We spent the next two days doing school work, playing games, working on sewing projects and exploring the Broken Group with our dinghy. The weather was not that great and we did not want to run into nasty weather kayaking 3 miles from our boat. The dinghy with its 20hp motor allows us to cover a lot of ground quickly and can handle some otherwise uncomfortable choppy seas. We found many interesting beaches that allowed us to get out and stretch our legs. At one point as we traveled amongst the islands I asked Victoria to count how many islands she could see at that moment. She counted 31! Each of those 31 had its own unique characteristics that make this place so special. We drove around at least half of them and we went ashore on a few of them. Many had beautiful forests that encompassed every square inch of the island with trees actually growing right down to the shoreline. Many had large sea caves that inspired our curiosity and begged us to get as close as the ocean swell would allow. Some had small patches of sandy beaches that allow us to safely put ashore while others were surrounded with rocks and reefs that threatened to (along with the ocean waves) crush any boats that got too close to their shores. The one thing that they all have in common is the life. Life is everywhere, on every square inch of land and sea. Trees grow out of rock, tiny fish schools are seen often, Starfish inhabit every rock and reef. Giant green sea anemones line the rocks just below the surface. We have always wanted Victoria and Alexander to appreciate nature and all that it is capable of. In this place it is impossible not to appreciate nature’s beauty, power and tenacity.
After a few days of heavy rain and lots of board games we emerged to a freshly washed down boat and the desire to continue our exploration to another island. We raised the anchor and sailed out of Pipestream inlet. We sailed south through the Broken Group of islands to Effingham Island. Here we found a beautiful, protected bay that had other boats in it. The weather was still not exactly as one would expect for a late June almost July day. The weather was in the mid 60’s (Fahrenheit) and there was a thick layer of clouds above. Ashley and I joked that we will appreciate this cloud cover when we are on the other side of Vancouver Island. The mountains of Vancouver Island force the west side into having many days of clouds and rain (just like what we were experiencing). The eastside of the island enjoys many sunny and dry days earning the nickname of the Sunshine Coast. Well we will soon be on the sunshine coast so we will enjoy the cool days while we have them. We spent the rest of our travel day relaxing on the boat and in the evening we went ashore to the small beach at the head of Effingham Bay. Victoria, Alexander and Ashley explored the beach while I reconnoitered the trail for next day’s hike. It is quickly becoming apparent that our expectations of a “hiking trail” need to be adjusted.
Most of our hiking has been on trails that, to some degree, one has to be aware of the crowds that use them. The trails in Barkley Sound are much different. More people probably hike Mt Si (our favorite hike in Washington) in one day than hike all the trails in Barkley sound in 5 years! There is so much undergrowth in the forest that the “trail” is very difficult to follow. A machete is a must have. If there are trail markers they are few and far between. This makes for very challenging yet exciting hiking that really feels like true exploring. The kids absolutely love the constant climbing over and under all of the fallen logs. They enjoy and benefit from helping to find where the trail continues or for the next trail marker. The markers are often just pieces of beach debris someone has hung from a tree branch.
The next day we loaded up our pack with snacks, bear spray, towels, and mosquito netting. We made our way through the forest and over the island. The hike was beautiful and slow going. But before long we exited the thick forest on a beautiful beach facing the open Pacific. The kids spent the day building beach forts with the endless amount of driftwood, exploring hundreds of vibrant life filled tidepools and climbing on the surf carved granite rocks lining the beach. We returned to the boat for a late lunch and decided to kayak over to an island that had a nice sandy beach. We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring that island and its beaches. We met a family that was on a kayaking vacation as well as a couple anchored nearby who had taken their kids on a 8 year circumnavigation 15 years ago. Small world.
After a morning of school work for the kids and boat chores for the parents we decided to make our way up Cataract Creek on foot. After yesterday’s swimming we all were motivated to see if we can find another great swimming spot, this time in fresh water. We kayaked to where the boat would take us no further. After pulling up the kayaks well above the creek’s edge we made sure to announce our presence for any bears that may be still in the area. We searched and searched for a route through the forest but the extreme undergrowth made breaking brush impossible without a machete and if we had one with us it would still be unbearably slow going. So we walked up the stream bed. The stream bed was about 25 ft wide with dense walls of forest on both sides. The stream was probably running at about 25% of its maximum so there was room to walk in most parts if you did not want to walk in the water. If walking in the water is what you are looking for (and Victoria and Alexander ALWAYS want to walk in water) then it was perfect! The water was about 68 degrees, anywhere from ankle deep to 3ft, and not much more than a fast trickle. The rocks were very slippery so care had to be taken and we were not going to break any hiking speed records. As we made our way up the stream Alexander would find a pool that was waist deep and asked if could stop and swim for awhile. Dan kept encouraging everyone on and promising that we would stop and swim on the way back if we were not able to make it to the lake. As we rounded a corner we saw a waterfall ahead and it began to look like we were not going to make it to the lake and would have to settle for shallow pools for our swim/bath. Yet as we got closer we saw that at the base of the small waterfall was a magnificent bathing pool. We were all so excited. The pool was about 25ft by 25ft. It gradually went from ankle deep to 10ft deep. There was no wood in the pool so we did not have to worry about any creepy crawly leeches. The water was super refreshing and the location sublime. After an hour or so of swimming, frolicking and bathing a dark cloud blotted out the clear blue skies above and quickly raindrops followed, thunder came moments later. This was our hint to wrap up our hike/swim adventure and make our way home
We are anchored on the outside of Pipestream inlet due to the fact that there few, if any, places to safely anchor as you go deeper into the inlet. Often times when there are steep slopes on the sides of a waterway those same steep slopes continue into the water making for deep water and therefore situations not conducive to anchoring. We need the depths to be between 70 and 20ft to safely anchor and we also need an island or land mass to break up a long fetch of wind or water. Pipestream inlet offered none of these. So instead of taking Samadhi up the inlet we all loaded up into the dinghy and began our exploration. It took no time at all to find a breathtaking and very well hidden bay. If one were driving by any more than a few hundred feet from its entrance they would just drive on by for the entrance is so narrow that it is very difficult to see that there is indeed an opening. We entered this very, very narrow entrance of no more than 30 feet wide and made our way into a bay that opened up before us revealing calm, shallow, warm water and more small beaches to explore. We beached the dinghy and explored the little bay by foot. After a time we were wading out into the shallows catching the bigger crabs, looking at the bigger fish and finding new and interesting shells. Dan, Victoria, Alexander and Ranger all ended up swimming in the water for about an hour before dinner time called and we had to get back to Samadhi.
June 24th 2019
Pipestream Inlet is a beautiful gorge like slice of water between two towering mountains. It boasts temperate rainforests on all sides that grow right up to the water’s edge. At the entrance to the inlet is a small cove created by four small islands. We anchored behind one of these islands in a lovely spot called Cataract Cove. This amazing spot protected us from the westerly winds and seemingly engulfed us into the surrounding nature. We had views of the setting sun. We had 3000 ft Black Mt looking directly down on us. We had the constant song of a nearby waterfall. We were anchored so close to shore that we could hear the birds in the trees and the buzz of the bees going about their days. The kids spent the first few hours exploring a small oyster covered rock that allowed them to find crabs and wade into the water. They also called out each of the many sighting of large jelly fish in the bay. Just around a small island in our cove was Cataract stream that flowed from a nearby lake. We inflated Victoria and Alexander’s kayaks and we all paddled up the creek. In less than 5 minutes from our boat we came upon a mama black bear and her two cubs. We watched them from about 100ft off shore. The kids both said that they were a little nervous but excited to see a bear in its natural environment. The two cubs were a cute little bonus. We continued up the creek and as it became too shallow for the boats we came across another black bear scratching itself against a tree. We watched it roll in the grassy clearing and then meander into the dense forest. As we paddled back to the boats we all commented on how much life we were surrounded by. There were many shades of greens and browns from the forests on all sides of us including from above as many of the trees reached across the stream we were in. We were surrounded by chirping birds, foraging bears, running water, swimming fish and a beautiful untouched example of nature.
On June 18th the kids had their final day of school. Goodbyes were said, well wishes given and a few more, I can’t believe you are doing this, came out. When we arrived back at the boat we had a few last second details to handle and then we planned to get to sleep early for a 5am departure time. That is not how it went. A few friends stopped by for one more goodbye/playtime for the kids. So finally at nearly 11pm we tried to go to sleep.
Both Dan and Ashley were up at 5am and we were underway by 5:30. The forecast called for very light winds from the west so we started our new life under what looked like was going to be 12 hours of motoring out of the Straits of Juan De Fuca to Port Angeles. That is not how it went. We did motor all the way to Port Townsend and were into the Straits by 8:30am. The Straights of Juan de Fuca offered us a chance to sail even if the winds were rather light and the seas lumpy. And what began as a slow sail west quickly became a beat into 5-8ft seas and 30mph winds. After about three hours and 1000’s of gallons of sea water over our decks, we decided that we should just head back to Port Townsend. The idea of backtracking only to cover the same distance again the next day or days later would never have been a consideration in our previous schedule driven life. However our new way of thinking (no schedules) made turning back because it was no longer fun an effortless decision.
We waited out two stormy nights in Port Townsend. When the weather cleared we made our way to Neah Bay Washington to plan our first blue water ocean sailing. Neah Bay is on the northwestern tip of Washington State. We waited for a decent weather window to arrive and made our run to Barkley Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island.
Our first time sailing in the ocean could not have gone better. We had an average wind speed of about 20knots and seas that were 3 to 8ft swells at about 6-7 seconds. What this means is that it was definitely not calm and relaxing yet it also was not too dangerous or rough enough to scare the kids. We spent all day tacking up the southern coast of Vancouver Island and across Barkley Sound to a beautiful town called Ucluelet where we checked into customs. The kids did amazing! As I said, it was anything other than a calm day. We spent hours crashing through heavy seas, holding on with both hands and we rose and fell with the swell, and watching for passing ships in the very busy shipping lanes. Victoria and Alexander did just what they needed to do or not do in order to avoid sea sickness. They both moved from the front of the boat where their bedrooms are to the back of the boat into our bedroom early on in the morning as soon as the pitching began. A few hours after breakfast and a movie they both came up into the cockpit saying that they were feeling a little queasy and needed some fresh air and to see the horizon for a bit. They quickly began to feel better and soon we were having a nature spelling bee and reading from our joke books. They spent the rest of the day reading and or playing games. What was most interesting was how they were handling the uncomfortable situation. Victoria handled it by saying how much she loved the big waves and how they made the boat rise and fall and sometimes pound. She said this was fun but there was definitely some concern on her face. Alexander just calmly said that he did not think that this was fun at all but it did not bother him and he just went about reading is books with little to no reactions. He would just say that it was part of getting to where we wanted to go. Two very different approaches to handling the stress of ocean sailing and they both worked for the two of them.
Ucluelet is surrounded by super dense evergreen forests that go for as far as you can see north, south and east. It lies on the northern edge of Barkley sound and is nestled into a nicely protected harbor with 7000 foot high Ozzard Mountain rising above it to the West. Just outside the bay the ocean surf relentlessly crashes into the many rocks, reef and islets that surround the passage to Ucluelet. We spent one night at anchor just north of town. In the morning we hiked to the other side of town to a beach to stretch our legs and watch the surf pound onto the rocks. Victoria put on a species identification class for her parents at each of the many tide pools. Alexander took this opportunity to work on his rock climbing skills, scaling any large bolder he could find. On our way back through town we stopped at the grocery store to resupply our produce (Canada does not allow you to bring any fresh produce across the border). We returned to the boat and headed out of the harbor sailing our way to a place called Pipestream Inlet and into the wilds of Barkley Sound.