Incident at Octopus Islands

Foraging for provisions on Quadra and Cortes islands in the Discovery Archipeligo lead to the discovery that re-stocking the galley is becoming increasingly challenging.  We departed the well protected Gorge Harbour on Cortes on a calm morning after a day and night of tempestuous winds and rain.  Our route beyond the narrow harbor entrance followed the impossibly circuitous, but well marked Uganda Passage, and splendid Hoskey Channel.

Departure was conservatively timed to make Surge Narrows at low tide slack in order to safely navigate the rapids where turbulent water flows 16 knots at full force. We approached the narrows one hour early for slack, but transited the constricted conduit anyway, confident that Jupiter could power through the 4 knot current now running.   An exhilarating ride, and all was well.

Our selected anchorage for the night was the highly recommended Octopus Islands off the Okisollo Channel.  Entry is through a very narrow passage guarded by obscured rocks and small islets.  Here is the only protected moorage for a boat within the ten mile channel, at the north end of which lies tomorrow’s obstacle, the Upper Rapids.

Jupiter’s electric anchor windlass eliminates broken backs

Arriving at our chosen spot we prepared to deploy the boat’s ground tackle consisting of a 100 pound anchor and up to 400 feet of 1/2 inch heavy chain, driven by a hefty electric windlass (winch).  Windlass control circuit ON, Windlass motor ON.  Nothing worked.

Lacking any good alternatives, we had to drop the anchor first, then somehow find a solution to the fault.  Anchoring systems can always be deployed using gravity to free fall the tackle with a manual brake on the windlass to slow or stop the chain.  But to raise 200 feet of chain and the anchor (totaling in excess of 500 pounds) in the morning would only be possible using a hand-ratcheted lever, requiring a long and exhausting effort and a chiropractic visit.

Problem found. High amperage fuse blown.

Anchor and chain dropped and boat secured, we scrutinized Jupiter’s electrical drawings to locate the failed component: either the battery switch controlling current to the windlass, or a blown fuse.  Searching under bunks and behind panels we eventually located both appliances, and discovered that the large 150 amp 24 volt fuse was blown.  A spare fuse was located and installed, involving 7 tools, one bruised knee, and a lacerated hand.

With the windlass working flawlessly, we were free to enjoy the beautiful, tranquil Octopus anchorage.

The narrow channel leading from Jupiter’s anchorage to the Upper Rapids
  • Time Underway: 3:37 hrs
  • Distance: 20.9 nm
  • Average Speed: 5.8 kts
  • Spare fuses remaining: 37


  1. Sally Seymour says:

    Kudos to the photographer for capturing the spectacular environs with care to compose the shot.

    Standing by to ship fuses,
    The crew of Sally W.

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