Central Coast 2018
Some Simple Notes on Boating to the Central Coast – mid-June to end July 2018
Thanks to everyone who contributed knowledge and information to support our trip and to
those who went before such as Peter Boldt, Bill Ellis and Norm Lim.
We were three boats: Lara III located in Comox owned by John Heintz and Carol Sheehan;
Honor located at Capital City Yacht Club and owned by Joanne Colquhoun and, Var Bat (our
boat) owned by Birgit and Allan Castledine located at Canoe Cove. Honor and Var Bat left
Victoria on June 14 and departed Comox in the company of Lara III on June 17. The three boats
stayed close together for the bulk of the trip with a few deviations. Honor and Var Bat parted
company with Lara III on July 18 th heading south while Lara III spent time in Blunden Harbour
and Alert Bay before returning to Comox. The farthest north we reached was Fjordland north
of Klemtu.The trip was a total of about 6 weeks.
Weather: not as cool or wet as we had anticipated. Many days with light rain/drizzle. No rain
coming at us side-ways. Quite a few very hot days especially towards end of June. We did not
run into serious fog. Sometimes saw fog-banks ahead but they either dissipated or were light
enough to not bother us. One of our boats had good radar. One had very good AIS which was
helpful in identifying other vessels, their speed and course especially when we saw our first few
cruise ships coming up Queen Charlotte Strait in the mist. For most of our trip, the three boats
were within a half-mile of each other – most of the time much less than that so were always in
Water Availability: Each boat took a few extra water containers. We were able to get enough
potable water at various locations to satisfy our needs. Water was in some cases slightly
coloured but still potable. We were early in the season. Some years, the local communities can
not supply boats especially big ones with water.
Fuel: diesel and other fuels were available – none in Ocean Falls, however. All boats carried a
jerry can or two of extra diesel just in case. Propane was available in Shearwater.
Supplies: bigger communities are well-supplied – new excellent supermarket in Bella Bella –
good one in Shearwater. None in Ocean Falls. Note that we stocked our boats to the extent
that they seemed to “hunker down” in the water. The extra weight helping cut through the
water – at least that was my impression.
Mechanical Issues: you have to be on watch continuously for wood in the water. One boat had
problem with pulley that ran the coolant pump (boat had been serviced and checked over prior
to the trip so this was unexpected). One boat had problem with PSS shaft seal throwing water
at higher RPMs – slowed down and fixed in Port McNeil. One boat got strips of Cedar
bark/small sticks caught in the prop necessitating a dive to clear it.
Cape Caution: heading north, we left Skull Cove at 6am with West Sea Otter showing swells of
2.2 meters (7 feet) but with no wind expected and just turning to a flood tide so no potential
issue of the ebb from Slingsby hitting incoming swells or waves. Our boat got hit by an
unexpected slap causing Birgit to fall against the coaming and cracking a couple of ribs – she
soldiered on. About 6-7 hours to Duncanby Landing.
Heading south, we left Goose Bay at first light, winds were expected from the northwest at 10 –
20 knots with Slingsby ebbing. We chose to head far out and pass to the west of the Storm
Islets to avoid the ebb hitting the northwest winds. It was uncomfortable out in the middle of
the Strait with the wind and 3-5 foot waves breaking on our aft. Wind probably got up to 15
but happily not 20. Made it to Blunden Harbour in 8 ½ hours.
Rapids: we passed through Surge Narrows (Beazley Passage), Lower Rapids in Okisollo Channel,
Greene Point Rapids, Whirlpool Rapids (near Forward Harbour), and Dent/Yuculta). As usual
with the first experience, our hearts were beating a few extras and we were on high alert.
Timing is everything. On the return, we cheated a bit at Whirlpool Rapids so that we could get
through Greene Rapids and through to Shoal Bay.
Other Traffic: lots of bigger boats heading north to Alaska. A few barges, Cruise ships and
ferries. But still lots of room. In mid-July, Ocean Falls got a bit busy with little room on the
docks. Shear water is also quite busy in July – we were permitted to stay on the commercial
dock and spent one night on the breakwater – it is rough in sections. We saw a number of
boats anchored out.
Wildlife: once north of Port McNeil, seems to be more of everything except people. Humpback
whales, a few Orcas, Dall and Pacific White-Sided Porpoise, seals, sea-lions, a few sea otters,
massive flocks of sea-birds – many Rhinoceros Auklets, a few Grizzly and Black Bears and fish.
Highlights: visiting First Nations communities which seem to have a spirit of rejuvenation with
big houses having been recently completed or under construction, Ocean Falls, The Cannery at
Goose Bay, Fjiordland, Hakai Institute, people/boaters, seafood. Seeing how the Central Coast
works – getting needed supplies in from the north island and Bella Coola. We were quite
amazed to learn that one can take a ferry from Klemtu to Port Hardy in the morning, do some
shopping and get back to Klemtu on the same day.
Time: 6 weeks could have been longer. Leaving from the North Island would save two weeks or
Questions? Feel free to contact me if you have any.