Leaving Kutz Inlet Waterfall Earlier than Anticipated only to Tackle the Scary Watts Narrows by Day’s End
As previously written, Dauntless got underway earlier than I. I woke up a little after 6 a.m. only to discover that we were about a ¼ mile from our anchoring spot We were a ¼ mile from where we were the previous night. I can determine from the Coastal Explorer track that we started drifting about 02:00, so in 4 hours we drifted a quarter of a mile down the inlet about ¼ mile from shore with depth now more than 200’.
I started the engine and we got underway.
It was a typical summer day in the Inside Passage, cloudy with rain showers on and off all day. Once we got into the main channel, we had a quiet day moving north. About midafternoon, we were passed by a humpback whale heading south.
Three hours later, we were approaching Watts Narrows, which we needed to pass thru to enter Baker Inlet, where we would anchor for the night near yet another waterfall.
There are hundreds of passages called “narrow” in S.E. Alaska and British Columbia. Watts Narrows was the narrowest and scariest that I have encountered since Northern Europe!
I’ll let the two videos speak for themselves. I made videos from inside the pilot house showing the Coastal Explorer chart and the Raymarine radar, while also taking GO Pro video from outside.
While the anchor was holding, I no longer liked the spot we were in. There were now two other boats in the anchorage, and they were more than a ¼ mile away. Maybe I better join them?
So, we moved. At 18:46 we were anchored in a new spot, much further from shore, but still on a slope. Bow anchor bearing was now 72’ @ 248°, I had 90’ of chain out in 40’ of water. I decided to put the stern anchor out. It’s a plow anchor with 10’ of chain and 300’ of nylon rode. This was just in case the bow anchor was not well set on the slope it was on.
For the next two hours I watched it. With two anchors out, I used the waterfall itself as a reference. The distance did not vary by more than 15 feet, I felt this was OK. Though our depth under the keel continued to lower as the tide went out. And because I had two anchors out, I did not have much scope on either line, with only about a 100’ out for each in 30’ of water.
But I wasn’t worried and with 12’ under the keel, I went to sleep, planning on an early departure the next day, so we could get to Prince Rupert, BC in two days.
I slept so very well. In my first years anchoring, I would awake every couple of hours, lay in bed feeling the motion and within a minute, convince myself that we were float free and clear. I’d then check the anchor alarm (Drag Queen), notice that it had turned itself off, so would get up to check that all was good. It always was good. In other words, my imagination was worse than the reality. I then go back to sleep, only to repeat the process a couple of hours later.
By years 3 & 4, waking up became less routine on the hook, as my 55# Delta anchor never dragged. Though I would still check occasionally in the worst weather.
In the last couple of years, I’ve become even more relaxed about anchoring. Having used the anchor alarm in years, mostly because I found it only went off, after I took the dingy to shore and was walking downtown. Additionally, my first-year anchoring miscues were not so much about the anchor dragging, but me anchoring in the wrong place with not enough water under the keel at low tide.
I wouldn’t call it complacent, I was finally just comfortable anchoring, knowing my boat and anchor. To a point where even last month, on our trip to Juneau, we had to shelter from a first storm in Farragut Bay. We anchored in a little cove that I had anchored in two times previously. While it was a lee shore, in that the wind was pushing us towards the shore just behind the boat.
All thru the night, Ti would wake me up every 20 minutes to tell me the wind was blowing as the boat rocked back and forth. The first time I did get up to check, but with 40 knot winds and rain, I couldn’t see anything, but could tell from the chart we were 172’ from the anchor, just where it was when I went to bed. I didn’t get up again.
Writing about this now, I will make my next video of this day, so you can see the charts.
Back to our story.
I woke up at 6 the next morning and almost always immediately upon waking up, I would get up and do a quick check even before I put any clothes on.
This morning, I knew we wanted to get underway, so I figured I’d take the 10 minutes to do my morning toilet, get dressed, then haul anchor, get underway and make coffee.
That plan worked so well.
So well in fact, that I even went into the engine room to check the oil level before I came up to the pilot house. Larry was still sleeping in his cabin, when I looked out the pilot house windows and noticed we were already underway!
We were a ¼ mile from where we were the previous night. I can determine from the Coastal Explorer track that we started drifting about 02:00, so in 4 hours we drifted a quarter of a mile down the inlet about ¼ mile from shore with depth now more than 200’
I figured Dauntless was in a hurry to get underway, so I obliged her.
On these two and a half days, 13, 14 and 15 July 2019, Dauntless continues her northward trip up the Inside Passage in British Columbia to Alaska.
Highlights of this day include:
We race the Alaskan Ferry Columbia
We have a freshwater leak that empties our only full water tank
We stop early to rebuild the water maker, which only takes about 4 hours, only to discover that it didn’t solve the problem
Each day was 65 nm in 9 hours and 30 min on the 13th and just over 10 hours on the 14th.
First half of day 3, was just from Sea Otter Inlet to the Bella Bella dock where we hoped to get water for our freshwater tanks.
Low lights consisted of us spending 6+ hours rebuilding the Katadyn watermaker high pressure pump only to discover it did not solve the problem of the oil seal that was in the electrical motor portion of the water maker.
Upon close inspection, I had suspected as much before we started, but I was hoping for one of those boating miracles that was not to be.
For some reason, there does not seem to be a lot of places to stop and get fresh potable water along the BC portion of the Inside Passage. The cruising guide did seem to indicate that water was available at Bella Bella, so that was our destination on the morning of the 15th.
Once docked, we found the hose, but it took me 15 minutes to figure out how to turn on the water. The valve was hidden just beyond alittle gate that made it difficult to see.
Once that was done, we filled both tanks and got underway to anchor for the night a few hours north in Mouat Cove.
The tile says it all. This is the 12 July 2019 cruise on Dauntless northbound the Inside Passage in British Columbia.
Highlights of this day include:
We see a small whale
We see numerous whirlpools, but don’t get sucked in
We pass a number of southbound cruise ships, including the Nieuw Amsterdam and the Alaska Ferry Kennecott. ( I have a fondness for the Holland-America line, as I grew up across the street from Pier 40 in New York, where they docked in the 1950’s up until the 80’s?.
We stop for three hours on the Campbell river to wait for the currents to change.
Larry corrects me when I say “Johnston” Strait not “Johnstone”. Made all the funnier for me because I should have known, having been once married to a Johnstone.
Our anchorage was pretty windy, with westerly winds of 20 knots gusting to 28. But we held well as we always do (well until a few days later, but that’s another story.
Here is the link to my You Tube channel, Dauntless at Sea, where I just uploaded some pictures and videos of the day 06 July 2019, Bedwell Harbor to Vancouver B.C., where I anchored in the middle of town, in False Creek.
After some fits and starts, I am keener than ever to be more consistent and use this Dauntless at Sea to spotlight the photos and videos of the last 7 years and 30,000 miles. I will also try to be consistent in showing entire seasons or passages in a short time.
I will bounce around a bit but will have the date time group in the format, yyyymmdd, in every title, so should you want to watch them in chronological order, it is possible to do so.
I have far more pictures than videos, for a number of reasons:
There is not a lot going on during long passages, one picture can tell the tale at a glance, as opposed to watching hours of videos showing the never-ending ocean
During the most exciting times, I was often hanging on for dear life, literally. I could justify a quick photo, whereas trying to hang on for a few minutes in big seas, with the boat rolling all over the place, knowing that if I went overboard, that is all she wrote, to take a video was beyond even my level of risk taking.
Currently, I am thinking that I want to finish the trip up to Alaska, then returning to the beginning in 2013, with some current Alaska stuff thrown in.
Feel free to leave comments, suggestions and whatever.
As I rounded Cape Flattery, I was careful not to take any shortcuts. After a full day at sea, it’s always tempting to cut that last corner, but I resisted the urge this time!
I went to sleep a little after 07:00 having just cruised 25 hours from Astoria Oregon. I was so glad to be done with the eastern Pacific and the almost constant head winds and seas.
Three hours later (I’ve known for many years that my natural sleep cycle is about 3 hours, so whenever possible I try to plan on getting 3, 6 or 9-hours sleep) I was ready to go.
Engine start was 11:15; I hauled my trusty Delta anchor and was underway by 11:30. Just before getting underway I was hit by a local’s 3-foot wake wave caused by him entering the harbor at 30 knots. I suppose that was my welcome to Washington State!
I was headed to Reid Harbor. An overnight stop there would allow me to leave early the next morning and get to Bedwell Harbor, the spot for Canada check-in.
The last time Dauntless was in Canada was in Nova Scotia 5 Years earlier.
Looking at the tides & currents, it was critical that I get in and out of Bedwell before 08:00. This would allow me to make the passage thru the narrow channels to Vancouver with the current, that was as strong as 6 knots.
There was another issue, Canada Customs. They have this Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality. They seem to think every American:
Is armed to the teeth,
Is a druggie
Or wants to move to their socialistic paradise.
Now, while that may be true; it’s not me. And when I have
places to be, I get impatient the third time they ask if I have any guns, illegal drugs or why I have 50 bottles of wine (I was in France and it’s a long cruise!).
I didn’t want to take any chances with an overly officious officer. I wasn’t carrying anything illegal or planning on leaving anything in Canada, but sometimes they can be prickly, and I couldn’t afford to miss the favorable currents.
The Customs Office opened at 08:00; but that was too late for my currents, so I needed to be there by 07:00. That had the dual advantage that I could use the phone to check-in, and I could make the strong currents going north to get to Vancouver by mid-afternoon. (Yes, like too often, I had a time commitment).
I arrived in Reid Harbor at 22:15. 82 nm, and 11 hours after leaving Neah Bay at an average speed of 7.5 kts (1 knot current assisted).
While the sun had set an hour ago, it was maybe only 30 minutes after nautical twilight, so it was now dark, dark. There were a few boats already anchored around the bay, so I had to pick by way carefully in.
In fact, while getting ready to anchor in my first chosen spot, a house onshore, flashed lights at me. Not knowing what that meant, I moved a couple hundred meters south.
It was a great anchorage; a peaceful night and I was up bright an early at 05:00 ready to get underway for the short one-hour trip to Canada and Bedwell Harbor.
An hour and twenty minutes later, I was in Bedwell Harbor. It was easy to get in and out and had a very nice dock for boats to tie to for check-in into Canada.
I walked up the ramp, called the phone number above the phones on the wall and a nice lady in eastern Canada took my information (Name, passport number, boat information) and wished me a pleasant trip.
15 minutes after tying up, I was underway to Vancouver B.C.
The cold weather finally broke last week, returning Southeast Alaska to more seasonal temperatures, in the 30’s and 40’s. The warmup came just in time, last week was a trying week for me. In the course of a few days, I managed to fry something in my Heart Inverter and flood my Wallas DT40 heater.
And at this time, both are still not working. If you have been reading my blog for a while, you will probably have gleaned that I normally don’t write about problems usually caused by my own stupidity, as is the case here, until I also have the solutions. It helps me to mitigate my stupidity.
So, more on those problems later.
Yesterday, I uploaded the 12th Vlog on my series, Dauntless at Sea Goes North to Alaska.
Vlog 12, A Wild Ride Outbound on the Columbia River Bar tells the story of Dauntless and I leaving Astoria Oregon for Neah Bay in Washington, about 25 hours away.
Conditions on the Bar were supposed to be very good, with waves of 1 to 3 feet and light northerly winds. I had about an hour cruise just to get to Cape Disappointment from my marina in Astoria, just west of the Astoria bridge. Maybe during that uneventful hour, knowing I had a long day ahead of me, I got a bit impatient.
As I was abreast of Cape Disappointment, I was passed on the port side by a little smaller fishing boat. Instead of turning southwest and following the channel thru the river bar for another 4 nm, he went due west. Now at the speed of Dauntless, 4 nm is about 45 minutes. And I’d be going southwest instead of north.
The winds were light, less than 10 knots from the north. How bad could it be if I left the channel here and followed the FV?
I checked the chart and it showed minimum depth of 45 feet (the channel is 60+ feet). It would save me about 30 minutes. And if the locals could do it, so could I.
I think you can hear me say something to that effect on the video.
As soon as I left the channel, the waves increased significantly. There were even whitecaps. With each successive series of waves, I kept on thinking, more like hoping, that that was the worst of it. It wasn’t.
The waves started out in the 5 to 7-foot range, short period, only a few seconds. Within a few minutes, they were 10 to 12 feet, mostly from the west, but a few from the NW and SW, so we would have a wicked roll, along with the violent pitching.
Now a little perspective, the pitching was never as bad as the three attempts to leave Cabo San Lucas, but I turned back twice there, so that was pretty bad.
It turned out to be 10 minutes, but when that 10 minutes was done, it was a nice ride for the next day.
One thing you will see in the video is a couple of the bigger waves that almost touched the anchor and how well my baby Krogen takes these waves. You can see how the wave is forced outward, away from the boat by the rub rail and the shape of the bow and hull.
In the 25,000 Dauntless and I have been together, we have never had green/blue water over the cap rail. As many of you know, we have been in some ferocious seas, with waves as much as 9 meters (28 feet) in the North Atlantic storms. In fact, the entire North Sea and Eastern Atlantic, was no piece of cake.
That really speaks to how well designed the Kadey Krogen is and thus is the only boat that I would ever cross an ocean with.
But then you all know that.
The link to the latest vlog. If you like it, please Like and Suscribe:
Have you ever had to try to comfort a terrified pet? Maybe they were terrified of being in the car? Or of thunder? Going to the vet? It’s not a situation of safety nor even of any risk, the fear is totally unjustified with the reality. But you know that no amount of words can really help.
But it still hurts you anyway because you know you are powerless to do anything to stop this unfounded terror. The only cure will be some minutes or hours later when whatever caused this is past and your cat or dog realized they have survived.
I’m not talking about “voicing annoyance” for example when you pack the cats into the car for the drive from New York to Los Angeles in roughly four days. Four days of a penetrating meow, that is anything but a “meow” even after the poor thing became hoarse.
To this day, I’m convinced that cat still thinks the only reason the trip ended was because he continually expressed his displeasure.
I’m not talking about that. I’m talking that paralyzing fear when the dog is hiding under the table because of thunder or something like that. No amount of talk is going to change his mind that he is actually safe.
And that’s the kind of fear I saw in Tee on our first trip on Dauntless.
Knowing they were new to boats, having just arrived in America from Vietnam only a couple of days earlier, I planned what I thought was a short trip out of Ketchikan to Prince of Wales Island. A little orientation trip. It was only 15 miles across Clarence Strait, but the winds were a little stronger than anticipated, which produced seas of 1-2 feet. Not terrible, in fact, having beat up the west coast, I hardly noticed these waves.
Not Tee. She was terrified in a way the was beyond words and reason. She wouldn’t leave my side in the pilot house, admittedly the worse ride location in the entire boat, but she sat on the bench and just whimpered (literally).
Luckily, Thien, her 16 yo son, knew his mother well and knew when best to just ignore her. I just felt sick for her, not being able to comfort her.
When we anchored, she was fine, though like me the first days/months anchoring, slept poorly.
The next day, I decided to cut our return trip in half, just going to the next fjord to the north on Prince of Wales Island. This worked well, until our windlass stopped working with 80 feet of chain out in 30 feet of water.
For weeks when Tee wanted a laugh, she would mimic the three of us heaving on the anchor chain pulling it up by hand and saying, “my dream, my dream”.
As time went on and she saw that we didn’t die each time we left the dock, her fears subsided. It helped that Thien explained to her one evening how the roll of the boat is a natural process, as it allows the boat the go with the seas and not fight it. That we, being inside the boat (like two hands cupped together) are safe.
Tee was also eager to learn how to drive the boat and she was at the helm for the entire Rocky Pass transit as we came south from Juneau in August.
There have been dozens of friends/familiy who have been at the help of Dauntless over the last 7 years. Tee has shown an exceptionally sharp attentiveness while at the helm. She looks and sees everything. No inadvertent running aground (like yours truly) on her watch.
She has made a video of her running the boat in the past weeks. It called Sailor Woman and is up on YouTube. She has asked me to share the link.
Keep in mind that it’s made for her Vietnamese audience. Also, I did some of the English captions not really knowing what she was saying, but making it fit what she was showing.
Now on our most recent trip (not the one in the video which was a week before) the winds were coming right up Zimovia Strait which separates Wrangell and Woronofski islands, at 18 knots producing a sea of 1 to 3 feet and Tee didn’t even notice.
My first wife was a vegetarian. While I wasn’t, I did eat less mean than previously and tried not to cook meat that produced smoke (like hamburger) in the house. Therefore, since the mid-‘70’s, I’ve had a BBQ grill no matter where I lived.
Whether in Fairbanks, Alaska, Italy, Germany or now, on Dauntless, I’ve always had a grill. Since the early ‘80’s, when I lived alone in Southern California, I came to appreciate the convenience of a gas-powered grill.
For 30 years, I’d always buy the cheapest two or three burner BBQ I could find. They would typically last half a dozen years before it was time for a replacement. Sometimes that replacement could be hastened, as when moving to a new house in Fairbanks, the grill was packed in the back of the pickup and at some point, fell out.
Fast forward a decade, living in a typically small one-bedroom apartment in New York (Manhattan to the uninitiated), I had only a little hibachi that we would put on the windowsill of our apartment to use.
We wanted a real terrace or patio, so we could have a real BBQ grill again. Though we were able to satisfy our craving for burnt meat as we did BBQ almost every weekend on my mother’s apartment terrace in Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach/Coney Island.
So, we started looking for a new rental apartment in New York and going to listing of an apartment building that I had actually looked at one year earlier, on 57th St. We really like the location and the building, though the apartment itself had a weird layout, as did its terrace.
In talking to the real estate agent, Dennis Daniel, (for anyone looking for a place in NY), he convinced us that we should and could buy an apartment in New York instead of renting. He was a true master in terms of helping us understand what we really wanted and then helping us recognize it when we saw it.
Thus in 2007, When we moved to our new rooftop apartment in New York in 2007. Having spent half a million dollars for a one-bedroom apartment, I considered our choice of grills. This was the primary reason we had moved after all.
Reading so many rave reviews about the Weber, I figured the extra few hundred dollars it would cost was worth it. Thus, in the summer of 2007, I bought my first Weber, the Genesis.
A cooking pamphlet came with the grill, which essentially said, forgot what you think you know, do it this way and your foods, will come out perfectly.
I did and they did. Other than following directions and understanding the difference between direct and indirect heat, the build quality and more importantly the heavy iron materials used, made all the difference.
With its heavy cast iron components, the grill was able to hold heat extremely well. Thus, I did make the best steaks I had ever cooked. The reviews raving about the Weber were spot on. It did make a difference. I even used the Weber to bake apple pies, since I was able to put a little smoke into them. While I miss that Weber and that rooftop a little, I also know that it set the stage for my circumnavigation on Dauntless. I’d been there 7 years, the longest I’d lived anywhere in the previous 50 years. Dauntless had come into our lives and it was time to move on. I also know myself well enough that I’d get bored with heaven after 7 years.
In the first months with Dauntless, still in Florida before we made the trip to the Northeast, I found a light, “boat” grill. I figured I was on a boat, I had to make a sacrifice. There really wasn’t room for a larger Weber “portable” grill.
While coming north on the Intercoastal Waterway (ICW), we used the grill once. What a disappointment. It had trouble really getting hot. But within a couple of days the ICW solved the problem for me. The grill was mounted on the port rail near the stern.
One day while motoring northward, I got too close to a channel marker that was mounted on a telephone pole stuck in the water. I panicked and instead of turning the wheel, I tried to turn off the autopilot, but didn’t succeed. The pole swept along the port side rubbing on the rub rail until it got the grill, at which point it mangled the grill and mounting bracket that I had had made for it.
The grill ended up in the dumpster in St. Augustine. The Dutch friends who were with me at the time, had come from rainy Holland to get some sun, found Florida with the worst weather in years. When they left to return to Holland a week later, they were thankful to get away with their lives and back to the rain they were familiar with.
Could have been worse.
Besides you’ve read about all these close calls before. Well, most of them!
Weber had the Q-280, which was the largest of their “portable” grills and would use a normal 20-pound propane connection. I got it and it had been on Dauntless ever since.
I’ve grilled in temperatures as cold as minus 30°F (-35°C) in Fairbanks, so I wasn’t going to let a little snow get in the way yesterday.
We had planned to have steaks and we did. Delicious as ever. Thanks Weber.
Vallejo to Crescent City California, 26 to 28 June 2019.
I’m finally getting around to writing in detail about my cruise up the west coast.
Since this is a past summary, I am going to change the format a bit. I have also started a You tube channel, Dauntless at Sea, where I am posting the Go Pro videos, I took along with some commentary of what is going on.
So, this blog will be a short summary about the start of my voyage to Alaska in the summer of 2019. We (John a friend/crew joined me from California to Astoria, left Vallejo on 26 June and arrived in Crescent City on the evening of the 28th. It was a miserable trip.
The data above shows the first three days were punctuated by three significant bouts of head seas, 3 to 5-foot waves on short 3 or 4 second periods which produced a miserable hobby horse ride, with constant pitching up and down.
Adding insult to injury, this also slowed the boat considerably, so instead of doing our normal 6+ knots, we were in the 3.8 to 4.8 range. Yes, that also means the miserable ride is 50% longer than normal, while fuel consumption remains steady, based on engine rpms, but fuel consumption per mile is also 25% down. Therefore, the miserable time is extended, and you pay 50% more for the experience.
Here is a little summer by period:
Dist (nm) per time pd
Avg speed (kts)
Cumm Dist (nm)
Running avg sp (kts)
That first 1 hr. and 17 minutes was the time it took to leave Vallejo and stop in Benicia for fuel. So the next time period started once we left Benicia.
Overall, it was 324 nautical miles in 55 hours and 17 minutes. We anchored in 12 feet of water in Cresencet City Bay at 19:54 on the 28th.
My You Tube channel is a work in progress. Please feel free to leave comments on You Tube about any suggestions or things I need to explain better or clarify. I am also still debating as to how to best upload the long Go Pro videos that frankly are quiet boring.