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Main Menu -> SALTS -> SALTS 2011 Summer Programme -> 2011 Trip 3 - Pacific Swift

2011 Trip 3 - Pacific Swift

Log of Pacific Swift

July 30th 2011 @ 16:00
49°36'55.80 N 124°9'32.40 W

Ship's Log:
Trip 3 aboard the Pacific Swift started under sunny warm skies. Many familiar faces and new trainees boarded in Victoria Harbour by 1200.
After a safety orientation, lines were slipped by 1400 and we bade farewell to our home port to start the annual circumnavigation of Vancouver Island. It was a delightfully warm day even if the winds were light and we motored north through the Gulf Islands as trainees settled into their home for the next 10 days. Everyone seemed very relaxed and comfortable with a palpable air of excitement present, encouraged especially by our returning trainees. We decided to forgo the usual option of running through the first night as strong SE winds were forecast for day 2. The sun dipped below wooded islands bathing Trincomali Channel in an oily light, as oranges and purples smeared the still sea and enthusiastic singing drifted up from the hold. The last glows of twilight brought us to anchorage in North Cove, Thetis Island around 2300.

Today dawned bright and warm as the waking sun dried the fresh scrubbed deck. Anchor was aweigh by 0815 as we motored north to catch slack water through Gabriola Pass. The pass was beautiful with eagles and turkey vultures wheeling over the narrow gap between the islands. It was evident as we emerged from the pass that the forecast SE was already rustling the waters of Georgia Strait. The timing was perfect as terminology lessons finished just in time to set sail before the building breeze astern. At 1030 courses were spread while trainees laid aloft to loose the square topsail and the mainsail readied to be shaken out. Excellent teamwork was displayed setting the rest of the sails and soon we were accelerating under main, main top, courses and squaretop.
We were making a respectable 6 knots but a desire to run off the miles up to Desolation Sound inspired a flurry of improvised sail making led by trainees and soon a croījack and spritsail were set to get every tenth of a knot from the wind. Whether it was the new sails or a building breeze we have been sailing the majority of the day between 8 and 9 knots. Everyone has been enjoying the day and the surging sail, taking time to make friends, play guitar, help the bosunīs, journal and learn about the sailing of the vessel. We are now in Malaspina Strait and even though the sky has clouded over, the distant peaks that watch over Desolation Sound are becoming visible. Some are brightly illuminated where gaps in the cloud allow the sun to set the glacial peaks ablaze. We hope to make anchorage near Savary Island by 2000 if the wind holds. We plan to set up our secret friends programme this afternoon and have another evening of singing and games.

Sailing (main, maintop, courses, squaretop, spritsail, croījack), overcast, 2 foot SE swell, warm
July 31st 2011 @ 18:30
50°11'50.28 N 124°50'56.40 W

Ship's Log:
our sail ended well yesterday as we swooped into Savary Islandīs anchorage at 2045 and anchored under sail. Even the rain we experienced late in the day couldnīt dampen the high spiritīs of a full day of sailing. This morning we opted for a frolic on the sandy shores of Savary Island and dories were launched and pulled ashore with goodwill.
A remarkably even and strategic game of sticks lasted 55 minutes and had the full participation of everyone ashore. A quick rinse in the mild waters of Desolation Sound preceded a bouncy row back to the Swift for lunch time. The sun emerged from behind itīs veil and the afternoon was quite warm. Desolation Sound was in itīs full glory today, as was the Swift, under full sail we beat north surrounded by the crisp snow-capped mountains and steep wooded islands. Trainees are very knowledgeable and capable setting and furling sail alow and aloft with ease.  We are now rafted with the Grace with the waterfall of teakerne Arm visible through the transom windows. Everyone is having a great time and settled in very nicely to life aboard.

rafted to Grace, sunny, sand in toes
August 1st 2011 @ 20:30
50°29'52.80 N 125°15'32.40 W

Ship's Log:
The rushing waters of Cassel Lake Falls lulled us into a deep sleep as the myriad constellations, undiminished by light pollution, blazed in the clear night sky. The sky remained clear  , unblemished by cloud this morning, while the early sun held promise of a warm day ahead. The Grace slipped away during breakfast and we anchored alone off of the falls with a plan of enjoying the aquatic features of Teakerne Arm. We traipsed to the waterfallīs source lake after breakfast dishes and everyone jumped in and enjoyed the warm and pulchritudinous water.
Intermediates and some juniors completed their swim test while others frolicked with a  large inflatable whale. This group of trainees is incredibly inclusive and participates fully in all activities from furling to swimming to splicing, creating a wonderful dynamic where everyoneīs skill or opinion is valued. After the lake it was off to the waterfall itself. It is a majestic site, water hurtling and tumbling between sheer cliffs to mix in the ocean at itīs base, the Swift anchored close offshore glimmering in the refracted sun. The falls are strong but warm and everyone enjoyed a massaging scrub, emerging invigorated and clean. Anchor was weighed after lunch and we motored north to make slack water at two sets of rapids this evening. The journey to the rapids was wonderful. The air was warm, sun was blazing and the pyramidal peaks, snowfields and abrupt islands close by lent an air of grandeur to the passage. The crenelated  granite ridges were shedding the remains of their snowy mantles and waterfalls slipped through green valleys. The trainees are applying themselves with admirable vigour to their lessons, navigation safety, sail theory and practical seamanship the order of the day. We reached the rapids at dinner time and passed through easily with the slack water, watched by indifferent eagles, perched on ragged cedars, intent on their own meals.
The climate changes abruptly once through the rapids; the air cools and becomes more humid, arbutus trees are replaced by dense cedars whose lowest branches brush the water and a sense of wilderness pervades the hillsides. Entering Frederick Arm, sheer granite cliffs and low belts of snow were illuminated by the jewel toned setting sun. The closeness of the crisp snow and cooler air seems a stark contrast to the heat and swimming earlier in the day. We anchored at the head of the arm at 2000 and are blessed with a panoramic mountain view reflected in the still teal waters, disturbed only by seals and porpoises passing bye.

N.B.-The ladies of the foīcīsīle won the inaugural M.Joan Grimsdick Award for tidiest compartment with bunk 26 of the hold winning the M.V.T. (Most Valuable Tucker) Award
PS- 2300 -We just had another energetic time of song followed by a great group discussion about expectations, community and constructive ways to continue to develop. The group is very mature and committed to making the most of the time and opportunities available these 10 days.  

anchored, scattered cloud,glacial views, mild, smell of chocolate chip cookies and evergreens
August 2nd 2011 @ 20:30
50°30'10.80 N 125°36'46.80 W

Ship's Log:
We slept as soundly as the granite giants that surrounded us last night, waking this morning inspired to adventure by the magnificent vistas of our anchorage. Once breakfast dishes were polished away we set off for an expotition to Estero Basin at the head of Frederick Arm. Trainees and crew boarded their dories festooned in pink flag tape, pulling for the river in high spirits. Port and fore watch played it safe and beached their dories at the mouth of the river that empties from the warm waters of the fresh water basin. Starboard watch valiantly made several attempts at rowing upstream before seeing the wisdom in their counterparts decisions. A short hike beside the river brought us to a beautiful spot nestled between the basin and the ocean. The dense forest parted enough for a sand and rock delta to form and the crew of the Swift to set up camp. The river divided the forest into a bank of rich evergreens on one side and bright deciduous trees on the other, kingfishers darted to and fro and eagles glided low overhead. The basin is shielded by an immensely sheer cliff face that reaches to the snowline and is felted with tenacious cedars. Everybody pitched in with the goal of creating a sauna on the banks of the river. Teams gathered and split aromatic windfall cedar, built a fire, collected sauna rocks, created benches, whittled roasting sticks and constructed the sauna shelter. We had lunch ashore roasting hot dogs and marshmallows over the clear hot cedar fire. The sauna was a tremendous success, 15 people at a time repeatedly steaming themselves before diving into the warm river 5 feet from the sauna door. Another pastime was floating downriver in full pfd suits, watching the primeval rain forest pass overhead. We were back aboard and under way by 1530 to continue north through another set of rapids. The calm narrow channels, dense forest and mountains of Vancouver Island and the mainland continue to keep us company as we wind our way closer to Port Hardy. We are anchored now in Beaver Inlet, a narrow appendix dangling off the edge of Loughburough Inlet.

The following is a poem written by one of the trainees, Dax.

When a King of Old has a heart of gold, and good plans follow through.
A day will come when the minds of the young will look to a sky of blue.
For a sail they will set and a wind they will catch,
And their conscience will be cleared.
Theyīll be sailing the Swift with their souls aīlift,
Only to thank the Lord Revered.

anchored, overcast, cool, no beavers
August 3rd 2011 @ 19:00
50°31'35.40 N 126°10'55.20 W

Ship's Log:
We awoke this morning to a very different climate. Droplets of the early morning rain clung then fell from the rigging above. Heavy cloud surrounded us and the hills were draped with tendrils of fog, clinging to the tops of ragged cedars. Eagles cried and dove in the cool air hoping to draw their prey from the water below. Port watch weighed anchor at 0700 prior to morning clean-up and we headed out towards Johnstone Strait. Leaving the inlets and channels that have been our remote home for the last several days we entered the wider strait bordered by tall mountains on the Vancouver Island side. At this time we encountered a dozen pacific white sided dolphins traveling in unison, their breath glistening above them in the rays of the emerging sun. The dolphins swam with us for about 15 minutes, craftily charging the Swift before disappearing below the keel to emerge where least expected. It was an exciting experience as dolphins are a rare sight in these waters. The breeze filled in before noon and we set full sail under a clear sky, though the air remained crisp. Pants, toques and jackets emerged ruffled from their duffel homes. The sail was great as almost all maneuvers possible were executed as we beat up the strait before bearing away into Havannah Channel, gybing our way through rocks and obstacles. The air warmed as we moved further inland and sailed into Boughey Bay. We anchored under sail, an impressive feat by everybody as all sails were set and handled dexterously to bring the ship calmly to rest in the centre of the bay. It is very pretty with not a glimpse of humanity present. No boats, logging, crab traps or houses. There are two river valleys illuminated by deciduous trees framing the head of the bay and the air is fragrant and warm. After anchoring near 1600 the juniors sat their exams while intermediates helped to tension the rig. Dinner was enjoyed on deck and plans are afoot for a refreshing swim after dishes. Everyone is very well, many people are emerging from their shells and thoroughly enjoying life aboard with new friends.
N.B. correction to August 2 log- the poem was written by Brooks, not Dax,as previously noted

anchored, sunny, warm,
August 4th 2011 @ 18:00
50°45'11.88 N 126°37'37.20 W

Ship's Log:
The anchor chain thumped back into its home at 0800 and we were underway to continue our journey north on another cool gray morning. Fog nestled into the valleys reluctant to leave its nocturnal abode. Johnstone Strait was calm while we motored north, finishing lessons and practicing splicing and ropework. We encountered a small pod of orcas headed southbound, they fished close along the steep shores and a youthful group slapped and splashed nearby. The fog descend around 1100 as we exited Johnstone Strait and entered Queen Charlotte Strait, obscuring the islands surrounding us. We fished a piece and found the cod suspicious of our offerings, though some claimed there may have been a wee nibble or two. The fog pulled back around 1400 revealing islands changed from our previous days. The cedars crowding the small islands are stunted and bent, while old manīs beard is liberally draped on their branches like overzealous tinsel. We wove our way into the Broughton Archipelago looking for a secluded anchorage to spend the evening. After sampling a few possibilities, we settled on an unnamed spot, untouched and wild with views of mountains, narrow channels and the ever-present cedars. The sun came out in time for the dories to depart on a adventure to explore our surroundings. The watches sailed and rowed through small channels, watching porpoises frolicking, before each claiming an island to explore. Back aboard it is now supper time and itīs a special affair as day seven is ship Sunday. The festivities include a roast beef dinner accompanied by all the requisite fixings, followed by a simple service in the evening.

anchored, sunny, mild, roast beef roasting
August 5th 2011 @ 17:00
50°57'22.68 N 126°51'43.20 W

Ship's Log:
Fog enshrouded the Swift and sea and sky were indistinguishably blended, the only sound the gentle breathing of porpoises unseen nearby.  The fog lifted to the mastheads after breakfast and we slipped gently out of anchorage to delve deeper into the Broughtons. While traveling up narrow Cramer pass we were unexpectedly joined by three pacific white sided dolphins who cruised along side and criss-crossed beneath the whiskers for an enjoyable 15 minutes. The many small islets and islands were hung in mist and ravens cried over the still waters. I apologize in advance for the inability to convey what follows. At 1330 we were traveling along Sutlej Channel, trainees aloft loosing the square topsail and hanking on courses in preparation for sailing before the building breeze. The fog was burning off and the sun emerged to light the mountains growing towards the opening sky. A disturbance was spotted by bow watch distant on the port bow, quickly approaching. It was soon apparent that the channel was teeming with dolphins. They raced across the surface of the water, porpoising, before launching themselves into breathtaking aerial acrobatics. Jumps, front flips, back flips, tail slaps, barrel roles, back breaches, and 12 foot vertical leaps. Unbelievable. We were under sail with just the topsail making 4 knots, moving against their southward flow of travel and it took 25 minutes for the school to pass. Our best guess is that there were at least 300-500 dolphins. It was impossible to tell as they swam endlessly across the breadth of the channel.So much joy was present in the dolphins antics and it was infectious to the mood aboard, exclamations of wonder and excitement resounded. I will have to retract my statement in the previous log entry of the rarity of these magnificent creatures.  It was an overwhelming experience and difficult to translate. Alone again we finally finished setting sail and dishes and cruised into the verdant and narrow confines of Grappler Sound. We sailed briskly right to anchor at the head of the sound by 1630,  it is another pristine wilderness with a tidal basin to explore in the morning. The surrounding hills are steep with bare granite cliffs reminiscent of Desolation Sound with the exception of stubborn cedars. The intermediates are now putting their preparations and study to the test, writing their chartwork, navigation safety and tides exam. There continues to be a wonderful positive dynamic aboard instilled in all aspects of shipboard life.

anchored, sunny, cool, writing exams

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