Sunday, October 20, 2013

Toba Inlet

Last year it was Aaron's heart's desire to venture up Toba Inlet, but he was merely teased by the views as we peered at the entrance from our anchorage at the Wildernest. This year we plunged into the fjord through frigid, pouring rain. We were rewarded with otherworldly views of massive mountains rising out of milky ocean waters filled with glacial run-off. Sheer cliffs dissapeared into the clouds draped over the mountains and waterfalls crashed down into the sea. Two steaming cups of hot cocoa and a thermos of tea helped warm our cold, wet bones during the soggy day. 

Later and much further south, the clouds broke and sunshine made a welcome appearance. While I was drying myself on the foredeck, talking to my mom on the phone (due to cell phone coverage that we hadn't seen in over a week), a dozen Pacific white-sided dolphins leaped through the air in the distance. Through a series of high-pitched squeaking noises I managed to get the boys up on deck to watch them as they hauled through the water towards our boat and passed by at an astonishingly fast speed. It was a perfect cap to a spectacular day before we re-entered civilization at the tiny outpost of Squirrel Cove on Cortes Island. 

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Thursday, October 10, 2013

Homfray Channel

The rain finally stopped and the clouds parted so we pulled up the anchor and headed into the much anticipated and mountainous Homfray Channel. We watched the slowly changing vista of mountains that were reluctant to give up their blankets of clouds as we motored up the windless channel. Clouds hanging low among mountains is favorite Taylor family scenery. We decided to spend the night tied up to a dock at hydro-electric-powered Homfray Lodge that sits perched on steep shores in the middle of this rugged wilderness. Here we enjoyed free, time-limitless hot showers and a spectacular sunset over dramatic scenery. The next morning, we filled our water tanks with stream water that tumbled down from Mount Denman high above, and as we motored away through pouring rain, we looked back at the huge lodge that looked so tiny on the edge of the steep, densely forested mountain that looked ready to swallow it up. It was another reminder of how inhospitable this land is for humans and why Captain Vancouver named it Desolation Sound. We imagined his ships drifting through the windless waters aimlessly, staring at land so forbidding with its densely vegetated, steep terrain, devoid of food, topped off with threat of grizzly bears on the mainland. Desolation Sound seems a fitting name indeed. Sure is pretty though.

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Friday, October 4, 2013

Melanie Cove

Melanie Cove is a tiny cove within in a cove, inside Prideaux Haven in Desolation Sound. We spent four soggy nights nestled in this protected anchorage waiting out a storm that raged in the Strait of Georgia. While we were in Melanie Cove, there was a day when the wind blew at 60 knots out in the Strait and, north of us on the tip of Vancouver Island, the winds were hurricane force. We were all thankful for the protection of our little cove. Though it was rainy we still suited up in our rain gear and went for a hike where it drizzled, then deluged, then rained, followed by more drizzle with a little peek of sunshine and then some sprinkling. We sensed spirits of days past as we walked through the thick, dripping primeval woods and ancient home to the First Nations tribes. Another day we explored a maze of coves in the kayaks (on a triumphant side note here, I managed to help Isaac paddle on this outing!). As we passed a boat and were rolling in the waves of Laura Cove, a couple called out that they hoped we had a warm boat to go back to. Along the way we would hop out of the kayaks to explore the little islets. On one island I had the strangest buzzing surround me as I stepped into the undergrowth. It sounded like an otherworldly bug, muffled but very loud, almost like it was in my head, but then it stung me on the neck, but not intense like normal stings. The boys who were near me did not hear it but Jason who was 100 feet behind me experienced the same otherworldly buzzing. It felt like the fabric of time had a tiny tear in it and just a little bit of the past was leaking through.

Though the rain was heavy during our stay, we had the warmth of our boat and steaming cups of hot cocoa to keep us warm, and board games and books to keep us busy between soaked outings. Along the way, Jason had been reading the book Curve of Time to us. The book follows the journey of Muriel Wiley Blanchett (otherwise known as Capi), an amazing woman who turned the sorrow of the loss of her husband in a boating accident, into endless summer adventures spent with her five children on their 25 foot motor boat Caprice. During the 1920's they spent their summers on the boat exploring every nook and cranny of Desolation Sound and beyond. The adventures they had and the native culture they witnessed were amazing. One of their favorite places was Melanie Cove where they would visit with their friend Old Mike who lived at the head of the inlet in a cabin he had built. He had tons of apple trees which he generously shared with the family. Capi took almost everything and made it with dumplings. In honor of her I made apple dumplings one rainy day. We sat around our steaming bowls of yumminess and imagined the Blanchett family doing the same thing almost 100 years ago.

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Thursday, October 3, 2013

Happy 14th Birthday Isaac!

We celebrated Isaac's 14th birthday nestled in uber-protected Melanie Cove as we awaited the arrival of a major storm. Isaac had hoped for rain on his birthday so we could spend the day snuggled in the boat with a board game he had hoped he might receive. Let me tell you, Isaac must have some special pull with the rain gods because, did we ever get rain. We all awoke early on his birthday to the intermittent pitter-patter on the cabin top. After Isaac opened his presents, including the hoped for Rune Wars game, we watched the colors of the sunrise over the mountains reflected in the waters below. We spent the day relaxing on the boat as Isaac built Legos followed by an afternoon and evening of epic board game battles. For dinner I made a cozy chicken barley stew as Jason and I sipped on some wine. Jason managed to talk me into trying an oyster he had gathered, pointing out his triumph of not been paralyzed by the previous one he had consumed. I ate one, which I still cannot say I like, and Jason had two. A while later he turned to me and said, "I think my lips are numb. Are your lips numb?" My head started to swim. Good God. Paralysis on Isaac's birthday! With apprehension we waited and ate dinner. Luckily none of my panicked thoughts came true but I think Jason has come around to my point of view on shellfish gathering and consumption. After dinner we all sang happy birthday and savored Isaac's favorite chocolate pot-au-cream that I had made. Happy 14th birthday Isaac!

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Wednesday, October 2, 2013


We set out early in the morning with the tide to cross the Strait of Georgia to Desolation Sound. The weather gods smiled on us this time and we had a peaceful crossing. As we approached the mountains that tower over Desolation we were shocked at how immense the mountains are. Having been here last year it's amazing how we had already forgotten their impressiveness. It's really not something I can describe or capture with photos. It's something you have to experience yourself, apparently more then once in our case. Although I'm sure we'll forget and be just as amazed next time.

We anchored in Tenedos Bay where there is a hike to Lake Unwin. The weather and water were still warm but we opted out of a swim in the ocean due to swarms of jellyfish. Instead we hopped into the kayaks and headed to shore for a hike to the mountain lake. The boys waded around in the warm water and made return plans for a swim the next day, this time, armed with towels. Back at the boat, Jason left us behind and paddled out of the cove to where it is supposed to be safe to harvest shellfish. I thought gathering and eating oysters was a bad idea given that where we were anchored it was deemed unsafe to harvest shellfish. I tried to reason with him that he should wait until we were closer to medical facilities just in case he should eat an oyster with paralytic shellfish poisoning. He said it was fine....I could just call the Coast Guard. Ok...I guess I had to be fine with him poisoning himself far from medical help, but could he at least wait until after Isaac's birthday which was in two days? So he didn't ruin his son's 14th birthday with shellfish poisoning? Please? I already ruined his birthday party with a broken wrist, surely, paralysis must be worse. I need to learn to be more convincing. He came back to the boat triumphant, struggled through opening one, and popped it into his mouth. Luckily he made it through the night with no major complications and the following day we hiked back to the lake for a swim.

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Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Comox was our last stop before we headed off into the wilderness of Desolation Sound so we took some time to make some final preparations. We found a physical therapist who unlocked my frozen wrist and gave me stretches to help increase my mobility. Isaac had an aching tooth that looked like it may have a cavity so we took him to a dentist who just smiled and informed us it was just a baby tooth working its way loose. Oops...we thought he had already lost them all. We stocked up on uber-delicious king salmon steaks bought from the fisherman down the dock from us (we've been daydreaming about these since last year), topped off our water tanks, washed five loads of smelly laundry and took our final showers. We even managed to find time to hike trails close to us and, of course, eat some gelato.

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