The memories of natives and early explorers who inhabited this region for centuries are alive in the tiny villages along the West Coast of Vancouver Island. As we explore Nootka Sound we find their stories live in quaint museums and bookshelves at the local marinas.
At the head of Zebellos Inlet we tied up to the gov’t dock, safely tucked deep between the mountains and out of the gales blowing on the open ocean. Kristan Celeste pulled in a few hours later, along with the local prawners and DFO prawn inspector, Joey. He and his lovely wife Susie came aboard for happy hour and we learn how to “look up the skirts” of a prawn to tell if it’s male or female. Did you know… all prawns are born male and later morph into females? (SMART!)
It turns out Susie is a stand up comedian in her other life, and what a hoot she was! We spent a lovely evening visiting with the locals and devouring two lbs of prawns we bought live from the MEGAN BROOK. Then it was time to explore Zebellos.
In the 1930’s gold mining was booming in this valley and drew people from all over the world. Many came and went but a few remain, including a gentleman from Bulgaria who owned the cafe/laundromat/motel/store. We had a friendly chat while petting the town cat, although he could hardly speak any English, (neither could the man from Bulgaria). Hester, the cat’s person was the museum curator Liz who was a treasure trove of knowledge about the early days.
One famous character of recent history was a man who had won the lottery about 10 years ago and had determined to spend it all as fast as he could. I remembered reading about him in the newspaper in Victoria, and it was in Zebellos that he partied with his friends old and new, but also built and paid for the boardwalk through the estuary.
After an early morning walk on that boardwalk I gathered up the skipper and we headed for breaky at the Post and Beam Pub Cafe with Wayne (the mayor) and his beautiful Mexican wife Emelita, with whom I practised my Spanish. A man named Vinnie Smith walked in and introductions were made all around. Vinnie is a local carver and forestry engineer, so upon learning this Hershey had many questions about the ways the logging was mapped out and how trees were chosen based on the access the terrain allowed. His most burning question was about the even treeline at high tide. Crew onboard OMOO the last month can attest to the fact that there have been many discussions on this topic. Hershey has maintained all along that the little fish in the ocean nibble at the trees and keep them trimmed. So he proposed this idea to Vinnie and asked if that was a possibility, to which he received a very blank stare from Vinnie, a pause and “fish don’t eat trees” as a response. OMOO’s crew had been trying to establish that fact in many different ways, but once it was confirmed by a native/forestry-engineer/carver, Hershey accepted the fact. I can just imagine later that evening, Vinnie sitting with his people and telling them, “so I met a white guy today who thinks fish jump up and eat all the trees.” The skipper’s got a great imagination!!
We’re off the dock and headed SE toward Tahsis Narrows, pulling into a lovely McBride Bay.