After provisioning and filling up with water in Port McNeill, we left after breakfast and headed out into Queen Charlotte Strait with Booker Lagoon as our destination…20 or so nautical miles across. The fog was back, but it came and went until we were out in the middle of the strait:
Sea lion checking us out:
We kept hearing chatter on the radio about orcas near “the Fosters” so I looked on the chart and realized they were talking about the Foster Islands. It just so happened we were going to be going right past the Foster Islands. We kept an eye out toward the spot on the horizon where several boats were hanging out, and saw (between us and them, but closer to us) two humpbacks hanging out near the surface.
We watched the humpbacks pass and continued toward the other boats. Pretty soon, we too saw the orcas. These are the first orcas we’ve seen all summer! There were maybe five of them, a group of three and a group of two.
The orcas moved east and we continued toward Booker Lagoon. Booker Lagoon is accessed through Booker Passage, a narrow channel with a 90 degree left turn with currents that can run to 8 knots. You really only want to go through at slack, and so that’s what we did.
Nice and calm, just after high slack…about a half a knot of current noticeable.
Cairns on shore at the entrance:
After entering the lagoon, there are many places to anchor. We checked out three of the arms…the easternmost, and two of the westernmost. The one marked in Active Captain and the Waggoner Guide as the preferred anchorage also comes with warnings about some uncharted rocks near the entrance that really messed up someone’s boat…but we went in and out of that entrance on both sides with the sonar on (including 200 feet of SideVu on either side of the boat), we only saw what was already charted. We found no stray rocks hanging out other than the ones on the chart.
We anchored in about 50 feet in the arm just south of the noted/preferred arm and it’s lovely. Seals on the shore, lots of birds around, and quiet.
We took the dinghy out to explore and set crab traps (no clue if there are crab here…will let you know later). (Update No. 1: no crab.)
About half way between high tide and low tide, we went into a little spot just before the narrows. The water wasn’t flowing through this part anymore and we were able to go ashore (walking on barnacles and seaweed and rocks) and to the other side to see what the rapids looked like. It looked like one big whirlpool of turbulent water! Cool! Hard to show in these photos, but yeah…I wouldn’t want to do that at any other time besides slack.
Here’s a section of the chart, so you can see what I’m talking about. The narrow part is Booker Passage. The red X is where we’re standing to view it (beached/rocked the dinghy just north of the X…the green part is now “land”). When we came in with Airship, we entered from the south through Cullen Harbour, made the left turn through Booker Passage, and into Booker Lagoon:
Looking toward the narrows. When we came through a few hours earlier, this was filled with water, the land on the right was an island, and on the other side of that island, more water (you can see this on the chart above…the green part is water at high tide):
Getting a view of the rapids out in Booker Passage from here:
Looking back at where we landed the dinghy:
Walking on barnacles:
The water in Booker Channel is flowing rapidly and from here it appears to be one big whirlpool…water flowing fast right to left on one side, and fast left to right on the other:
It’s super interesting to see these caution areas at their worst. If you plan correctly and always go through narrows and rapids at the recommended or slack times (as you should) you’ll never know what the conditions look like that you’re trying to avoid. (very helpful). 🙂
Back at Airship we decided to make some homemade pizzas for dinner.
I got the dough mixed and resting and came up with some ingredients for two different pizzas. We did them on the grill just like Deke and Tiffani taught us and they came out great! Pizza leftovers for lunch tomorrow!
We’re getting a little bit of intermittent data/internet in here, but it’s slow and unreliable. Our plan is to leave on the early low slack tide (minimum depth at zero tide shows 21 feet on the chart, so we’re fine at low tide) in the morning at 7:35am. We’ll head over to Pierre’s at Echo Bay, where we’ll meet up with our new friends on the S/Y Dawnbreaker.
Update No. 2: We got to Booker Passage this morning right at the published low slack time for nearby Sunday Harbor (7:35am) but there was still some current in the narrows. Two knots of current, in fact. We (I) did some quick maneuvers (a tiny bit stressful) but made it through fine. Though it’s also nice to know how the boat (and the skipper) handles conditions like these, it’s nicer to just theorize about that part.
On to Pierre’s!