Archive for the ‘North Vancouver Island’ Category
Posted on June 16, 2012 - by Nadia
“The Queen of Chilliwack is currently in a weather holding pattern behind Calvert Island on the east side of Queen Charlotte Sound waiting for wave heights to decrease in the Sound.”
As if to confirm my decision not to paddle the straight, this alert is about the ferry I will take across Queen Charlotte Sound, from Port Hardy to Bella Bella tonight. It was a bit more work to earn breakfast than I had hoped yesterday as the wind was already coming up when I rounded Dillon Head at the entrance to Port Hardy Harbour. It turned blustry, then very rainy, now it is just the usual drippy. The kayak is unloaded and stored in a former grocery store owned by the enterprising couple, Ann and Rob, who own the North Trail Hostel here. I will head to the ferry at 7 p.m., with the help of Rob and his Toyota, Noah, and his enthusiasm, and some miracle that reveals how I can manage all of flotsam that fills my boat into stowage I can carry on and off on my own. But first, breakfast!
Posted on June 14, 2012 - by Nadia
Thursday, June 14, 2012
Peel Island just south of Port Hardy
Oh, what a tease of a day. Despite strong wind warnings, the sea hardly rippled and 25 miles flew under me like kelp. Heading into Queen Charlotte Straight I could see what I would be passing up – the seven mile crossing to Cape Caution was smooth as silk.
Tomorrow I get to Port Hardy and Saturday I will take the ferry to Bella Bella and enter the true Inside Passage. I will skip the week or more of the big crossing and the wild, exposed coast of Cape Caution. Today’s stillness is likely a taunt. The area is known for its sudden storms and lack of sheltered shores. Plenty of kayakers have made the crossing, but plenty have opted for the ferry. I’m going to bank the time I save and spend it ahead, in places that were more familiar to Josie. All the same, the stillness of today and the route, already plotted on my maps, made me a bit sorry for what I will miss.
In the mid stillness of the day, a bit bored, I was experimenting with the fact that my new neck gasket is so tight that it makes me a soprano. As I warbled through Let it Be, it dawned on me that the purring sound in my left ear had drawn awfully close. So it was with a glance that I saw the good ship Coastal Messenger gliding up beside me. She is not small, but Brian brought her right along side without rocking my boat at all. We exchanged enthusiastic hellos; it is such a treat to see how paths cross and recross in the well-worn routes up this coast. They moved on, off to outfit the boat for a fresh ministry to take to the seas.
For a while, I played in kelp beds that were so wide it was faster to pick my way through them that to go around. From my low perspective on this clear day it appeared that the kelp reached all the way to mainland BC. There was nothing but kelp, steep mountains and clouds.
Then the kelp petered out, leaving me with little to do but count bears: 7.
After a 5:45 a.m. launch, I couldn’t pass up a white, shell-midden beach on Peel Island, a place people have clearly lived and spent time for hundreds of years. The midden – cast off clam shells — must be three yards deep or more. Many cedars show the long pointed scars where bark has been harvested. Some scars are tender. Others have edges grown around them that are three inches thick. I am trying to use the space lightly.
This is the first afternoon where I have paddled to camp and then had sun to lounge in. I was up and packing at 4:30, so I napped in the sun, explored the inner cedar sanctuary and fixed the darn camera memory chip problem, again. Tomorrow, I should make Port Hardy in time for my favorite meal of the day: Breakfast.
Posted on June 13, 2012 - by Nadia
Alert Bay is one of the most pleasant communities I’ve ever spent time in. I’ve been here once before, about 10 years ago. Then, as now, I arrived in a steady rain that absolutely failed to dampen people’s spirits. To a stranger, the people of Alert Bay have been stunningly friendly, open and cheerful.
This morning I took a nice walk through the five-block town, up and around to a peaceful swamp called Gator Gardens and ended at the spectacular U’mista Museum.
U’mista is the word for a person who was taken by a raiding party and then returned. That is the name of the museum here because it is built around the items seized by the Canadian government in 1921 from one of the last great potlatchs. Potlachs, which involved elaborate and extensive gift giving by the host, were banned by the government from 1885 until 1951. The items in the museum were distributed to North American museums and First Nations bands fought like crazy to get them back. Today,many of the transformational masks and cedar ornaments central to many dances are on display in a light and open setting. The items were boxed for too long for them to be displayed under glass.
The last time I was here I was lucky enough to happen into a cultural celebration and to see the masks and blankets brought to life through dance. Today, looking at the changeable faces made me think of the ways we have ritualized our alternative beings by changing our faces — with makeup, with attitude, with surgery. It speaks to me that the Kwak’wala people dared to engage in the transformation from human to animal to supernatural and back again.
I liked the story of the museum’s symbol, a man with a sun mask on. The man and the mask are proportionate, and the designer said to the Kwak’wala, the sun was not a big blazing fireball in the sky, but a little guy who gets up every morning, puts on his abalone earrings and walks across the sky. The sole source of his light is from his earrings.
I must say, this explains a lot about the ratio of sun to rain I’ve had on this trip. But if the little guy walks any faster, he must stir up the winds, so keep your pace, little sun, keep your pace.
Tomorrow I leave very early to cross to Vancouver Island and work against the tide for a few hours toward Port Hardy. I hope forecast morning winds are delayed. My dry top is back, a little burlier with scuba seals replacing kayak seals, and I may get high from the fumes, but it seems like a good fix. Thanks for saving the day, SCUBA Steve at Fun Sun Diving in Port McNeill.
IMPORTANT: My SPOT seems to be not working. I get a confirmation that it has sent its messages, but people are reporting not getting them. I will change batteries in Port Hardy and hope that fixes it. If someone could let me know if the website is showing my location, I’d appreciate it.
Posted on June 12, 2012 - by Nadia
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Alert Bay, BC
The opposite of wind is fog. Either can grind things to a halt.
Sometime in the dark hours this morning I awoke to the sensation of the earth speaking to me directly through my spine. A deep, sonorous moan that carried a message that I was too groggy to fully understand. It said: FA-OG. Of course, that was all it could say, for it wasn’t the earth speaking at all, but a fog horn apparently quite near. It was rainy and chilly and damp and the earth speaking was just one more factor. I rolled over. When I got up, I couldn’t see past the cobblestones I had pulled up on. Fog.
Despite how it may seem, a life of the sea is driven by a schedule more pressing than any urban commuter rail grid. The tides wait for no boat, and if I wanted to cross over to Hanson Island and make my way to Alert Bay and Port McNeill to get my drytop fixed, I had one chance and that was at 10:54. I packed and paced and made up rules. If the fog lifted above the mast of a sailboat anchored in the cove, then it was a sign it was lifting and I should go. By 10, it had risen and fallen above and below the mast a number of times. What was the rule for that? I had to go. Slack tide approached. I turned on the puny light on the shoulder of my life jacket (light required by law) and moved my fog horn from bear protection to boat warning position (fog horn required by law) and off I went. Pretty near invisible.
The water was sweetly placid and I cruised along for about a half mile when I heard: Hey, Nadia! How about a tow? We’ve got radar? It was Les and Deb aboard the sailboat Half Lucky. I had seen them at Big Bay before my dash through Dent Rapids. And they had seen me get scared off by the grizzly at D’Arcy Point. Now they were headed my way and the Half Lucky was quite a bit easier to see than the powerful but tiny kayak. It didn’t take much for me to say, You bet! I tied up along side and we chatted and ate some delicious stew as we motored along to Alert Bay. Deb and Les are from Alberta and we laughed that three of us from such landlocked places should find ourselves together at sea.
After they anchored off of Alert Bay, I paddled to shore where a meeting of the gelato tasting committee was being held at the docks. Actually, Mr. Pepper had just turned out what may have been his first batch of gelato and was down sharing it with the guys. It was a nice scene to walk into. I added my two cents on what to do with leftover egg whites (whip them and put them in the waffle batter.) Then Harbor Master Eric showed me the laundry and an hour later, laundry mostly done, I was on the ferry to Port McNeill, looking for someone to repair my drysuit.
Suffice it to say, that after some tail chasing on that end, I was thinking I would have to take a bus to Port Hardy when I got a hold of a local SCUBA shop owner who said he could do it if I dropped by tomorrow. I explained I was headed back to Alert Bay on the next ferry, so he said, to tuck the jacket in the back of his truck at the shop and he’d get to it in the morning. That was a perfect solution as far as I was concerned and so for now, the jacket is out of my hands and, I hope, on the way to being a dry dry top again. Tomorrow, I’ll figure out how to get it back.
As an aside, everyone has been bucking the weather the last three days and Port McNeill was a reunion for the Shoal Bay crowd. Andy and Meg are anchored and Ramona and DC, Deb and Neil are moored at the town docks. It’s fun the family that forms as we drift apart and come back together.
Camera downloads now fussy. I have nice fog shots, will post when technology shapes up.