Day 15 | Flotilla to Alaska | Khutze Bay to Lowe Inlet

Another gorgeous morning! Blue skies and very little wind made the cruise up from Khutze Bay to Lowe Inlet a very pleasant day.

Morning sunlight on the Khutze Bay waterfall
Nereus in Khutze Bay before departure

Today is another longish cruise (~54nm) through beautiful inside channels. Sunshine improves the view.

Airship anchored in the morning light.

We spotted a big black bear on shore as we transited Graham Reach. At first it looked like the bear was going to hightail it into the woods before we could get much in the way of photos. Instead, it stopped as soon as it reached the sedge grass and lay down to eat.

Christophe, the former harbormaster at Shearwater Resort and Marina, is working at Butedale for the summer as improvements are being made to docks and structures. Our schedule doesn’t have us stopping there this year, but we were able to send Christophe some steaks and red wine via another boat on its way there from Shearwater. (Thanks again, to the crew of Alegria, for delivering the goods!) We chatted with Christophe by VHF as we passed by, and we look forward to seeing Butedale’s future improvements!

Butedale waterfall
Butedale, looking quite different than it did last year
Brand new docks, but not much else
Polymela heading north in Fraser Reach.

We passed a humpback as it headed south in Wright Sound.

Perhaps the most critical part of today’s journey is the precious few minutes of internet as we pass the First Nations village of Hartley Bay. Depending on what the weather forecast shows, we can speed up or slow down our transit of Grenville Channel to make the smoothest possible crossing of Dixon Entrance.

The flotilla entering Grenville Channel

The analysis is like this: we have a target day, based on the stops we’d like to make between here and Dixon Entrance. We have an earliest possible day, based on how quickly we can reasonably get into a position to jump across Dixon Entrance. And we have a loose “last day”—basically the end of our window to get across because, well, we can’t wait forever (within reason). Thus we have a window of possible days, and we speed up or slow down to make the smoothest crossing without undue rushing or waiting.

Our glimpse at the forecast was informative. Tuesday—just a couple days away, and the first feasible day for us to cross—looked like the day. Wednesday was a bit worse, Thursday and Friday worse still. Saturday looked okay, but that seemed like a long time to wait, and it still didn’t look as good as Tuesday. Replacing Baker Inlet and Prince Rupert with a single stop at Kelp Passage Cove would put us into position for a Tuesday crossing of Dixon Entrance. We hate to miss Baker Inlet in particular, but a (hopefully) smooth crossing of Dixon Entrance is a very good trade-off.

After passing Hartley Bay, we rode the flood up Grenville Channel and into Lowe Inlet. This is usually a busy anchorage, but we had it all to ourselves. And after anchoring last night in Khutze, Lowe Inlet seemed easy!

Salish Spirit anchored in Lowe Inlet
Ralph exploring Verney Falls
Verney Falls

Kevin took the drone up for some aerials of the boats at anchor, the falls and the lakes behind, and the spectacular scenery.

Late afternoon sun on the flotilla anchored in Lowe Inlet

The group met for dinner on the raft. Tonight we decided on “comfort food night” and Sam made his signature mac-n-cheese (delicious!). Everyone brought some version of comfort food potluck items for another festive evening.

Today’s total: 52.7nm, 7 hours underway
Flotilla total: 533.6nm, 75 hours 2 minutes underway