Saturday July 21st.
Note: Smith Sound in the sunshine was a beautiful place. Full of great islands to explore in the future. I would love to return one day. The Fitzhugh sound is fish and whales everywhere.
Never underestimate the motivational powers of whales, Norwegian goat cheese and venison Jerky!! Yesterday, after a late start (noon) from the sun on Brown island we headed 27 miles up the Fitzhugh sound, despite being tired by 2:00 pm paddling against current in the clouds and rain. How did we do it?? Norwegian Ekte Geitost, (brown goat cheese in thick slices), venison jerky, 1 fruit and nut chocolate bar and whales!! 27 miles in the rain and wind only 1 land stop. We paddled until 7:00pm. The last 3-4 hours just went by….
We past Addenbrooke lighthouse last evening, the tide was too low to make a landing so we will have to have a light house visit at another place. We pushed on to this island landing at 7:00pm in the rain.
News Flash….. our moving average bumped up to a whopping 4.1 mph. Its All slow, just different shades of slow!
Saturday morning: 6:05 am. The birds have discovered our yellow tent propped up in the moss, salal, lily of the valley and wild camas flowers crammed between a few trees and moss covered buried logs on this tiny island near Kwakime Point on the Fitzhugh sound. I can hear the hummingbird buzzing by business-like trying to figure out what this bright yellow object is. Other birds are doing the same and making their calls. Stellar Jays perhaps? I saw a curious group of 3 of them here last night as we set off to set up the tent. The lowering tide is gurgling in the background as a few insects buzz outside the tent along with the birds. Today we are going to paddle to Namu a native fishing village to check it out and get more water. Then decide where to spend the night, somewhere between Namu and Shearwater. We both look forward to the civilized services Shearwater is said to have. Showers, salad, ice cream and a store to do some resupply on energy bars, oatmeal, butter, flour and wireless service so we can update the blog and call home. This morning more grey skies, it rained some last night, but it’s not blowing yet and not very cold.
Saturday July 21st: Afternoon. We arrived at Namu. Just a fascinating place. Traci C’s Wagoner’s guide book from 7 years ago says; “go now before it has disappeared”. Well it’s still there. Many of the buildings have fallen in and plants trees and moss cover almost everything.
When we padded up asking about the café Rene the dock master said; “You are about 40 years too late.” Oh well, it will have to be instant mash potatoes again. Pete and Rene run the dock at Namu. There is this amazing fire pit and floating kitchen meal area that we slept under complete with whale bones, step fungi, and other flotsam and jetsam that they have collected over the years. Rene’s floating green house is really unique. I asked for a tour and she explained how once each year she takes sea stars and clippings from plants and lines each garden bed with them for fertilizer. She has several frost peach trees full of small fuzzy green peaches, a Bing cherry with ripe cherries hanging on it, vegetable bins and a multi variety apple tree. All planted in wooden crates. In addition to that, she has wonderful raspberry beds and flowers outside on the dock. I had fun casting from their dock trying to catch one of “Pete’s children” who were returning. 4-6 pound Sockeye salmon that would tease me by jumping all around the bay and at times right over my lure without hitting it. Despite my fishing failure, it was so fun standing up on the dock in dry clothes casting. I wasn’t even interested in paddling over to the mouth of the stream and getting serious about it. I was quite pleased to have my kayak tethered to the dock and remain standing on my feet casting. I spent the rest of the afternoon chatting with captain Philip and trading hunting and fishing stories with him. It was a blast. He has so many amazing stories. Pete, Rene and Philip are all from Lasqueti island. Thank you to Pete for the fried clams and the camping suggestions and hospitality.
According to Philips wife kelp fed venison from Malcolm island are the best! They congregate on the beach in the North and eat the washed up kelp at the Port Hardy end. Now that is pretty cool!
Mile 483, Namu
Conditions: spotty rain/some clearing, mid 50s, barometer 1017
Shorter day today. Fairly easy paddle, but not enough food in our bodies and a bit tired after a couple hard days. Turned into Namu; numerous decaying docks and buildings, a couple of modern boats moored at the docks, and fish jumping everywhere. T2 is in fishy salmon heaven. We came to the dock, met Rene the dockmaster and asked about food (we’d heard rumors there might be a café). “You’re about 40 years too late” was the response! Well, it was worth a try. We got the ok to bring our boats to dock, got some dry clothes on and food in, and T2 was out fishing. I just chilled on shore. We spent a rather lazy afternoon, and decided to ask permission to camp on the dock – camping options within the next ten miles or so are not promising. So easy day today, perhaps a bit more of a push tomorrow.
We chatted with Philip, who is here to fish. He was working on the rig for his gill-netter, but he was quite taken with T2 and her competent outdoorsy ways – fishing, hunting, food preparation and all. I don’t think he got much work done after we came.
Rene brought us some dungeness crab to go with our dinner – score! She and her husband Pete have built a nice living area, complete with an amazing fruit and veggie garden, including a hothouse. A bright spot of new growth in the decaying environment.
In the evening a sailboat, the Saracen, pulled in. Leslie and Don, from Vancouver, also heading to Ketchikan. Leslie is president of the Vancouver Sea Kayaking Association, and has been working on updating the BC marine trail book – content saved in old dated SW issues (e.g. Quark Express. Egad!) She brought us some fresh baked bread, still warm. Double score! We scarfed it down before it could cool.
Mark came down to briefly visit; he works here summers as dock support. He brought wood for the fire, built it up in and old harbor buoy that has been cut in half. Nothing like a blow torch for getting a fire started. Then Pete brought us fried clams (we are raking it in tonight!) and talked about the area and the salmon returning. “My children are coming home!” he enthused. He told us about protecting the local stream from netting and fishing, and the salmon are thriving. He was highly amused by academic types coming to study why that might be happening… He also told us about some of his favorite spots ahead of us. Fancy Cove at the north end of Hunter Island. Strom Cove, West side of John Island. He also warned us to leave Klemtu on a flood tide, or fight big currents.
After dinner we briefly joined Don and Leslie on their sailboat. They have a computer on board, and we were able to load T2’s pictures from her goPro camera. It was good to see that not only was the camera working, she had some pretty good film clips recorded. We were just taking it on faith that the camera was working since it has no playback capabilities.
They also recommended some books for us to check out when we returned to civilization:
Kayaking Routes of the Pacific NW Coast, Peter McGee
65 Sunsets, Rick Davies
Paddle to the Arctic, Don Starkell
Kabloona in a Yellow Kayak, Victoria Jones
It was good to meet some fellow paddlers and gearheads.