Days 40 to 48: Bella Bella to Port Hardy
Trip Start Apr 07, 2010
120Trip End Jan 19, 2012
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Next, Bella Bella. As we approach town, we ask for the grocrey store and are told it closes at 5pm. We shop for one week's worth of food in 15 minutes (done!)
Day 41: Today is boat maintenance day. We have to do it once during this trip and it is not fun at all. But we committed to disassembling the boat and lubricating the frame at least once during the trip to make sure the aluminum tubes won't seize. Since we are a little more than half way through the Inside Passage, we decide to do it today. The good news is that we have a hose and a clean deck to work with. The bad news is that it rained all day. It took us close to 5 hours to disassemble, clean, lubricate, reassemble, and outfit the boat. Our hands are a mess; completely white and the skin is peeling off our fingers.
We are finally on the water at 3pm. Just as we depart, we see "Norm," a dude that arrives on a paddleboard escorted by 2 kayakers
We don't have that much time left in the day, but are still able to cover 13 miles this afternoon in pouring rain at times.
Day 42: Late departure today. We're on the water at 10:30am. We had some rain overnight and when we woke up this morning, so we started slowly. The wind is behind us so we are quick on the water. After 14 miles covered in 3.5 hours, we arrive in Namu, an abandoned town that peaked at 400 inhabitants only 20 years ago. Now that the town only has 2 permanent residents, they have a lot of projects on their hands while the town is falling apart. A quick tour of the town as we are on our way South again.
We approach a grey whale that we've been looking at for a while. It pops out of the water only 100 feet from us. Simply spectacular...whao!
We end the day in Warrior Bay, were we find a ritual house that seems to be used by First Nation tribes to perform human sacrifices*...this will be our home for the night.
*Okay, not really, but that sounded cool, didn't it? :)
Day 43: We get up early this morning and are on the water by 7:30am
Lucky in our misfortune, there is a low-lying white shell beach just around the corner on an isthmus. We stop here, hurridly set up the tent as a temporary shelter, and wait. Soon, the wind picks up and the sea begins to rage. This is the worst we've ever seen the water -- gale force winds and there are even rolling breakers out in the channel. We are able to get the forecast from our new location and it sounds like we'll be spending the night afterall. We pull out the tide chart and re-asess the height of the tent spot...it's going to be close! We have dinner at 6:30pm and watch the tide rise in front of us, ready for an emergency evacuation. Yannick drew a line in the sand, a foot in front of the tarp marking when we should get ready to move at a certain time. Funny thing is the tide reached the marking -- even filled it with water -- but never crossed the line. Guess we'll be good for the night! We finish dinner and collect over 3 liters of rain water in 5 minutes...with some hail in it. Ice water, anyone?
Day 44: We wake up at 6am, but are slow to move
Day 45 (May 22, 2010): Waking up this morning, the sea was a little rough, so we went back to bed until 9am. We took our time gettign ready. The VHF forecast announced that the wind would lessen after noon and the water does show signs of it. We get ready and are on the water by 11:30am. Today, we are rounding Kelp Head, one of the two major capes in Queen Charlotte Sound.
As the kayak rounds the cape, we feel the power of the open ocean; the horizon frequently disappears behind a wall of water. Waves are at least 6 feet high and we make sure to stay away from rocks and breakers. After rounding Kelp Head, we are on our way to Cape Caution, hoping the wind would stay low. After 1h45m of paddling, however, we notice the wind is growing and the swells are getting much larger. Time for Plan B: Make for shore
Day 46: Queen Charlotte sound is no joke and our endurance is put to the test -- 22 miles in 10 hours. As we wake in the early hours of the morning, we note the absence of wind and only hear an occasional wave break on shore. It sounds good outside! Yannick pokes his head out of the tent and says the sky is full of gray clouds, but the sea is as calm as we could hope here. He doesn't liek the looks of the sky, but we'll take what we can get. The VHF forecast announces the current conditions as 10-15 knot winds and 1-2 meter seas today, then worsening conditions for the next 3 days. This is our window of opportunity!
Today we are taking on Cape Caution, named by Captain Vancouver, who almost lost his ship on the shallow waters during a storm. We are on the water at 6am and head straight from our camp on Brown Island towards Milthorp Point. The swells are big with only 1-foot chop and a light headwind; we cover 5 miles in 2 hours. We haven't seen any boats on the water yet. Why? Too early? We wonder..
We can see Cape Caution now. Shirley has had a knot in her stomach all morning and can't wait for this part of the trip to be over so it will go away. Yannick says that any distance that we cover, no matter how logn or short, is a triumph because we'll never have to face that section again. Great, because Cape Caution looks like it could get freaken gnarly and we only want to do this once. We take it really wide (over a mile offshore) to avoid the chance of getting caught in an unexpected breaker. We are at the poitn of no return and are filled with excitement as we approach this pivotal point. The wind has gotten stronger and the swells are huge, but thigns are relatively calm. A wave of relief washes over us as we slowly round the cape. It is now 10am and we've gone a little more than 10 miles...not bad for a Sunday morning, eh?
Yannick yells, "kayakers!" What? Sure enough, 4 kayakers heading in the opposite direction as us. We paddle over to them, exchange a few words, then go our separate ways. Of all places to keet other Inside Passage kayakers!
We want to get to Skull Cove on Bramham Island, which is another 10 miles away. We have the wind and tide againse us and it feels like we aren't moving. Our arms grow tired, our hands ache, and our glutes grow numb...but we need to keep pushing. We pass a few long beaches, but they're completely exposed -- huge breakers crashing on them
Day 47: Mmmm....so good to sleep in! We aren't goign anywhere today because the wind is howling outside -- even is this protected bay. A big storm has hit Queen Charlotte Sound and West Vancouver Island and the wind is up to 50 knots. We feel fortunate that the conditions are bad on a day when we could use the rest rather than anxiously waiting, wasting time, and wanting to move forward. Today, we relax in our cozy little cabin...nice, dry, and happy. :)
Day 48: The winds, though lighter, persist at 30 knots today. Conditions may improve in the afternoon, but we don't know if it will be in time for a late launch to get a few miles in
Times are desperate as we only have one bag of cookies left. It doesn't matter that there is enough food to last at least 4 more days very comfortably, and never mind that we only have 3 liters of water left and just ran out of toilet paper. To only have one bag of cookies left is insane! Fortunately, the weather should improve for an early launch tomorrow and we will not have to resort to "the survival of the fittest." Let us hope that a resupply in Port Hardy comes just in time. We are about to spend our 3rd nigth in Skull Cove.
Day 49: Got an early start this morning, put in 22 miles, and are in Port Hardy now. It's a "town day." Woohoo...NOT! At least we'll get ice cream :)