Sunday, August 18, 2013
Day 40/Aug 9 - Prince Rupert to Pearl Harbour: Gorgeous sunset, salmon, whale!
Day 41/Aug 10 - Pearl Harbour to the Khutzeymateen Inlet: Double-header salmon, tripple whale, bear!
Day 42/Aug 11 - Khutzeymateen Inlet to Somerville Bay: Grizzly in the am, lazy afternoon then motored to very nice nook in Somerville Bay
Day 43/Aug 12 - Somerville Bay to Lax Kw'Alaams: Explored Kwinamass Bay (Grizzly habitat galore), fished more.
Day 44/Aug 13 - Lax Kw'Alaams to Prince Rupert: Early am fishing then to Rupert to drop off my two crew! (Sent them home with 30+lbs of salmon. Mission accomplished)
Caught the water taxi over to Metlakatla to catch up with the Metlakatla Stewardship Society and try out the Metlakatla trail. Totally amazing all that they have accomplished in the last year. They’ve gone from 2 to 20 staff and have been building out their social enterprises (the trail and an essential oils distillery) all the while keeping up with an alarming amount of referrals and submissions for development proposals. Metlakatla’s traditional territory includes Prince Rupert and so they are having to respond to mega projects such as LNG terminals and the expanding Port. It’s a lot to keep on top of when you consider all the staff the federal and provincial governments have working on these things.
Then we set off on the Metlakatla trail – 20 kms in and out of an ancient walk up at the edge of the forest and the beach. Lined with culturally modified trees, arch sites, huckleberries, cedars heavy with moss, the path goes from cushioned earth to raised cedar boardwalk to suspension bridges that lead to towers that take you right up into the canopy of the forest. We took our time going in and then had to push it to get out and get on the ferry back to Rupert.
Town time – dropped off laundry, had a swim/hot tub at the public pool and dinner at Cow Bay Café. Not the original Cow Bay Café, but delicious all the same.
I (Kim) awoke to the sound of Scott chatting boats with what sounded like a jolly Scottish sailor. “We have a guest for coffee,” he warned as I rolled out of bed. Got dressed and was introduced to John, a proper Hermit – born in Egypt, raised in Kenya, studied engineering in London and then retreated to the magic of the North Coast where he found a bit of sheltered land with fresh water and made it his home. An amazing spritely character with fascinating stories and the most stellar beard as long as his hair. At 77 he’s just sailed back from Haida Gwaii on his 26 foot twin keel. We listened to his colourful chatter until we realised it was time to join the community for their 10am coffee. Walked up the wharf to find Lutz pulling up in his pick-up to find us. Hopped in for a tour of the town; house cabin hybrids, rainbow stained house, boat building sheds turned cedar shingle production, post office, old school, community centre and the house on the hill where we joined at least a dozen community members sitting around a kitchen table curious to meet us. I’m sure we provided them with a bit more fuel for the coffee conversations in the coming weeks. It was one of those situations where you’re not really quite sure how much to reveal about yourself and where you sit on the political spectrum. It’s easy when you’re an engineer/naval architect, a bit more challenging when you work for an organization that the federal government has referred to as ‘radicals’ but the table seemed to be looking for an excuse to liven up the conversation by diving into the political variety of Oona River.
After coffee we walked around the Oona River loop – passed houses built on barges, more abandoned boat building sheds, mossy vehicles, stopped in at the old school to find John at the computer. Spent a bit of time looking over the old photos, paintings, brick n brack, Oona River Yacht Club flag and then invited John over for halibut lunch. Do you remember last year, a few Haida Gwaii guys lost their boat and got stranded on an island for 10 days? John was the one that found them. Had some more good conversation about best spots and the magic of plants and then we all caught the tide out around 3pm.
Left early-ish at low slack to get through more narrows and rapids by 8am. We made it and enjoyed the push of the current from behind as we headed towards Kitkatla. Once again, the fog lifted around noon to reveal sun reflecting off glassy calm waters. Had to keep a pretty good eye out for flotsam and jetsom, but was pretty easy cruising. We noticed the landscape steepen with more alpine meadows and a reduction in visible beaches. Arrived early outside Kitkatla and dropped a line; another pink.
Pulled up to Kitkatla and tied up at the single finger wharf alongside some well-kept boats and a fancy RCMP vessel. We were pleasantly greeted with friendly smiles as we walked into the village. Unfortunately, I don’t know anyone with Gixtaala First Nation in the community at the time and being the first week of August there were not as many people around, so it was more of a stroll through town to get a sense of the place.
There were a few hours left in the day, so we decided to make our way to the next destination we were curious about – Oona River, a Swedish settlement of about 75 people who we had heard were very friendly and welcoming of visitors. If only getting into their harbour was as welcoming. The community sits in the very shallow mouth of the Oona River and is only accessible at high tides. Every guide book we’d read said, “do not enter without local knowledge.” So we called in on the VHF and reached Lutz, a friendly German who asked us to motor over to the piling with the marked numbers and read them. 3.5 – that would indicate 3.5 feet of water. Definitely not enough for Nordri.
Next thing we knew, Lutz had hopped into his skiff and came out to meet us on the forestry wharf that the community uses to wait out the tides. Just as he was encouraging us to spend the night on the wharf and then come in on the tide in the morning to have coffee with the community, a big aluminum boat came burning around the corner and heading towards the harbour. Lutz jumped on our radio to let the driver, Mark know the tide was low and that he could give them all a lift in until the tide came up. So Mark left his boat and we had dinner and caught up with email (Oona River has cell service!) until the tide came up. Mark got a lift back out to his boat and gave us a few instructions on what to look for as we followed him in. It was 11pm and dark. “It’s a soft bottom if you do get stuck.”
As we followed Mark closely in, Kim made the mistake of reading the depth – 7.7…6.9…6.6…5.9…5.5… - fortunately it didn’t get any shallower than that. As 5 or 6 community members helped us settle our boat on the wharf, Mark invited us to come up to his place and walk over for the community coffee at 10am. We tucked in excited to explore this amazingly friendly community.
Dock at Kitkatla
Engine hour meter passed over 1000hrs today! Nordri has been running like a top!