Bottleneck Inlet

Where Next?
Bob Williams
Fri 29 May 2015 05:53
Position: 52 42.57 N 128 24.04 W
At anchor Bottleneck Inlet
Wind: Calm.
Weather: mostly sunny, mild
Day's run: 33 nm

Once again we weighed anchor with the first hint of a breeze, at 6.30. Unfortunately, also once again, once out into the channel the breeze turned into a head wind. This has puzzled me somewhat, for from my reading the channels are notorious for headwinds for vessels heading north, so for a vessel heading south, namely Sylph, we should be mostly having following winds. Furthermore, the forecasts for just off the coast have been for fresh north westerlies, so I have been disappointed to have encountered winds mostly from the opposite direction. The weather forecasts have mentioned “inflows” into Douglas Channel from the south west in the afternoon, where we were two days ago, which I assume is a local effect, like a sea breeze, but these “inflows” seem to be very widely spread to me.

Anyway, despite the headwinds, we have had a very nice day of sailing. Initially we motored as the channel was too narrow to allow for miles of endless tacking. At least with the mainsail set Sylph often holds a steady course when motoring into a light headwind and consequently does not need my constant attention at the wheel. This meant I was free to do other things, such as make myself a cup of tea and even do a little reading in between looking around and monitoring the navigation, for which I was grateful.

Today's plan was to transit Heikish Narrows so as to cross from Princess Royal Channel into Finlayson Channel, as Finlayson Channel was significantly wider and would allow us to sail, even if there were headwinds. Now Heikish Narrows are called that because that is what they are, narrow. For much of their length they are only about 600 meters wide, and at their narrowest only 400 meters. As a result quite strong tidal flows pass through them so I wanted to transit them with an ebbing tide, which would b in our favour. As we got closer to the Narrow's entrance it became clear that we were going to arrive early and be pushing the flood. Consequently I decided to shut down the engine and to sail for a bit in order to kill some time. We arrived off Sarah Head, marking the western entrance at 10 o'clock, and with a pleasant breeze blowing (still a head wind but the current was about to turn in our favour), I decided to keep on sailing. In hindsight this decision was perhaps a little crazy, because it ended up taking twenty one tacks and two and a half hours to get through the short five mile channel. Nonetheless, I was enjoying myself, and once I had set myself the challenge of negotiating the narrow channel under sail I was loathe to give up.

Thus we eventually emerged into much broader Finlayson Channel at 12.15, as we did so the wind freshened and required a reef in the mainsail and for the head sail to be partially furled. Of course it was still a headwind. I had a number of options planned for the night's anchorage, depending on weather conditions and how far we made it for the day, and as it became apparent that we were going to have to endure many more miles of bashing to windward if we kept on going, and also considering that I was towing the dinghy, and that I was feeling a little weary, I decided to anchor early and head for a very nice looking little anchorage in Bottleneck Inlet, only six miles from Hiekish Narrows. We duly arrived off its entrance 14.00, the inlet being very appropriately named as its entrance was only sixty meters wide, and six meters deep. But once through the bottleneck the inlet opens out into a beautifully sheltered basin, where we duly dropped anchor in eight meters depth.

I was looking forward to a relaxing afternoon, but once secure I felt very weary and ended up succumbing to an afternoon siesta, regrettably not arising until 7 pm. This was much later than I had hoped, but there was still plenty of daylight left and the creek at the head of the inlet beckoned for a bit of an explore, so I reconciled myself to a late dinner and went for a row. As I approached the head of the bay the bright sunlight caused me to issue forth a loud sneeze. I had experienced quiet for so long that I was shocked at my own noise, and even more surprised at the sound of my sneeze echoing back and forth between the basin's rocky walls. The myth of Narcissus and Echo sprang to my mind, perhaps a little too appropriate under the circumstances as I paddled over the still clear waters offering up myriad reflections, visual and mental. I sometimes reflect on the warnings contained in this ancient myth as perhaps something a single handed sailor such as myself needs to pay heed to. Indeed, I sometimes wonder whether in writing my web log I am merely listening to my own echo. I hope not. While I mostly enjoy writing it, and it is by its nature somewhat egocentric, I truly hope it is not entirely trapped in its own echo and occasionally brings a little joy to others.

Regardless of such philosophical ponderings, it has been a very nice day to mark off another year in my life. And the evening's row and walk was very nice.

All is well.