Harrison Lake Cruise - the Whole Lake!

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Harrison Lake Cruise - the Whole Lake!

Postby jeffd » Tue Nov 05, 2013 11:29 pm

Last summer, I spent a day sailing at Harrison Lake BC (near the famous Harrison Hot Springs). I only had one day, so I managed to sail 15 miles (a great spinnaker run!) to the north end of Long Island , then rounded the island and beat back up the west channel, and, running out of time, I motored the last 8 miles back to the ramp, and managed to pull the boat out before dark. The winds were great! But I only got to sail less than half of the lake.

This summer, I made plans to return to Harrison Lake and sail the WHOLE lake. My plan was to spend three days, and even cruise up the Port Douglas Canal up to Little Harrison Lake. Harrison lake is about 33 nautical miles long, and the canal about 1/2 mile. Little Harrison Lake about 3/4 or a mile long. So even 3 days would be kind of pushing it, but that's how much time I could get. Below is the GPS track of the whole trip. The Dark Blue line is the first day's spinnaker run, up to Doctors Bay, where I anchored for the night. The Red track is the second day's track to the head of the lake - another great spinnaker run. The light blue is the second day's beat back to Long Island Bay (last two miles was motoring). The Green line is the third day's track, motoring out of Long Island Bay, then sailing around Cascade Peninsula and up to view Rainbow Falls, before beating back to the boat ramp at the south end of the lake.

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It's about a 4 hour drive to Harrison Lake for me, so I get there around noon. The wind is already blowing pretty good. I pay my launching ($20) and parking fees ($7/night, http://www.harrisonhotsprings.ca/visito ... aunch.html), and I notice that this year, there is an overhead wire that crosses above the boat ramp! That overhead wire wasn't there last year! I inquire and find out the wire is to bring internet access to the boat ramp office. Oh well, I guess that's the price of progress. So I launch the boat with the mast down, and have to raise the mast and rig at the dock. Luckily it is Wednesday, and the boat ramp is not very busy.

One thing I really like about Harrison Lake is that you get to start your sailing day with a run! After getting everything ready to go, I point the boat northward, raise the main, and sail off the dock. Just after leaving the dock, the spinnaker goes up!

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One of the new gadgets I got for the boat is an anemometer, that displays relative windspeed in MPH, and average windspeed. It also keeps track of maximum relative windspeed. It is built and sold by Inspeed for about $79: http://www.inspeed.com/anemometers/Pole ... ometer.asp

OK, I admit it. This is a true gadget, and not really necessary. I am not sure how accurate it is at these low speeds, but it sure is kind of fun. As I'm surfing down the waves and sensing the building wind, my 'instruments' tell me I'm going 6.8 knots (handheld GPS) and the apparent wind is 13.8 mph, with an average windspeed of 10.5 mph:

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Here's a shot of all that "hardware" on my masthead: VHF Antenna, Windex 10 wind pointer, Steaming/Anchor light (which lights the windex too), and now, the Inspeed anemometer head.

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As I am sailing north, the afternoon winds are really going into high gear. I sense that things are getting 'strained'. The boat is shuddering, and I can feel the speed: 7.5 knots!

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I decide that going almost 7 knots, and peaking out over 7 knots is getting a bit too exciting. So I decide its time to change down to the cruising spinnaker, which is about the size of a 150 genoa. With the trusty autopilot steering, I make the spinnaker change, and the speeds go down to something less exciting: running in the high 5's and hitting peaks into the 6's.

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As you can tell, the scenery is just gorgeous. Nice deep blue water - indicating deep and cold. Beautiful snow capped mountains, and almost no other boats.

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This is looking north, toward the head of the lake:

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Wow! Even with the little spinnaker, I'm still moving along quite nicely!

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Here's a shot of the lake, looking south. Yes, those are whitecaps!

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Looking north again, that's Long Island on the left - I'm less than halfway to the head of the lake. But we are still moving pretty good. There were times when the wind calmed down a bit.

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The day is starting to draw to an end, and the wind is starting to subside. It looks like I won't make it to the head of the lake today, before the wind dies. So I take a look at the chart, and notice that the best nearby anchorage is Doctors Bay (I actually studied the chart before the trip and noticed that this looked like a great place to spend the night. It is pretty sheltered. The other bays to the north are not very sheltered).

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Here is a Google Earth satellite view of Doctors Bay. The Red track shows where I anchored, and my track sailing the second day.

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Doctors Bay is a great place to anchor. The area I picked out is very sheltered from southerly winds. I had to beware of a couple of submerged logs, but the bottom had good holding in about 12 feet of water. After tidying up the boat, I cooked dinner, and enjoyed the night show: lots and lots of stars! Its very dark out here, and it was clear so stargazing was wonderful! Glancing at the GPS, I covered 23.9 nautical miles today, with an average speed of 3.7 knots, and a maximum speed of 8.3 knots (!) Average relative windspeed for the run was 5.9 mph. The wind continued to blow till the wee hours of the morning, then it was calm. So I guess I could have sailed all the way to the head of the lake. But I don't like anchoring in a strange place in the dark.

The next morning, I wake up to a clear, glorious day. I wish I had a bit more time - this anchorage looks like a fun place to explore by kayak. There's no one else around, and it is very peaceful. I enjoy the morning.

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Here is a detailed view of the head (north end) of Harrison Lake. The red track is my run from Doctors Bay. The blue track is motoring up to find the canal blocked, then anchoring, and finally motoring a bit, before beating south, on a double reefed main and jib.

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So I'm sailing northbound, on the smaller cruising spinnaker, and enjoying the great views of the peaks around.

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There are a few navigation aids on this lake. Here's a shot of one of them.

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I'm going pretty well on the little spinnaker. The wind was pretty good, and I'm making good time, but I probably could have put up the large spinnaker - hey, the wind is only blowing 7.1 mph relative, and we are only going 5.6 knots!

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I'm approaching the head of the lake. Here, you can see I am lazy and left the anchor out, hanging in its tube, and the chain in its custom plastic bucket. The SJ21 works pretty well as a cruising sailboat, but one thing I wish it had was a more convenient system for anchoring. It seems to me that there is not quite enough room up there on the foredeck for an anchor roller, and it would probably get in the way. I suppose I could cut a hole in front of the hatch, to run the anchor rode and chain inside, but I'm reluctant to cut more holes in the deck. The PVC pipe and plastic bucket works OK. Anyone have a better system?

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Here is a view of the head of the lake. I'm very glad to finally get here. The wind is blowing pretty hard now.

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Here is a view to the south - what I just ran through.

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This is a shot of the Log Dump, on the west side of the north end of the lake. No signs of life or activity today.

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Here is a shot of the head of the lake, with the mountains in the back group. What a view! By now, its blowing pretty hard.

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Here's a Google Earth detailed satellite view of the Port Douglas Canal up to Little Harrison Lake. The Blue track shows how far I got - not very far!

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Unfortunately, when I got to the entrance of the canal, this is what I saw: Yep, that's the canal beyond all those logs.

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Hmm, I guess this makes sense - they do log on this lake, and the wind blows everything up to the head of the lake. So all the stray logs end up on the north shore - right where I am at! These logs are pretty big, and even with an 8hp outboard, I'm not going to get through all of this mess.

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So I anchor the SJ21, inflate the kayak, and go looking for a way around the mess. I figure I'd kayak up to Port Douglas if I can find a way through the log mess. It looks pretty hopeless trying to get through in this kayak - an inflatable, and logs with sharp pointy thing sticking out - not a good idea! I paddle about looking for a beach to land on, but all the beaches are chocked full of floating logs, so there's no safe place to land. So I guess the trip to Port Douglas will have to wait for another time. Since I am in the kayak paddling around, I take a few photos:

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One last look at the canal, before pulling up the anchor and heading back south. Sigh, so close, and yet so far. Thinking about it, I'm up here, by myself, and I haven't seen another boat since yesterday. So don't do anything foolish. It's time to head back. The north end of the lake is pretty unprotected from the southerly winds. As I was motoring south, I did see an amphib float plane fly over, and land at the airport, but he must have done a drop off and or pick up, because he didn't stay for very long.

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So I pull up the anchor, stow it in the PVC pipe anchor hanger, put the chain in the plastic bucket bungee corded to the cleats, and stuff the anchor rode inside. Then, I start motoring into the fierce southerly wind, with whitecaps and chop developing. By now, its early afternoon, with probably the strongest winds of the day. I don't really want to motor the whole way back and there is plenty of wind, so I pull up the main with two reefs in it, and pull up the jib. I'm sailing OK, through the chop, until I get hit by a gust and the bucket and chain go over the lee side! I'm dragging chain, and its blowing like mad. Somehow, I manage to get the chain back aboard, and stuff the chain and the anchor safely inside. Lesson learned: don't try to sail in heavy wind with the anchor and chain up on deck - stow it first! After getting everything back under control, it is certainly an exciting sail upwind. No Photos taken on this beat. I don't get a chance to do anything else except sail the boat - the wind is pretty strong and shifty, so I really have to stay on top of everything. Wind meter recorded 20-25 mph relative wind speeds, with an average of over 20 mph. After Doctors Point, the wind lightened up a bit, down to 10-15 mph, so sailing was much more pleasant, and I changed to a single reef in the main.

I sail most of the way to Long Island, through the strongest winds. As I near the north end of Long Island, the wind lightens up a lot, but there is still chop, and the sun is getting pretty low in the sky. So its time to motor. I fire up the motor, furl the sails, and motor the last 2 miles, down the west side of Long Island, heading for Long Island Bay. The last time I sailed Harrison Lake, I sailed by this bay - noticing it looked like a great place to anchor out for the night. The light blue track is my motoring into the bay, checking out the south end (there were a couple of powerboats at the far south end) of the bay before deciding to motor up to the north end of the bay to anchor for the night. The green track is my motoring out the 3rd day and continuing south.

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OK, I'm nicely anchored in a shallow cove in the north end of the bay. I think the powerboats chose the south end to get more shelter from the southerly winds, but I think the view from here is better.

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I'm glad to be anchored before dark, so I can watch the sunset, and all the evening colors on the distant mountains and peaks.

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There were a couple of boats at the far end of this anchorage but it was very quiet. I enjoy another great night of stargazing and enjoying the peacefulness of this wilderness setting. The GPS recorded that I traveled 37.6 Nautical Miles on this second day. The anemometer recorded an average relative windspeed of 20.5 MPH during the beat to Doctors Bay, and an average of 14.7 MPH the rest of the way. The track recorder shows and average speed of 4.0 its today with a maximum speed of 5.9 knots.

The next morning, it is clear and calm. The water is still so the reflections are awesome!

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As the sun comes up, I get a glimpse of the view south with the mountains in the background.

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OK, its time to get moving! I motor out of Long Island bay and turn south. Glancing back to the north, I catch another glimpse of mountain peaks to the north, with Long Island on the right, and the mainland on the left.

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Here is the view to the south, looking along Long Island, toward Harrison Hot Springs

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As I motor to the south end of Long Island, the wind begins to pick up, so its time to sail. I sail south and turn east to the passage between Echo Island and the Cascade Peninsula. Here is the view up the passage, looking east.

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My plan is to sail north up Cascade Bay, up to Rainbow Falls, which is one of the main attractions in the south end of the lake. Here is a detailed Google Map view of the south end of Harrison Lake. The Green track is my sailing to Rainbow Falls, then beating back to the dock/ramp on this third day.

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As I am running up Cascade Bay, heading for Rainbow Falls, I see the tour boat go by. I watch his course, which seems a bit strange, but then, I realize that he knows the route to give his passengers the best views of the falls. So I take note of his course, and follow him.

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Here he moves quite close to shore, to give his passengers a great view of the lower falls. As I sail by, I notice there is a dock and a beach so boaters can go and visit the falls. It seems a bit crowded today, and I'm running out of time so for me, it will have to wait for another visit.

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So I sail the tour boat's course, and get some of the same great views of the falls:

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Looking north, here is the view up Cascade Bay, with those awesome mountain peaks in the background. This bay is more populated with cabins and homes. Oh, and there is cell service here too. I'm back on the grid, after having lost cell service two days ago.

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One last view of the falls, before preparing for the beat back to the boat ramp:

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OK, now its time to sail back to the ramp. By now, the wind is getting fierce. Its blowing 20-22 mph and more. I raise the main with a single reef, and the jib. I'm sailing pretty well, in the sheltered waters of Cascade bay, and in the lee of Echo Island. But when I get to the south end of Echo Island, I get the full force of the southerly wind. At this point, I wished I had put in the second reef before, but I decide to just sail the last two miles. I manage 4.5-5 knots most of the time, with the wind screaming and whitecaps and spray and chop. There are a couple of kite boarders having a great time sailing back and forth, and a couple of sailboats out too. And the jet skis are out too, enjoying the chop.

I managed to sail to near the marina, before deciding its time to drop the sails and motor in. The beat back to the ramp was pretty exciting - lots of wind and chop. No photos - too busy sailing the boat (the autopilot is not very useful upwind-I don't have the wind sensor, so my autopilot steers to a compass course only). The GPS indicates 22.6 NM sailed today, averaging 3.5 knots, and a maximum of 5.7 knots.

I later find out that there is a tour boat that offers tours to Port Douglas twice this year. One was in June and the last tour was in late September. So the time to go up to Port Douglas is right after the tour boat, figuring if he made it, the canal must be clear. I have plans to sail Lake Powell in October, so I can't make it back up to Harrison Lake this year. So I'll have to wait until next year.

So the three day cruise on Harrison Lake was great! I got to sail the whole lake, and see the head of the lake, even though I couldn't cruise up the Port Douglas Canal. But the wind was great, and the weather was great. I'll just have to come back again next year!
Last edited by jeffd on Mon Nov 09, 2015 5:46 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Harrison Lake Cruise - the Whole Lake!

Postby kuriti » Tue Nov 12, 2013 7:46 am

Great cruise report! Gives me fuel for finishing my restoration. I am looking forward to writing some of my own adventures up, rather than write ups on repairs. Only about 3 weeks left to go until my "big reveal" from all my repairs. will look like a new boat.

cheers,

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