Sunday, December 27, 2009

Post Christmas Time-killer

We put together a little video of our Halloween crossing of Queen Charlotte Strait to Port Hardy from the Broughton Archipelego. Be sure to turn up the soundtrack...

Friday, December 18, 2009

Happiest of Holidays to you all.

Happy Christmas from the crew of OYSTERCATCHER.
Dream daringly this year.
All our best wishes on a prosperous, safe, and peaceful New Year...

Monday, December 14, 2009

Off to ski the rain away

Frosty hike to Georgie and Songhees Lakes out of Port Hardy. Thank again to our Boatminder Tom Cook for turning us on to another great hike.
Interesting and simple two by four ladder with large rubber belts for stringers. Really molds to the rocky sections.
Back at the harbor, the ice was closing in with the week-long cold snap.
Oystercatcher all tarped up, triple tied and ready for winter hibernation.
After winterizing Oystercatcher, we drove to Courtenay for some skiing at Mt. Washington, and stopped at the trail to Ripple Rock. Once apon a time Ripple Rock was a dangerous hazard to ships navigating through the Inside Passage. Nothing a few thousand tons of explosives and some Canadian mining engineers couldn't solve. Here's the story of the largest non-nuclear blast in history.

Well we spotted the trailhead to the former home of Ripple Rock, and stretched our legs from the car ride. We only made it as far as the first suspension bridge, but it was a fun destination.
Cabled to three huge trees, the whole thing moves with a hiker's weight - note the sag under Mo and Chance. She swears it wasn't those pesky holiday pounds.

The skiing at Mt. Washington was a blast. We shredded those blue groomers up good. The crosscountry skiing trails were fantastic and the facility unbelievable. And we thought Kincaid Chalet was nice. Guessing it was built with Olympics dollars. Several national ski teams were scheduled to train there beforehand.

We're now in Bellingham, WA again and are gathering steam for a ski road trip East.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Thanksgiving and the rains cease - a bit

Happy Thanksgiving from the crew of Oystercatcher. We ate enough for all of Canada. That's smoked black cod in the foreground. Find it. Buy it. Eat it. It's amazing stuff.
A candid of two of our local buddies. Tom, at left, is living aboard with wife Robbie. Randy, at right, works at the marina. They are actually both quite nice, regardless of the photo.
We found this police scene to be kind of funny. This was a seatbelt trap set to snare unsuspecting motorists. The instrument of choice for enforcing the seatbelt laws? A high power spotting scope to see the shoulder strap - or if someone was quickly trying to pull it on.

When sitting waiting for the scalloped potatoes to be done, one has a little time. If one has an orange. One could create an anatomically correct orange peel man. One could.

To burn a few calories post-T-day, we took Tom's son Tom's advice on a trail out to the crash site of a WWII cargo plane. Chance is standing on the helicopter pad built to fly in the Governor-General of BC for the memorial dedication.
It is surprisingly intact, though and an interesting destination, though slightly macabre.

Four RCAF planes were flying a training mission in April 1944 when they encountered low visibility conditions. The planes lost visual contact with each other and had to split up. The crew of the doomed plane finally spotted the coast and realized they were close to Port Hardy airfield. Dangerously low on fuel, they tried one pass, but were too fast, so they turned to try again and were on approach when they ran out of fuel, a mile from the runway.
The two pilots were killed instantly. The cockpit is essentially gone. The navigator was injured, but survived and made his way to the coast through the brush and forest. It must have been truly hell for him. A boat searching for the wrecked plane spotted him. This photo shows the landing gear shoved up through the wing.
A nice view to the water from the trail, made possible by clearcut.

Finally a few nice days in a row, after 2.6 feet of RAIN. Yes rain. A Vancouver Island record. Blain worked on the leaks in the the cockpit cubbyholes.
Today we took advantage of 10-20 knot winds and clear skies to sail a bit. Mostly just to brag we sailed in December. Those snowy peaks are calling us. We eagerly look forward to continuing north come Spring, but hope to play in the snow this winter, and might have a line on some winter Olympic tickets. Who knows? We may just show up in your neck of the woods begging for a place to dry the ski boots.
The weather was chilly, but it was a treat to be out there. The kayak happily bobbed behind.

The sun set on the sailing year. It was a year on the water we'll never forget. We will always be thankful for this dream coming true.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hardy Bay to Ft Rupert Trail

A family of common mergansers has taken over the harbor. I liked the blue background in this photo.
Mo's been battling a bit of the crud, but we took advantage of a rare rainless day and hiked across to Fort Rupert, a little community on the other side of the penninsula. A local pointed out the trailhead off the highway - definitely needs a new approach.
The trail is raw, but passable. Some tree trunks are too big to clear out of the corridor, and if cut right can become part of the tread.
This "Jaws" tree was a cool touch.
Mountain bikers had obviously got a hold of this trail and the "skinnies" were interesting.
Their unique use of roofing paper to increase traction on old log corduroy was creative.
At the end of the trail, we popped out at the beach in Ft. Rupert's park. Chance made some friends, but never did go swimming for the ball with the retrievers.
Nice place for a break before turning around to Pt. Hardy again.
We will be heading out on a ski trip at some point soon, and hope to be in the states come Dec. We're keenly looking at snow reports. How's the snow in your neck of the woods?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sointula - A Place of Harmony - I swear I didn't write that.

Chance's first ferry ride. Blain and he took one for the team, particularly on the way back in rain and gales. Dogs aren't allowed on the upper decks, so we stood around with the cars. Wild ride. Mo said the inside of the passenger cabin was cool. Hmm.
Sointula - A former Finnish utopian community on Malcome Island. They have an interesting and unique history.

See, I didn't make it up...

Sointula reminded us of close-knit Homer, AK set in Seldovia, AK.
Lots of artists, boatbuilders, fisherman, and Finns. This fence looks like all four built it.

The food co-op is the oldest in BC, and celebrated their 100 yr milestone. Many great old buldings like this old boathouse.

Chance, however, was impressed with the doghouses. I bet they've had a whole bunch of dogs named "Mack".

Sointula is also home of the recycled gillnet shag rug. Something everybody needs.

The Winter Fest was a bit of fun, and seemed to be the biggest social event of the year. A little (quite good) bluegrass and a fogged-up lens on the camera gave it a smoky bar look.

The social/food hall was old and purpose-built to feed an army.
We got to meet inspirational environmental heroine Alexandra Morton. Go here to see her plight and fight to save BC's wild salmon. We hope to, in some small way, help her and Billy Proctor bring back the lifeblood of the Northwest coast.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Remembrance Day and a memorable scramble

A rainy but touching Remembrance Day memorial service at Port Hardy. These Korean War vets laid a wreath and smartly saluting reminded us all of their integrity and pride.

The First Nations contingent was in full regalia, and added a wreath of their own. We learned many of them have dual citizenship with the US, hence both flags.

The mounties in full shine.

And a large group of Pt. Hardy citizens showed their support.


This carved sign welcomes residents and visitors to the waterfront park in Port Hardy. It says at the bottom "Fishing Logging Mining". Copper Mining was fairly short-lived up here in the 1980s-90s, and no longer adds to the economy. We wonder how long until they have to add "Tourism" to it.

They also have the world's largest statue of a wooden carrot with a bite out of it, as far as we know. Please let us know if you know of any larger ones. We'll alert the proper authorities. After the service, and comraderie at the local Canadian Legion Post, we took a local's advice and checked out a new trail. We'll plagarize:

"If you’re up for a bit of adventure, why not take advantage of the hiking trail that begins on the shore of Storey’s Beach. Tex Lyon Trail is a challenging hike that wanders through a tough wilderness route. Enjoy making your way through rugged paths, and around challenging obstacles like roots, stumps and changing tides. "

Challenging is one word for it. The Canadian Rangers helped rebuild the structures and added ropes to the steep sections (though they might want to check the spelling on their bridges). It is an interesting design adhering to absolutely no sustainability or accessibility standards. It is an up and down game of Chutes and Ladders. Truly fun. The white shell beaches across the bay were inviting. Maybe with the kayak.

Chance actually climbed this ladder with a little butt support at the end. He gets so excited.

The notch through the rock at the beginning of the trail was really cool.


So we mentioned rain. We've found we need to empty the dinghy about every three days. This was just one storm.

We stayed in during the rain and worked on insulating some of the compartments and hatches that were getting condensation in them. This displaced the dog from his beloved bed. At one point, he refused to move, so we used him for a workbench.

Tight accomodations require great flexibility from crewmembers. Of course, we all deal with our frustrations in different ways. Sometimes, toys simply must die to assist in this process.