Winter’s Way

A River Runs Through It

We find Jupiter afloat in Bellingham in water with the viscosity of the Missouri River. Winter’s unrelenting rain has washed parts of Washington State into the Pacific, but our boat is serviced, fueled and made ready for a long anticipated winter cruise into the far reaches of cold coastal British Columbia.

Customary

We pilot Jupiter 40nm to Sidney, clearing Canadian Customs in Canadian rain. Navigation, weather and seas seem surprisingly familiar and similar to summer cruising if 15 degrees cooler and with far less daylight.

Strait & Narrow

Joining us aboard are Jupiter’s Canadian godparents Ross and Evie, whose leadership of NW Explorations, which manages our boat, has made us fast friends.

As sunrise filters through low cloud we depart the port making our way northwest through the Gulf Islands, Dodd Narrows, past the mill town of Nanaimo, and across the Georgia Strait; sea conditions all matching the reasonable winter forecast. After nine hours we overnight at John Henry’s now-empty summer resort.

The crew is warmed by the boat’s two diesel furnaces. Hot water and hot food are abundant.

Ambuscade

We depart for a return visit to Princess Louisa Inlet guarded by the constricted tidal Malibu Rapids, which transit requires careful timing and artful navigation. Today slack water occurs at 16:36, less than an hour before sunset. Even as we enter the inlet, deepening shadows of steep, snowy mountainsides cast a dampening cloak of darkness.

Utterly alone in this winter world we tie alongside the wilderness float, slippery from rains and the swash and fog of water cascading from the heights at Chatterbox Falls and her many gushing kin within.

Here we pass two short days and long cold nights of hammering rain until some hours before the second dawn the deluge suddenly stops, and a great wind arises like that managed by some powerful ancient spirit thrusting punishing masses of air onto our shuddering vessel.

These assaults, interrupted by periods of spindrift sleep, continue until we depart the rapids on our return route.

Double-Cross

Another long day underway sees improving weather and an excellent afternoon forecast to re-cross the Georgia Strait. At sunset we anchor alone in the protection of a small bay so charming that in any other season it would be entirely filled with boats.

A Pod of Pacific White Sided Dolphin gamboling off the bow.

Purgatory

In the morning light we transit Gabriola Pass and the long axis of islands sheltering heavy freighters at assigned anchorages in a bulk cargo purgatory. BC Ferries are seen to navigate on schedule to every local port.

Food is finished, puzzles completed, photos exchanged and friends bid farewell.

Rate of Return

Two raw days carry us back through sleet and cold towards our slip at Bellingham. A night on anchor at Garrison Bay, San Juan Island offers stillness in view of the historic English Camp as snow falls on Jupiter and her crew.


Jupiter’s Winter Weather Experience

  • Temperature Range: 29° – 45°F
  • Wind: Generally SE or NW at 10-25kn. Gusts to 45kn
  • Precipitation: Showers, rain, heavy rain, sleet and snow.
  • Daylight: 9 ¼ hours per day.

“Winter is the season of anticipation…

and precipitation.”

Environment Canada

See you in spring!

Follow our winter route here
or “Find Jupiter” in the Jupiter’s Way menu.

2 comments

  1. Paula says:

    Congrats on your successful winter cruise, and thank goodness for Jupiter’s cozy confines!

    Love the watercolor of Jupiter.

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