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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Day 20/July 20 – Dawsons Landing to Un-Named Cove on Calvert Island – Wuikinuxv and Heiltsuk Territory

We took our time getting off the dock and headed out for Fitz Hugh Sound going through Burke Channel (or Slaughter Alley) on the way. We dropped our speed and our lines and bam, bam we caught two salmon, just like that. Brought them on deck and picked up speed again with the satisfaction of good eats for the next couple of days.

We spotted humpbacks in the distance as we headed up the Sound – blasts of spray, humps come up followed by slow tail gracefully emerging and then disappearing. Had a good upwind breeze and switched to sail – with the current we weren’t making much head way, but it felt great. And then there were humpbacks everywhere. Ahead of us, beside us, behind us – we couldn’t keep track surrounded by bursts of breath, surfacing humps and tails. Tried as we might we just couldn’t get a good photo – shuffling between the wide and zoom lenses. Just as we thought they were all falling off into the distance – we jumped with a HUGE burst of spray and turned to see a the giant glistening back of a humpback not  1 boat length away! It felt like he could have hit the boat if he moved his tail in the wrong direction. We sailed with whales for about 3 hours before turning on the engine and heading into Kwakshua Channel. We anchored at Un-named Cove, set the bug net over the pilot house and enjoyed a peaceful evening.

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Day 19/July 19 – Kilbella Bay to Dawson’s Landing

If you tracked our GPS today, you might be a little confused as to how we covered so much ground at 25 knots! We got to spend the day with the Wuikinuxv Guardian Watchmen as they went out on their daily patrol. We untied at Killbella and headed to Dawsons Landing where we were picked up and then went out around Egg Islands.

The Coastal Guardian Watchmen Network is an Indigenous stewardship initiative of all the Great Bear Rainforest First Nations. Each Nation has Guardians that monitor, observe and record the activities in their traditional territory. They are also involved with bear and salmon research and do much of the ground truthing for their land and marine use planning. I’ve always wanted to spend a “day in the life” of a Guardian and it was fantastic to witness them welcome and greet visitors to their territory. Most people had never heard of the Guardians and everyone was curious and impressed to learn about the network.

Back at Dawsons Landing we had a relaxing evening of wifi and throwing sticks for the stick crazy Alsatian. Chatted with a man who had flown in from Sechelt to do some fishing, but hadn’t had much luck – somehow we figured out that Scott had raced on a boat he was part owner of in Sidney over a decade ago. Had a humpback come up about 50m from the wharf!

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Day 18/July18 – Beaver Cover to Oweekeno to Kilbella Bay

Early departure from Beaver Cove to get into Rivers Inlet for a visit with the Wuikinuxv Nation. We radioed in and were picked up at the public wharf by, Peter, the Lands Manager who took us into town to the Administration office where they were kind enough to lend me a desk and a phone for a few hours to do a call and catch up on some work. Wuikinuxv Nation are busy with land and marine planning, mapping all of their traditional use areas, monitoring their territory, collecting data on fish and bears, managing referrals from the government and relationships with forest companies – it’s a very busy place. We very much enjoyed meeting everyone and the big smiles and confident introductions we were greeted with. There are only 70 people that live in Rivers Inlet, so it’s pretty apparent when someone is a visitor – especially when they announce their arrival on Channel 06 on the radio! Who needs cell service when you have VHF.

We had a tour of the big house the community built – deep smells of cedar and soil and a calm and cool respite from the heat and wind outside. The Wuikinuxv community live harmoniously with bears in the village. Bear trails litter the fireweed that grows around the houses and along the river – it’s hard to tell them apart from the human trails. My friend Jennifer tells us how she shares her berry patch with a few bears – alternating crops and always leaving some for the other. We were so disappointed when we had to cut our visit short because the wind came up and Nordri looked more like a bucking bronco than a boat tied up next to the fishboat on the public wharf. We pushed off thinking we’d wait out the wind and waves and come back to join friends for a fire and picnic at Oweekeno Lake and an open invitation on the radio for everyone to come to the big house for dancing and drumming, but even by 8 pm things hadn’t calmed. So we reluctantly said good-bye and made our way up into the lee of a tiny cove in Killbella Bay. There were leads there for a stern and bow tie which was a relief not to have drop our anchor into the log filled bottom.  

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