Our new crew jumped off the Bella Bella water taxi just after noon. We grabbed a lunch at the Shearwater resort restaurant then got a BC fishing license for the crew. We were off the docks by 2PM on the way to Ocean Falls. The "drinking" water at Shearwater resort has always been marginal with its diluted Wisers whiskey color. On the flip side, Ocean Falls water is the tastiest water we've ever drank and feels supersoft in the shower. It was an easy motor to the "Town of the Rain People"under sunny skies for a change. Ocean Falls receives the second most rainfall per year of any city in all of Canada, something like 158 inches per year, so it was unusual to see the sun out when we arrived.
Our Route over the next 5 days.
On the way to the dock we dropped a couple crab traps to soak, just in front of the spillway form the large dam that forms Link Lake behind and above Ocean Falls. Then we tied up and the city run dock and rendezvoused with Rob and Donna on the Selene 47 "Maritime". Maritime is also cruising south from Alaska taking it slow and easy. Looks like we make hang with them for part of our trip.
Once tied up, the Almas', our new Wild Blue crew for a week or so, wanted to tour the town. Bill and Karen are friends from San Luis Obispo. Bill is with Chevron and Karen is a zoologist. They've been aboard for many previous voyages and are a bunch of fun for various reasons. Among them: Karen's great chefing talent, and her nature to examine in detail any plant or animal we happen to run across. For example when we catch a fish, Karen is ready to dissect it and examine its stomach contents.
We walk the town then return for happy hour. Besides Rob and Donna, we ask another cruiser couple Rick and Ann from Kandu to join us. Rick grew up in Ocean Falls from 1956 to the mid-1960's. He lived there in the 3,900 people town's heyday of logging, Crown Zellerbach paper mill and cruise ship tourism. Rick has some compelling stories about Ocean Falls. We learned the when built, the local hotel was the second largest in British Columbia.
Dam behind and above Ocean Falls forms Link Lake.
Spillway adjacent to town.
Friday, August 19, 2011: Ocean Falls to Eucott Bay
We pulled our crab traps and were pleasantly surprised to find 4 keeper crabs. We then set our course for Eucott Bay. The Bay provides excellent shelter as BC Weather is forecasting a 40-gale over the next sevral days so it's best to be prepared. We might actually get a storm this time!
One the way we stop to fish Rattanbury Point near the entrance to Cousins Inlet. The Ocean Falls locals tell us Coho salmon are there. We set out two salmon trolls, one with a herring bait, the other with Alex's lucky Apex Hot Shot lure. After about 40 minutes with two hits on the bait, a good sized Coho takes the lure and Bill and Alex land it. Then we motor on to Eucott Bay while crab and fish are cleaned, cooked and/or processed for the freezer.
Along the way we stop at the Alexander MacKenzie Monument. MacKenzie was an explorer who searched for the Northwest Passage by land. He was the first person to cross North America north of Mexico in 1793, just missing Captain George Vancouver by six weeks. The Monument records where Alex left a sign on the rock that reads "Alex MacKenzie / from Canada / by land / 22d July 1793" using a reddish paint made of vermilion and bear grease. We saw the rock and markings just below the Monument on the north side of Dean Channel.
Alexander MacKenzie Monument. Alex was the first man to cross North America above Mexico in 1797.
Alex left this message for Captain Vancouver. Originally written in "bear grease" the rock has been engraved to memorialize the feat.
Eucott Bay turns out to be a fine place: it's shallow with lots of room for many boats; it's flat calm; it has a hot springs with easy access that does not stink of sulfur; and the the views remind one of Yosemite with a half-dome look-a-like.
Crab from Ocean Falls.
Karen is a happy crew and crab picker.
Processing the catch.
Maritime at anchor in Eucott Bay
Donna, Rob, Bill and Alex enjoy Eucott Hot Springs
Saturday, August 20, 2011: Eucott Bay to Bella Coola
Bella Coola is probably one of the largest communities in the area. It's only about a 3-hour cruise from Eucott. It looks like a fun place to explore. But before we can leave Karen scratches out a delicious crab scramble. Along the way we enjoy tasty crab cakes and excellent vistas in glacier colored waters. Life is rough on the ocean!
The fare: Karen crab scramble.
The View: BC Inland Coastal Waters
Karen's crab cake.
We made it to Bella Coola, about 50 miles inland from the coast. We're tied to the dock. It's raining hard and the wind is blowing only about 20 knots so far. High winds and heavy rains are predicted for the next day or so. Tomorrow, we'll head southwest towards Fitz Hugh Sound and into the yukky weather.