On Sunday, 7-18-10, “Blue Rodeo” and crew departed the small community of Tahsis bound for an anchorage near the entrance to Nootka Sound. Conditions were sunny and clear with brilliant blue skies. As we motorsailed away in calm conditions, we were treated to another spectacular view of the glacier-covered mountains that formed the backdrop for the village. While heading south down the canyon-like, narrow channel, we spied what appeared to be a clump of seaweed or flock of birds on the water ahead. With help from the binoculars, we were delighted to see that it was a “raft” of 30 or more sea otters. For whatever reason, otters will raft-up and drift along while lazing on their backs grooming and tending to their young. It’s hard to imagine a more endearing sight. They as so incredibly cute! Unfortunately, without a telephoto lens we were unable to get a good picture of them.
Friendly Cove, our intended destination for the night, seemed lacking of charm or interest so we poked our bow into tiny Santa Gertrudis Cove nearby just as four boats that were traveling together were pulling up their anchors. We dropped ours, being careful to avoid the numerous rocks and shallows, and once again marveled at our surroundings and good fortune to have the place all to ourselves. After getting settled, we took our dinghy ashore where we made a short hike via a crude trail through the rain forest to a beautiful lake. A cool breeze was blowing so Anne opted not to swim but Mark eased his way out through the rocky shallows for a pleasant swim. We often wonder how primitive man survived without shoes or sandals. Our feet never seem to get tough enough to walk barefoot on all but the smoothest surfaces. Oh well, Mark tells people that his feet are highly evolved for the use of pushing aircraft rudder pedals.
The following morning we set out to round Estavan Pt., one of the last major capes along Vancouver Island’s rugged west coast. Our guide book cautioned of many rocks and reefs that extend well offshore and have claimed many vessels over the years. Thanks to modern navigation equipment, we worried not so much about hitting rocks but about the potential for huge, confused seas created by the strong winds and the swells they produce coming in contact with the shallow waters near the coast. The weather forecasts again included gale force afternoon winds, just as they had for almost every day since rounding Cape Scott. Conditions for us were moderate though and the high point of the day’s sailing was seeing several whales spouting and surfacing not far from us. Once around the point we entered large Hesquiat Harbor and tucked into the small bay at it’s far end. This turned out to be on of our favorite spots so far. We had it all to ourselves and spent two nights there beach combing and watching birds of all kinds. We were a little grossed-out to watch two bald eagles dog-fight with an unlucky seagull, finally taking it down and making a meal of it. Anne wanted to intervene but Mark assured her that it was simply another example of the natural process that goes on constantly around us. While at anchor, Mark re-plumbed our exterior transom shower to have hot water so we can shower there without suffering from the cold water in our tanks and Anne did some boat cleaning and prepared an awesome chicken with Thai peanut and ginger sauce for dinner. While there in Rae Basin, we noticed a significant change in the weather as dense fog returned to the coast with the only sun appearing late in the day. While awaking this morning we soon realized that conditions were near “0-0” and likely to stay that way until at least mid day. Never the less, we departed around eleven o’clock and motored carefully the 15 miles around the next point to famous Hot Springs Cove where we anchored just ahead of a flotilla of boats from the Victoria Yacht Club who were circling the island together. So much for solitude! We pretty much new what to expect as this place, and it’s 1.3 mile cedar boardwalk through the forest to the hot springs, attracts visitors all summer long. Most arrive on high speed inflatable tour boats from the town of Tofino but some fly in in float planes. All in all, the activity around us makes for a good show. After dinner tonight it’s off to the hot springs. While at anchor we noticed few shore-side homes and power lines. This gave us the chance to try our new WiFi extender antenna and were amazed to pick up an internet connection. We’ll try to post this blog entry before we lose the signal. I guess we are getting closer to civilization. Bummer!