Our stop over in Johnstone Straight was Port Neville---the longest running Post Office (1891-1960) in British Columbia. We had the pleasure of meeting Harold Hansen who grew up on farmstead. Sadly the future of this historic building is questionable. While the Hansen's owned the property for many generations, it is getting more and more expensive to keep the property together. As we visited surveyors were working around the property. Interestingly, the surveyors cautioned us to sing vigorously and joyfully when we were walking through the forest. Grizzlies are present and supposedly can smell the pheromones you release when scared. In our case, out of tune singing may have been a significant grizzly deterrent---after all who wants to eat a few nutcases running through the forest signing row-row-row-your-boat-choruses.....
Jim and Joan leading the way into grizzly territory.*
As we proceeded north, the good weather has stayed with us so far. We had many overwhelmingly beautiful passages and anchorages. Sometimes we were not sure if this was all real or if we were still in our previous working life and dreaming it all.
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Oh NO! Grizzlies can swim, and we thought we were safe in our dingy!
A few days of pleasant travel took us further north. A beautiful forest trail at the Hakai Beach Institute lead us from the anchorage on the inside passage across the island to the Pacific Ocean. Luckily, no singing was necessary in this forest!
Upon anchoring, it did not take Gerd 5 minutes to spot a grizzly on shore at the Kuntze Inlet. The next day, we saw 4 more with the help of fellow yachtsman Jim and Joan who for 40 years have explored British Columbia. We had a wonderful time chatting with them onboard and exploring a meadow (by dingy) adjacent to our anchorage where these photos of grizzlies grazing on the meadow grass were made the next morning.
Alert Bay on Cormorant Island was a memorable stop-over at the end of Johnstone Straight. Not only did we get the opportunity to learn about the history of the First Nation at the culture center, but also had the pleasure to watch one of their master carvers (the one with the coffee in his hand) and his apprentices at work on totem poles destined for a museum in Belgium. Just walking across the small island, it was a pleasure to see all forms of totems. Interestingly, a centerpiece of this culture are Potlatches (or giving ceremonies) where the Potlatch host gives away significant wealth to Potlatch attendees. In turn, at a later time, he would receive presents at other Potlatches. In this culture, giving and pleasure of giving was a greater joy than amassing wealth yourself. It is no wonder that unable to fathom his practice, the Canadian government prohibited Potlatches a century ago.
One of the great dangers is the large amount of trees floating with the tides. Some of those trees and logs escaped from log floats that are being tugged to the sawmills. Others are just washed out in landslides. We have seen logs up to 2 ft diameter that could easily sink a fiberglass boat on impact. For Thor, it would be much less of a risk of sinking, but they surely could bend our propeller.
Bishop Bay Hot Springs is one of many hot springs on the inside passage. Like most of our stops, this was another beautiful anchorage we had to ourselves. Like other many yachtees, we enjoyed the warm waters and left a message from Thor.
From Port Ludlow, our course took us to British Columbia via Pender Island (for customs check-in) and to Nanaimo for a quick pit stop. From there we sailed up the Straight of Georgia into the Johnstone Passage. Passing from the east side of Vancouver Island to the north side of Vancouver Island was one of our first experiences with the amazing strong flood and ebb currents we will encounter over the next three months. Tidal timing is everything in passage planning. A strong tidal current carried us up the Discovery Passage, through the Seymour Narrows, and into Johnstone Straight.
We were always delighted to pass the white and red lighthouses of British Columbia. The standard of upkeep of tthes distinctive lighthouses and facilities is amazing.
* Thanks to Jim and Joan for passing on some of the bear pictures from our dingy trip at Kuntze.
Totem poles were originally carved by the Haida, Tlingit, and Tsimshian people while the Kwagiulth carved human ancestor and spirt helper figures as house posts and grave monuments. As we walked the islands, we saw beautiful art in day to day life as well.
Sailing to the Ends of the Earth