Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Echo Bay and Billy Proctor's old junk


Delectables and delicates, finally with a little rain, the shrooms are coming out and splotching the forest with some much-appreciated color.
This little treasure was candy-apple red and about the size of a mouse.

After one of our forest collecting forays, we ran into some kindred spirits. Again. Keith and Heather are former Canada Parkies and recently moved from sea kayaks to a sailing trimaran. We've been bumping into them in the same anchorages, and finally got to have them aboard for a boat tour. They've now live in Alberta, but kayaked these coasts for years. We've really enjoyed swapping Park Service stories with them and hope to meet up this winter for some backcountry skiing in the Rockies.
They turned us onto a book we have to get called "When Do You Let the Animals Out?" - a collection of dumb questions from Canada's public land management agencies. You didn't know those staunch flat-hatted public servents kept a secret book in the back of the visitor centers and ranger stations. Did you? We have to get a copy. So we pulled into Echo Bay, aka. Pierre's Resort, and were impressed. The floating "lodge" and other buildings were pulled across the inlet and tied together to form a boardwalk town. The central barge, where they host pig roasts and fish frys, was formerly a section of floating freeway from Vancouver. It weighs a couple of million pounds.
In addition to the yurts springing from the forest like mushrooms, the architecture of the place could be labeled "floating quirk". We're hoping our architect buddies will draw us up plans for this house, complete with bubble windows for our next house.

Great cliffs tower overhead to give the bay it's namesake echo. Lots of writers inhabit these little floatons. Not sure about bloggers.
It's just the type of place sailboats get forgotten about and stories spring from the rains.

The propeitors put on quite an all-you-can-eat. The halibut fish fry was a dream come true for Blain.

Pierre with his famous beard and Budweiser. Somebody will have to open a microbrewery up here to help this poor guy out.
The only pig that survived the pig roasts.

The highlight was a walk to Billy Proctor's Museum around the bay. Billy's been collecting stuff and stories forever and his wee museum hlods priceless acheological treasures ranging from a gas-powered circular saw, to handmade wooden fishing lures, beer bottles from the 1880s, and a sperm whale ear bone weighing about three pounds. It must be seen.

Billy has carved out a life of adventure on this coast as a former logger, fisherman, and do-it-himselfer. He's written a couple of books - of course. He's on the list as one of the seven wonders (people) of Canada. His wooden fishing boat is perfect.

Billy saw the light over the course of his decades of seeing what logging, mining, and overfishing has done to the coast, and is an ardent conservationist.
I'm sure he loves the visitors, and we got to have a little tour of his fruit trees and greenhouse. He's a very nice chap, and we bought his two books - one a biography, "Heart of the Rainforest", by one of our most influential authors, Alexandra Morton. We got a chuckle when we told him we would read it but not spoil the ending for him.
A little bit about Alexandra Morton. She was a porpoise researcher who took up orcas as a linguistics student, and helped peice together the complex relationships and communication of these extremely intelligent beasts. Her book "Listening to Whales" is on our top ten list of conservation literature. Highly recommended. Mo was thrilled to spot her little floathouse. She's now fighting factory fish farms and working to restore native salmon runs. A champion and, without a doubt, a national treasure.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Mamaliliculla - say that three times fast

These cherry-sized plums were delicious and overhanging the beach at Mamaliliculla.

Our first totem pole. This is in the woods, well-hidden by brambles.

The famous sea-wolf on the bottom of the pole.
The old house posts were still standing, as was the main house and hospital. Written about in the fabulous "A Curve in Time" by M. Wylie Blanchett, in the 1920s, we were thrilled to see it in person. Once a native village, and built on clam shell midden ten-twenty feet deep, it became a school site, hospital for girls, and mission. Today it has been left to the porcipines and blackberry bushes. We also found mint, apples, plums, thimble berries, and chives. There must have been quite a garden. Some major weed infestations to deal with, now, though. But are they historic weed infestations?
It is easy to find the old native villages by the white shell beaches, centuries of clambakes. This one also held bits of broken class, porcelain, shoe soles, and other ponderables. Enought to make an archologist go nutters.

The beach and the old pier.
In one bay, we found a bushel of cockles. Lazy clams, they don't dig in to the sand. Instead they use their foot (delectable) to flip themselves from place to place.

The result is a lazy clam chowder, feet and all, with homemade wheat rolls.

On the way to the Broughton Islands, we rounded a point and watched a powerboat come to a full stop near some cliffs. Then he roared off again. Thinking there might be something interesting we rubber-necked and spotted these amazing petroglyphs of sailing ships and a horse-drawn buggy. Obviously done by someone back in a time when these things were still notable enough to paint on rock walls. Very, very lucky find. Not all powerboaters are bad, we will remind you.
Be sure to click on the photos to see the details.

On to the fabled Broughton Archipeligo. Mist, trees and rocks. We finally, after three months of sailing, had an anchorage to ourselves.

Mo taking her frustrations out on a defenseless whole wheat bread dough. Blain's just glad it wasn't him.

A few big trees still left on the coast. The largest we've seen have been near native settlements. These two buddies, one a big leaf maple, and the other a western red cedar, must have some stories to tell.

We've been able to pull out the kayak again in the more protected island passages, and we pull it behind the dingy. No one's been brave enough to ride in it, yet.

And finally, Chance, none too happy about the newly enforced life-jacket policy. That's him showing his "ticked-off" ears.

Port Neville time warp

We stopped into Port Neville, a former general store, and occupied homestead since 1891. These the place lends itself to B&W photos, so we played around a bit.

Inside the store are many of the products they sold along the way and would be a flea-market hunter's dream. Luckily it is now run as a sort of museum by the great granddaughter Lorna.
Some of the products on display weren't particularly politically correct for today's audience.

Back to the docks, we were glad to see we aren't the only ones that take dogs kayaking. This fun British couple had glass-bottom kayaks and a happy pooch.
We were happy to not be the spectacle this time and to watch them get the giggles.
A gorgeous 1950's fishing boat pulled in next to us and invited us to a feast of fresh clams, cockles, salmon, and rock fish.
Port Neville is just off Johnstone Strait and we felt the winds. But the sunset was nice on the racing clouds.

Up to the top of Vancouver Island - we pass the rapids test

Since August, we've been foraging better, and have managed to find berries, mushrooms, wild chives, mint, apples, plums, and from the sea; cockles, oysters, crabs, seaweed to stretch the pantry. Not doing too good on the fishing, yet. Rest assure, we're eating just fine. Making lasagna from homemade pasta, fresh basil and asiago cheese. Oh my.

Mo rolling out some lovely noodle dough.
Every once in a while we look outside the cabin, and once, we spotted this golden spruce on the hillside along the way. Head and sholders above the others. We wondered if it's truly a golden spruce like the famous Queen Charlotte Islands one.
Another oddity, this little murrelet was fishing nearby and we puzzled over it's make and model. We hope it's a long-billed murrelet (rare and doubtful). One can hope. Also, we've started seeing flocks of shorebirds coming through. A true sign that summer's winding down.
Here's a shot of Blain pulling the kayak through a reversing tidal rapid. We through this in as a scale model representation of the real thing. If we make a mistake in calculating the currents in Oystercatcher, this ISN'T an option. He's not that strong.

So knowing we had a bunch to go through, we dusted off the calculator and had to blow out a few cobwebs, but we tasked the team analyst with figuring out the tide/current corrections for Yaculta, Dent, Greene Point, and Whirlpool rapids.
Note the proper relaxed arm extension and comfortable posture with the compass. She's a natural. Good thing we got it right. The penalty for being early is that you get to maneuver around in the eddies waiting. The penelty for being too late is certain death. OK, maybe not that dramatic, but we can attest to the strength of these constrictions even when we time it correctly. We don't want to be around them otherwise. Slow boats, like ours, need smarter captains.

These series of tidal rapids can really kick it up. Like trying to squeeze a hippo through a garden hose, there's a lot that can happen if you're standing too close. An interesting thing happens up at the top of Vancouver Island. The tides come in from both sides, and meet somewhere in the middle. So the calculations of which direction the tide floods in and ebbs out is critical. You can get it right and have an easy free ride, or fight it with a screaming engine and lots of cuss words.

The view in Dent Rapids was a bit disneyesque, complete with jet helicopter and a fleet of fishing chauffeurs standing by for well-heeled guests.

Our heels were a bit dirty, so we didn't stop in.