Thursday, February 4, 2010

the Outside Passage 2009

A chance encounter with Chuck Curry in 2007 set our minds in motion and inspired this trip that we embarked on July 17. We were camped at the west end of Higgins Passage on July 18, 2007 when Chuck stopped by to chat. A Puget Sound paddler, he was going solo from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert. He had crossed Milbanke Sound earlier that day in the same dense fog that Greg had unerringly led the 15.2 NM route from Milne Island to Higgins. After about 20 minutes Chuck paddled off towards the west. He still had some miles to make. We would meet up with him later in Seattle and learn that he had taken a route outside of Aristazabal, Trutch and Banks Islands. He had intended to go outside of Porcher, also, but ducked inside because he was running out of food. We were inspired to attempt his route, in reverse, and that is what we spent the past two years planning.

An extremely rough sketch of our intended route was to go through Edye Passage at the north end of Porcher Island and hang a left, keeping open ocean to our right until the time came to cross Queen Charlotte Strait for Port Hardy. We didn’t have the expectation that conditions would allow that but it was still the dream. The BC Coast isn’t known for producing the perfect stretch of weather it would take to allow us to consider that a viable route with our current schedule so an Inside/Outside Route is what we ended up doing and we made choices each day as to what route to take. We had a two week hard-date where we had to get Greg to the Klemtu or Shearwater for his ride back to Port Hardy so we couldn’t afford to get pinned down by inclement weather.

West Coast British Columbia
Map from Encarta World Atlas

For the benefit of family and friends Dave carried a Spot Satellite Messenger on his back and we “sent off a Spot” each morning when we started, at lunch if we put ashore and again when we reached a campsite. When we had no option to get out of our boats for lunch we activated it on Dave’s back or not at all. The Spots posted to Dave’s blog. These devices seem to have had some reliability issues, however, Dave’s worked perfectly and posted each Spot that we sent. For safety’s sake I wore an ACR Terrafix EBIRB that we would rely upon if we required extraction.