JUNE 24 – THE HOME STRETCH

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OMOO’s Vancouver Island Circumnavigation is on the home stretch!!  Juan de Fuca and the route back through the Gulf Islands was an exciting part of the trip, thanks to BIG cargo ships, submarines, and racing sailboats.

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Off the dock at 0600 from Bamfield heading SE in cloudy rainy weather, seas calm.  By noon the sun came out, the wind picked up to 10-15KN and we sailed with a push (going with the tidal current) to Sooke.

1800 hours – anchored behind Sidney Spit. The 12 hr run had treated us well, followed by a calm eve once the sports fishing boats settled down for the night.  We sat in the cockpit discussing the next stop and the attractions of the Inner Harbor in Victoria which we both know well from land.

1st question – Is there a slip available?  Turns out the new Harbour Authority monitors all the marinas so one call makes getting information easy.  Yes, there are slips available

2nd question – How much will it cost?  Turns out it’s triple what we like to pay, knowing it would be more because of the spectacular location.

3rd question – What are the options?  Nearest  harbor is Esquimalt.  Guide books say the anchorage is spacious with good holding, and free!  As soon as the skipper heard that I heard, “LET’S GO!!  Besides it will be interesting going past the naval base.”

What I love about the skipper is his sense of adventure and his love of seeing new places and things.  We never carry a set schedule or detailed itinerary, just a rough plan of where we’re going and the time frame we have available.  We love how this invites opportunities to experience things we could never plan on our own.  We feel very lucky, we’re so happy that we’re both free spirits and it works!!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMCS_Oriole

TROUBLE ON OMOO – JUNE 23

This was our last day in Barkley Sound and WE DIDN’T WANT TO LEAVE!!  We left the Port Alberni Yacht Club Outpost and headed out to Trevor Channel from Robbers Pass on our way to Bamfield, which was our last stop to fuel and provision before the Juan de Fuca Strait.  Very quickly we were surrounded by a maze of fishing vessels with nets out, OOPS!!  The purse seiners watched us closely and although we’d been around fishing boats before we always managed to find a safe way past them.  NOT SO TODAY!!

The floats on the nets were difficult to see so I had the binoculars out and was giving the skipper signals on which way to turn and avoid them.  “STOP, GO TO PORT HARD!”  We made it around a couple of nets then got a blast from one of the captains on a nearby vessel.  “STOP STOP, NETS NETS.”  It’s impossible to stop a sailboat on the water very quickly and it got confusing very fast.  SS  IS STARTING TO GET PISSED OFF THAT THE SKIPPER ISN’T LISTENING TO HER!!  The skipper is trying an old trick by trying to get around the nets by taking a route close to shore.  The nets were even closing off that route by being directly attached to the shore. The crew on the DFO Zodiac were waving wildly to us by now to follow them.   As they led Omoo through the floats and fishing vessels we discussed how we had never heard  the fishing report for the opening in Trevor Channel that day, or if we had somehow missed it.  We were used to announcements on VHF 16 to indicate areas of openings for fishing so pleasure craft could avoid fishing vessels.

Later we decided to call in to the Coast Guard to see if we had missed the report, but were given a number to call the Department of Fisheries on the phone to check on the details.  That didn’t help because we did not have cell phone service. So on our learning curve we chalked it up to lessons learned on the West Coast of Vancouver Island.  Maybe they don’t announce fishing openings as often as in the Gulf Islands cause there aren’t as many pleasure boaters out and about? Well, we do know there were at least one other sailboat in the area besides us.

We pulled into Bamfield Inlet, docked and debriefed over a glass of wine.  “Well, we didn’t run into any nets, whew!  I wonder how much that would cost in fines, damages and repairs” ruminates the skipper.  SS imagined what the response on the radio would be to “PAN PAN PAN, OMOO OMOO OMOO, THE SKIPPER WON’T LISTEN TO ME!!”  “OMOO, OMOO, OMOO this is COAST GUARD, COAST GUARD, COAST GUARD… long pause…. RODGER DODGER THAT, OVER AND OUT!!”

The evening offered a lovely walk around town, a friendly chat with the locals and a restful sleep so we could hit the trail again in the morning (weather permitting).

 Wikipedia – Purse seine[edit]

Fish swimming near the surface are surrounded by a wall of netting supported by floats.
The net is drawn or “pursed” so it is closed at the bottom as well.

A common type of seine is a purse seine, named such because along the bottom are a number of rings. A line (referred to as a purse-line) passes through all the rings, and when pulled, draws the rings close to one another, preventing the fish from “sounding”, or swimming down to escape the net. This operation is similar to a traditional style purse, which has a drawstring. The purse seine is a preferred technique for capturing fish species which school, or aggregate, close to the surface: such as sardines, mackerel, anchovies,herring, certain species of tuna (schooling); and salmon soon before they swim up rivers and streams to spawn (aggregation). Boats equipped with purse seines are called purse seiners.

Purse seine fishing can be a relatively sustainable way of fishing, as it can result in smaller amounts of by-catch (unintentionally caught fish), especially when used to catch large species of fish (like herring or mackerel) that shoal tightly together.[6] When used to catch fish that shoal together with other species, or when used in parallel with Fish aggregating devices, the percentage of by-catch greatly increases.[6]

Use of Purse seines are regulated by many countries. In Sri Lanka, using this type of nets within a radius of 7 kilometers offshore is illegal.[7] However it can be used in deep sea after obtaining permission from authorities. Purse seine fishing can have negative impacts on fish stocks because it can involve the bycatch of non-target species and it can put too much pressure on fish stocks.[8]

Purse seine boat encircling a school of fish
A school of about 400 tons of jack mackerel encircled by a Chilean purse seiner

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BARKLEY SOUND – JUNE 19 TO JUNE 23

Every day out here just seems to get better!  Broken Islands are very different, with hundreds of tiny islet it is ideal for kayakers, fishing and lazy days at anchor.  Hershey says they remind him of Kouchibouguac (say that 5 time) in New Brunswick at the north end of Northumberland Strait.  It reminds me of the Lake of the Woods at the Manitoba/Ontario border.

The first night at Joe’s Bay we endured a hummingbird attack.  They just wanted some company, or some food.  We could hear them dive bombing the boat and then finding their way in.  We made a make-shift feeder of an orange dangling on a string but they weren’t interested.  Put that hummingbird feeder on the list to buy!!

Next day we hung out around Turret Island and Sideways Sally foraged for food.  What a morning putsing about in the dingy, out to Swale Rock with all the serious sports fishing boats, about 12 trolling up and down the channel.  Four hours later and 5 rockfish I returned to Omoo and we sailed all afternoon to Vernon Bay and entered Eagle Nook Cove.  POSH!! This luxurious fishing resort was for the rich and famous, at $3/ft for moorage we said we’d push off and anchor out.  The friendly folks there offered us their mooring buoy in the bay and we spent another lovely night floating in paradise.

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Heading back out of Barkley Sound we motored into Port Alberni Yacht Club, which welcomed transient boaters.  It was a delightful place and we had it all to ourselves.  SS’s gone fishing again and caught a very tasty rock cod.

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TOFINO – UKLUELET, JUNE 17-19.

Skipper says, “If not for Anna, Tofino’s a bust”.  It was difficult getting into Tofino in big wind, strong current and shallow water.  There are sandbars that keep shifting and we got stuck.  This was after attempting several times to get to the fuel dock against the current and wind.  Then a paddleboarder just about ran over us and scared the sh** out of Hershey.  It was kind of exhausting and frustrating so Tofino Harbor is on the short list of places never to go again.

HOWEVER…. Anna is a delight to spend time with and she drove us everywhere we wanted to go.  She’s Hershey’s niece from the east coast and is working for the DFO (Dep of Fisheries and Oceans) for the summer.

The harbor at Ukluelet is deep, spacious and convenient to stores so we provisioned here for the last leg of our trip.  We took advantage of the lovely accomodations of the Canadian Princess for leisurely breakfasts and access to the internet.

http://www.canadianprincess.com/the-lodge/eat-drink.htm

SYDNEY INLET – SHELTER INLET

The routine in brutal.  Floating between majestic mountains in fiords of blue and green.  Surrounded by beauty I struggle to wake each morning after an absolutely uninterrupted peaceful slumber (only ten hours though).  It’s a chore to make my Columbian brew and sip the steamy stuff while the morning sun shines in my eyes.

Ugh, the job of choosing the next destination with only three comprehensive guide books to learn from.  How I am supposed to figure it out?  Then there’s that pesky business of the Environment Canada Technical Marine Forecast.  Blah, blah, blah.

Off we go, skimming across the glassy water, if only those birds and seals weren’t in the way.  We’re lucky to get to the next anchorage before noon, whew, this is hard work. We need sustanance, so lunch is on.  Then I’m exhausted and it’s hard to hold my book up so I nap.  Barely two hours later it’s beer time.  Oh, the effort to retrieve it from the bilge!  Now, do I go fishing or watch for fish?  Chatting to the skipper requires my attention so I pretend to get my rod and reel ready.  Three hours go by and it’s martini hour.  Heating up some chili for our bellies is my main job and it’s a hard one.

The sun dips too quickly and it makes me sleepy.  It’s been another hard day out here.  Can’t wait for tomorrow!

https://www.google.ca/maps/place/Sydney+Inlet+Provincial+Park/@49.4315184,-126.2535844,12z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0xb28695d9dd64a3c7

HOT SPRINGS COVE IN SYDNEY INLET – Clayoquot

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What a great place, lucky to get it all to myself!!  Have heard about these hotsprings ever since coming to Vancouver Island and now I get to experience them.  AMAZING!!

https://www.google.ca/maps/place/Maquinna+Marine+Provincial+Park/@49.359458,-126.2881254,10z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x5d4552b2c430aff

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The beautiful boardwalk to the springs with signature boat names carved into the planks.  Sleighride is a sister ship we  met last year and this year.DSC_1335

HISNET INLET TO HOT SPRINGS COVE

JUNE 12

The prairie girl in me has gotta put some country music into this trip!!

5 AM Marine Forecast: Gale Force winds NW 25-35 KT winds, 2-3 Meter swells.

“So skipper, if we get off the dock early we’ll be back into Hotsprings Cove before it kicks up out there”.

LET’S GO!!  IT’S NOW OR NEVER.

We watched the Friendly Cove lighthouse fade off in the morning sunrise.  The evening before we had enjoyed our gift of Spanish wine from dock friends Mike and Mika to celebrate our trip in a special place.  It was good bye to Nootka Sound, home of the treaty signed between the British and the Spanish, creating the birthplace of British Columbia.

History – Wikipedia

Captain James Cook‘s visit to Nootka Sound in 1778 was the first known European sighting of Yuquot. A Spanish naval post,Santa Cruz de Nuca, protected by the cannon of Fort San Miguel, the only Spanish settlement ever established in Canada, was maintained there between 1789 and 1795, with Nootka Sound, usually referred to simply as “Nootka”, becoming an important focal point for English, Spanish, and American Maritime Fur Trader and explorers. Yuquot was also the scene of the Nootka Incident, which nearly led to war between Spain and Britain. Negotiations in Europe calmed the situation and led to the firstNootka Convention. Each nation sent a commissioner to Nootka Sound in order to carry out the terms of the Nootka Convention and related diplomatic issues. Arriving in 1792, George Vancouver was commissioner for Britain and Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra for Spain. Quadra also served as the commandant of the Spanish settlement at Yuquot, hosting Vancouver and his crew. Quadra and Vancouver had to engage in diplomatic negotiations due to the Nootka Convention’s vagueness and lack of detail over how it was to be implemented. In addition both commissioners had been given incomplete, differing, and confused instructions by their governments. They negotiated for months but in the end failed to reach an agreement. The matter was sent back to the British and Spanish governments. The primary problem was a differing interpretation of the Nootka Convention. Vancouver’s position, as instructed, was that the entire Spanish settlement was to be turned over to him. Quadra’s position was that there was nothing left to turn over in accord with the Nootka Convention, but he made various offers, such as turning over a small cove in Nootka Sound, where John Meares had built the North West America in 1788, or turning over the entire settlement in exchange if Britain agreed to set the boundary between Spanish and British territory at the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Chief Maquinna played a role in the negotiations, identifying the cove where Meares had built his vessel, swearing that no land had ever been sold to the British and that the Spanish were the rightful occupants at Yuquot—and that only on the condition that the site be restored to his people as soon as possible. Unable to reach an agreement, Vancouver and Quadra left in late 1792 and the settlement at Yuquot remained under Spanish control until 1795, when the terms of the third Nootka Convention, calling for the “mutual abandonment” of Nootka, were carried out, after which the site was reoccupied by the Maquinna and the Mowachaht people.

John R. Jewitt, an English blacksmith, was held there for three years 1803-1805 as Maquinna’s slave, following the capture of the trading ship Boston and the deaths of the captain and all but one other crew members. Jewitt’s memoirs form an important record of Yuquot at that period.

One of the biggest thrills of this trip, or any trip, is learning the local history and picking up books about the area to read during a relaxing evening in the cockpit.  I found “White Slaves of Maquinna” which is an account of John Jewitt’s life including his diary from the period he was a slave in Nootka Sound.  FASCINATING.  We look around us and think about how the land and sea look the same today as they did to the natives and explorers for centuries, and we imagine the old ships swinging at anchor right where we are.

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So we arrived safely in Hotsprings Cove by 10AM, anchored and went off to enjoy a soak.

NOOTKA SOUND

JUNE 8&9

NOOTKA SOUND was a favourite for us.  The history, the people and the beauty was fascinating.  We sipped Margaritas at Tahsis Marina’s “Margaritaville of the North” with Brian and Chris on Kristan Celeste, our boating buddies, and planned our next destination.  Based on the forecast it was still blowing hard outside the sound so we chose to stay a few more nights inside the protected waters behind Nootka Island.  As we’re relaxing after dinner on the spacious patio a plane flew in and a dozen people went from it to a large water taxi.  There were women in dresses and heals, dragging their large suitcases along, and men carrying long hard cases resembling something that might carry musical instruments.  Being curious about who they were and where they were going; we asked the marina owner who lowered his voice and told us quietly that they had just flown in from Europe to go bear hunting.  He told us Nootka Island has the largest population of bears in B.C. and people pay big $$ to hunt there.  So those big cases were carrying their rifles…  

The next morning the wind was whipping through the marina at 25 knots, pinning OMOO against the dock.  Mother Nature made getting off the dock a challenge.  The skipper had me tie our largest fender near the bow of the boat, untying the mid line and the stern line.  He put the boat in gear while still tied to the dock with the bow line,  swinging the stern away from the dock to give us enough clearance to back out of the marina.  Brian and Chris stood by in case we needed help but at the precise moment I got the signal to untie the bow line and we were off.  Once we got going with the wind we drifted through Tahsis Channel under the jib at 7 knots.  LOVELY!  We entered Tlupana Inlet and continued sailing to Hisnet Inlet.

https://www.google.ca/maps/place/Nootka+Sound,+British+Columbia/@49.7622661,-126.737696,58822m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x54626d2a008f7381

WIKIPEDIA

The eponymous inlet was named for Lt. Ciriaco Ceballos, a crew member aboard an early ship of Spanish explorer Alessandro Malaspina‘s expedition (1789-1794), the location of Zeballos remained relatively obscure until over 120 years later, when a mining camp by that name emerged due to a gold rush in the 1930s. The name became official as that of the local post office in 1946 and was incorporated as a village municipality in 1952.[2] Although estimates vary, Zeballos may have had a population of over 5,000 during the peak of mining activity. Between 1938 and 1943, $13 million worth of gold bricks were shipped from Zeballos.[3]

WALTER’S COVE – KLAYQUOT – ZEBELLOS – TAHSIS

JUNE 6&7

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.