Chapter 4: Docking & Dashing
We depart Hot Springs Cove with clear blue skies
at about 1.00 PM. We are bound for Tofino
- 26 miles to the southeast.
We are blessed with another 20+ knot northwesterly wind and start
sailing as soon as possible.
About one hour out of Hot Springs
Cove a thick fog rolls in. The wind continues to blow, but we
are enshrouded by fog with less than half a mile visibility. These
conditions vary throughout the day, but the fog essentially persists.
We navigate the remainder of the passage using radar and GPS.
Finally, on our approach to Tofino, the fog clears and we are
again in the sun. After navigating the maze of sandbars outside
Tofino, we moor at a government wharf. Tofino is a hopping, busy,
artsy community. This is the first real civilization we have seen
since Port Hardy (if you can call Port Hardy civilization) two
weeks before. The atmosphere here is very different than say Winter
Harbor or Port Hardy. The town almost seems out of place on the
west coast of Vancouver Island. We are all unusually quiet and
I suspect that we are suffering from some kind of ailment that
plagues those who have been away from people for a while. We quickly
remedy this by downing a few brownolas. We head up for dinner
and a night out in the big city of Tofino.
Today is Sebastian's last day on the Patience
for the summer. Tomorrow he will get on a bus to Victoria
and then eventually find his way home to Seattle. As such, we
are determined to throw him a great goodbye party. We end up at
the only bar in town - the Sandbar Pub. Suffice it to say, the
next day we barely rise in time to catch Sebastian's bus. After
sending Sebastian off, we have breakfast and then commence re-stocking
the Patience. Willard and Christalini go to the grocery
store (the Coop) and I go to the liquor store. I find out the
hard way that lugging three flats of Blue from the liquor store
to the Patience is a back breaking endeavor. After we have
all the provisions completely stored on the Patience, Willard
and Christalini find out that the Coop will deliver food to boats
at the marina free of charge. Oh well, the boat is well stocked
and we have had our first real exercise since the Patience
fitness program started and ended back in Queen Cove. We leave
and head for the gas dock. At the gas dock we fill our propane
and water tanks and get accosted by the Harbor Master. It turns
out that we had accidentally forgotten to pay for our moorage,
and the Harbor Master chased us all the way to the gas dock. Willard
pays, apologizes and gets us off the hook. While this was an honest
mistake in our case, the author notes that non-accidental "docking
& dashing" (coined by Willard) at Tofino is probably
not recommended. During our conversation, the Harbor Master noted
that he was planning on sending the Canadian RCMP after us had
he not caught us at the gas dock.
Anyway, we get under way at about 1.15 PM. Despite
the Harbor Master incident, we give Tofino two thumbs up.
The place is very artsy-fartsy and full of liberals, whale watchers,
surfers and various other randoms. It has a great grocery store
and bar. You really cant beat it. I really wish we had more time
to stay at Tofino and explore Clayoquot Sound. It is evident that
the weather is going to pot. Because of this and our still throbbing
hangovers, we motor all the way to Effingham Bay
in outer Barkley Sound
. We throw out the ground tackle have barbecued burgers and
baked potatoes. We hit the sack before 10PM with it raining hard
outside. We are greatly anticipating tomorrow - a "hangover
We awake the next morning to a miserably rainy day.
We pull up the hook and head for Bamfield
on the southwest end
of Barkley Sound and moor at a government wharf. The Patience
will be spending the next ten or twelve days exploring Barkley
Sound. At Bamfield, we will also be facilitating another major
Patience crew change. Willard and Christalini will be departing
while G. Risby and three new crew members will be joining us.
The three new crew members are my twin brothers Ben and Barney
and a sailing friend, Ted. We perform a car switch similar to
Winter Harbor and are once again re-staffed. We spend much of
the day inside listening to music and reading due to the rain.
The next morning, some friends of mine, Ernest and
his wife Clancy arrive in their sailboat Airborn with their
son Brian. We will spend the next two or three days cruising with
Ernest and I take the Avon over to a beach (west of West
Bamfield) and Clancy, Ted and Brian walk over and meet us. After
exploring the beautiful beach, the crews of the two boats have
a leisurely chicken fajita dinner on the Patience. We awake
the following morning to vastly improved weather conditions. Both
boats depart for Robbers Passage
. Ernest, Clancy and Ted hoist
the Airborn's spinnaker for the short five mile sail. The
Patience follows under power and takes some pictures. We
end up mooring at the Port Alberni Yacht Club
. The Yacht Club
is situated in a beautiful location. We have a steak and mashed
potato potluck. After the dinner is through, we have a few SeaBreezes
while listening to non-stop Doors and Neil Diamond.
The next morning is beautiful and we go exploring.
Port Alberni Yacht Club is on an island and there are trails leading
around the island. We walk the trails and explore some of the
beaches with Ernest, Brian and Ted. There is a moored, half sunk
freighter in the bay across from the Yacht Club. What the freighter
is doing there, we have no idea. [UPDATE 2002: Per one of my readers,
this ship was/is the Sea Shepherd II of Captain Paul Watson fame,
which was basically abandoned for unpaid moorage near Ucluelet and
later moved to Robbers Passage in Barkley Sound. Originally the ship
was a replacement for Sea Shepherd, which Watson scuttled somewhere
in the Pacific.]
Later I take the Avon and Ben
takes his kayak and we continue exploring. We find the sea cave
/ tunnel that the others found the previous night. This geological
formation has been dubbed "hole in the wall" by the
crew. At high tide it is possible to drive the Avon completely
through the hole in the wall. Near the sea cave is a beautiful
white sand beech. The water around the beach is different shades
of blue and green and the whole place makes you feel like you
are in the Caribbean - not the west coast of Vancouver Island.
The great weather helps. Eventually we all head back to the sailboats
and depart for the Pinkerton Islands
We have an uneventful seven nautical mile motor to
the Pinkertons. We anchor in one of the middle anchorages and
tie a stern line to a tree on shore. The Airborn and crew
raft up and join us about 30 minutes later. That night we eat
shish-ka-bobs prepared by Clancy and settle down to a few tricks
of Hearts. The cabin echoes with the chant of "flush her
out" as some junior Hearts players attempt the strategy of
trying to force the showing of the Queen of Spades. It is becoming
evident that Jose is the champion Hearts player. That night we
try making a few White Russians with our cheap imitation Baileys,
but are hampered by the fact that we have nothing onboard that
will make the White Russians even slightly gray, let alone white.
That night I attempt sleeping outside, but have to abort as the
mosquitoes nearly eat me alive.
The next morning I awake with a bit of a cold and
swollen with multiple mosquito bites. Ben and I embark in the
Avon for an exploration of the Broken Group
The Broken Group
is the chain of islands that fill the center of Barkley Sound.
All of the islands in the Broken Group are part of a national
park. Weather conditions are excellent and the water around the
islands within the Broken Group are like glass. We explore for
a few hours and nearly get completely lost several times. Without
a GPS, all of the thousands of islands look very similar. Ben
and I see some excellent sea caves near Gibraltar Island
, but finally decide to head back to the mother ship. After we get back,
Ben goes for a swim and the rest of us play a few more tricks
of Hearts. The water temperature is a reasonable 62 - 64 degrees
Fahrenheit. Ernest catches a few crabs in his crab pot and mercilessly
executes them via a beating against the side of the Airborn's
Livingston. The tree-loving crew onboard Patience listens
as Ernest tell us that the crabs felt no pain.
At about 3.00 PM we depart the Pinkertons bound for
Ucluelet (pronounced You-Cool-It)
. The trip to Ucluelet, while
not far in nautical miles, proves to be longer than anticipated
due to adverse winds and current. The weather however remains
excellent. We dock at the "52-Step" public dock which
is the first dock on your way in the inlet. There are some somewhat
unsavory characters hanging out, so we padlock the Avon to the
Patience's bobstay to prevent theft. We walk up to town and I
get to call Amy for the first time in days. She and Barkley (the
dog) are doing fine. We have dinner at Smiley's and play some
5-pin bowling. I have to say that the bowling was pretty lame
and the food wasn't much better. We finish the evening at about
10.00 PM. Ernest, Clancy, Brian and Ted will be leaving the next
morning on Airborn at 4.00 AM - bound eventually for Seattle.
Ucluelet and Bamfield are the only real towns in
Barkley Sound. Bamfield is very quaint, but not much of a town.
It is a strange town in that it has two sides - the east and the
west sides. The two sides of the town are separated by an inlet.
The only way across the inlet is by boat. This makes transit between
the two sides of the town a little more complicated than normal
for a city of this size. The east side of the town is fairly commercial
while the west side of the town is more touristly - complete with
latte stand and a wood boardwalk that runs the entire length of
the town. There are a few general stores in Bamfield, but they
do not carry much variety and the prices are steep. For example,
a single 9 volt battery in Bamfield costs C$ 5.69. Much of the
excessive pricing and lack of variety is probably due to the fact
that the road to Bamfield is long and unpaved.
Bamfield is also the northwest endpoint of what is
called the West Coast Trail
This forty mile trail was originally
built as a lifesaving trail. The origins of the trail date back
to the wreck of the M.V. Valencia where many people lost there
lives because their rescuers could not get to them. I hiked the
top 20 miles of the trail back in the early 1980's. Hiking the
trail is a wonderful experience and I would recommend it to anyone.
Ucluelet on the other hand is much larger but less
quaint. Ucluelet has a well stocked Coop and has stores that carry
marine supplies. Ucluelet is connected to the rest of the world
by a paved highway. When I was younger, I was lucky enough to
get to spend several summers out in this part of the world with
my cousins Willard and Christalini. At the time they had an A-Frame
cabin near Ucluelet. We spent the summers working on the cabin
in the morning and surfing at the nearby beaches in the afternoon.
If you can tolerate the cold or have a wetsuit, you will find
excellent surfing at both Wreck Bay
and Wickaninnish Beach
. Both are a short drive from Ucluelet.
Anyway back to the story at hand. The following morning,
we awake and the Airborne is has left headed for Seattle.
Today the Patience will be heading to Bamfield where we
will make yet another crew exchange. My brothers Ben and Barney
will be heading back to Seattle. My friend Henley will be joining
up with us via Kenmore Air float plane. This will leave Jose,
Henley and myself for the final leg of the journey. The weather
remains beautiful at 70 - 80 degrees Fahrenheit. There is a nice
15 - 20 knot northwesterly wind blowing and we motor sail outside
the Broken Group towards Bamfield. This is Ben and Barney's first
experience sailing in the open ocean and they look a little green.
We pull into Bamfield and pick up Henley and drop off Barney and
Ben. We decide to head for Useless Inlet - deep within the bowels
of Barkely Sound. After we navigate our way down the inlet, we
anchor with a stern line in complete solitude at the very end
of Useless Inlet
near the outlet of Fatty Basin
It must be noted that during the approach to our
anchorage, the Patience Mercedes diesel did the unthinkable -
it died without warning. Upon further investigation I determine
that I had screwed up the returns on the fuel lines when I switched
tanks the previous day. I correct the problem, bleed the motor's
fuel lines and get the engine restarted just as things are starting
to look a little problematic. We cook up some great steaks brought
in by Henley and then watch Apollo 13 on the ships VCR. I sleep
outside and there are very few mosquitoes. Useless Inlet is a very
nice, quiet, protected, secluded anchorage with good holding ground.
The next day we awake to continued excellence in
the weather category. All three of us pile into the Avon and head
off to explore Fatty Basin.
Fatty Basin is accessed via a narrow
passage (only navigable by dingy) with a strong current. Fatty
Basin is very cool and appears to be the home of several seals
and lots of starfish. After exploring for an hour or so, we head
back to the Patience and weigh anchor. We are bound for
an anchorage on West Jarvis Island
- within the Broken Group.
We motor all the way. The trip is uneventful, but enjoyable. We
are looking for a solitary anchorage recommended by one of our
cruising guides. The chart makes entry to the bay look possible
via the more westerly passage. We poke our nose in and discover
that it isn't - use the more northerly entrance. Once in, we drop
the anchor and Henley secures a stern line to a rock. There is
room for one boat and one boat only. This is a very nice spot.
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