Chapter 4: Docking & Dashing
We depart Hot Springs Cove with clear blue skies at about 1.00 PM. We are bound for Tofino Post or read comments - 26 miles to the southeast. We are blessed with another 20+ knot northwesterly wind and start sailing as soon as possible. Fog on our way to Tofino 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. Tofino 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 Post or read comments in outer Barkley Sound Post or read comments . 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 free day".
We awake the next morning to a miserably rainy day. We pull up the hook and head for Bamfield Post or read comments 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 them. Airborn and crew on there way to Robbers Passage - Barkley Sound 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 Post or read comments . 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 Post or read comments . 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.]
Beach near Robbers Pasage 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 Post or read comments .
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 Post or read comments. 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 Post or read comments , 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) Post or read comments . 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 Post or read comments. 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 Post or read comments and Wickaninnish Beach Post or read comments . 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 Post or read comments near the outlet of Fatty Basin Post or read comments .
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. Seal in 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 Post or read comments - 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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