A Passage Too Brief in the Pacific Northwest
Spurred on by the calendar and approaching seasonal gales, the crew of Roger Henry still manages to feast on Canada’s bounty of cruising delights.
Docks as friendly as these are a tender trap, especially when the chill autumn winds begin to blow. Still, we were anxious to get back out into the tickles and rattles of the Inside Passage, for it ranks as one of the world’s largest and most exciting cruising destinations. The fractured coast is littered with islands, and the mainland is slashed by a lattice of deep fjords. The verdant woods are crawling with wildlife—bear, moose, elk, deer, caribou, cougar, fox, wolf, wolverine, fishers, martens, and minks, to name but a few. The seas teem with whales, sea lions, seals, salmon, and otters. The skies are speckled with eagles, hawks, geese, ducks, kingfishers, and herons. And all of it is blessedly clean, for central to the aforementioned Canadian character is a deep and abiding love of nature. The environmental activist group Greenpeace was founded right here in British Columbia.
This natural splendor is so easily at hand that we hadn’t lost sight of Prince Rupert before finding one of the sweetest little anchorages in British Columbia. The entrance to Dodge Cove on Digby Island is tricky, and the water is thin, but we picked our way into a snug public dock. Within an hour of tying up, a local couple came down to the docks to invite us up to their house for dinner. Over our bottle of New Zealand sauvignon blanc and their delicate fresh fish, we discussed island living. In short, it’s not much different from life on board in that you lead a slower, less complicated, but productive existence, learn to truly trust and rely on each other, and find your inspiration and entertainment in the simple joys of nature.
The Canadian coast-guard weather reports indicated that the autumn gales were lining up early this year. We’d have to make our miles smartly between low-pressure systems. Immediately after the next low passed, we decided it was time to get out of Dodge. We dashed south into the long and lean Grenville Channel. The outside wind direction had little to do with what we found in the narrow waterways, as the wind tends to funnel either up or down the steep channel walls, seldom athwart them. At the confluence of deep bays and merging fjords these winds and currents collided, creating confused conditions. There was little point in pitting our paltry 30-horsepower engine against these elements when they colluded against us.