Bear Sighting!

Did that get your attention?

I am filled with a sense of pride as the Alaska coast becomes visible and we cross the Canadian border back into the United States.  Before we left on this trip, my longest trip on the boat was to Santa Cruz from San Francisco.  I had never experienced an overnight passage, nor had I crossed over into another country by boat.  Since leaving San Francisco, we have travelled well over 1,500 nautical miles.

The trip from Anacortes to Ketchican took us more than 600 nautical miles, through some of the most remote inlets and passages of the Canadian coast.  It feels as though time has slowed over the past 20 days.  We have seen more waterfalls than buildings, more wildlife than humans.  And Alaska has certainly not disappointed us!  We were welcomed with bear sightings, eagles, otters and many other animals as we explored upon arrival.  

Remote British Columbia

We spent the following 13 nights since our last post anchored in bays and inlets that could be mistaken for a deserted tropical island, small docks that display the local pride, and ghost towns.  

The first stop was Port Harvey.  We were met by George, the owner and his dog.  There is one dock, long enough for 12-14 boats. 3 other boats were visiting, in addition to our flotilla group.  After George helped us tie up, he described the work he was doing to repair the facilities.  He explained that the main barge sank last winter so he was rebuilding the office and restaurant.  We were impressed that he was taking on this project on his own.  There was a strong sense of pride and pleasure that George took in his work.  We cant wait to come back to see it completed!

George was a wonderful host.  He baked homemade pizza for the group in his new Italian imported pizza oven.  It may have been the best pizza I have ever eaten.  Even Dougal,  the staunch no sugar, no grain man tore into 3 pieces of the thick, sweet crust with 2 cheeses and pepperoni topping.  We were a satisfied bunch.  

We had a similar experience the next day at Pierre’s Echo Bay.  In addition to the docks, there was a lodge, small store (not yet stocked), several Adirondack chairs for lounging, and a soaking tub up the small hill.  The lodge colors are a vibrant contrast to the evergreens and shear granite-like cliffs in the background.  

The docks at Echo Bay

Echo Bay
Echo, a standard poodle and resident dock dog, led us to the trail that would take us to Billy’s museum.  It was almost like walking through a rainforest.  This part of the island was lush with green trees, ferns, moss and other growth.  We scrambled over protruding and overlapping tree roots.  In parts, the roots served as stair steps as we climbed up the path.  Trekking to the museum was almost as fun as the destination.  

At the other end, we were met by Billy and his dog.  Billy is a modest, soft spoken fella.  As we marveled over his collection, he would quietly say something like “ya, that old thing”.   Cass was fascinated by the typewriter and other antique instruments.  Billy opened the door to the one room school replica he built, where we found news articles about the students who had completed their education on the island, some traveling to school by row boat, long ago.  Although the school had shutdown over 10 years ago, it was still set up as if the students had just left for the day, with little school desks, a chalkboard, and children’s books.  I could almost imagine 4 or 5 students joyfully running out of the small schoolhouse and down to the docks at the end of a school day.    

Treasures Inside Billy’s Museum

Image of Billy Proctor as a young boy

Echo Bay Schoolhouse Replica
Inside the schoolhouse
We found the same hospitality of Port Harvey at Pierre’s Echo Bay.  At the end of the day, Pierre cooked up a seafood feast for the visiting boats.  We were spoiled with fresh crab, shrimp creole, and plenty of sides.  Dougal and Cass took advantage of the soaking tub after dinner.  A perfect way to end a perfect day.

Hot tub time at Pierre’s Echo Bay!

Soaking tub overlooks the docks

We spent the next four nights in some amazing anchorages, each with no shortage of trails to trek, passages to explore, and new corners of the inside passage to discover.  We started to get into a groove of beachcombing, fishing, and paddle boarding.  We explored the lagoon at Blunden Harbour by dinghy, went beachcombing on the white crushed shell beaches in Fury Cove, hiked on the lush trails at Pruth Bay (the Hakai Institute graciously welcomes boaters to tie up and explore on shore), and enjoyed paddle boarding along the coast of Codville Lagoon in search of wildlife.  We also followed the unmaintained trail at Codville Lagoon to Sagar Lake, where Cass was brave enough to take a dip in the lake.    

Dougal and I agreed that on our way back, we would spend a few days at Fury Cove or Pruth Bay.  Although we were excited to keep on towards Alaska, there was not enough time to take in all there was to be explored in these coves. 

Fury Cove

Building castles on the North Beach while anchored in Pruth Bay

Exploring Blunden Harbour by Dinghy (Photo by Ralph on Rhapsody)
Cassidy takes a dip after the hike on the over grown trail up to Sagar Lake on King Island (anchored at Codville Lagoon)

Ocean Falls was a trip.  The first impression is the waterfall from the dam in the distance that powers the hydroelectric generators.  The sound from this solid white tower of water can be heard from far away.  A booming town was built up a hundred or so years ago around the paper mill.  In the seventies, the paper mill was shut down and the area became a ghost town almost overnight.  The 5,000+ population was reduced to the 20 or so that now live there year-round. 

Ocean Falls Welcome Sign

Decaying Ocean Falls Lodge

Nearly Normal Norman has a collection of artifacts found in abandoned homes and buildings in town.  He guided us through his old, dark, wood building, full of pieces of Ocean Falls History.  He is a character.  I got a kick out of reading through the old hotel logs with him.   The logs, dating back 50 or so years, document the goings on at the hotel.   The logs are written in great detail, including one encounter with a rowdy guest.  Room 225 called for more beer.  I explained that we do not have room service.  What am I paying for?  Give me the Manager!  Yes, I will get the Manager.  Normans collection helps tells the story of the town forgotten.  

Reading through old hotel logs with “Nearly Normal Norman” in Ocean Falls

We spent a night at Butedale, which is another abandoned town. In its heyday, Butedale had a population of 400 or so to support the operations of the salmon cannery.  The cannery was shutdown in the early 1950s and the infastructure has since deteriorated.  The guidebooks accurately describe the area to be in more advanced state of decay compared to Ocean Falls.  

The cove is situated next to a cascading waterfall.  There were 7 boats, including Safe Harbor and Airship rafted side by side, tied up snuggly to the single floating dock.  We were the last boat to arrive, affording us the unobstructed view of the waterfall.  

Floating Tree Dock Extension

This cat is the only sign of life in Butedale

Evidence of the town that Butedale once was

We spent a night anchored in front of a beautiful waterfall in Lowe Inlet.  Its too early in the season but apparently when the salmon are running, its possible to watch bears feeding below the falls from the anchorage.  Its on the list of spots to revisit on the way south.

Anchorage and Falls at Lowe Inlet

We continued on to Rescue Bay and Cassidy was excited to try out her new, pink fishing rod.  She caught 9 fish on her first day out!  They were all too small to keep but it was a great training grounds.  She is looking forward to catching salmon up in Alaska!

Angler Apprentice

The weather turned on us as we approached Kelp Passage.  But that didn’t keep us from exploring Kelp Passage by dinghy.  Despite our foul weather gear, we were all soaked….and freezing when we got back to the boat.  Warmer gloves is on the shopping list for Ketchikan!  We met up on the Airship/Safe Harbour raft-up in Kelp Passage, and we all bid each other a fair crossing as the next day would bring us to Foggy Bay in Alaska.  

The name Foggy Bay was appropriate as we drenched in pea soup thick fog.  As we explored Foggy Bay, we had our first bear sighting!  

Foggy Passage

Foggy Bay

Bear sighted in Foggy Bay!

We immediately felt the stark contrast as we approached Ketchikan.  But I will save that for the next post….

1 thought on “Bear Sighting!”

  1. Karin Weishaup

    WOW!  A bear sighting!  The scenery is gorgeous.  The little bays are wonderful and what fabulous adventures you are having.  Happy Trails, Love Mom/Bubu

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