This summer (2015) was a biggie for us. After 10 months of planning and work, Lori and I landed in Queen Charlotte, Haida Gwaii early on July 11 to begin a 3 week cruise of the remote archipelago. For those who are unfamiliar with Haida Gwaii, it is the group of islands, formerly known as the Queen Charlottes, that lie 50 – 90 nautical miles offshore of the north coast of BC. In spite of the fact that there are a number of small towns and an airport, Haida Gwaii’s isolation across the notorious Hecate Strait, rugged topography, and changeable weather make it about as remote and wild as you can get on our coast. Not only was it a milestone for us due to the nature of the very long (and potentially dangerous) crossing of Hecate Strait, but also because my dad flew in to join us for 24 days – the longest we’ve had company aboard, and my dad’s first real taste of cruising.
Our plan for the cruise was to make our way north quickly, wait for a weather window to cross the strait, and then meet my dad at the Sandspit airport at 3:15pm on July15th. Not withstanding the well known rule that you should never agree to be anywhere on a given date, the plan looked very reasonable on paper. Meeting our scheduling commitment didn’t seem to be a large issue as July 15th gave us 19 days to do the 400-odd nautical miles between home and there – a very modest daily average of just over 20 miles. Given that one day would consist of the 70-100 nm crossing of Hecate Strait (distance depending on departure points), the daily average actually was closer to 15nm. In addition, there is lots to see in the airport’s neighbourhood, so arriving early and waiting would not be a hardship. A theoretically sound and doable plan. Then reality happened.
By the time we arrived at Banks Island, our planned departure point, I was really quite nervous about the whole deal. And there was that scheduling commitment.