July 7, 2008 Boat Inlet to Butedale

Boat inlet has a shallow entrance, and we had to exit before 9am before the tides got too low. This put us into the Matheison passage in an adverse ebb tide. The wind hadn’t picked up as forecast, which was both a blessing and a curse. Good because wind against a tide makes uncomfortable seas, but bad because we couldn’t sail, and had to motor against the current. The swell had risen even higher last night as the low approaches the coast. We had just a few miles more running in it. Where the ebb tide met the incoming swells made for some white-knuckle helmsmanship. There was a small passage of big steep breaking swells over a shallow area, where the tide came against us at three knots. It was no problem for the Silent Partner, however I was focused on Modulus behind us, disappearing into the wave troughs. Soon we were in protected waters again, though, and we had a “glassy” transit of the Matheison channel. We hit Jackson narrows at low tide. It was really cool to navigate the intricate shallow passage while looking down at the sea floor bottom the whole way. It was about 15 feet deep, crystal-clear, and full of marine life swimming below. The kelp forests started to stream westward, indicating that we finally picked up the favorable flood tide. North of Klemtu we really got a boost, and steamed along at an amazing 9 knots. Bucking tide or riding the flow, it all evens out on a long voyage. My visions of picking up the southerly gale to Butedale never materialized. It was calm most of the day and there was even a hint of north wind. At one point the dolphins came up to us in the clear water. It was amazing to see them pumping their tails through the water and bouncing off each other and the boat. Sometimes they look up sideways at you from underwater. A gaint BC ferry passed us, sending out a huge wake that rocked the waters of the channel long after it was out of sight. The waves kept on bouncing off the walls of the narrow passage. Toward evening we finally came up on Butedale, an abandoned cannery town. The weather cleared as we came up to the rickety dock. Butedale looks different than last time I saw it. Several buildings collapsed under the heavy winter snow loads. One building by the dock fell into the ocean just two weeks ago. Lou, the town’s only inhabitant, said it broke into several pieces and pointed out into the channel where he though they went. “She’s gone, though, won’t be nothing left of her soon.” Lou still maintains power to his house and deep freezers with the old Pelton wheel hydro system. It was interesting to see the setup after using one myself for the past three winters in Jawbone Flats, Oregon. We walked around a bit to stretch our legs and check out the ruins. The old cannery buildings were made out of incredible timbers, many of them are still in prime condition. Apparently people are slowly scavenging the good wood when nobody’s around. Lou said the floor was taken up out of the main building this year. I can see why, it was made out of four by twelves that were about 50 feet long. I have mixed feelings about the scavenging. These buildings are very old and incredible, but they won’t be standing for many more years, and then all that good wood will go to rot. Someone had set up a bowling alley on the remaining parts of the floor. The planks made a great bowling surface and we played a few rounds. Apparently the bears are out in force around the woods, so we didn’t hike up to the lake this time.

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