Sunday, July 28, 2013

Day 28/July 28 – Klemtu to Altson Cove

Another weather window – outside we go! It has been amazing to be able to take our route to the outside of the islands. We didn’t think that was going to be possible. We topped up our water and headed off under the sun. 

Waited for low slack tied to get through Meyers Channel. As we took our time to round the elbow in the channel, we noticed a fin rise out of the water in the distant shoreline. Orcas! We turned off the engine and drifted down. The orcas came up and were circling and feeding all around us. There was a young one that stayed close to its parent as they came up and circled. We watched quietly from the bow for over half an hour. 

Crept through the channel passing over kelp beds and by petroglyphs and pictographs. Came up Laredo Channel and found Alston Cove – a paradise all to ourselves. Took Sturdi up a creek to explore and found more berries. Berries of all kinds – salmon, thimble, salal, blue, huckle. Was nice to get the salt out a bit with the fresh water. Struggled to get the dingy back out of the creek after the tide had pulled out. 

Relaxing evening with Alston Cove Shandi’s (1 part lucky lager, 1 part lemonata sanpelligreno) – delicious. 


Saturday, July 27, 2013

Day 27/July 27 – Klemtu

We took our time today – had a sleep in, caught up on some boat projects (Scott finally got his Grandpa’s navigation chair set up!) and had a nice visit with Doug Neasloss who pointed out some special places on a chart. We were getting ready to go, but the wind picked up and it was late in the day, so we stayed another night. Had a walk down to the BC Ferries terminal that the Kitasoo Xais’xais leased. Picked a few more berries. Had a delicious dinner of the crab that Phil had given us the day before and freshly smoked salmon that Scott tended to all evening. Wandered around the closed store to pick up a weak wifi signal – only enough to send a few work emails.


Friday, July 26, 2013

Day 26/July 26 – Uncharted Cove to Klemtu

Headed out early from Uncharted Cove and pulled our empty prawn trap. We must have confused a beautiful double ended steel hull sailboat – they headed in to uncharted cove as we were leaving because we noticed them coming back out a few minutes later - easy to get lost amidst the confusing inlets and channels. 

Had a nice day – first foggy day with a little bit of rain. Still warm though. Came up an inlet and did a bit of fishing. Glassy calm. Passed a few boats. Cautiously came through a narrows. Saw an otter as we crossed the channel into Klemtu.

I just love listening to the radio when you come into communities. The first thing we heard was a child saying, “I love you” and someone returning the sentiment. Others casually summoning one another. Announcements of this meeting and that meeting. “can you bring this with you?”. 

We rounded the gorgeous big house that sits on the corner of Klemtu welcoming all visitors to the village. We weren’t sure where to pull in, so we found a space at the end of a less full dock that had a few houses on it. Had a chat with the fisheries manager who was tidying up after a day on the water. Learned about the Guardians, abalone and crab surveys they are involved in, the tourism and bear watching season about to start. Then Phil pulled up with the SEAS and Nancy Turner having been out in the field for the day. They had collected samples of flora and did an experiment to see how many huckleberries they could pick in 15 minutes. They also had a haul of crabs of the most amazing size. 

We were joined by Doug Neasloss, Stewardship Director and Whitney Sadowski, Marine Planning Coordinator and all gathered at Nancy’s residence in the Administration Office for a dinner of salmon, crab, potatoes, slaw and huckleberries and chocolate covered hob nobs for dessert. Lovely to listen to everyone’s stories and observations from this wonderful place. After dinner we walked down to the Big House for a tour and sharing of Kitasoo Xais’xais stories. An incredible evening.
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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Day 25/July 25 – Shearwater to Uncharted Cove

Said good-bye to our friends at Pacific Wild headquarters and headed out - There isn’t a lot of bandwidth in the Bella Bella/Shearwater area – so no blog uploading or emailing for us.
Stopped in a Shearwater again to pick up fuel a few last minute things we had forgot from the day before. Rafted up against some fish boats and rowed over. Ran into the Kitasoo Xais’xais SEAS interns were were in town to pick up Nancy Turner and bring her back to Klemtu for some time with her in the field. Loosely arranged a dinner together and then headed out. On the way, we went past the light station where Scott did some work as a coop student about 15 years ago!

We spent the night in an uncharted cove, we could understand why it hadn’t been charted!

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Day 24/July24 - Bella Bella and Shearwater

Finished up our internetting and headed over to the Pacific Wild float house, dock and home of Ian and Karen McAllister. We were greeted by Diana and her happy lab. Got tied up and met the SEAS (Supporting Emerging Aboriginal Stewards) interns working with Pacific Wild to monitor their hydrophone networks and remote cameras they have set up to observe The week before these interns had been out with 4 other SEAS for sail training on Pacific Wild’s catamaran, Habitat

Ian and Karen McAllister published a book in the late ‘90s called The Great Bear Rainforest that followed their sailing adventures, exploring inlets and estuaries and exposing the world to the globally significant habitats of the bears, wolves and salmon. I remember coming across their book in an office waiting room in Vancouver and I never forgot it and dreamed about it for years. Eventually bought the book and now it’s sitting in our little library on the boat I’m sailing the GBR in!

We had been invited to attend the Humchitt potlatch in Waglisla that afternoon. So we hopped in the dingy and made our way across the bay to the community centre which had been transformed into the House of Wigvilba-Wakas for the next 3 days (or however long it will take) of potlatching. It was magical to see the Heiltsuk culture so alive and vibrant and we were honored and grateful to have the opportunity to be there. 

We asked around if there had been enough groceries now to supply the community since the fire and we were assured there was plenty and we should feel free to stock up. So off to the church, site of the temporary store we went. Well constructed shelves were fully stocked and it was a busy place with a selection that far exceeded anything in Shearwater. Picked up what we needed and headed back to the dingy to cross the bay again. 

As we pulled up to the Pacific Wild dock we could hear the sounds of whales on the hydrophone speakers they have outside the float house. I rushed in to find Diana glued to the screen. “I’m so glad someone else is here to see this!” she said grinning.  We looked on the screen to find at least a dozen transient orcas moving past Gosling Rocks on Goose Island. It was amazing to be able to see and hear the whales. About 7 would line themselves up and surface in unison – super special thing to see. 

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Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Day 23/July 23 – Goose Island to Waglisla, Bella Bella and Shearwater

Woke up to the sound of our neighbours early departure. Scott was up getting coffee when he said with half excitement and half disbelief, “wolves on the beach”.  We watched as 6 or 7 wolves made their way across the sand from one island to the other! Just amazing. It looked as if this was their daily routine. They looked content and healthy with a slight bounce in their step - but not like a dog bounce, a stealthy slow suspended bounce with heads and tails low. I’ve heard that not many people have seen these special coastal wolves, so this was quite a gift. 
Pulled anchor and headed out of Goose Island paradise. We could see fog banks rolling in around the island as we headed for the interior just in time. A nice steady cruise into Waglisla, or Bella Bella where things were getting a little busier with traffic increasing as we got closer. As we pulled up to the government wharf, we could see and smell the fire site. If you hadn’t heard there had been a fire here a week before which left the community without their grocery store, library, café and crafts store. It also left one of Tides Canada’s Top 10 organizations, Qqs Projects Society without a home (if you’re into helping out with the rebuild, you can make a donation here!). The fire broke at 4 am and didn’t leave much behind. The community rallied, made sure those who needed food had it, expedited food shipments and established a temporary store in a nearby church. 

It was heartbreaking to see the pile of books that were salvaged from the library. I had been here just weeks before, enjoyed a coffee from the Koeye Café and pondered the collection – this was not your typical community library but a library the community, led by Jess Housty, has been building for years. It was a thoughtful collection ranging from classic literary fiction to photography books, plant and animal field guides to contemporary non-fiction and graphic novels. A number of books had been sent by authors who had visited the area. The books were avidly read by community members and the every once in a while a cruiser would pick up a book and mail it back after they’d finished with it. During a visit with Jess in the temporary open air offices of Qqs we were joined by Nancy Turner who I’d never met, but had several of her plant identification books on board. 

We left the government wharf and headed over to Shearwater. Shearwater is essentially a fishing resort – lots of big, splashy yachts. Not the type of place we gravitate to – but it was great to take advantage of showers, laundry and to get rid of the stinky tagged fish head we’d been traipsing around the last few days. The friendly Wharf Master asked if we were with Pacific Wild - and then invited us to participate in their weekly regatta at 7:30pm. We might have if we weren’t completely exhausted. It was great to see his enthusiasm for sailing and a little sad to watch his boat going round the marks without any competition.

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Monday, July 22, 2013

Day 22/July 22 - North Beach, Calvart Island to Goose Island

Woke up to the sound of humpback breath off the beach. Breakfast Scandinavian style – hard boiled eggs, dried meat, cheeses – packed up and hiked back to the boat through the early morning singing, chirping bog forest, over the lily covered lake and across pristine West Beach. As we walked down the wharf, we spotted a school of squid which is promising for Scott and his squid lures. Back to the mothership. Caught the weather forecast – good weather window - so we headed “outside” for Goose Island. Popped our lines in the water on the way out and caught a nice little pink in under 10 minutes. Kim cleaned it up – we’re getting good at this!

Motor sailed over to Goose Island to find one other boat tucked in. We had just enough light to hop in the dingy and do a bit of exploring. Everything seems cleaner, washed out and bigger on the outside of the coast. Goose Island is covered in big sandy beaches trimmed with stony islets and islands covered with old growth cedar. There were wolf tracks everywhere and as the sun set and Scott tried to capture the best sides of two herons they began to howl signalling the end of the evening. It was magical.

We took off and had just enough light to round a point to explore another beach, this one almost choked out with kelp forest, spider crabs dangling from their long locks in the transparent water. This beach also had wolf tracks, but fewer, bleached out logs built up all around. Following a small paw patted down trail through the understory and a few cedars to another beach which was covered with tracks. More magic.

After the bugs became unbearable, we made our way back to the boat in Sturdi over the slow moving glassy water. Looking back I caught out of my eye the most magnificent moon that took my breath. Slept well and dreamt of those wolves on the beach. 

Not at all surprised that National Geographic has named the GBR as one of their top 20 must see places!

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Day 21/July 21 – Unnamed Cove to Hakai North Beach

Spent most of the day puttering about the boat. Successfully canned salmon. Tried out some knot work. Baked more bread. Scott took Sturdi out for some fishing (nothing big enough to keep). Didn’t pull anchor until early evening and headed towards the giant yachts parked outside the Hakai Beach Institute. Pulled into a less crowded cove to the left, packed up Sturdi with tent and sleeping bags and headed for the dingy dock – tonight we go terrestrial!
Signed the Hakai Beach Institute’s guest book, downloaded emails (yes, we brought a computer camping!) and headed out to West Beach and then on to North Beach. Kim had been to West Beach before with “work”, but North Beach was a first for both of us and we had the whole place to ourselves. Set up the tent (no fly needed) in the squeaky sand, had a little fire, enjoyed the last of the light and the sound of waves crashing. 
IMG_0746 Scott researching how to can salmon from the e-book library.
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