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Important goals are seldom easy to accomplish, I guess that’s what makes them so
particularly significant and appealing. For Kathy and me, reaching the Queen Charlotte
Islands to visit Gwaii Haanas was an aspiration that had eluded us three times over the
last two years. The frustration was amplified by the fact that Masset, on the north end of
the Charlottes, was only 35mi from our last anchorage on Alaska’s Prince of Wales
Island. Since there were no custom facilities on the islands, we would have to first sail
86mi to Prince Rupert, then 122mi, including the infamous Hecate Strait to Queen
Charlotte City. Since Environment Canada issues “no small craft warnings for the north
coast waters because the area is considered to be hazardous for small craft at all time,”
we continually monitored internet weather in Prince Rupert. One of the best sites to
follow developing weather in the Gulf of Alaska, or the world for that matter, is
www.passageweather.com. It looked like our plans would be thwarted again. The
animated predictions over the next three days showed two 990mb lows merging to form a
very tight rapidly moving system that would be generating 45kt winds over the next
36hrs. However, by the next morning, like Dylan’s lyric “but for a simple twist of fate”
the jet stream had moved south and one of the lows moved north providing us an
opportunity to get started. Our 48mi trip to Larsen Harbor on Banks Island was long,
windy, and wet. We were beginning to doubt our weather report as we were getting
blasted by 25kt winds with gusts to 35 during squalls. But as dusk fell, the wind was not
an issue, and our trip across Hecate looked promising. We left that next morning at 5:00,
though still dark, we slowly followed our GPS track out of the shallow cove and into the
strait.

During the last Ice Age, the Hecate Strait was a coastal plain, today it’s a wide shallow
body of water that is capable of becoming one of the most dangerous places on the earth.