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A little downtime in Barkley Sound

We’ve been having a swell time, just meandering around here in Barkley. This is the farthest south we’ll go on the west coast of Vancouver Island; when we sail out of these protected waters next weekend we’ll be pointing our bow south to California.

These are our last days here in the Pacific Northwest and we are savoring each one. Our agenda has been only to enjoy ourselves and do whatever and go wherever sounds right at the time. It feels rather like a vacation. When the morning fog burns off each day the sky is brilliant blue but with that slightly angled gold-tinged light that tells you summer is waning even though it still is warm. The air, sea and land is so pristine here. Even though Barkley is the busiest place we’ve been on the west coast, nature still rules by a huge margin here. We know we will miss it.

On Effingham Island we scrambled up and down a rough trail through ancient forest to the opposite side from our anchorage. On the beach, we clambered over huge beachball sized pebbles until we found the sea cave. The tide was coming in when we found it but we waded through between waves until we were inside and in awe at the delicate ferns dangling from the rock overhead and took a quick peek deep inside the damp rock. Minutes later we were hustling to wade out again in the rising water so we wouldn’t be trapped inside for the night.

The next day we sailed over to Bamfield where we walked up and down the waterfront boardwalk countless times. To the girls it must have seemed like a lifesize Candyland game: paths lined with pennies, buttons and keys, a tree tunnel with artfully painted mushrooms peeking out from the ferns and salal, a feral cat neighborhood and at the very end of the quaint flower-boxed boardwalk a grocery store serving up the biggest scoops of ice-cream we’d encountered yet.

We also took a field trip to the fantastic Bamfield Marine Sciences Center, a world-class marine biology campus. They have a variety of aquariums and touchpools full of local animals the girls really enjoyed. I think the highlight was coming across some students with a small octopus they were about to return to its local home. Leah was enthralled. As we were walking back from the center I realized that I may as well call our first day of boatschool a success.

After playing on gorgeously sandy Brady’s Beach near Bamfield yesterday morning we sailed back across to the Brokens and plopped our anchor down yesterday evening off quiet Nettle Island. As we were eating dinner the fog crept back in and covered us with a huge thick soft blanket and we were glad to be snug in our absolutely still cove. Even the normally rowdy resident sea lions were sailing around the anchorage on their backs with their flippers in the air barely making a sound.

Around 3 am Michael and I were both awoken by the sound of gravel being hurled at the keel of our boat. That was odd, we thought, and went up on deck to look around. The darkest night air above us was still hazy with fog and what we saw below us was something from another world: there was a brilliant florescent green ring undulating around our boat in a nearly perfect circle. Every once in a while cannons of bright green light would come at it and the ring would split apart and veer off in different swirling directions, including right at our boat. The wavering glowing rivers of green would eventually rejoin and the glowing circle of fish around our boat would form again and again. It was like looking down and watching the northern lights. The bark of the feeding sea lions clued us in to the phosphorescent magic we were witnessing.

We had planned on moving on today to Joe’s Bay a few miles away but we couldn’t seem to lift the anchor. The dinghy is still on the foredeck and we’ve enjoyed a day of just puttering around onboard. Reading books to the girls, coloring, playing with toys, making cookies, baking bread, listening in to VHF conversations, completing a few tinkering jobs, listening to songs played randomly on our ipod.

Enjoying our little vacation before the work of traveling south begins again.


posted via HAM radio (www.winlink.org)

One Comment

  1. Laura says:

    What a sweet entry! Meanwhile, I’m almost done with intensive summer biochemistry at Bastyr. Such a contrast. I am grateful to read about your adventures. It opens my mind and heart. Hope your trip south is smooth. -Laura