June on the Hook – Day 12 – Pirates Cove, DeCourcy Island
Sorry, no Johnny Depp stories. I left Annette Inlet with a subtle south wind and I jibed out into Trincomali Channel. The tide was ebbing, which was not favorable for my direction, but the wind was adequate to make good headway. I was not sure where I was destined on this day as there are lots of options in the Gulf Islands. I have been through here several times before. The downside is I have seen much of it, the upside is the anchorages and possibilities are not a mystery. I wanted to go to a new spot, but knew I could seek shelter in an old one if necessary. I would wait and see how the wind behaved before I settled on where to go.
The sun was out and the south wind continued to build. After two long legs in Trincomali Channel, I decided I would try wing and wing. The wind needs to hit a certain velocity before this works well with my boat, otherwise the going is slow, the steering is tedious and the sails are floppy. It has to do with the apparent wind and you want the sails to breathe, which is to have the wind overflow from the main and spill into the jib. Then the boat will go at a steady 4 knots and more. The advantage is I can sail dead downwind in a straight line. The disadvantage is it takes every bit of my concentration, all of the time, to make sure that no accidental jibes happen and you keep both sails full. I rig a preventer, which is a line connecting the boom to the sail track on the same side of the boat. This prevents the boom from suddenly swinging across the boat if the wind catches the back side of the sail. If it weren’t to take my head off on the way across, it can put shock loads on the hardware and attachments from the uncontrolled sweep. It also keeps the main sail from pumping, which is caused by the boom moving up and down from wind gusts and rolling seas, which changes the sail shape, causes the sail to chafe on the shrouds, causes weather helm and slows the boat down. It doesn’t however, keep the boat on course, which is up to the helmsman.
Wing and Wing Course
The are a couple of below the water obstructions in the middle of Trincomali Channel, chiefly, Governor’s Rock and Victoria Shoal, but these have buoys marking them and my path goes near them, but not over them. When sailing wing and wing, you don’t have much directional option unless you flip a sail over for a broad reach which means a 30 degree course change in order to keep the sails full.
Wing and Wing
The south wind continued to build while on wing and wing and the boat was going at nearly hull speed. To boot, the ebbing tide and opposing wind were building up a choppy sea. I was very exciting and very intense. No snacks or ducking down below for a moment as the helm needed constant attention. However, the heading was straight where I wanted to go, so I was making the most of it. I kept asking myself if I should reef, which is usually a sign that you should, but I was holding off with a balance of fear, speed and hunger. I had decided the wind would likely hold through the day and getting to Pirate’s Cove became a solid destination unless it built so much I chickened out and ducked in somewhere for protection. There were large ships at anchor inside the Islands off of Porlier Pass and I decided to avoid them by heading to the west side of Hall and Reid Islands. In prep for this, I ended the wing and wing and moved to broad reaching. I put a reef in the main as the wind had built to the point of discomfort. I increased the length of the kayak painter so that it rode a little better in the waves, I was towing it, and once behind Hall Island, I put the second reef in the main and the boat seemed to like this.
Broad Reaching and Reefing
Ironically, once beyond Reid Island, the wind began to let up a bit and I broad reached back across Trincomali Channel, headed to Pylades Channel. I needed to shake out the reefs to keep the boat moving. I was happy to have a bit of respite from the wind, but the cost is a slower moving boat which can mean going from a joggers pace to a walkers pace. This does matter and the slower pace can double your ETA. After some more wing and wing with wind that was barely strong enough, I cruised up Pylades Channel and made my final approach to Pirates Cove.
Entering Pirate’s Cove
Line Up the Arrow and the X
I don’t know how Pirate’s Cove got its name but it has a tricky entrance between submerged reefs. As you approach the entrance, you need to line up the range, a painted arrow and a painted X you see on shore. These do not seem like official navigation aids, but it is correct and you best mind it coming and going. Once to an undefined point between the parallel reefs, you make a 90 degree port turn and then aim for the center of the entrance buoys. Once through the buoys you are generally OK and then you find a spot to anchor and preferably stern tie. The cove is small so a stern tie gives more room for others and guides say that the holding in the center of the cove is not so good. With the ride I had earlier in the day, I wasn’t going to chance that. A stern tie line, which is a line you attach to the back of your boat and then take ashore. On shore you attach it to a tree, or in this case, to iron rings in the bank set for just this purpose by the Canadian Provincial Marine Parks, and then back to your stern. Thus the name, stern tie. This, in opposition to the anchor you set off your bow, keeps your boat positioned in one spot. Otherwise, with just an anchor off the bow, your boat could swing in a full circle depending on wind and current. A stern tie keeps you from both swinging into undesirable, immovable, hard objects, and other boats. More boats can squeeze into the same anchorage, so it is a polite thing to do too.
I was excited to try out my new stern tie creation as well. Many folks keep their stern line in a spool permanently attached to, you guessed it, the stern of their boats. My small boat has limited room for a permanent installation, especially considering that it is 300ft of line. I keep my spool, which was an empty freebie from Fisheries Supply, stowed below the v-berth. While it takes a little forethought to use, I do not use it often, and it keeps the polypropylene (because it floats) line out of the sun’s UV radiation and is one of those small boat consequences. I whittled a piece of wood to fit in the top of my sheet winches and then I put the spool on that. This allows me to get in the kayak and paddle with the line to the shore as the spool turns and lets out the line. While the invention works like a charm, it took a few tries to judge the distances, get the anchor rode length right and keep the line untwisted. I used most of the 300ft of line. You take the line ashore and back, so that when you are ready to leave, you do not need to go ashore, but rather untie one end and pull it through while still on the boat. You use a floating line so that 1) it can be seen, so other boats know it is there, and 2) it is less likely to get caught in your motors propeller when you leave.
Once settled in, I took a hike on the trails in the small Provincial Marine Park, stock up on water from the well and eat some dinner. The water comes from a hand pump like my neighbor had in the 70s in rural upstate NY and the trails, while short, go over some rugged rocky terrain. There is a Pirate’s chest full of children’s toys by the Park sign and a light rain kept the air fresh and cool.
A Light Rain.
Sampaguita is the little boat in the middle on the far shore.
Sampaguita set to anchor and a stern tie.
Stats: TO – 24.92NM, MS – 6.4kt, MA – 3.9kt, TT – 7hr 3 min, AD – 20ft, AS – 70ft, SL – 280ft
Misc. – Motored into Pirates cove and then had motor idling a bit while I fussed with the stern line. Wind likely went to 15-20kts on trip.