Port Hardy around 6pm. We’d had a 10 hour day and were so glad to be done for the day. We don’t often tie up to a dock but didn’t find any suitable place to anchor so grabbed a spot on the public dock right in “downtown”. We had the boat settled for maybe 10 minutes when we hopped off and found a pizza place. The greek pizza and garden salads were the best we’ve ever tasted! We’d been without pizza for 5 weeks, so maybe it wasn’t truly “the best”! Port Hardy was having their annual town celebration called “FiLoMina”. Fi for fishing, Lo for logging, and Mi for mining; the three industries the town was founded on. They had a parade and festivities in the park for kids. We spent our day experiencing their culture and enjoying the ability to explore on land. It feels like it’s been so long! We spent 2 nights there doing laundry, running to the grocery store (3 trips in 2 days), filling the fuel tanks and topping off water tanks.