Daily Journals: Port Hardy, BC to Bella Bella, BC

 

Prologue
 

June 10, 2009--Corvallis, Oregon to Vancouver, BC

Our friend Wanita generously drove us to the Amtrak station in Salem, OR, where we checked in our folding kayak and got an early morning train to Seattle.  In Seattle we transferred to a connecting bus which took us to Vancouver, BC, where we got a room at a nearby hostel and enjoyed an evening walk around False Creek.  The sunny weather had Vancouverites out in force, walking, running, biking, skating, rowing, paddling and savoring the warm day.  

 

Pearl with kayak and gear, Vancouver, BC train station

 

June 11, 2009--Vancouver, BC to Port Hardy, BC

The next morning we schlepped our kayak and gear back to the train station a block away and caught a Greyhound bus which crossed to Vancouver Island by ferry, then went on to Port Hardy, arriving in mid-afternoon.  In the last 20 miles before Port Hardy, we saw 5 black bears along the highway.  We took a taxi to a campground south of town, which was pleasant, but we discovered wasn't a good place to launch.  

 

We arrive with kayak and gear in Port Hardy, Vancouver Island

 

June 12, 2009--Port Hardy

The next morning we took a local bus a few miles into town and spent much of the day picking up groceries, fishing tackle, stove fuel, etc.  Later in the afternoon we took a taxi to Scotia Bay Campground, just north of town.  It proved to be a perfect place to launch.  We were thankful the weather was clear for this part of the trip, but the wind was blowing 25-30 knots from the northwest in Queen Charlotte Strait.  Would the wind abate and tomorrow be the big day?   Both of us were feeling eager to begin this long-planned adventure, but also anxious thinking of all the things that could go wrong--would the weather work with us, would the equipment hold up (David), would we be up to this challenge (Pearl), would we be cold and wet most of the time (Pearl)?

 

Assembling kayak, Scotia Bay Campground, Port Hardy

 

Day 1: June 13, 2009--Port Hardy to Shelter Bay--15 miles

Up around 5:00AM after a fitful night for Pearl.  Breakfast of muffins and milk sticking in Pearl's throat.  Loaded boat (everything fit, but barely) and departed Scotia Bay campground about 7:25AM.  Morning overcast, calm.  Paddled across Goletas Channel, through Gordon Group, then on to Deserters Group with expectation of camping on "beach" recommended by Bud at Scotia Bay.  Brief stop to pee (desperate) on tiny, 1 foot wide sand beach, then decided to finish crossing of Queen Charlotte Strait to Shelter Bay.  Breeze rising, but still light when we arrived at 12:45PM.  Beautiful white sand beach and excellent campsite in trees behind.  Saw 2 mink gamboling across beach as we landed.  Fresh cougar tracks on beach, plus wolf tracks.  Saw seals and porpoises during paddle.  About a 15-mile day with only briefest bathroom break.  Very stiff!  Had  lunch, set up tent, and fell into deep sleep until 7:00PM.

 

Loading kayak, Scotia Bay, Port Hardy

 

Ready to leave Port Hardy and cross Queen Charlotte Strait

Pearl and kayak at Shelter Bay, north side of Queen Charlotte Strait

 

 

 

Day 2: June 14, 2009--Shelter Bay to Skull Cove--8 miles

Good nights sleep despite long afternoon nap yesterday.  Up at 6:00AM.  Breakfast of granola and reconstituted dry milk--yum!  Loading kayak seemed to go on interminably, but were off by 8:15AM.  Muscles and bottoms sore.  Mostly calm during morning.  Uneventful paddle through Southgate Group.  Met solo kayaker, Sean, in Allison Sound.  He had paddled down from Prince Rupert in about 3 weeks.  Arrived at Skull Cove about 11:30AM.  Breeze beginning to come up.  Pearl extremely stiff from 3 hours without break--could barely walk at first.  Discovered network of 9 cabins and cook shelter above rocky/sand beach.  They were erected by Coastal Ecosystems Research Foundation.  Hauled gear up long flight of wooden stairs to one of the 8' x 12' cabins and then had lunch overlooking Queen Charlotte Strait.  Then off to try our luck fishing around kelp beds.  One bite, but got away.  Also looked at some large mussels, but by dinnertime they were under water.  Took nap and when got up discovered tide had come in almost to base of stairs and boat.  Pleasant evening, dinner and tea overlooking sun-flooded scene of islets.  Contemplating options for next couple days in view of deteriorating weather forecast.

 

Paddling Queen Charlotte Strait

 

Lunch at Skull Cove

 

Day 3: June 15--Skull Cove and Allison Harbor--rest day--8 miles

Fitful night.  Up at 5:00AM and quickly ferried everything to loading area.  Moved kayak out for loading when David announced onset of migraine,  Quickly moved boat back, took Maxalt and went back to cabin to bed.  Meanwhile Pearl trudged everything  back up endless flight of stairs and buttoned boat down, prepped for rain.  She read My Stroke of Insight overlooking Queen Charlotte Strait while David slept until 8:30AM, then dozed.  Watched 3 loons cavorting and shouting--maybe mating performance?  Also fighter jet that did several loops over Queen Charlotte Strait.  Pearl also investigated fresh water sources and dug up clams at low tide.  After David got up collected a couple mussels as well, and experimented with these for lunch.  Weren't sure what all was edible of the mussels, so ate only what appeared to be muscle, which was very small percentage.  There was slightly more muscle in the clams, but still seemed like a shame to kill a whole organism for such a small amount of sustenance.  After lunch decided to go on excursion to Allison Harbor.  Cabin cruiser/fishing boat anchored there.  Stopped just short of far end, but nothing visible of old settlement.  Did stop to see modern cabin on south shore.  20' x 20' cabin, roughly finished inside.  Saw several sea otters playing and munching on fish in water below Skull Cove cabins.  Hummingbird around camp.  Showers on and off during afternoon.  Little wind and flat sea.  Upon return from Allison Harbor filtered drinking water from rain water in a canoe near camp.  Did bathing and laundry in same water.  After dinner made small fire of cedar drift wood in fire ring in kitchen area.  Smelled wonderful.

 

Looking out over Queen Charlotte Strait from kitchen area at Skull Cove

 

Day 4: June 16--Skull Cove to Fox Island--11 miles

Up at 5:30AM, had quick stand-up breakfast, and off by 7:00AM.  Started raining in earnest shortly after leaving Skull Cove.  As we headed down Schooner Channel, fog also started to form and raining steadily.  Hats work very well in rain.  Often found good shelter under overhanging branches near shore.  Approaching Nakwakto Rapids almost 2 hours before slack.  Diddled around, poked our noses into Treadwell Bay, and then finally cautiously approached Nakwakto about 15 minutes before slack.  Everything mellow.  Paddled past Turret Rock and all its signs, left by previous visitors.  Locally as "Tremble Rock", it reportedly trembles during spring tides when current is at maximum.  David would love to spend a tide cycle on the rock, but we're here closer to neap tides, when currents are lower.  We paddle past Turret and into Seymour Inlet before turning and coming back around the other side of Turret.  We then found proper rock ledge behind island on northwest side of Rapids, tied up boat and followed rough trail to overlook platform.  Watched for about 20 minutes as current increased impressively.  Current at tie-up point very strong.  As we were leaving Nakwakto we could hear considerable roar from rapids.   Explored Treadwell Bay.  No sign of boats or habitation.  Then rode current to small bay on south side of Slingsby Channel and had lunch in scant shelter of overhanging branches.  Continued on to Fox Islands.  Looked for beach on outside, but came back in and made camp on small mossy bench above rocky beach.  Put up tarp with tent under, got into dry clothes, took nap.  Rain finally tapered to drizzle by evening.  Got up, had dinner and came back to tent.   Wondering what next several days hold as we head out to some of the most exposed areas we plan to face on this trip.

 

 

Turret Rock in Nakwakto Rapids at slack water. Note sign boards nailed to trees by previous visitors who stayed on rock during 6 hour tide cycle. 

 

 

Skunk cabbage at Fox Island
 

Day 5: June 17--Fox Island to Wilkie Point--8 miles

Woke to more rain which soon diminished to drizzle and mist for duration of morning.  Two hours to pack.  Left at 7:00AM, paddling through fog.  Crossed Slingsby Channel on flood current without problem.  On to Buccleugh point and checked out beach.  Little surf:  less than 1 foot.  Pretty spot, though not as exceptional as portrayed in Kimantas' guidebook.  Paddled on to south end of Burnett Bay.  Virtually no surf on far SW end of beach behind rocky point.  Paddled north up Bay just a short distance outside breakers.  Landed through small surf on north side of rocky point at north end of bay.  David explored for cabin built by Randy Washburne in 1985 while Pearl tended boat.  Grizzly and wolf tracks on beach.  Finally found it just inside woods near rocky point.  Then Pearl went to see cabin and sign log.  Perfectly cute--perhaps 8' x 7', with lean-to addition on back.  Cedar board and bat construction with cedar shakes and wooden door latch.  Tiny wood stove set on hearth.  Turned boat around and launched through surf.  Paddled on to Wilkie Point in light NW breeze and diminishing fog.  Wilkie Bay well protected.  Nice sand  beach with less than 6" surf.  Three young Canadian fellows from Sointula in small fishing boat camped on beach.  Set up tent back in woods and kitchen on drift logs.  Saw grizzly tracks on beach and did battle with food bags and were victorious in hanging them after numerous tries.  Then out fishing and promptly caught 2 fish.  Cleaning was a bit of a rigamarole, but finally got them filleted.  They were Copper Rock fish for which we jigged at edge of kelp beds.  The meat made nice addition to dinner pot and both felt quite full and satisfied.  To bed early in prep for early rise for the "crux" point of trip.

 

Looking up coast toward Burnett Bay

 

Burnett Bay cabin

 

Wilkie Point Cove

 

Beach kitchen at Wilkie Point Cove

 

Day 6: June 18--Wilkie Point to Smith Sound (Redsand Beach)--12 miles

Up at 4:30AM and on water by 5:50AM without breakfast.  Forecast sounded good for this morning, but rising wind in the afternoon.  Paddled in calm seas and low SW swell, reaching Cape Caution about 7:00AM.  Passed Cape a couple hundred feet offshore.  South setting current around Cape.  Totally anti-climactic.  Spotty fog, small swell and calm winds.  Decided to check out Indian Cove a couple miles north of Cape Caution.  Beautiful little bay.  Only slight surf.  Landed, peed and walked beach.  Found short trail over to Blunden Bay.  Were tempted to stay, but decided to paddle on in good weather.  Went past Neck Ness with light SW breeze filling in as we went around Hoop Bay.  Misty.  Wind increasing to west 10-12 knots as we headed into Smith Sound.  Saw several fishing boats and tug and barge passing to west of Cape Caution.  Noted that almost every point on this coast has a snag with a bald eagle sitting on it.  Seemed like endless paddle along south side of Smith Sound to Redsand Beach.  Really is rusty tan color.  Great camp.  Flat spots in mossy forest overlooking beach, which isn't choked with driftwood.  Fresh water stream forming large pool at west end.  Had lunch, set up camp and took long nap--both quite tired and greatly relieved to have passed Cape Caution.  Then bathed in intermittent sun and did laundry.  Noodled around the beach, went back into forest, saw some enormous cedar stumps where area was logged many years ago.  Sat on rock ledge overlooking Smith Sound and saw pod of 5 orcas--1 bull, couple cows and calves.  Dinner, then interminable filtering of drinking water and putting everything as far up as possible, as high tide expected.  To bed.  While filtering water, weasel-like brown creature (martin?) with short-medium length very dark tail came bopping down to water.  Took quick drink and moved along quickly, but quite unafraid of us.
 

Cape Caution Light

 

Indian Cove, 1 1/2 miles north of Cape Caution

 

Redsand Beach, Smith Sound

 

Bath time, Redsand Beach, Smith Sound

 

Day 7: June 19--Smith Sound (Redsand Beach) to Open Bight--9 miles

When the alarm went off at 5:00AM, we turned over and went back to sleep.  Got up about 6:15AM after steady rain most of the night.  Got out tarp and sheltered under it to take tent down.  Resolved to always put tarp up after this.  Got down to beach and noticed breeze.  Weather forecast for 15-25 knots from west.  Debated for about an hour before hearing Egg Island report of SE breeze 14 knots and decided to go for it.  Light WSW wind at first, then veering more to west and seas becoming increasingly boisterous as we crossed Smith Sound.  In lee of Brown Island stopped for breakfast bars and water and then went on to Extended Point.  With some misgivings decided to go on and from Extended Point to Kelp Head seas yet much larger and more chaotic.  Situation a little marginal with lee shore, rising wind, boomers (sudden breaking swells offshore) and chaotic seas.  Took a fair amount of spray and green water on deck.  Slowly made our way along until at Kelp Head we could take a slightly more downwind course and seas became somewhat moderated by outer reefs.  David described it as being like a rodeo ride.  Very relieved to get around Cranstown Point and enter relatively quiet waters of Open Bight.  Made camp just south of rock band near north end of beach.  Mostly sunny afternoon with showers in the evening.  Good-sized stream at south end of beach.  Walked across on trail to west beach.  Very fresh wolf tracks there.  Pair of loons greeted us as we paddled to beach.  Very grateful for safe arrival.

Surf at open Bight

 

Day 8: June 20--Open Bight to Fury Island--10 miles

Hard time getting up, but forced ourselves out into brief shower.  Broke camp and hauled stuff to beach to discover band of rocks at low tide line and heavier surf than yesterday.  Launched David through surf and he paddled down a couple hundred yards to sand area and Pearl ferried everything down there while David loaded and managed boat.  Launching through surf a bit tricky, but we're getting more experienced at it and it went fine.  Breeze from SE about 10-12 knots.  Paddled toward Charbau Island for about an hour, then sat in swell and wind waves and had breakfast of granola bars.  Put up sail, which took a fair amount of fiddling around since it's our first use.  Got a mile or so of free passage before the wind died and we resumed paddling.  Somewhat lumpy seas and Pearl not feeling so well by the time we got into Schooner Retreat.  Paddled through the Maze and on to Fury Island.  Power cruiser leaving anchorage as we got there.  Landed at Clam Beach and checked out cabin--large and dark.  Then paddled around to beach on west side of Fury Island with beautiful view overlooking Fitz Hugh Sound.  Enjoyed watching lots of boat traffic.  Often several boats per hour--BC Ferries, cruise ships, fishing boasts and pleasure boats.  Set up camp and took a nap and woke about 5 PM to voices.  David went out to see older woman and girl from a sailboat who had walked over from Fury Island anchorage--grandparents and 2 granddaughters from Vancouver area.  Had dinner and watched 1-2 dozen of the striking cinnamon-sided ducks with black and white and cinnamon heads out on the rocks just off Island.  Reminded us of how much we wished we had brought a bird book.  David saw whale spouting in Sound.  Columbines along trail to campsite.  Very high tides--brought kayak way up.  Weather clearing and breeze NW by evening.  Scattered showers earlier in day.

 

Fury Island, looking north up Fitz Hugh Sound
 

Day 9: June 21--Fury Island to 2 Miles North of Addenbroke Island--11 miles

Up at 5 AM with great difficulty.  Ate granola and off by 7 AM--easy launch.  Light NE breeze, increasing as day went on to NNW 15-25 knots and gusty.  Very slow progress up the coast, especially getting to Addenbroke Island.  After that were able to duck behind islands for short periods and get some relief.  Pearl started singing hymns as a salute to Sunday, then on to other songs to help keep up paddling against wind.  Mostly clear skies.  After Addenbroke, started to look for campsite amongst islands, but coming up with nothing.  Stopped and had lunch at 1 possible campsite on N side of Fairmile Passage.  Found 3 sailboats anchored there.  Were seriously tempted to try nice grassy spot at lunch site, but decided it would not survive expected high tide of 16.1'.  Decided to push on toward Kuakume Point area.  Fortunately found a just-large-enough tent site and kayak haul-out spot high on a rock about 20 minutes later.  Nice view overlooking Fitz Hugh sound.  Arms tired from paddling against wind all day!  Set up camp after getting in about 2:45 PM.  Dozed as wind whipped around tent.  Preparing for early dinner and bedtime, and very early crossing of Fitz Hugh Sound to Kwakshua Channel which is almost directly west from here.  Saw humpback whales (maybe 3) blowing out in Fitz Hugh Sound.  Also just before bed saw mink nosing about rocks.  He's brown with a dark short-medium length tail.

 

Camp on rock, 2 miles north of Addenbroke Island, Fitz Hugh Sound

 

Day 10: June 22--Two Miles North of Addenbroke Island to North Beach, Calvert Island--14 miles

Up at 4 AM, again with difficulty.  Overdue for a rest day.  Quickly dressed and packed, then met the task of getting the kayak down the steep rocks and into the water in a place from which it could be loaded.  Led to an argument, but was eventually accomplished with some effort.  Day calm and sunny, water almost glassy until late morning.  Then light westerly.  Took about 1 1/2 hours to cross Fitz Hugh Sound.  Only 1 boat passed during that time, possibly a fish tender.  Saw several humpback whales as we got to Kwakshua Channel.  Got close enough to easily hear them blowing and 2 spy-hopped in unison.  Had current with us in Kwaksua Channel and purred along nicely.  Very low tide this AM, and as we passed some high vertical cliffs on north side, were fascinated by all the life exposed: purple and orange starfish, smaller coral-colored ones, anemones and probably sea cucumbers.  The ones still below waterline were all plump and some had frilly flagellates out, while others were closed up.  But the poor things exposed to the air were hanging there looking like some human internal organ pasted to the rocks.  Paddling became more difficult as the wind picked up from west, but never extreme.  Arrived into Choked Passage 11-ish.  Stopped at the "resort": that was claimed to have paintings by Kayak Bill, but it appears to be basically a fisherman's club and no one around initially.  As we were leaving (through surf) a dinghy came in with 4 guys, but they paid no attention to us and we continued on to Wolf Beach with high expectations.  It has a reputation as a popular kayaker's spot, but no one around and no campsites in the forest.  Plus a stream that cuts behind the length of the beach and would make for a major kayak carry.  We went on to North Beach and eventually settled on a beach tent site much to our disappointment--we hate camping in the sand--but there aren't any sites up in the woods, which rises very steeply from the beach.  Both feeling very tired and in need of a day off.  Took bath at tiny trickle of a stream near middle of beach.  Insects not too bad so far.  Were horrible this morning as we loaded and launched.  They are gnat-size and biting, leaving itchy welt.  Possibly "white socks," as they do have white on their legs.  Dinner and bed with no alarm set for the morning!

 

 

Purple sea stars and anemones in Kwakshua Channel

 



Camp on North Beach, Calvert Island

Day 11: June 23--North Beach, Calvert Island--rest day

Day off.  Pearl up around 9AM; David got up to pee and went back to bed and got up around noon.  Pearl walked beach and investigated NW beach meanwhile and finally came back to bed and read awhile.  Finally breakfast of granola early afternoon, filtered some water and then hiked over to West Beach on very brushy trail--also very wet since it had been drizzling all day.  Passed lagoon with lots of water lilies.  Took trail from West beach to The Cliffs at Hakai Beach--fancy resort.  Met Fred and his wife, caretakers during the off-season, which because of the economy, is all year except 6 weeks at peak of summer.  Very windy from SE on West Beach.  Noticed couple kinds of berries on trail--Pearl tasted a couple with no ill results so far.  She also enjoyed watching osprey defending fledged juvenile from bald eagle.  After returning from West Beach did some research about currents and Hakai Passage and future camping options and then got some dinner.  Continues drizzling to almost rain.

Pond on Calvert Island near North Beach

 

Day 12: June 24--North Beach, Calvert Island to Triquet Island--13 miles

Woke around 8 AM to steady rain.  Had rained a good bit of night.  Listened to weather report and decided to wait until 10:30 update.  While waiting for more weather info, started reading The Golden Spruce aloud to each other.  Lots of background about this coast and a good book to read on this trip.  Forecast for winds still strong, but diminishing this afternoon, so decided to start packing up.  Partway through, two folks showed up, Richard and Dale (his wife), having hiked over from their sailboat in Pruth Bay.  Chatted with them for half hour or so.  Sun came out briefly.  Still some indecision about leaving as winds meanwhile shifted to south and increased, as did rain.  Finally decided to finish packing and paddle out for a look.  Conditions improved once out--winds and rain both decreased.  A few tide rips and SW swell, but quite tolerable until across Hakai Channel and into Kildidt Sound.  About 2-3 miles south of Serpent Group wind suddenly increased from south and seas built rapidly.  Wind increased even more and rain became torrential.  Changed course and paddled hard toward Serpent Group as waves broke from behind and occasionally on deck.  Seemed like forever when we finally gained the lee of Serpent Group, but couldn't find camp described by Kimantas.  By that time conditions had abated somewhat and decided to go on to Triquet Island.  So then encountered large steep seas again as wind countered ebb current.  Especially noticeable since seas were beam on.  Finally gained lee of next islet and after that things mellowed quickly.  Got to NW beach on Triquet Island about 6:15 PM and very grateful to be here.  Nice camp in woods.  Old cedar hut built by Randy Washburne in 1977 still present, but in decay.  Lots of sculpted driftwood on beach.  Did the usual camp chores and got to bed, glad to have dry clothes and sleeping bags to get into.  Had taken on a fair amount of water on crossing--both rain and green water on deck. 

Rockfish at Triquet Island

 

Day 13: June 25--Triquet Island--rest day

Both slept until 10 AM.  Listened to weather forecast at 6:30 AM--no go for today as strong NW winds predicted.  Listened to rain falling and in no hurry to go out in it.  After breakfast came back to tent and read a chapter of The Golden Spruce.  Got up and had lunch, then David messed with paddle grips and Pearl found trail across Island.  David also straightened rear rib in boat.  Tried to start fire to dry clothes--only moderate success with fire, hard to get wood to catch.  Went out fishing and immediately caught large copper rock fish, which put in stroganoff for supper.  Ravens now talking over remains left on beach.  Forecast good for Goose Island in AM.  Alarm set for 3:30AM.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gosling Island with Goose Island in background

 

Camp on north end of Gosling Island

 

 

Day 14: June 26--Triquet Island to Gosling Island--11 miles

Awoke before 3 AM to loud crashing of surf.  Listened to weather forecast.  Still favorable for this morning, but gale/storm warning for later in day.  Got up about 3:30 AM to start packing.  On water around 5:15AM--high tide made for short carry.  Put wetsuits on.  Large swell and much surf and boomers as we headed into Queen's Sound.  Paddled out beyond surf and boomer area to about 1/2 mile west of Breadner Point, had granola bar and small amount of water (didn't want to drink much before long crossing), assessed situation--light breeze from east/NE.  David having some misgivings.  Pearl said, "Let's go."  Pearl tired of ocean crossings, but felt that this was important stop for David, was planned and should go forward.  Conditions moderated as we crossed--swell decreased, breeze held steady.  Crossing seemed to take a long time.  Occasional sprinkles and intermittent sunshine.  Landed at north end of Gosling Island about 9:15 AM.  Set up nice camp in woods, which is unusually navigable--open mossy areas frequent.  Few cedars, but lots of spruce and grass on upper part of shore.  Had lunch, took walk out on spit to adjacent islets.  Nice view across Queen's Sound, central coast and coast range.  Bathed and did laundry in small stream, as a little weak sunshine and breeze available.  Paddled across to Goose Island and walked beach.  Saw deer, wolf, and some unknown tracks.  Latter tracks look somewhere between canine and feline tracks--perhaps something in wolverine family?  Also saw 2 large birds that made different noise from goose--brown/tan wings.  Oh, for that bird book!  Also 2 Great Blue Herons and several tiny brown wrens.  Saw 2 sea otters holding each other near beginning of paddle across. Sprinkling lightly now.  High winds predicted for tonight. 

 

Looking out over Queens Sound from Goose Group

 

Tracks on sand spit at Gosling Island

 

 

 

 

 
Day 15: June 27--Goose Group--rest day--2 miles

High winds and rain much of night, but hardly a breeze stirring our cozy tent in the woods.  Slept with bags zipped together and got a good night's sleep.  Forecast for wind downgrading from storm to gale.  Up around 9 AM, had breakfast on huge driftwood log, and then walked out to islet overlooking Queen's Sound from 10 AM until around noon in solidarity with memorial taking place in honor of our old friend Dave Field in New Mexico at that hour.  Sat in silence for long time, then shared thoughts on what his life meant to us, anecdotes, stories, etc.  A fitting place for it, looking out over stormy water and BC coast.  Discovered tracks of medium-sized mammal--maybe sea otter?  Extensive rock/sand tide flats here at low tide.  Went out on paddle this afternoon to Snipe Island.  Explored beach and campsites there.  Snipe Island appears to be much more heavily used camping area, though we prefer our site on Gosling for views, wind protection and fresh water availability.  Brief showers on and off throughout day and as of this writing, strong gusty winds still present.  Saw more of the same mammal tracks and also saw quite a few sea otters this afternoon and more convinced that tracks may be sea otter. 

 

Sea otter diggings at low tide, Goose Group

 

Surf on outer coast of Duck Island in Goose Group, looking out at Hecate Strait

Day 16: June 28--Goose Group--rest day--5 miles

Rain on and off all night.  Still windy from SW.  Slept until about 8 AM, listened to weather, then back to sleep until 11 AM--still gale warning, but what's new.  Got up, had breakfast, then went for walk across tide flats to Goose Island.  Saw more otter (?) tracks and where it had rolled in sand.  Also saw "clam pits" where otters dig for clams underwater at higher tides--gravel dug out and piled to side, along with shells.  Pearl walked beach at Goose Island, investigated area which had preponderance of cedars, but still very open and welcoming underneath, as compared to most of the forest we've seen along the coast, which is so thick and choked with huge downed logs that it's almost impossible to walk around beyond cleared areas.  Much arthropod life on beach above high tide line.  "Sand fleas" that look something like sow bugs about 1/2" long hopping all over the sand and living under driftwood and kelp/seaweed.  Also tiny red mites crawling over sand.  And many flies resembling slightly elongated house flies, but not bothersome.  Beds of composting seaweed especially rich in all manner of this life.  These beds look like spongy beds of brown confetti.  Occasional whiffs of strong "rotten egg" smell, probably from decomposing marine life.  Had lunch and paddled over to Duck Island against still fairly strong SW wind.  Landed on NE corner of island and hiked around beach to NW point of island.  Saw 2 deer.  Hiked out to rocky point and watched impressive surf.  Good thing we didn't try to paddle around the island, as we had thought about doing, as we probably wouldn't have gotten in through the surf.  Hiked back through forest and paddled over to Swan Island and landed briefly, then back to camp.  Started to get supper ready when David announced kayakers coming in from north along lee of Goose Island.  Finished eating and paddled over to Snipe Island and spoke with party of 3 women from Whitehorse.  They were out paddling for a week or so from Bella Bella.  Had been pinned down by weather at north end of Goose Island.  Wind finally calm.  Skies clearing this afternoon--actually quite a bit of sun.

 

Swan Island from Duck Island, Goose Group

 

Day 17: June 29--Gosling Island to Lama Passage--18 miles

Set alarm for 5 AM, and both had a hard time getting up--had gotten to bed after 10 PM last night and then had trouble going to sleep.  Ate granola, put on wetsuits and took off about 7:20AM, just in time for a breeze from west.  Up until then had been perfectly calm and beautiful morning at high tide--islands bathed in morning glow.  Stopped briefly at Snipe Island to bid bon voyage to 3 Canadian women and then headed east across Queen's Sound.  Very mellow 1 hour, 40 minute trip.  Small swell and a bit of WNW breeze did come up, as well as a squall in which it rained quite hard, but only briefly.  Then mostly sunny rest of day.  Proceeded north of Purple Cliffs, past McNaughton Group to south.  Saw quite a few seals with pups hauled out on rocks between Queen's Sound and Hunter Channel.  Finally found rocky islet to get out and remove hot, sweaty wetsuits--what a relief!  Got to intended camp at entrance to Hunter Channel about 1 PM.  Had a bite of lunch before unloading, and then decided to go on.  Camp itself was lovely on beautiful shell beach, but rather restricted area of movement and concerned about contrary currents tomorrow.  Paddled awhile against north wind, then cut in behind some islands and wind became favorable for sailing.  Put sail up and proceeded along nicely for 2-3 miles.  Found gravel beach in Lizzie Cove area of Lama Passage close to where connects with Hunter Channel.  Upon arrival discovered that compass apparently fell off when working with sail.  Bella Bella visible from camp.  Camp is so-so.  Not much margin on beach for boat at high tide, but nice mossy tent site.
 

Pea soup fog in Llama Passage

Day 18: June 30--Lama Passage to Bella Bella/Shearwater--9 miles

Woke up to pea soup fog.  Wished mightily for the compass.  Loaded up and set out about 7 AM, first navigating by land behind us, which soon disappeared, then by keeping a heading relative to bits of flotsam, and finally resorting to looking back several times a minute at our wake to gauge direction.  Pearl felt we were turning in circles, but after some time a dim shadow of land began to appear and then we had to determine whether we had actually crossed Lama Passage, which was our intent, or whether this was possibly the shore we had just left.  Fortunately, the fog began to thin at this point and we got more and more clues that we were where we wanted to be and started paddling Bella Bella-ward.  Fog then lifted over next half hour or so and light breeze picked up from NW.  Saw a few fishing boats and tug and barge--otherwise little traffic on Lama Passage.  Got to Bella Bella about 10:30 AM and Pearl went ashore to check out amenities.  Plus got some perfectly sinful pastries for David.  Onward to Shearwater, which proved to be a delight.  Beautiful sunny day, camping for $12, showers $1 for 2 minutes.  Immaculate showers and laundry.  Convenient nice restaurant and marine store and grocery store.  Our first priority was a shower, then laundry.  Meanwhile met several couples who are here on boats.  One couple, Ernie and Sally, who invited us to dinner at the restaurant.  Ernie's specialty was underwater photography, and he told about teaching Jacques Cousteau's photographers.  Sally told about ecotourism trips she had coordinated, including to Misty Fiords.  We had a nice dinner of Thai food wrapped in lettuce leaves with them.  Another woman at the laundry let us use her laptop for at least an hour--also stopped and chatted with her and her husband (Carol & Jack) on their boat.  Everyone very affirming and interested in our trip.  Camped on lawn portion of RV park--few RV's.  Made some phone calls.

 

Tug and barge on Inside Passage near Bella Bella

 

Bella Bella

 

Day 19: July 1--Bella Bella/Shearwater--rest day

Luxuriated in huge breakfast at restaurant--pancakes and French toast with hash browns and sausage.  Then over to laundromat and made phone calls to Farm folks, etc, and David worked out distances traveled so far and distance to Prince Rupert, plus looked at route and campsites for next leg.  Then on to Marine Store, which is remarkably well-stocked.  Got everything we needed including 1 qt. of white gas, cheap replacement compass, and hopefully better gloves.  David put hose clamps on boat to hold end ribs in place better.  Then had tour and met crew of Cape Farewell, the Coast Guard rescue vessel which was in port to celebrate Canada Day.  Caught Sea Bus to Bella Bella.  Sea bus pilot a large native fellow named Vern, very friendly.  Talked with native wood carver working on totem poles near docks, then sat in Koeye Cafe coffee shop and drank tea and looked at field guides.  Not much success in identifying tracks or mystery weasel-like animal, but guessing the animal is mink, and tracks possibly marten.  Ducks with white marking on head seem definitely to be Harlequin.  Nothing looks like a match for the tan goose-like bird we was flying away at Goose Island.  Went grocery shopping at the Band Store and got most of what we needed.  Then worked on-line at Koeye Cafe.  When David was here in 1976, he and another fellow on a sailboat went into Bella Bella bar, but soon decided it wasn't a safe place for them.  Now the town has a very friendly atmosphere and a resurgence of interest in cultural practices and native language.  Upon return on 5 PM Sea Bus, sorted food, cleaned out boat and reorganized.  Stored food in Harbor Master's office, as there is a black bear in area.  Cereal and real milk for supper and to bed after looking through all charts and determining that we're covered, as Marine Store has good stock of charts.

 

Dugout canoe at Bella Bella

 

Shearwater marina

 

Day 20: July 2--Shearwater--rest day

Pearl had difficult night with waves of abdominal cramps and concerns about lack of bathroom facilities at night.  Got up about 7 AM and Pearl had bout of diarrhea, but later was able to eat French toast and tasted good.  After breakfast finished grocery shopping at Shearwater store.  We were able to reprovision here for about same price as in Port Hardy.  Also talked with Jimmy and Elna and then did email--got email message out to friends and family.  When we finished that, evaluated our plan for the day and decided since Pearl's system was still somewhat unsettled that we would wait until tomorrow to depart.  So, we combined all the food, repackaged, etc and contemplated mailing charts we're finished with back to the Farm, but decided against it because of $12 charge.  Had can of beef stew for early supper, but then were enticed to attend birthday party for Phoebe, native woman who works at store.  They put on enormous feast, with fire-baked salmon and many other kinds of meat and side dishes.  A number of other boaters were there and we chatted with them and the native folks.  Beautiful warm sunny day with breeze from NW.  Looking forward to getting back out tomorrow.