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.

Al Castledine