Masset to Prince Rupert

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Oct 31, 2007
Vessel Name
Vessel Make
Willard Nomad 30'
I lived in Masset for a while but it was time to leave. I shipped my car and other things to Rupert on the barge and it was a fine day to follow on my boat. This boat is the one I designed in college and built at Masset that winter. It was a very light plywood boat that was somewhere between a catamaran and a cathedral hull, 9 X 28'. It was just a hull w fuel tanks, floor boards, helm and small ( tempoary ) doghouse cabin with no windows. I tried to tow a 12' alum skiff but it wouldn't go straight so I sold it hollering at some guys on the dock for $25. I went north accross the Masset Bar ( small version of the Columbia ) and headded NE out into Dixon Entrance away from shoals and several miles further. It was 25mi to Rose Spit and since I wanted to clear Rose Spit by 5 to 10 mi I went NE for at least 30 mi. It says on the charts " large breakers and overfalls ". Hecate Strait is very shallow and Dixon Entrance is deep so when the tide goes out its like water running off a table. They say the overfall at Rose Spit is 10'. When a large ebb tide collides with a NW wind ( a typical summer afternoon ) I think I'd rather be on a 1" boat in a washing machine. That day of mine was a calm summer day so I have no horror story to relate. Even 5 ( or so ) miles away there were large gentle swirls of watter. The boat needed a helmsman. Soon I was to be 20 mi from land in all directions. Land was visible but very skinny on the horizon and hazy. I stopped the engine to intensify the experience. I saw no other boats on the crossing. Since I had no instruments for navigation I had a bit of a time finding Brown Is light. After passing Brown Is my 100 mile run was made and I proabably sang at the top of my lungs as I usually do in an open boat on high adventure.

Eric Henning
30 Willard
Thorne Bay AK
Great story <u>again! </u>

That was YOU I heard singing as I came around Cape Chacon 45 miles to the North of Masset!*

Thanks for relating your adventure of this crossing.* You presented the isolation of this area very well.* The North side of Graham Island does look pretty skinny from the South side of POWI, and further East, even the 10 miles from Cape Fox to Dundas Island seems like a long haul when you're out there alone in the swells.***

Glad you got some good weather and could skip the horror story, but I liked The boat needed a helmsman* , (otherwise you were on spin cycle ?).* Thanks for sharing.*


-- Edited by Old_Salt at 12:01, 2008-02-29
RE:Masset to Rupert

Thanks Old Salt,

A friend went around Cape Chacon on a 90' comercial boat. The skipper told everyone to get below and it was awful. Everyone got sick and my friend asked the skipper if it was always that bad and he said yes. I remember on a perfect day POW Island is bearly visible from the north coast of Graham Is. From that memory I know you had nice weather but I also know Cape Chacon tide rips give a ripping good time even in good weather.
We will be driving to Puget Sound in about a month. At that time you will cease to hear from me as I will be away from the little lap top thing. We should leave PS for POW about the 1st of July and take a month or so returning home so by mid August we should be back home in Thorne Bay. Being on the East side of the Island we should get many more visitors than if we lived on the West side. We have plenty of space and I can't think of anyone we wouldn't welcome into our home. Thorne Bay isn't one of those " gotta see it " places but almost everyone that goes north of here passes right by Thorne Bay.

Unless you've been there to experience the isolation , incredible beauty, unbelievable tidal effects and wildlife, well you just can't describe it. I can't wait to get back up there.
It's a good place to go by car.

Not many places that beautiful, remote and unique are available by car. Of course one can to fly or take the ferry from Prince Rupert. In 03 we left our boat in PR and walked on the ferry (the one that sank) and rented a little Toyota in Queen Charlotte City. That was a good trip and we will probably do it again. That would be a great trip for Mark and Perla.

When I first went to QCI I had my car sent over on a small barge by "RivTowStraits". It actually went to Massett where I taught HS shop.
I wondered what you could be doing for a living

I know many of the First Nation villages send there kids to Prince Rupert for high school. Not true out there?
When I was very young, I used to fly a single-engine Beaver back and forth on the Prince Rupert - Masset sked with 6 very trusting or, perhaps, ignorant passengers. On bad days, (storm winds were south-easters) you'd climb to 200 feet and head out of the harbour, line yourself up on Lucy Island and the Tree Knobs, set your drum DG and start your clock (make sure it was wound!). In 18 minutes you should see Rose Spit; if you couldn't, start reading the water. If there was no change in the waves, it meant you had missed Rose Spit and you'd turn right until you saw land.

Remember to miss Tow Hill and don't fly behind it or you'd get a real thump.

If you could see a pattern change in the waves, they would bend and then flatten out, it meant you were too far West so you'd have to hang a left to find the north beach because your next stop would be Japan.

There was a lovely old guy called Ollie who met every flight and would help you dock, fuel and turn you around with another load. I'm sure he thought we were all nuts.

It was actually harder to go back because with all the islands and low vis it was a bit of a nuisance to find Prince Rupert with only a drum DG and a map on your knee but it was easier to get lined up with Rose Spit. It just felt better because it was "home."

We used to look for fish boats or logs or humpback (were they Greys?) whales so we'd have something that might float if the engine coughed. As the Canadian Coast Guard's only helicopter had sunk the previous year, we used to fantasize being picked up by the US Coast Guard, who had a huge base at Annette Island, until they closed it...
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Since I had no instruments for navigation I had a bit of a time finding Brown Is light.

At least you did the run in the daylight. I had a fun time one dark and stormy night looking for a similarly equipped urchin boat in trouble off Ramsey Island on the Haida Gwaii side. Actually, he was equipped with a compass, depth sounder, VHF, and flares, but damned if we could see any sign of the flares he said he was putting up.

CCG finally triangulated his signal and figured out he was near Triple Island on the Prince Rupert side. Dude was seriously lost. We went back to bed.

It's a magnificent part of the world, even (especially?) when you're tied to a tree watching hurricane force winds go by.
Worked in mining camps in western Alaska near Bethel. All the native HS kids there went to Mt Edgecomb near Sitka for high school in/at a special all native school.

I was teaching high school in Masset in 1971. At Masset after the school dances at night many of the Haida kids would walk home to Old Masset (3 mi) on the road alongside the inlet. At times it was blizzard like and about 15 or 20 degrees. No coats. They put their hands in their pockets though.

The HS kids and I built a 28' boat in the school shop and they were very proud. I'll bet they still remember building that boat. I did the engineering and prep for the next days assembly and the kids bent plywood, drilled holes and drove boat nails. Took each one for a ride out over Masset Inlet Bar after launch day.

I rode out to Masset on a Beaver. It was cold and winter. I asked the pilot if "this thing" had a heater. He said "nope". He must have thought it was fun to give me concern as he looked over at me just as the heat came pouring out w a guilty smile. Was that you Xbank? To this day I remember looking for Brown Is and Triple Is on my boat trip back to Rupert. I was planing on making my life there in Masset but the job didn't work out.
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No, Eric, sorry, I started in PR in 1974. The Beaver has a good heater.
I was i QC city in the mid 70's. There was 3 or 4 people building, trimarans there at that time. Made my port of entry back from Alaska a year later. Got in a little hot water because it was not a port of entry. Took care of details a few days later in PR. First time I ever saw a amphib, land on water and taxi up the ramp. Need to get back ip there..
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