Thursday, August 7, 2014

Culture Shock

Back to civilization...  Sigh
Despite only being away for the past month and a bit, we've just discovered people again.  Sure, the weather is warm so I can't blame them for staying south of Johnstone Strait, but 30 or more boats in the past two anchorages????  I'm sure we'll see at least that number again tonight...  I guess it's a good thing because that is one of the aspects of the Central Coast that made it so special.  Up there, the weather is a bit more variable and life in general is a bit more difficult, but the rewards are enormous.  Meeting the hoards down here just makes the past month all that more perfect.

Since we've left Sointula we spent two afternoons blasting down Johnstone Strait.  For both days the winds peaked at 30 gusting 35 knots.  This made for some exciting sailing in very close quarters (Johnstone strait isn't much more that a couple miles wide) but at least it was behind us.  We had some trying moments but being the glass half-full kind of boat, we've chalked the experiences up to great practice for offshore.  I just pray we get a few more days like that before we go so offshore will be easy...  Did I mention that in addition the to the 30 knots of wind and tight quarters we had to sail through a gill net fleet of about 100 boats?  Yup, we got to deal with that too.  There were times when there wasn't space between the nets from shore to shore...  at least it wasn't foggy at the time.  We actually pulled into an anchorage across from Robson Bight just to get out of it, and were rewarded with seeing killer whales and two black bears on shore (right where we'd been taking Charlotte to shore, of course).

Wish we had a telephoto lens!
You can almost tell its a bear
No mistake now!
Beautiful Newton Lake
After dealing with all that and escaping with nothing broken but our nerves, we ran the Okisollo rapids and arrived in Waiatt bay close to the Octopus Islands Marine park.  The park was chockablock full but we wanted to hike the next day so we anchored at the head of the bay with reasonable space around us.  The next morning we ran (actually we crawled) up to Newton Lake and spent a lovely lunch basking in the new found warmth of the south coast.  Despite the bajillion boats in the anchorage, there were only two other small groups at the lake so bathing suits were not necessary  (sorry no pics this time).  It was nice to stretch our legs again and the swimming was fantastic.
Swimming!  Even Karina went in.

We packed up the boat late yesterday afternoon and proceeded through the last set of rapids, arriving at Rebecca Spit just before dusk.  Yet again 30-40 boats were waiting for us there but our perseverance was rewarded with a nice walk this morning on the Spit before we took off south for Tribune Bay on Hornby Island.  Currently it's wall-to-wall blue sky with 6 to 7 knots of wind behind us.  I'm watching the wind speed carefully because at 7 knots we can shut the engine down and sail slowly with the spinnaker.  Yeah, it just hit 6.9 knots...  Got to go!

Blue sky and Spinnaker fly...  Cant ask for more!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Flashback: Around King Island

Sign says it all
As Gary felt we needed a destination on this trip,we decided to circumnavigate King Island.  This is a very large, steep island that goes about 60 nautical miles inland - it is on the way to Bella Coola, if that helps gives you an idea of where it is.  The main attraction of the trip was a set of hot springs about half way around. We spent about a week doing the circumnavigation.

Ocean Falls, pop. 0
Old staff housing
Meeting place at the dock
Safety first...
Our first stop was Ocean Falls, which is essentially a ghost town.  Up until 1980 the town had 5000 residents.  Then the mill closed town and they tried to bulldoze the town.  The remaining residents stood in from of the bulldozers and managed to save the downtown core, but the rest is gone.  The remaining residents (about 20 in the winter) live about 2 miles out of town in a little community called Martin Valley.  They take amazing pride in what's left of Ocean Falls though and have been working hard to preserve it.  We met Herb Carpenter, who is the unofficial mayor of the town.  He arrived in 1989 after the mill had closed and is largely the reason Ocean Falls still exists. He managed the very well maintained public dock and seems to keep everything moving in the area.  It is hard to imagine what will happen to this unique place when Herb and others like him aren't around anymore (Herb is 80...).

Elcho Harbour
Alexander Mackenzie carving; you have to use your imagination that the carvings are on the rock close to the top right
After Ocean Falls we sailed up Dean Channel to a place called Elcho Harbour.  It was one of the prettiest bays we've ever been in.  The main attraction here was visiting the place where fur trader Alexander MacKenzie ended his trans-Canada trek.  He carved his name and date into a rock on the point to commemorate the end of this trip.  Legend has it that he didn't go any further as his native guides from Bella Coola couldn't guarantee his safety against the warring Bella Bella band.  I guess he figured he was 'close enough'.  Anyway, it took some searching, but we finally found his damn rock.

The "bath" at the hot springs
Hot springs!!
After the rock, we headed to a Eucott Bay where we enjoyed a few days soaking in the wonderful hot springs there.  It was a popular stop for locals and cruising boats, but there seemed to be an etiquette that each group got to enjoy the hot springs in solitude.  It was difficult to tear ourselves away from such a lovely spot, but the horseflies made it easier for us!  After a few days of overcast and rain showers, the sun came out on the day we were leaving, and with it came the horseflies.  We thought Roscoe Inlet was bad for flies, but it was nothing compared to this!  The horseflies waged an all out attack as we were leaving - the battle raged for a full 6 miles out of the anchorage (ie, about an hour).  All three of us were exhausted, but we stood victorious.  We then spent the next hour cleaning up the hundreds of fly bodies that littered the cockpit and deck.  Charlotte ate her fair share just to make sure they were dead.
View from the hot springs

Pacific white-sided dolphins cruising past in Burke Channel
Cathedral point anchorage

The last place we stopped was a little cove called Cathedral Point half way down Burke Channel.  The scenery around this area of the channel is truly stunning and some of the prettiest we've seen.  We were treated to 3 separate dolphin shows on the way down the channel.  The dolphins took time out of feeding to play in our bow wave - very very cool. At about 3 am we were awakedned by what sounded like a tsunami in the bay, but was in fact the dolphins herding salmon in the cove. We couldn't see them in the darkness - all we could see what the bio-luminescence they caused.  Little streaks for the salmon all around us, but streaks for the dolphins.  It was quite a fight!

Here are some scenery pics of Dean and Burke Channel that generally sum up the area.

The first month aboard

Karina's perspective:
It is hard to believe I've been on board s/v Sea Rover II for over a month now.  So far the trip has been great - it is so different from last year.  This year we've stayed in each place long enough to experience everything it has to offer instead of blowing through in a few hours.  Also, this has been a much more social trip compared to last year.  Not only have we sailed in more popular waters (ie, there have been a few boats around compared to none), we've been checking in with the Ham radio nets in the morning and evening.  Yup, I know, that pretty much makes us geeks, but it has been fun listening to where all the boats are each day.  And we've actually met a few of the boats along the way.  We've met so many great people this trip and everyone has had an interesting story. Most of the people we've met have been offshore before and have had some good stories.  Who knew we'd actually need appi-type food and stuff for entertaining??  We certainly didn't need it last year.

Another difference over last year is that we've sailed a lot more.  This has made Gary less cranky, which is always good.  Our biggest challenge has been deciding when to leave anchor each day. Gary always wants to wait until the afternoon and sail into the evening, while I like to be somewhere by 5pm so we can enjoy the day a bit.  But, we are trying to compromise and so far it is working out.

An interesting thing I've noted is that although I'm not working, there never seems to be enough time in the day.  I now understand when people say they are more busy in retirement than when they were working.  Also, we are having trouble keeping track of what day it is.  It is always a bit of a surprise to us when we show up in civilization and find things closed because apparently it is Sunday (as happened this morning)!

And believe it or not, Gary and I are still speaking to each other (for the most part).  It has been interesting being together 24/7.  Think about that... 24/7 with your partner... on a small boat...  But, if we haven't killed each other yet, I figure we probably won't.

Do I miss work?  I miss the people for sure.  And my brain is probably atrophying as we speak, but I'm continually learning a whole new skill set so I haven't been bored yet.  The new boat technical role is keeping me on my toes.

Unfortunately I don't think month 2 of our trip will be as rewarding as month 1 as it is shaping up to be a boat project month, but we'll do our best to enjoy what comes.


When we first visited this place on the way up the coast with Malcolm and Dina, we only got a taste.  That was enough for us to promise to return.  Yesterday, after re-provisioning and fueling up in Port McNeil we fulfilled that promise and docked at the "friendliest harbour" in the world.
Woodshed after Don's heart
Founded in the early 1900's by disillusioned coal miners and timber workers, these Fins started a community of their own to provide a safe place to raise families with equal rights for all.  While their idea's didn't last, their spirit and work ethic carry's on to this day, ensuring a friendly wave from everyone passing by.
Speaking of work ethic, Don....  this store of wood for the winter puts your's to shame!
As usual, everything we do is about Charlotte so this place fits the bill with long open spaces to walk and hike.  Every quaint seaside home is well kept and manicured lawns are abundant which Charlotte was especially excited about.
Safety first!
Yesterday after putting a couple of burgers from the Burger Barn with milkshakes to boot, we felt the need to do a hike.  Hike we did...  all 12 Km out to Bere point.  By the 5th km, Charlotte was wishing she was back in her princess bed, but her spirits picked up on the other side with easy paths carved in the salal.  After a quick rest enjoying the views we started making our way back.

Rest spot for the weary

Man eating salal

This place gets storms!

We hoped for a ride back but the only car that passed us was when we were almost back to the harbour so we completed the 12 km hike and collapsed on the boat for a quiet and early night.

Slow down dad!
This morning we awoke early refreshed and wandered to the marina office where we snagged two pink bikes.  Sointula is very bike and dog friendly (we just missed the pet parade next weekend).  They have free bikes coloured by the place they belong for anyone to take.  The harbour's are hot pink and a few have baskets which we took advantage of by placing Charlotte in one.  After a few false starts she got the hang of the need to sit and brace against my back and away we went into town down the easy paved winding harbour road.

We were extremely disjointed to find that the bakery was closed on Sunday's but our spirit's were lifted when we discovered Deb's cafe (the only place in town open on Sunday).  After a fantastic breakfast of Egg's benny with a fresh from the oven blueberry muffin on the side we waddled back to the bikes, stuffed Charlotte back in the basket and made our way back to the harbour.
It's places like Sointula that have made our trip north so memorable.  We wish we could come back here every year.

We'll be back

A day in the life of Charlotte

Charlotte's photo journal.
i wake up in my 'princess bed' every morning after a long nights sleep.
i eat breakfast as soon as i get up at the crack of 8 am.
 i get dinner too, and sometimes lunch
(if they remember and if they think i won't throw it up while we are sailing).
Sometimes i just hang out...

Sometimes i explore on shore...
mummy is always close by with weapons in case of cougars and bears.
Sometimes we sail and it is cold and scary...

...sometimes its so scary i have to hang out in
my 'nest' down below
 when we are underway.

Sometimes i have to supplement my diet by foraging
(especially if they forgot to give me lunch).

Sometimes i get to ride in the dingy and we go fast!

Sometimes i get to hang out on the beach.

We do a lot of hiking... mummy is slow and i always have to wait for her.

Sometimes the hikes are very long and  tiring.
Sometimes daddy has to drag me along.

Sometimes they capture me for a photo-op.

Sometimes they make me do things I just don't understand...
Where is the SPCA when I need them!

But whatever the situation, i am alert and ready.

No matter what we do, i'm pretty tired by the end of the day.