Sunday, July 27, 2008

Fox Harbour, North Channel

Having gone to where we thought was "there" - the Benjamins - deciding it wasn't for us, we went looking for a new "there" that we could get to. We looked through the GLCC books and A Well-Favored Passage and decided that Fox Island, Eagle Island, and Hotham Island were all possibilities. We plotted courses to all three just in case we encountered any over crowded anchorages.

Before we left Bay of the Benjamins, we watched the sailboat LOON navigate the cut between North and South Benjamin. The cut is very narrow and shallow and requires bow spotters who we heard yell "A little left", "More Left", and "Just be ready to jam it in reverse".

On the way to Fox Island, we stopped at Croker Island. We'll probably stop at Croker on the way back as it looks like a nice, interesting anchorage. We believe, though, that we interrupted the daily morning meeting of the Meridian Spotters Club, those daredevil souls who plot potential Meridian cruise courses based on sightings and notify others to keep clear.

At the entrance to Fox Harbour is O'Connor Island.

The entrance to Fox Harbour itself is hidden and requires lining up small rock outcroppings by Eagle Island and then winding through some shoals and small islets.

It has a fairly long, narrow opening and most of the boats anchor and tie their sterns to shore. It is easier to do this on the EAST side of the harbor as the trees on the WEST side have scrub, brush, and thicket that block a clear path. We know this because we tried to do the "tie to shore" thing on the WEST side.

It seems like a fairly simple thing. Drop your anchor, tie a line to your stern cleat, dinghy to shore, tie to a tree or a boulder. It's a little harder than it looks. Especially when it is windy ... and your boat weighs 14 tons.

Phil readied the lines, including a few extra in case it was farther to shore than it looked.

He dinghyed in and discovered the scrub and thicket obscuring the trees. So much for Plan A. So he tried Plan B: Tie to a boulder.

But the line slipped off. So he went to Plan C.

After about an hour, he got hungry and tired so we went to Plan D which was coming back to Meridian and setting a second anchor in the Y formation.

As it turned out, it was good that we hadn't tied to shore. Our sailboat neighbor had been tied to shore but when the wind shifted, his anchor gave so he undid the shore line and re-anchored further west and in the middle of the channel. At least that's what he SAID happened. He may not have felt safe anchoring near a boat who's crew couldn't even manage a line-to-shore anchor technique. Come to think of it, he may have been part of the Meridian Spotters Club that we interrupted on Croker Island. We think we heard him on the radio saying "No, seriously, they are right here in Fox Harbour -- I'm looking right at them!"

On the east side of Fox Harbour you can hike along the ridge almost the whole length of the harbour. We found lots of wild blueberries that we ate while we hiked. This is a rougher hike than the walk to Bridal Veil Falls so hiking boots are recommended.

Fox Harbour is protected from all winds, but less so if there are southwest winds. So, of course, the winds started coming from the southwest right after we got there. It still is a very protected harbour but a little bumpier than if the wind was from another direction.

As we left the next morning, we saw the sailboat SOLUTIONS tucked away in one of the snug little coves off the main Fox Harbour channel.

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