Thursday, August 18, 2016

Pearse Islands

In Portland summer begins with Memorial Day. In the San Juans they say it comes with the 4th of July. I guess in the Broughtons, it's mid August.

We've enjoyed sunny days in Sointula, and Alert Bay, and this is the view as we round Cormorant Island on our way to the Pearse Islands.

The large mountain on the left, the 'pokey mountain' is one of our favorites,
above Mackenzie Sound, it's Mt. Stephens.

Other than going to Port McNeill for provisions 3 different times, Sargeaunt Passage is the only place we have anchored more than once. Now we will add the Pearse Islands. It has been over two months since we've visited here.

And the sunshine makes a  BIG difference!

June 8
Aug 14. 

We worked to position the boat for optimal viewing through the passageways. With the clear weather this time, above we have framed Mt. Stephens in the opening. Below is the view down Johnstone Strait.

June 8

And facing west/northwest... back to the entrance.

June 8
Aug 14. 

We do have a bit of company here this time. When we drop anchor we are the only boat. But three more boats come in over the course of the afternoon. Each morning, two different local tour boats pass by. We saw them both at the dock in Alert Bay, and we wave at each other. 

High tide makes it easier to see the inukshuk.

Perfectly centered for a beautiful sunset.

And once the sunset show has slowed, we turn around for the moon rise show. The humidity is very low, so the sky is CLEAR and I get the best moon shots I've taken from the boat.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

U'mista Cultural Center

Our second day in Alert Bay was very special.

It got off to a good start with coffee from the store Culture Shock, where we also bought tickets to the dance demonstration at the Big House that afternoon.

A fellow boater we met in Sointula had told us of basket weaving being taught at the museum that weekend, and I was anxious to give that a go. On our hike in the Ecological Park we had noticed a number of trees that had been 'culturally modified' -- bark had been harvested. Many things are made from cedar bark.

Instructor Donna was kept busy flitting between three tables full of people wanting to try their hand at a project. She made it all look so easy.  Here is my basket, start to finish.

Select a number of strips of matching width, and a couple of twists of skinny, and soak them in water to soften them.

6 strips by 10. The base is woven.

THIS is what the skinny stuff is for -- 'twining' -- to reinforce the base.

Next the sides are stood up and six strips, just longer than the circumference, are woven in. Here I've completed the first corner.

This was the hardest part for me, joining the walls. I fumbled with this for quite a while.

Then two rows of twining at the top, the second with the tabs folded down. Then another round of twining.

Then a skinny strip is run through all of the loops before all of the tabs are pulled down tight and then trimmed.

I am pretty proud of my little basket. It will have a treasured space somewhere on the boat, holding some other small treasures, I am sure. I said this basket and experience of making it was well worth the price of admission.

But, the main exhibit of the museum were many of the items confiscated when potlatches were outlawed. They had been sent to museums in several locations of the world, and into private collections. Many have now been returned to the people and are housed in the museum. Photography was not allowed, but we spent an hour reading and viewing.

At 1:00 we took a break from basket making and walked up the hill. The world's tallest totem marked our destination.

Man holding a copper


As we entered the Big House, the scent of the cedar fire filled us. We were welcomed by the chief in the native language, then translated into English. Several dances were demonstrated, one most notable the Hamatsa danced by an 8-year-old young man, Aiden Cook. We were told many of the young people were away off the island to a soccer tournament, but we were well entertained by the small group. At the end, we were all invited to join in 'the fun dance', so we can say we danced in the Big House.

Photography was allowed, but my camera does not handle low light very well. And, I didn't want to be disturbing the show with flashes, so we just enjoyed (except that the woman in front of us had a powerful flash on HER camera).

Before the performance, I took these two shots.

This was the singer. He and several others also drummed on the hollow log in front of him.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

First Day in Alert Bay

Could it be?? Has summer finally arrived??? Sure, the mornings may be cool and foggy, but this is our third afternoon of sunshine! And it is beautiful. So we head out to enjoy it!

The marina is adjacent to the ferry dock, and at the head of the ramp we are officially welcomed.

Traffic jam! Ferry, cruise ship, and small fisher -- this shot doesn't show another approaching pleasure boat.

Alert Bay is known for its totems. The next few shots are from the original Namgis Burial Grounds. Viewing is only allowed from the street, as it is sacred ground, but all the totems can be seen easily.

Old and new together.
 From the information pamphlet we received, the totem most right in the photo is from the early 1940's.
The 4 Warriors pole in front was unveiled in 2011.

From the waterfront, we climbed stairs and followed roads up to the Ecological Park. There are miles of trails on the island but we just did Trail 1 to the boardwalk, then found our way back down the hill.

We passed through some HUGE cedar trees. I mean, these were the size of REDWOODS!
Later we saw on the map a trail called Big Tree trail. I wonder how big THOSE are?
(This one reminded us of the book  'Snow falling on Cedars' )

The boardwalk is over a large marsh, flooded since 1886.
( Math test answer: 130 years ago!)

We wondered what killed the trees.
We didn't find out until we got back to the boat and read the pamphlet on the park.
A dam was built in 1881 for the cannery. It took five years for the top of the hill to flood.

We think this is the highest in elevation we have been since leaving Friday Harbor.
 It seemed higher than what we later learned was 100 feet.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

A Place of Harmony

That is the translation for 'Sointula'. Founded in the very early 1900's by a group of Finns whose influence is still evident over 100 years later.

The marina is a busy place! Small boats in front, and a nice mix of cruisers in the middle,
with fishing boats mainly on the outside dock.
 There are loaner bicycles at the marina office, and it is 2 kilometers to town. It's been a LONG time since either of us has been aboard a bike -- I think about 20 years for me, and Al thinks it's high school for him! These are heavy duty one-speeds and we are grateful for mainly flat going with just one or two slopes to handle.

The former school holds the library and the museum. We just peek into the library.

The museum is small but interesting.

The sunshine makes everything beautiful, even a building that gives the impression of being abandoned,
despite the amount of things stored.

We ride all the way through town to a lovely beach,

And then come back to the bakery. There is very little left on the shelves at just a half hour before closing, but we have carrot cake and a brownie with coffee, and it was YUMMY! (Though we didn't sleep well that night.)

The table and view we shared.

At the ferry dock you can see why it is called a 'stiff' breeze, as the flag and windsock are held out.

The next morning was so calm and peaceful. Al and I got up before 5, after a restless sleep from our afternoon coffee the day before.  There are two eagles atop sail masts, and I catch this one as the sun tops the ridge and lights him up.
We are back at the bakery bright and early. We were looking for cinnamon rolls, but they are still in the works, so we choose breakfast pastries and a loaf of bread and settle in comfy chairs with coffee. The cinnamon rolls are done just after we have lingered and are ready to go. We'll save them for the next day's breakfast.

We visit the Burger Barn at the marina for dinner, then go to sailboat Maia to visit with Laura and Dick, who bought the boat in the spring and have cruised the Broughtons this summer, and are negotiating with their insurance company to be approved to sail down the west coast of Vancouver Island. They have been buddy boating with another couple we met in Viner Sound when they came to us by dinghy -- they were from Portland, and Viking Star had looked familiar to them! Anyway, we had a nice evening of conversation and Dominoes with the crew of Maia (including dog Ellie), and were happy to hear the next morning that they were approved and could continue with their cruising plans.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Cost to Cruise July 2016

July came, July went - and again we busted the $1K mark.  This time: Dead Dinosaurs.  Being our 1st time in the Broughtons / Desolation area,we spend a LOT of hours motoring around checking things out.  Rather than our usual pace of moving, staying for 4-5 days, moving, we often moved every 2 days.  Not really sure why, but we did.  Combined with the rather unseasonably cold and wet winter (more generator time, more heater time) in July we found ourselves having used about 2/3rds of our fuel supply.

Penciling things out if we indeed slowed down some, and if indeed the Sun finally came out, we might have been OK - or we might have been on the fence.  In the end we elected to take on 160 gallons of fuel.  To make sure.  But will tell you the Cheap in me still is in a huff over this.  $1.09cad per liter comes to $3.14us per gallon.  Significantly above what we pay in the US (Spot check just now, $1.95)  Sigh, well - the boat rides better with the extra weight.  When we fuel up this fall we'll see if that 160 gallons was really needed.

OK, enough.  The rest of the month was rather typical it seems.  Moorgage is up a little because we are purposely visiting each of the major marinas in the area, just to get a feel for things.  Future visits we will unlikely repeat this way.

OK, here is July:

Viking Star - Cost the Cruise July 2016

Towards the end of August we will start making our way back south.  We need to be out of Canada before October 8th, or plan on having a conversation with the Canadian  IncomeTax folks.  We are kind of figuring on hitting the 'rapids' which separate the Broughtons from the Desolation area after Labor day, then slowly work our way down by the end of September.  Hopefully we will have some sunny days these next couple of months!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Queen Charlotte Strait

Al is ever looking for 'new water', so when planning our route from Viner Sound to Port McNeil, he was scouting for places we hadn't been to yet. The weather was to be calm, so most anyplace should be fine. 

We traveled the narrow passages between Baker Island and Davies and Insect Islands to the 'crossroads' or 'four corners' area, as Al called it. Just west of there is Sunday Harbour, the anchorage that M. Wylie Blanchet writes of being blown out of in 'The Curve of Time'. And we dropped our anchor.

And though our weather was vastly improved from what she and her family experienced, we WERE there at low tide and then felt the ocean swells as the tide rolled in.

We didn't find the shoreline particularly interesting though, and we had excellent internet there, so you can guess where our attention was. The next morning. at LOW, low tide, I notices several areas of whiteness beneath the water. I asked Al - what's that? Rocks? How much water do we have? 

He stepped out on deck and said WOW, and came in to check the depth sounder. We had 12 feet of water and could see these white growths clearly (I've previously looked them up, but couldn't find what they are at this time).

 Being so calm, we decide our route will head out into the Strait for a ways, traveling to the north of Malcolm Island, and then hook around to Port McNeil.

The view west, toward Foster Island. So smooth and calm.

The view south. This is a 'sunny' day in the Broughtons. I DO have my shades on.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Viner Sound

Heading for Viner Sound, even though it is dark and dreary, we have a good feeling about this place.

We get situated in the cove on the north side. The trees reflect in the still water, and everything is emerald.
But, something that catches my eye IS a bit foreboding. Look up at the rock cliffs.

I'll zoom in to make it easier. It looks like a tetris game in reverse? I wonder where the missing pieces are?
This might be the answer to where SOME of the 'sugar cube' rocks come from....

Got woolies? August in the Broughtons.
Added benefit? Al sweeps the floor with his feet.

We can hear water running, and we think there is a creek somewhere. As the tide lowers, we can SEE it.
There is a lagoon behind the 'bar'.

Not sure, but they may be Bonaparte Gulls, or Sabine's Gulls. They are very loud and squeaky!

Can you find the bear? He's there.
And we learn that bears DO have good hearing -- our cabin door rattling startled him away.

Next day we go for a dinghy ride at low tide. This is the second little cove on the right as we head out.
And more interesting rocks -- pyramids this time.

I work up my brave. And step foot ashore... climb THIS rocky bar. I do not see any with a quick scan,
but I raise my voice and tell Al we need to talk to the bears.

The babbling outlet for THIS lagoon.

Now we are back in 'our' cove, and we've come up to the large rock-strewn bar here. It looks like a long scrabble across mud and rocks, and I don't want to chance it in my boat shoes. Besides, we are very near where we SAW a bear the day before. Al wants to go explore, though, so I send the camera with him. And I stand in the dinghy and constantly scan the shoreline. Twice I call to Al -- yes, to call him back, but also to make noise for any bear that may be lurking in the woods.

And Al DID find bear tracks!

On our second morning, the bear were up early and so was I! I saw two different bear on our inlet, and two  across the way again. No good pictures, however, because it was so early and dark. We just enjoyed through binoculars.

A little later, this red tug Emma, lets go of the mooring buoy in our cove and heads to the other side. It looks almost like they are against the rocks, but this bear isn't frightened! (Zoomed all the way, and through the rain.)
We both agree that Viner Sound is one of our favorite stops. And it is one of the last places we hadn't visited yet. But it's been a month and we have another bare to worry about. No, I didn't misspell. It's a description of our cupboards, fridge and freezer. We need to move in the direction of town.