Friday, November 06, 2009

To Port Hardy and a wet Cape Scott hike

We've settled into Port Hardy, BC. The Northernmost town on Vancouver Island: just 310 miles from Alaska.

We took advantage of the intermittant weather to clean out the bilge of 26 years of goo. We also found a fuel hose that had rattled loose and leaked diesel in large quantities into the bilge. Glad to have THAT gone. Imagine the stuff in the grease trap in a long abandoned drive-in theatre cafe, and you get the idea. Rather like a liposuction.

They'res a great trail to walk Chance, and all the amenities for our month here. When the skiing opens up, we may move the boat, but right know we're pretty well set up.

Nice little campgrounds by the river. Wish you were here...

They recently had an invasion of dead and dying Humboldt squid in the harbors at full moon. Not surprisingly, the most popular news article for a while was a recipe for Calamari El Nino. Blain grabbed one of these 20 lb monsters of the deep and we feasted on calamari for three days.

He's trying to figure out how to freeze some. It's really delicious stuff. We'll post a photo if they come in again.


One rainy day we drove to Cape Scott Provincial Park for some exercise in the rain. Along the way we found the shoe tree.

If you look carefully you can spot the ballet slipper. Seems these tough lumberjacks aren't all flannel and lugged boots all the time.

A few other reminders along the way to keep your slippers on.

Cape Scott was really rainy. We hiked out to San Josef Bay, an old settlement by Danish migrants in the early 1900s. Unfortunately, another settlement failure. Canada had a "homestead" act of their own to encourage settlement, but many of the villages failed along the coast for a number of regions. The storm had really blown up the surf in the bay. Fun beachcoming but the tide was in, so we couldn't go around the corner to check for glass fishing floats.

Huge trees to hide lunch from the rain.

The trail to Cape Scott was a little more rugged. 30km later and we could have hiked the whole North Coast trail. It ends at saltwater, so you have to call a water taxi. Apparently over 8000 people a year do this trail. Very impressive.

A huge fallen cedar. Why cut it out? Just chop some steps in it.

Hand over hand in a few places. They don't recommend dogs, though Chance loved it.

We'll be back. It's a gorgeous hike.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Off to Port Hardy

Well we did escape Port McNeill. It wasn't evil. We promise. There were some really nice parts and people. The school bus system, for instance. Every weekday we enjoyed watching the enthusiastic (sic) kids from neighboring Sointulla and Alert Bay unload from the bus-boat at Port McNeill for school.

According to one source, the boat was one of many built as a ferry boat for the World Exposition a few years ago in Victoria, and found a place as a bus in Pt. McNeill.

We ought to give a Nobel Prize to the person that hung a punching bag on the aft deck. Brilliant.

Off to homework.
Mo was handling a really rough crossing out of the protection of Malcombe Island and into Queen Charlotte Strait. The seas were 5-7 feet chop and logs were literally everywhere. Five hours of frazzled nerves and books falling from shelves got us into Drury Inlet and a cozy spot for the night near Carter Passage.

Drury Inlet has to be timed to run through Stuart Narrows at tidal slack. Beyond lies Actress Passage and Actaeon Inlet. The neck into Bond Lagoon was about 6 feet under the keel and only thirty feet wide, but a very snug spot to wait out a gale. We watched 007 For Your Eyes Only to celebrate being in Bond Lagoon.
Further up into Tsibass Lagoon we found an unused logging road and a sign to ham it up in front of. Nice to stretch the legs.

We've become a bit cougar-shy in the Broughtons, having heard some local stories of recent encounters with our feline friends, so hikes have been daylight affairs. We pulled into one marina - Jennis Bay - to inquire about their local hikes and met a one-eyed yellow lab on the dock. Turns out the dog, head in mouth, was being carried off by a wolf, but the owner shot well and saved his dog.
BC is still a wild place, it seems. Chance listens to these stories and takes them very seriously. You can see by the ears.
Blain's new beard is growing in well...
Good day, better day. Any day sailing counts. Even rainy ones.

Interesting to say the least.

Lately we've seen enough rainbows to make a Care Bear puke. October weather has been sunny then rainy, then windy, then hail, then sun, then rain, then wind, then sun, etc...

One very notable character we've met is Keith. We made too much chili one night in Pt McNeill and shared some with him. Solo sailing in his 24'(?) pocket sailer KELCEY with only paper charts and a marine radio, he's on his way from Shearwater (near Bella Bella) to Victoria and back. He looks to be about 22 and heats his boat with a modified oil drum he built into a stove.

Recently we spotted him in a secluded cove chopping wood on shore and pulled in to invite him to lunch together. This sweet guy brought with him a little baggy of "hippy dust" (nutritional yeast powder), a tupperware of sprouted mung beans, and two cloves of homegrown garlic. I say this, not to make fun. With all respect, it was probably near the last of his supplies, and his contribution to lunch was truly appreciated. In fact the fresh sprouts, two weeks from fresh produce, tasted fabulous. We hope to hear of his progress and run into him again out there. He is an inspiration to anyone who thinks sailing is only for the rich and the retired. GO KEITH! Bon Voyage!