Sunday, August 1, 2010

Tofino to Barkley Sound

Our second day at anchor in Tofino's busy harbor started with a late morning dinghy ride to the public dock. We walked a short distance to a coffee house carrying a backpack with our laptop computers and grocery bags. The coffee house offered internet access so we had a chance to post an entry to this blog and check our e-mails while sharing a delicious tuna sandwich. When finished, we continued exploring the town and visited several shops and galleries that were closed the night before. Mark had trouble deciding whether to buy a t-shirt with a beautiful, native-style killer whale image on the front or one from Big Daddy's fish fry restaurant where we had had the worlds best halibut and chips the night before. Although both t-shirts were suitable momentos of our Tofino visit, he opted for the killer whale print. After a quick trip back to the boat we returned to town where we boarded the beach bus at around 5:30pm for a ride to Chesterman's Beach which is one of the famous, local surf spots. Although the surf there was small, the scenery there was beautiful and we watched hordes of young Canadian tourists with their rented boards and wet suits trying to learn to ride the waves. A local resident that we met the first night raved about the fish tacos from a catering type truck that parks near the beach. They sounded so good that we couldn't help but try them before heading back to town. We have eaten fish tacos at restaurants throughout the states and Mexico but found these to be the best ever. We look forward to our time in Mexico and will do our best to find fish tacos there that are even better. Before returning to the boat, we made a last trip to the grocery store where we filled our pack and several bags with provisions.

The next day we continued down the coast toward the town of Ucluelet. Ocean conditions were rolly with swells from the previous day's wind and there were areas of extremely dense fog. Visibility was only about 100 feet when we picked our way through the rocky entrance into Ucluelet Inlet. Our radar and GPS were once again worth their weight in gold and when we started up the narrow channel toward town, Mark noticed two small sport fishing boats drop in behind us like ducklings following their mother. We wondered if they were sitting just outside the entrance, unsure of their position, hoping that another vessel would come along to guide them home. Ucluelet is another small town that is trying to promote tourism and sport fishing to replace the waning commercial fishing industry that once made it a thriving place. We anchored a short distance from it's main marina and took the dinghy ashore for a quick tour. It didn't take long to see what the town offered and buy a few things that we needed to restock "Blue Rodeo's" cabinets. Back at the boat, we watched the entire area be again enveloped by dense fog and were annoyed when a speeding cigarette boat (a la Miami Vice) made several high speed passes nearby with no regard for their safety or any others on the water. We expected Ucluelet to have a little more charm and were a bit disappointed overall.

On July 27th we motored the short distance up the northwestern side of Barkley Sound to Pipestem Inlet and an area known for having a beautiful series of pools and waterfalls accessible at high tide by dinghy or kayak. As we approached an anchorage in a small cove nearby, Mark spied another sailboat and announced with excitement that it was another Deerfoot, the same make as "Blue Rodeo". It turned out to be one of the few production built "Sundeer" yachts that were built in the 1990's. We anchored nearby and were excited to see the owners return and could clearly see similar expressions on their faces when they recognized our boat as one of their sister ships.
After a brief introduction we invited the owners Russ and Gwen and Gwen's brother Mike aboard to see "Blue Rodeo" and to have a drink. What fun it was to compare notes about our two boats! Since so few Deerfoot designs, either production or custom, were built we found it an amazing treat to be sharing an anchorage in such a remote and special part of the world. We joined them later for a tour of their boat, drinks and Gwen's delicious, homemade chocolate layer cake topped with Hagen Daas ice cream. We laughed, told stories and spent the evening getting to know each other. Its magical times like this, in the company of new friends, that continues to make sailing and cruising such a splendid lifestyle. They planned to travel the short distance the next day to the Pinkerton Islands and showed us on a chart a small anchorage that they had used before. Not wanting to part company so soon, we quickly agreed that, after touring the pools and waterfalls the next day, we would join them in the Pinkertons. We have been so fortunate to have had mostly sunny weather and no rain up to this point on our trip but are disappointed by a new trend toward mostly foggy days with only brief, late afternoon clearing. Its during these foggy days that Anne begins to question whether she will ever be able to be aboard a boat without long pants and multiple layers of clothing. She is so looking forward to the warm water and air temperatures that Mexico is famous for. Mark tells her to be careful what she wishes for and can envision a time in the near future when it is too hot and humid to even sleep comfortably aboard the boat. The trip to the falls and pools the next day was extra special as we had the place all to ourselves. The dinghy ride up the creek at high tide revealed a Disney-like scene with fern covered grottos and multiple-tiered pools with cool clear water cascading from one to the next. The area is known as Lucky Falls, a title we felt especially appropriate as everyone who visits feels lucky and privileged to behold such pristine beauty. Despite the cool water temperatures and gray skies we felt compelled to plunge into the pools and scamper over the rocks that surrounded them. We could only imagine how wonderful the place must be on a warm, sunny day. After returning to the boat, we raised our anchor and proceeded to the Pinkerton Islands where we rendezvoued with Russ, Gwen and Mike. Earlier in the day, Anne had extended the invitation for them to join us for dinner aboard "Blue Rodeo". While Mark tidied up, Anne prepared pork tenderloin, roasted vegetables and homemade chocolate chip oatmeal cookies for dessert. Gwen brought a great salad and we shared the wonderful food over lively conversation. Russ started telling jokes that were made especially funny by his ability to mimic many different accents and before long we were all laughing until our jaws ached. Mark joined in and shared many of our favorite jokes that he often forgets until someone like Russ gets the ball rolling.

The next day Russ, Gwen and Mike aboard their boat "A Train" sailed to the town of Bamfield for provisions and returned a day later. While they were away, Mark took the opportunity to work on some rewiring projects and Anne baked wonderful pumpkin, current scones. Cruising is often a mixture of highs and lows and a low point came that afternoon when Anne announced that the toilet did not appear to be flushing properly! Even though Mark had already spent hours crawling in and out of the engine room pulling dozens of wires through it's convoluted spaces, he had no choice but to go in again with rubber gloves, towels and a plastic trash bag to disassemble the offending portion of the toilet's plumbing. Needless to say, he was not a happy camper. A similar low point would occur yesterday when we discovered that we were out of fresh water in "Blue Rodeo's" tanks and our last watermaker pre-filter was nearly clogged. We had saved about two gallons as an emergency drinking supply and were able to make six more before the filter gave up the ghost.

After a second day of boat chores in the Pinkertons, the sun finally peaked out about 5pm and we went for a delightful paddle board tour from our tree-lined anchorage through a marshy meadow up a stream that eventually narrowed to only 3 feet wide. We wound our way through, ducking overhanging branches and the surrounded shrubbery worrying that bears might be watching us from the banks. After returning to the boat, "A Train" returned from their provisioning and extended an invitation for us to join them aboard. We happily excepted, anticipating more stories and laughter over cocktails, but were soon treated to meal fit for kings and queens. They had harvested fresh oysters and caught a number of prawns. Gwen combined them with another delicious salad and, once again, we found ourselves sharing a great meal with our new friends. We parted company that night promising to keep in touch as they were planning an early morning departure for Victoria.

On the 30th we motored the short distance through the northern portion of the Broken Islands and anchored off Reeks Island for the night. Although somewhat disturbed by an occasional wake from fishing boats in the nearby channel, the anchorage was stunning. We watched two seals splashing and cavorting and marveled at our surrounding's change of color as the light faded in the evening. Anne had trouble with the fog and gloom all day and the sun never once made an appearance. She tried to take her mind off of it by cooking a turkey, vegetable lasagna but had conceded that her mood was as dank and gloomy as the gray skies that surrounded us. While we have had incredible weather overall (no rain), it has been disappointing to now have such foggy conditions. I guess this is just another example of the highs and lows of cruising.

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