Saga of Sea Tub

Sea-kayaking Anacortes, Washington to Emmonak, Alaska

Northern Paddling Adventure #1

100 days, 3,392 miles, Apr-Jul 1988

Ray & Jenny Jardine

Saga of the Sea Tub - Part 1 page 2 of 5

The Saga of the Sea Tub

A Journey to the North

Part 1 - Anacortes to Prince Rupert

Ray Jardine

Back when I was sea-kayaking in Baja, in the early seventies, I rarely saw anyone else. The overwhelming majority of beaches were deserted, and the fishing was nothing short of spectacular. This "golden era" appealed to me greatly; I prefer my wilderness raw, with much to discover and few distractions. Of course, Baja's golden era is long gone, and this is what led me to turn my sea-kayaking attention elsewhere. I knew that pristine wilderness was still to be found in the Arctic, and to me paddling in the Arctic seemed like the ultimate in wilderness travel.

The problem was, Jenny and I lacked the skills necessary for such extreme kayaking conditions. And, too, we wanted to "earn" our right to be in the Arctic. So for this first trip we decided to kayak, not in the Arctic but from the "lower 48" to the Arctic.

Our route for the summer would be 3,300 miles in length, and would consist of three segments. First, we would ply the Inside Passage a thousand miles from Anacortes, Washington, along the coasts of British Columbia and Southeastern Alaska, to the town of Skagway Alaska. Second, we would portage over the mountains via the Chilkoot Trail, made famous during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1898. This portage would put us into the headwaters of the Yukon River. And finally we would float the Yukon some 2,000 miles to the Bering Sea.

We figured this trip would be a great way to gain experience and hone our abilities. We expected to see a wide range of flora and fauna, and no doubt some of the finest scenery imaginable.

In the wee hours of the morning, on April 25 1988, we put our two-person kayak in the water at Green Point. Shoving off into pre-dawn darkness, we begin the five mile crossing to Decatur Island, the nearest of the San Juan group. This passage proves to be a lively one, with the kayak romping over the chop, and our paddles flashing amid bursts of cold spray. The occasional greenie rolls over the foredeck, barely losing momentum before reaching the open cockpit. We do not have our spray cover fitted because we are carrying so much gear it won't fit.

Two hours later we close Thatcher Island and land ashore. Jenny removes one of her rubber gum boots and dumps a load of seawater onto the pebble beach with a conspicuous splash. Earlier, she had mentioned that a boarding wave had filled the boot, and now I believe her! The season is early and the chilliness of the gray day only adds to our feelings of insecurity. Many months had we been planning this trip, but how improbable the whole idea now seems. Even so, our main emotion is that of excitement. At long last we have begun our journey to the north!

A Bald Eagle circles overhead, so closely that we almost feel this is some kind of welcoming by the Spirit of the Northern Waters. This eagle is the first of thousands we will be seeing in the coming 50 days to Skagway.

The chill encourages our departure, so we shove off and spend the day working our way through the island group. Along the way we admire a variety of sea birds, a few more eagles, and one sea lion. Several ferries pass by, as do a number of small pleasure-craft. The islands are mostly steep-to and beautifully forested, with houses dotting them practically everywhere.

The clouds dissipate and we garner a bit of warmth from the sun, so we hoist our sails and bowl along in a perfect 10-knot wind. Now this is living! The wind is directly astern, so we sail wing-on-wing; the mainsail set to starboard, and the genoa to port and held out by my paddle. Making way across an open stretch of sea, we are slowly overtaken by a sailboat under full press of canvas. The afternoon is late and beginning to chill, so with sails still drawing we resume our paddling, "motor-sailing" as we whimsically refer to it, and soon leave the sailboat well astern.

After spending hours searching for a place to camp among the ubiquitous houses, we land in an unoccupied cove called Orca on Steward Island. The cove is steep-to, so we lug our gear, bag by waterproof bag, high up the slope to a place level enough for our tent. This will become something of an evening ritual, rarely will we find suitable camping close to the water.

Despite its proximity to civilization, the region is alive with birds and animals of many descriptions. Setting off the following morning, we come to what appears to be a cluster of logs rafted together. But noticing a hint of movement, we realize that these are not logs but sea lions. The animals are basking on what must be a barely submerged rock, a few hundred feet offshore. We circle; and as we pass close by the sea lions, they scurry into deeper water. Soon two dozen heads and sets of eyes are peering at us, just above the water's surface and all around the kayak. Clearly, we are at the disadvantage.

The mood of the sea lions seems very different here. During my Baja travels, whenever I encountered a herd of sea lions I would pass close by and chase them into the water, and they would begin frolicking about excitedly, obviously enjoying the encounter. Here, every set of eyes seems laced with fear. Absent is the fun. We snap a few pictures then move away to mitigate their anxieties. Left alone, a few become curious, and begin following us, some to one side, some to the other, and even some up ahead. And thus our entourage escorts us close by for the next four miles, their numbers gradually dwindling the farther we go.

Two more full and interesting days take us to the city of Nanaimo. When we check in with Canadian Customs, the officer threatens to seize our boat. Our "crime" is having camped on two islands within Canadian waters prior to checking in. We tell him we had checked in, two days previously with officers aboard a Customs boat. Nonetheless, the fellow belabors his point for some 20 minutes before handing us our clearance.

The trip north along the inside coast of Vancouver Island proves to be very interesting and also quite challenging. The days tend to be chilly and windy, and the seas are often boisterous. But travel by kayak affords so many fascinating things to discover that we are never bored or disheartened.

Sea lions are quite common, typically eyeing us curiously and ducking beneath the surface when we come too close. Often we encounter seabirds resting on the water's surface, and at our approach they take to flight. One species of underwater swimming bird find it difficult to build enough speed to get themselves airborne, and even more so when the seas are choppy. They begin by flapping their wings vigorously and running pell-mell across the water's surface. The web-footed running leaves a wake behind them that resembles the wake of a small motor boat. This amuses us to no end.

The young ones of this particular species have not yet acquired the strength and endurance needed for such arduous launchings. At our approach they go jet-boating away like their parents, only to crash headlong into some wave. But no harm done, and soon they try again. Three or four times and they usually resort to Escape Plan B: dive beneath the surface.

Plying the coast we try to stay reasonably close to shore. The water is remarkably clear, and six feet down we see, lying on the seabed, star fish, sand dollars, clam shells, oysters, mussels, sea weeds, kelp, and barnacled rocks. Often we take turns out of the boat, one of us walking instead of paddling. This slows our progress very little, and is a wonderful way to restore circulation to one's derriere. In any given day, each of us, in turn, walks several miles all told.

At times we paddle with the sails hanging slack. But the wind is not always inert. Often it is strong, sending us roaring along at break-neck speed. While sailing at hull speed I have to balance the trim very carefully. I do this by gripping the main sheet in one hand and the genoa sheet in the other, while steering with my foot-operated rudder peddles. As we go, I am constantly easing or sheeting in. We made our sails ourselves, they resemble those of an ordinary sloop-rigged sailboat. They are relatively small - about 27 square feet each - so the sheets do not require blocks or winches. And because the boat is so heavily loaded it does not require leeboards.

Rarely do we find convenient camping at day's end. Rather, we usually have to search the coastline for hours. We call it the QBR: "the Quest for the Best Rest." The problem is mainly one of vegetation. The trees and underbrush are incredibly lush, crowding together impenetrably and even leaning out over the water in their tenacious pursuit of real estate and sunlight.

One morning we awake to find the seashore missing. In its place, a vast tidal flat stretches before us. We wander around on the flat, and find that one could make a full meal of oysters within any given 20 foot radius. But the area is termed a "lease," meaning that only the lessee can collect them. Anyway, the tide is receding rapidly, and the distance to water's edge is increasing by the minute. Returning to camp we carry the boat 200 yards to the water's edge. And by the time we make four or five more trips with our gear, the tide has receded another 50 yards. We move the boat again to the new water's edge. And finally, with boat, gear and water all in one place, we set the boat into the water and load it while moving it slowly seaward with the still-receding tide.

Another characteristic of the Inside Passage is its rain. Usually this is ordinary rain, not too hard, not too long lasting, though rather frequent. But sometimes the sky blackens with a particularly immense thunderstorm, and the rain falls by the bucketfuls. These storms can pose serious threats to mariners in small boats such as ours, with fierce winds whipping across the bay, piling it in heaps and covering it in angry white caps. At the worst of such times we much prefer to remain ashore. But when safety permits, we will often forge through it, making the best of things.

When selecting a kayak for this trip, I decided to go with a collapsible type. I had owned one of these before, and had used it in all sorts of places. A collapsible boat is easier to travel with, for example when riding a bus or in someone's car, down into Mexico and back. For the present trip I figured that a collapsible kayak would facilitate both our portage of the Chilkoot Trail, and our return from the Bering Sea by small plane. Being somewhat frugal minded I had selected one of the more moderately priced ones, only to spend several weeks modifying it for deep-water travel. I improved the boat considerably, yet still it exhibited certain unalterable limitations. Mainly, its inability to resist rain and spray. It leaks something dreadful, despite a liberal application of silicone sealant. The two items we need most are a bilge pump and a rubber ducky swimming around in the bilge, bathtub style. Which is why we are beginning to refer to the kayak, affectionately, as the "Sea Tub."

Nine days into the trip we reach the city of Campbell River, and here we indulge in a motel room. The room is of course dry and therefore indescribably luxurious to us, after having camped many days in the rain. We do our laundry and enjoy a few restaurant meals. But the next morning early the Sirens resume their singing in a way that we find hard to resist.

As we approach the entrance to Seymour Narrows the scenery begins sliding past at dizzying speeds. These are ocean waters, but they act like those of some great, turbulent river. The effect is caused by the ebbing and flooding tide wrapping around Vancouver Island and squeezing through this narrow channel. The tide table estimates today's current at 12 knots, and indicates that it can go as high as 16. If ever there is a place with a foreboding reputation along the Inside Passage, this is it.

We land ashore and while Jenny holds the boat off the rocks, I climb to a high vantage. Even from up here the "river" sounds like a waterfall, with rips, races, and even whirlpools. Slack water is due not for a couple of hours, but I pick out a line that appears safe, one that circumvents the worst of the turmoil. What I fail to realize is the scale. From my perch several hundred feet above the water, the action appears nowhere nearly as large as it is.

I return to the boat. Jenny dons her wetsuit, and we both put on our life jackets. We un-step and stow the mast, get in, and secure the spray cover. One thing is certain: this run promises to be a wild one.

Paddling around the corner, we enter an area of counter-current so strong that we are barely able to pull through it. Then we are accelerated wildly into the Narrows. The cliffs are flying dizzily past, and it takes all our energy and attention to control the boat.

We cross an unavoidable sheer between two opposing eddies, just as a whirlpool forms 15 feet off our starboard beam. Within seconds it grows into a seething, sucking monster. In all my kayaking and sailing experience I have never seen anything nearly as awesome as this whirlpool. It is making terrifying, sucking sounds, but curiously it is not drawing us to it. Had it done so, perhaps three-quarters of our 18 foot craft would have fit into the hole before being swallowed altogether. We paddle hard to port, not in panic - the situation is far too dangerous for that - but with a controlled and determined urgency.

Eight feet ahead, another whirlpool forms. This one is considerably smaller; we swing the boat hard to starboard and paddle away full tilt. Soon we exit the sheer zone and leave its whirlpools astern. But for the next several minutes we continue being buffeted and tossed about like an insignificant piece of flotsam caught in a channel of raging water. As we proceed further, the waters begin to calm somewhat and we know that we have made it through. Jenny remarks that never in her life has she experienced such an adrenalin rush.

We transit the rest of Johnstone Strait, maneuvering among overfalls, surges, and boils, and counter-current close to shore where we must travel. The headwinds against the current create a steep and dangerous chop farther out. The rain is remarkably persistent; but it only makes us appreciate the occasional burst of sunshine that much more.

We spend many hours each day in the cockpit, and at times the paddling is arduous. But always there is something to hold our attention. Such as the ubiquitous bald eagles with their seven and eight foot wing-spans. Along the shore we occasionally see river otter and mink. At one point we watch a whale blowing a column of spray with each exhalation before sounding for several minutes. Another time we see a dorsal fin, no doubt that of an orca. The surrounding terrain itself is nothing short of spectacular. Fiord-like rocky promontories plummet into the sea. Where there is no rock, the forest is luxuriously verdant and dense. Small waterfalls of all descriptions melodically splash into the sea, sometimes so close that we could paddle into them if we wished. When we paddle into deep bays or behind the protection of the islands, the water becomes so still that we can see beneath the boat to a depth of perhaps 15 feet. Ashore we see bear tracks and scat, but fortunately not see the animals themselves. We are not carrying bear protection of any sort.

On our way to Minstrel Island we enter the channel between West and East Craycroft Islands. The chart shows a narrow passage here, but we find only a five-foot wide streambed left high and dry by the falling tide. So we have to turn around and paddle seven miles out of our way. Jenny says, "We'll have to chalk that one up to exploration." We reach the small store at Minstrel Island nearly two weeks in to the trip. Here we buy food for the next jaunt to New Bella Bella.

Another common trait along the Inside Passage is fog. One morning we find the wind and seas quiet, but the visibility down to a few hundred feet at best. We paddle out into the grey nothingness, steering by compass while groping ahead almost by feel. And so goes the entire morning, padding from one island to the next, making a few longer passages of several miles, and each time finding our objective looming as a darker grey blob directly ahead. With each success we become more confident in our little Boy Scout compass, and its ability to show us the way.

Crossing Fife Sound in this fog, we come to a large rock crowded with massive sea lions. We approach quietly, but when the bull on watch notices us he starts roaring like a lion - hence the name I suppose. The others awake and several large bulls join the outcry. These creatures are so big and ferocious sounding that we don't dare approach them. That rock is obviously theirs and they are in no mood to be chased into the water. We give them a wide berth and press on, navigating by the grumpy roaring astern.

After traversing Wells Passage we paddle across to the mainland in strong winds. Following the rocky coastline, eventually we reach a creek indicated on the chart. We are glad to find it flowing; we had not found fresh water since Minstrel Island. While Jenny tends the boat, I walk a hundred yards upstream to fill our jugs above the high-tide line. Curiously, I find an upturned canoe. I holler out the usual greeting: "Hello the camp!" and a head rises from behind a log. The fellow is incredibly grubby; he says he started just north of Vancouver 10 months ago! His rifle at his side, he warns me of grizzly bears. I consider him distrustfully and waste no time filling my jugs in the creek. More than likely he is perfectly harmless, but something about the way he acts makes me not want to stick around and find out.

Reaching the light beacon marking Cape Caution, we head out into the infamous Queen Charlotte Strait, the largest of the open gaps in the otherwise protected Inside Passage. To our west is the open Pacific Ocean. Today's weather is moderate; swells four and five feet tall roll gently beneath us only to crash headlong into the rocky coastline. The seething, reverberating surf prompts us to keep well away. Most of the day we remain miles from any land, crossing large bays and broad channels.

The next day we are stormbound ashore. Here, we meet the skipper of a fishing boat anchored in the island's lee; he is out digging clams. He tells us that the weather radio is reporting 70 to 80 knot winds in Queen Charlotte Sound. We shudder to think what the waves must be like out there. The fisherman says, "You ought to see it up at the Aleutians where we crab!"

We awake to a drizzle, pack the boat in a light rain, and set off in a full-on downpour. The seas are reasonably manageable, so we cross Burke Channel and Fitz Hugh Sound. The wind is at our backs and whipping up a short, gnarly chop. Rain pours down by the bucketfulls. Every hour we have to stop and bail an inch of water from the bilge. Presumably most of it is rain water leaking in through the kayak's multi-part gunnels. Boats of all types ply the channel, including large tugs pulling their massive loads atop barges. We envy their crews ensconced dryly within. The amount of cargo one of these big rigs carries is phenomenal, and as they rumble slowly past they remind us of the immense intergalactic starships featured in the Star Wars movies.

We round the broad corner of Denny Island, and soon reach the town of New Bella Bella. This is an Indian town primarily, and also a fisherman's stop. The Indians live in reasonably nice houses, and we find them friendly. Not once are our greetings ignored. The plagues here are the same ones that infect virtually every U.S. city, mainly those of alcohol and TV. We rent a hotel room so that we can dry out. The place is a bit run-down, but it does have a large storage room for the kayak. We string lines across the room and hang our wet gear on them. I test the shower and only cold water comes out. I inquire, and am told that "the hot water heater will be fixed tomorrow." This sounds strange without the Mexican accent. Jenny does our laundry in the bathtub, and the maid lets us use her electric clothes dryer. Then we bathe; one body part at a time in the frigid water. We drift asleep to the sound of heavy rain.

Next morning early we load the kayak beneath the town pier. A woman hollers out, "Hey! What are you doing?" Curiosity piqued she ambles over and asks if we are hippies. Josephine, an elderly native woman, wears a thick wool sweater, a skirt, gum boots, and the perpetual cigarette in hand. She is out scrounging around the low tide zone, waiting for the cafe to open so she can get a cup of coffee. She tells us she used to bake bread for the hippies and fishermen. She says she wishes she had known we were here, she would have baked some for us. She begins softly yodeling. I ask where she learned to do that; she says she was in surgery once because of an accident, and woke up yodeling, and has been doing it ever since. She tells us to be careful on our trip, and wanders off.

We shove off and paddle into Seaforth Channel, where we find favorable current and a light wind abeam, to which we hoist the main. Then as we cross Seaforth Channel the wind pipes up and backs to a close reach on the port tack. The ride is a wild one; we paddle hard to remove ourselves from the busy traffic lanes, while romping over and through the oncoming chop. The wind veers to east so we change main for genoa and ease along the north edge of the channel, eventually reaching a lighthouse.

Lighthouses here are not trivial affairs. They feature homes and out-buildings, boat cranes and heli-pads. At the sight of us the light keeper, presumably, comes bounding down the hill waving his arms as though he has an urgent storm warning for us. So of course we draw as close to the rocky shore as we dare. This is in Millbank Sound and the open sea to the southwest is sending a big swell that bashes implacably against the rocks and lathering them in a foam of white fury. Cupping his hands to his mouth, the fellow hollers, "Where - did - you - start?" We yell back and forth, exchanging particulars, trying to hear over the roar of surf and I think generally making ourselves understood. He invites us ashore for coffee, but does not mention how that would be possible in such rough conditions, short of being craned out of the water. So reluctantly we turn and continue on our way, thanking the fellow, who was obviously interested in our trip and eager for a bit of company.

We cross a 2-mile wide channel in fairly rough conditions, bare-poled with wind fine on the starboard bow, paddles cranking full power. Then we enter an area of submerged, off-lying rocks, where the ocean swell working through the shoals makes for a few interesting moments. Every so often a breaking wave erupts furiously out of nowhere, exploding with spray and hurling spume in all directions. We have to watch far ahead for such eruptions, and memorize their location in order to steer well clear of them when we reach them. It feels rather like paddling through a mine field.

We are taking frequent greenies over the bow, and each one pours a little more seawater into the leaky boat. Stopping to sponge the bilge tends to compromise our stability, and on days like this our sponges are no match for the water's inflow. So we paddle furiously, racing for the next bit of protected water behind some headland. This is yet another clear case for a better kayak.

But the seas are not always so rough. Sometimes they are pleasantly still or at least reasonably so. At such times we tend to take alternate rests, one resting while the other continues paddling. We joke that the resting person is a passenger on a cruise ship; although one of somewhat limited amenities and comforts. Aboard the "HMS Royal Tub" luncheon is served in the View Lounge, and consists of Ritz Crackers, Imported Mozzarella Cheese, and Coated Biscuits. Passengers are reminded to keep the coated (waterproof) side of the chocolate-covered biscuits skyward, to prevent them from dissolving in the liquid British Columbian sunshine.

We pass by a great many coves, however the foliage ashore is usually impenetrable, making the camping places few and far in between. Often we wish for various implements including a machete, a double-bitted broad ax, a whipsaw, and possibly some dynamite. Lacking these, we sleep in some very unlikely places. The strangest is our "three-log" camp. After searching everywhere, we pitch the tent on three logs that are lying against each-other and covering the usual high tangle of underbrush. This is not one of our better night's rest.

The morning after "three-log" is another wet one, and as usual we are soaked. Generally we are more into adventure than comfort, but this is getting to be ridiculous! Jenny is never one to complain, but this morning she is obviously beginning to flag. We land ashore and it becomes immediately obvious that she is in the initial stages of hypothermia. I search around and find a cramped cave beneath a tree. Its rock floor is reasonably dry, so we climb in, bringing the stove and coffee fixin's. That going, I scrounge a bit of dry tinder and strike a small fire. Nearby a cedar had fallen and crashed onto the rocks, splintering into small pieces perfect for our little fire.

Jenny feels much better so we set off across the main channel. One after the other, squalls come marching in from astern, dumping rain in sheets and ripping the face of the sea into a calamity of white caps. These hit us about half an hour apart, each one sending the Tub gyrating wildly in the chop. And then the squall moves ahead, leaving us bobbing in glorious sunshine for a few precious minutes. A glance aft, though, confirms that the next squall is not far off, and headed our way.

The channel is enveloped on both sides by steep-to cliffs and high mountains, snow-capped on their upper reaches. With all the precipitation - rain down here, snow up there - waterfalls large and small are everywhere.

For supper we had planned to open a few tins. Unfortunately, we can't find the pocket knife. We figure we must have left it at our last camp. We dine on sandwiches. Later I find my pocket knife - in my pocket of all places.

During the night I awaken to find three of us in the tent: Jenny, myself and a mouse. I shine the flashlight on it, and it dashes out the doorway. I flip out the empty cookie wrapper, and fall back to sleep with the sounds of it scratching around with it.

Beyond the ramshackle fish cannery called Butedale is a remarkable 10 miles of channel so steep-to and continuous that it offers no possibility of making a landing. The sensation is one of paddling across 10 miles of open water, except that the cliffs offer some measure of protection from the wind, keeping the seas reasonably calm.

Late afternoon we land ashore and hang the tent and sleeping bags in the sun. We almost succeed in improving their condition when a drizzle sets in and sends us scurrying. As we are packing to leave, an otter swims along shore. We load up and set off again on our afternoon's gravy run. Our daily goal is 20 miles, which already today we had achieved. After that, any extra miles we refer to as gravy on the biscuit. We have a bank account which automatically deducts 20 miles a day, so we must deposit 20 miles a day just to keep a zero balance. We have traveled 481 miles in 24 days, so at this point we have exactly one mile of credit in the bank.

We cut across a large bay. In the back of this bay is a recent clear cut and a dirt road. Also there is what appears to be a mobile home. The place looks vacant, so we decide to go have a look. We land ashore and find no tracks anywhere. The door is unlocked, and inside we find the place furnished and unoccupied. It lacks heat and water, but still it is a windfall of indescribable proportions. Tonight we will sleep dry.

We string lines across the rooms and hang out all our soggy worldly belongings. We find a note written by a previous visitor. The fellow writes that he was waylaid here with engine trouble, and was waiting for a lift. He says he was very bored.

The next morning rain is pouring from the heavens, so we decide on a layover day. We sip our coffees in bed, thank you, watching the sunrise - minus the sun. I am not a bed sleeper, but this bed is firm and feels almost heavenly. But then, lying on dry ground would feel much the same. With Jenny busy in the kitchen making pancakes, I explore the surroundings.

Jenny calls me from an open window to look at the two dogs on the beach. I look, and see that they are not dogs, but wolves. One is the usual grey with a few black markings, the other is black. I whistle softly and they look at us for awhile before moving away into the forest. So we call this place Wolf Bay. And to us the trailer will always be the Wolf Bay Chalet.

We go for a long walk along the logging road, back into one of the glacier-cut valleys. We see a couple of deer, one of which just stands there watching us go by. It is still there, lying down, when we return. The forest has been desecrated by the clear cut, but we have to admit that the openness was a welcome relief to the senses after spending so much time in the impenetrable forest.

Back at the trailer we scrounge a cut-in-half 55 gallon drum, and in this we build a fire. With the recent logging, firewood is everywhere. I lay a piece of grating across the top of the drum, then we wash a few large rocks and put them on the grate. While these are heating we make several trips to a nearby creek, collecting water and filling the trailer's bath tub. Once the rocks are hot, we carry them one at a time, in an old pot we found, and place them gingerly into the tub with hissing and a great cloud of steam. The steam fills the bathroom. The bath water gets so hot that we have to add more cold water before we can step in. Scrubbing some of the wilderness off us, we enjoy a most luxurious, steamy, hot bath - our first hot water in a couple of weeks.

We depart early the next morning, as usual in the rain. Leaving this place feels almost like leaving home. The trailer had been the perfect shelter and we cannot say how much of a blessing it was for us. The door had been left unlocked, no doubt so that any passers-by could use the place. As a token of our gratitude we cleaned the place stem to stern.

After a five mile open water crossing to the mainland in rather wild conditions, we enter Grenville channel just as the rain ceases and the sun actually comes out a bit. The sea flattens almost like a mirror, and a favorable two-knot current sweeps us along our merry way. The afternoon is warm and the scenery is superb. The channel is narrow, one third of a mile wide in places, and the encompassing snow clad peaks rise to 2,500 feet. For some reason we encounter a lot of marine traffic. We see barges, a few fishing trollers, a small ferry and a large ferry, a couple of tuna seiners, a few large cargo ships, a cruise ship, and a couple of power yachts. In the narrow channel we are close to this traffic, so we receive many waves from passengers and toots from horns.

A few more days of stormy weather paddling brings us to Prince Rupert, where we arrive on May 23. We have traveled nearly a month to this point.

Saga of the Sea Tub - Part 1

© 1988 Ray Jardine

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