Thursday, July 14, 2011

Inland to Zeballos and Nootka

Checking on the weather at Kyuquot things were looking a little windy; time perhaps to head inland and circumnavigate Nootka Island? We headed up Esperanza inlet, a near 40 mile run to Zeballos; a place probably relatively infrequently visited by cruisers. There is a public wharf and thankfully there was enough space in the deep-enough water end. Without our bow thruster we were taking extra care docking, especially with wind or current.
Once we had tied up, there right in front of the dock was young bruin, taking his time chewing on the grass. We went exploring Zeballos, population 200. In the 1930's there were 1,500 people here for the gold rush, but it didn't last long. The remains of the town retain the old wild west character and ancient facades, and the walking trails are nice and wild. Linda at the Other Place Cafe will cook a superb breakfast, lunch or supper for you at virtually any time of day. The museum gives the history of a town which showed great promise for a while. In recent times there have been mysterious fires which have destroyed various buildings in the town; likely to be the indicator of social challenges which are endemic to the area. Although Vancouver Island has a sophisticated old colonial City - Victoria - at its southern tip, in the north and west there are tiny communities which struggle for their existence. Vancouver Island is about one quarter of the size of England - puts things into perspective; and there are some very remote areas. Our next stop, Tahsis, is another example of a community facing huge survival issues. A few years ago there was a lumber mill here and a population of 3,000. Now there are less than 300 people, and a tour of the virtually abandoned town was grim. Reminded me immediately of England.
Last Mango was docked at Tahsis right next to the Smokehouse Restaurant at the superbly run Westview Marina, run by Cathy and John. This is primarily a sport fishing lodge but they make all cruisers most welcome; the lodge is out of the town area and in its own cocoon. Dawn will handle your lines for you and cook a superb supper later. The girls will ensure that there is a steady flow of good ale to your patio table. And the fish coming in from the sport fishers were impressive; good size salmon and halibut.
The stop at Westview gave me an opportunity to investigate the bow thruster problem. An email to the Nordhavn Owners' Group gave me an immediate series of diagnostics to investigate - the experience around is such an excellent resource and it is essential to be plugged into the group which is exceedingly well run and moderated by Milt Baker. It seemed that the motor was running but not connected to the turbine. Taking the motor out I discovered that the three bolts securing the flexible coupling had all worked themselves free and were lying around the housing. Thankfully I was able to reconnect and tighten...........and we have our bow thruster again. Lack of it was good for boat handling experience but not good for the nerves.

It was good timing that there was
a "Rock around the Dock" night so it was great to play with Perry for his booking; then with Gooey-Duck Dave - a great new guitar player who is really into the old style of blues. And then we also played with Whelan, a BC lighthouse-keeper who has more stories than anyone we have yet met on this trip! On the run down the inlet into Nootka Sound we saw three bears nosing the beaches at low tide. Pulling into one small beach for a closer look we saw something else..............yes, a wolf, right there at the edge of the forest. A quick look around and he was gone. But the first wolf we have seen in the wild. We anchored at Friendly Cove, Nootka Island.

Nootka is another one of those locations full of intrigue and history which one comes across in BC. Friendly Cove has been continuously populated for over 4,000 years and when Captain Cook arrived in 1778 there were an estimated 4,000 people living there under Chief Maquinna. The little church has stained glass windows donated by the Government of Spain, to commemorate the signing of the Nootka Convention in 1790. But for that treaty, Vancouver Island could have been called Quadra and the local language Spanish. The treaty set aside Spain's claims to the Pacific North West (voyages dating from the 1490's) in favour of claims by Britain (Sir Francis Drake in 1579 and later, Cook). It has been all very well for the explorers to arrive in the eighteenth century and then the colonists to follow on later. Cook's log records a successful trading session on 29 March 1778; fifteen years later relations were fragile; Maquinna took the ship Boston on 22 March 1803, massacred her crew and seized her armoury. Issues between the descendants of the ingredient peoples continue to this day and no doubt will be around for many years to come.

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