We did the crossing with a 19 ft outboard. The weather turned bad off Pine island and had trouble maintaining radio contact with a second boat in our party. I would not recomend this unless you have a good strong outboard in the event of primary power failure. A GPS is a must and running in the early morning hours is a smoother trip. Watch your fuel consuption as heavy seas can sure gobble a lot. We saw several boats in the 20 - 24' range that made the crossing. Your experience is key as well as the condition of your equipment. Don't even think about it if you are not well prepaired and eperienced. Good Luck, Larry
Lots of small boats make this crossing every year. We hear of only some of them in trouble. The leading problems we have seen:
Engine or stern drive failure: Little used engines fail on their first long, hard run. No suitable backup power (kicker). Contaminated fuel tanks, no spare fuel filters. Spun prop hubs.
Out of fuel: Inexcusable You should carry enough fuel to reach your destination and return. You may get close and be forced to turn back.
Lost in fog (or otherwise): No compass, charts or other navigation instruments aboard or don't know how to use them. Some with no VHF radio.
Rough seas: Sometimes fear sets in before the boat is in real trouble. Avoid wind against tide. If it's blowing northerly (from the North to the South) or Westerly go on the flood. If the wind is southerly, go on the ebb. In the summer, the early mornings are usually best. Winds generally pick up in the afternoon. In the winter you'll need to make your crossing sometime between the hurricane force storms... The northern half of this crossing is the most exposed and will likely be the roughest. Out in the swell it doesn't have to be windy to be rough.
Collision with floating debris. Drift logs and deadheads. It is a good idea to take along a survival suit or some sort of dinghy or inflatable raft to keep you out of the water if the boat sinks. An hour in the water and you are likely a goner.
Collision with non-floating objects. IE: Rocks. Seems to happen mostly to bigger boats.
Traffic: You really should have radar out there in poor visibility to avoid getting run down by something. At a minimum you must have the biggest RADAR reflector you can find. Monitor the Vessel Traffic Services channel on the VHF.
Don't be afraid to ask some salty looking types at the Fishermans' Wharf for advice. They will appreciate that you are smart enough to ask...
Now i see why you say to go on the flood, to avoid the inlet ebbs..... that's exactly what happened to us last year in Queen Charlotte Strait in 30 kn of wind, Yikes, not fun ! In addition we lost our chart overboard . Another story. Love going up to the north coast, lots of stories mike
Made that mistake once. If the tide is wrong and the westerly swell is up we go well outside of Egg Island. You can see the rips and white water between the southern end of Egg Island and Cape Caution...
Ray: I have rounded Cape Caution Northbound on 3 occasions. From Port McNeill I have crossed to the North Shore of QC Strait so that if the weather got ugly I could head into Blunden Harbour and work my way along the North Shore as weather permitted. From Port Hardy I have settled on a route from Duval Point to the passage East of Heard I. and then to Shelter Passage and straight to the Southgate Group with the option of using Allison Harbour, Skull Cove or Miles Inlet as an overnight pull out option if things get rough. What can you tell me of the suitability of the mid-channel anchorages at Bell I. (just to the West of the fish farm); Walker Group (between Kent and Staples I.); or possibly the Deserters Group (between Wishart and Deserters I. ? I have poked around at Bell and Walker but have no experience o/n at either in strong to Gale Force winds that would prevent me from continuing as planned. Thanks in Advance. OS