You never know what you might see in a small town parade: You might see a horse of a different color.
|A zebra-striped horse|
You might see a Breast Cancer Awareness Float.
|This float was sponsored by a local business named "Bras for a Cause"...|
|....and it reminded people of the date for the annual Race for the Cure|
You might see a logging truck or the emergency services out in full force.
At Port McNeill’s “Orca Fest,” we saw all of these,
including some floats that were actually centered around the parade’s loosely
interpreted theme: Where the Wild Things Are.
The citizenry started lining the streets early in anticipation
of the parade.
Some children were dressed up for the occasion, and many of them had plastic or paper bags in their hands because, as we learned, parade marchers throw treats in small town parades. We were in Canada, but this was like Halloween in the United States. After a float went by, its sponsors throwing handfuls of hard candy, suckers, or gum at the kids lining the street, it was a free-for-all while the children scrambled around in the street to pick up as much candy as they could. Sometimes, treats were tossed for adults, too. I watched as one child caught a brand new dashboard protector for a car, eyed it quizzically, and handed it off on the nearest adult! (I could tell I was in a small town when, instead of keeping it, that adult handed it back to the child and told her to run over and give it to her parents.) T-shirts were launched into the crowd out of blow guns. All told, the town had a great time at its summer party, and we enjoyed watching the festivities.
|Sure hope those brakes work!|
|Firemen and fire hose|
|A float sponsored by loggers|
|And one by a daycare center|
|Citizens start to line up for the Orca Fest Parade|
Port McNeill is in a transition zone between northern/central and southern British Columbia. In Port McNeill, we saw both the fishing and logging industries well represented. After Port McNeill, we saw more logging than fishing in British Columbia. (Could there be a correlation?)
The harbor was extremely crowded and is divided
into sides for recreational craft and fishing vessels. The fishing
vessels were crammed together, rafted up four and five abreast of each other
instead of having individual slips. Port McNeill also has an anchorage large
enough to accommodate many vessels. We anchored out.
|Port McNeill as seen from the anchorage|
|Log loading operation at Port McNeill|
|The happy confusion of the commercial fishing terminal in Port McNeill|
|Boats rafted up together in the marina|
By now, those of you who follow our blog regularly have figured out that we were on the fast track through British Columbia. We hadn’t stayed more than one night anywhere since leaving Prince Rupert, but we spent the weekend at Port McNeill. We hadn’t done any real boat maintenance since leaving Sitka and some tasks were due. We were also hoping the foggy weather pattern we’d been experiencing over the last several days would break up.
When we left Port McNeill, it was overcast, and we did enter a fog bank as we re-crossed Queen Charlotte Strait; however, the fog was short lived.
We anchored in Shoal Harbour our first night in the Broughtons, a former
logging area with some cabins still scattered around it. The next day, we saw
another sign of home as we passed a piece of the old 520 floating bridge that
had been brought up from Washington to build the breakwater at Echo Bay. The
breakwater also houses the store and fuel dock.
Bypassing Echo Bay, we stopped
for the night in Kwatsi Bay, a family run operation with dock space, showers,
and local crafts for sale. The hosts, Max and Anca (who hails from Holland),
cultivate a family feeling by hosting potlucks at the dock several nights a
week. Boaters seem to return year after year and many of them know each other.
Patrick has been there several times before, and it is a place I would happily
|Mother and chick: I'm not sure what species these were|
|First Nation Longhouse|
|A piece of home in Echo Bay|
|Colorful rock wall at the entrance to Kwatsi Bay|
|A heron stalks the dock looking for prey in Kwatsi Bay|
Leaving Kwatsi Bay the next morning, we were joined by a school of Pacific white-sided dolphins. They stayed with us for a good 45 minutes, bow riding, leaping out of the water, and even swimming upside down before the boat! I was standing on the bow taking pictures, and after a while, some of the dolphin seemed to become curious about what I was doing, as they rolled over on their side and looked at me looking at them.
|A Pacific white-sided dolphin coming to join the boat|
|These two dolphin appear to be a mother and calf|
|A mother and calf ride the bow together, as seen through the water|
|I don't know who is more curious|
We traveled the narrow Chatham Channel to Knight Inlet. You never know what you might see in channels along the Inside Passage either. You might see floathouses collapsing:
You might find a used car.
You might find a used car.
|Cars for sale|
We followed Knight Inlet back out into Johnstone Strait where, sadly, we did not come across any orca. (We were already below the part of the strait most frequented by the orca.) Although the usual high wind warning was forecast for Johnstone Strait, we passed Port Neville in good conditions and turned off the strait to anchor for the night in Forward Harbour. Somewhere between Kwatsi Bay and Forward Harbour, the sun came out again, pretty much to stay. Ahh! Summer at last!
|Vista on the way to Forward Harbour|
From Forward Harbour, we had to go through a series of rapids while traveling through the rest of the Broughton Islands. This involved the careful timing of our departure for the next two days in order to enter the rapids at a favorable stage of the tide.We left late the next morning in order to catch the last of the ebb through Whirpool Rapids. We were hoping to get a little help from the current in our direction.
|The rapids look so benign near slack water...|
|....but when does Silhouette ever do nine knots in glassy conditions?|
|Lovely scenery along Whirlpool Rapids|
We saw some picturesque fishing lodges along the way.
We also began to see more clear cuts throughout this part of
the waterway. While the individual clear cuts in British Columbia seem to cover
less area than in the past, and the logging industry seems to be leaving a
buffer zone of timber along the shoreline---which probably catches some of the
silt running off the clear cuts---they are still the major method of harvesting
|Sweet spot along the channel|
|A clear cut adjoining new growth from a previous clear cut and mature second growth|
|We saw this interesting clear cut|
|Patchwork left by clear cuts|
|One of the larger clear cuts|
Just before arriving at Shoal Bay, we began to see tantalizing tall peaks in the distance.
The wharfinger at the public marina at Shoal Bay also owns property
at the head of the bay, where he and his partner run a pub and an organic
garden. It is a popular stop for boats waiting to transit the rapids on either
side of the bay.
|Peak outside Shoal Bay|
|Rock wall approaching Shoal Bay|
In Shoal Bay, I began to see familiar forest understory, sword ferns and salal, reminding me that our march towards home was bringing us ever-closer.
The next morning brought a series of three rapids in quick succession: Dent, Gillard, and Yuculta Rapids. Of these, Dent Rapids seemed to have the most current, but that’s probably because it’s the first one we came to as we approached slack water.
The Broughtons empty into Desolation Sound, a high use and very crowded area in mid-August. We only stayed in one anchorage there, Squirrel Cove, before moving on.
From this point out, we began entering more and more crowded
areas with more and more boating traffic. It began to prepare us
psychologically for returning to the huge metropolitan area that is Seattle and
for crossing the shipping lanes in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. .
|Peaks in morning haze, Desolation Sound|
From Squirrel Cove, we visited Pender Harbour. The entrance into Pender Harbour requires you to be very alert due to heavy vessel traffic and the many crab pots lining the channel. The houses in the area blend nicely into the sparsely wooded rocky cliffs and islets. Once through the channel, you see that Pender Harbour is actually a series of harbors, with many interesting nooks and crannies. It made this large harbor feel smaller and less crowded than the next two anchorages we visited.
From Pender Harbour, it is possible to make the miles to
Ganges in just one day, but we left later in the morning and just went as far
as Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. We had to cross the Strait of Georgia, and this
was one of the few times during our trip through British Columbia when we had
enough wind to sail. The entry channel into Nanaimo Harbour is narrow, shallow,
and clogged with vessels, and the anchorage was equally challenging. Along with
sailboats and motor craft, there were many smaller vessels such as kayaks,
canoes, and even windsurfers threading their way through the mooring field. We
arrived late in the day, and there was a steady stream of traffic between the
entrance channel and the edge of the anchorage that we had to get across before
we could anchor.
|I knew I was close to home when I saw my first madrone tree|
|Houses on the approach to Pender Harbour|
|Entering Pender Harbour|
|Part of the anchorage and mooring field in Nanaimo Harbour|
The next day, we (and several dozen other boats) had the hook up early to catch slack water at Dodd Narrows. As we approached Dodd Narrows and I looked behind us, the steady stream of boats exiting Nanaimo reminded me of commuter traffic at rush hour. We passed through an industrial part of Nanaimo en route to the narrows, and I realized it is a big lumber port.
|Wood chip barge being filled|
|Watering down logs to keep them from heating up too much|
Although short, Dodd Narrows is the narrowest narrows we’ve been through yet. We were lucky that morning all the boats went through in single file and we weren’t slammed by any wakes. As we exited the narrows, we saw two tugs with log tows waiting to enter Dodd Narrows from the south! One of them would clearly fill the entire narrows, and a short time later, we heard its Securite call.
|Boats heading single-file southbound through Dodd Narrows|
We anchored that night in Ganges on Saltspring Island in the Gulf Islands. I had heard about Ganges from many boaters, but somehow, I pictured it to be smaller and quieter than it was. Ganges was so full of summer boaters, that we could barely find room to anchor. It had several marinas, all of which appeared to be packed full of boats. There were also a lot of occupied mooring buoys in the bay. I searched in vain for Patrick’s old trimaran, Bacchanal, which had been left on a mooring in Ganges the last time we’d heard from his new owner three years ago.
The Waggoner Cruising Guide cites Ganges as a “foodie haven,” so naturally we had to sample the fare. There are two restaurants in Ganges with their own organic gardens that grow produce for their menu, the Hastings House and the Harbour House. We didn’t visit either of these this time, but wandering around town came across the bustling Tree House Café. I have to write a plug for this restaurant because the food was some of the most creative and delicious of our entire voyage, and it was reasonably priced. The Tree House also had excellent live music for the cost of a donation. It is an open-air restaurant, and all of the seating is basically outdoors; however, no alcohol is served at the tables in front of the café. We really enjoyed our evening out.
Ironically, sitting next to us at the Tree House, was Mark Bunzel (the publisher of Waggoner Cruising Guide) and his daughter. Patrick recognized him but I didn’t. We got to talking to each other over dinner (the seating is very close), and Mark started asking us about our boat. When he heard it was a Cabo Rico, he asked if we had gotten it in San Francisco. (Most Cabo Ricos are from the east coast.) It turned out that Mark had actually sailed on Silhouette with two of its former owners. He had even flown parts and supplies to Silhouette in Mazatlan on his small plane!
When we returned to the boat that evening, a glorious sunset was coloring the sky. It was a perfect way to end the day in our last Canadian anchorage.
|Sunset over the anchorage in Ganges|