I’m back in Vancouver after another incredible west coast experience courtesy of Dave and his newest boat. On Wednesday morning we loaded up the boat, drove out to Toquart Bay and launched before noon. Before long we found ourselves coming up on Hand Island at the northern tip of the Broken Group. Hand is one of the most scenic islands in the group and I think it has the best beaches. One of the camping areas is on the beach and I’m determined to get out there in a kayak within the next couple of years.
We stopped at Hand for lunch, chatted with some of the kayakers who were camping there and then pushed off to do some more exploring and figure out where to anchor for the night. After taking in some more of the gorgeous scenery we found a well-sheltered bay on Effingham Island. I remember we were sitting down eating some of our chocolate (before dinner of course) and this seal kept popping up to check us out. I figured he heard the chocolate wrapper. Dave had some crazy idea that the seal was curious about the boat that had invaded his home turf. I still maintain that seals secretly love chocolate.
The most entertainment that evening came when Dave decided to cook dinner on the top of the boat cabin. It’s the perfect height to work on so it made sense. Unfortunately the cabin roof is curved so that water will run off and when Dave put the pot lid down it slid right off into the water! The pot grip went with it as well so we had to use pieces of Dave’s Shamwow as pot mitts for the rest of the trip.
We curled up in the cabin that night for a long, deep sleep. The cabin felt like a luxury accommodation after tenting it last December on the coast. Everything stayed dry and was so much easier to set up since all we had to do was shove our gear into the back of the boat and lay out our sleeping bags inside the cabin. It was also really easy to hang up a light so we could read for a while. I had my copy of Scar Tissue and Dave had picked up a copy of the Serpent and the Rainbow, which follows the authors quest to find out about the Haitian “zombie” drugs that were so good at immobilizing people that they were often thought to be dead. Once the drug wore off the person would come “alive” again which brought about the legend of the zombie.
In the morning we woke up to a glorious sunny day. I jumped in for a quick swim, we had breakfast, and then we motored off to see more of the Broken Group. Dave swung us south to see more of the islands where we got to see some seals splashing around, probably chasing fish for their mid-morning meal. At around noon we headed to the west edge of the islands and rode up and down the sea swells coming from the open ocean until we came around to Wouwer Island to watch dozens of sea lions sun themselves on the rocks. They were fascinating to observe so Dave kept the boat parked for almost an hour while we enjoyed the sun and the company of the barking sea lions.
After the sea lions it was time for some lunch and then a meandering cruise towards Bamfield where we needed to get a chart of the Bamfield area. We weren’t exactly sure where Bamfield was located since it’s tucked around an inlet and couldn’t be seen from our direction. Fortunately we saw the “blowhole” send up a geyser of water and knew exactly where we were. Last summer we had made a trip to Bamfield and discovered this finger that the sea had carved into the rocky shore. Whenever a large wave would come in the water would hit the back of the finger and erupt in a large fountain into the air! It looks just like a whale spouting would look and even more so from our ocean viewpoint.
Once we motored into Bamfield we decided to hit the small restaurant that services the people staggering off the West Coast Trail as well as everyone coming in from a day of open ocean fishing. It was nice to sit down with a flush toilet and hot food. They had a newly-baked cherry pie too so I had to try that out. Delicious! Dave wondered how long until I put the fork down and attacked it with my bare hands. I actually used the fork for most of the pie this time, only dropping the fork for the last few bites.
It was starting to hit the last couple of daylight hours so Dave and I motored up to explore Grappler Inlet, which has a few docks and houses to check out, and then threaded our way through a slew of fishing boats to find a place to anchor in the sheltered bay behind Dixon Island. The ocean floor was full of thick seaweed so it took a few tries to set the “Super Hooker” anchor well enough that we could safely spend the night.
Again, we decided to sit back with some chocolate and enjoy the sunset and no sooner had we opened the chocolate package when a seal popped his head up to see what we were up to. I take this as irrefutable evidence that seals are chocolate lovers.
The next morning started with a leisurely read in bed before we got up to see what the weather held for us. It was a little more overcast than it was the past two days and the wind had picked up a little bit. Our first crossing to the Deer Group of islands was fairly easy and we discovered that the Port Alberni Yacht Club maintained a small dock in Robbers Passage between a couple of the Deer Islands. We had a brief stop for some tea and to chat with a few locals before we noticed the wind picking up and decided to get across to the Broken Group before the weather got too rough. Fortunately it didn’t get too windy and we made the crossing without incident. Dave’s new boat handles the sea very well and we did the entire crossing broadside to the waves. The boat just bobbed up over the waves like a cork and we had very little trouble getting back to the sheltered Broken Group waters.
We did a little more touring and then headed for home. Once we got back into Tofino we met up with Dave’s girlfriend Amelia, her parents (who were in town this past week), and another of their friends who’s lived in Tofino for the past few years. We ended up in a long conversation that went well into the night and I discovered all kinds of new shenanigans that had happened in their little town.
This morning Dave and I had a quick breakfast and I headed towards Nanaimo to catch the ferry while he started work. The ferry was pretty busy so I didn’t get on until the 3:10pm sailing, but that was alright. I got to finish Scar Tissue and dig into some of my nonfiction reading while we made the voyage.
And now I sleep, wishing I was still on a boat that rocked as the waves rolled under it.