Thursday, August 27, 2015

Hot Springs Cove

After waiting out six days of high winds in Nootka Sound, we finally got the opportunity to make our hop around Estevan Point. We woke up uber-early (for us) and pushed off from the Friendly Cove dock at 5:30am. The sun had just snuck over the horizon and shone unnatural and red through smoke from forest fires burning on Vancouver Island. 90 degree air temp, 78 degree water temp and forest fires on Vancouver Island? Scary. I wolfed down my granola, yogurt and morning tea in hopes that if I ingested them before we hit the swells maybe I wouldn't be sea sick. No such luck. The high winds gave way to a windless, rolly day offshore which gave us an easy, though slightly nauseous, passage. Estevan has a reputation for being rough and causing trouble, so we were happy to get off so easy.

We arrived at Hot Springs Cove before lunchtime and snagged the last spot on a super busy dock. Just two weeks before our arrival an old-fishing-boat-turned-restaurant had opened in the cove, so the kids and Jason were super excited to eat delicious salmon burgers for lunch instead of peanut butter and jelly, yet, again. We really felt like we had re-entered civilization at this point. Hot Springs Cove is an amazing place where hot, sulphury water bubbles up from the ground, picturesquely cascades over a beautiful, but stinky, waterfall and then tumbles into descending pools of various temperatures, depending on the tide level, below. Needless to say, it is a major tourist attraction and there is a constant stream of high-speed tour boats and seaplanes from Tofino shuffling tourists in and out all day long. As a sailboat spending the night the local advice is to wait until after 6pm and you can have the hot springs to yourself. On the first day we decided it would be interesting to see it at its peak... We could easily see it alone later.

After lunch we slipped into our bathing suits and walked the famous boardwalk carved with boat names. It was fun to check them all out along the way and we were excited to see some old dock mates and the Ballard contingent.

It was high tide when we arrived at the hot springs. We weaved our way down through boulders, pools and people and squeezed into a spot at the bottom where the waves pulsed in and out, sucking two delighted, squealing children back and forth. We had a lovely conversation with a Norwegian/Japanese couple from Tokyo where we learned which seaweed floating in the sulphury pool we could dry to make nori. We took a good look, but left these healthy, stinky, tourist infused specimens where we found them.

Back at the dock a crab boat passed by and yelled to see if we wanted any offer we couldn't refuse. He pulled up to the dock and we bought two Dungeness crabs and the owner of the fishing boat restaurant bought a halibut. We ate the crabs for dinner and then bought the freshest halibut burgers ever for lunch the next day. Yum.

The following day the weather finally cooled down and we spent the day relaxing on the boat and catching up on all things wifi. Jason's work was relieved to find out that we were still alive after so many weeks of silence. In the evening, after all the tour boats had left, we headed back to the hot springs for the solitude experience. A pack of wild half-wolf, half husky pups (who live across the way and swim over to the hot springs dock to beg food from all of the tourists) followed us all the way down the board walk to the hot springs. They were awesome. At the hot springs, we found another couple from the dock tucked into a pool down by the ocean. It was the only pool that was at a bearable temperature at low tide so we squeezed in between rocks nearby and had a nice conversation. Eventually they packed up and left and we had the place to ourselves. We decided to soak Scandinavian style, (no not naked!) alternately dipping in the hot pools and then cold. It was so invigorating. Once we'd had our fill, we walked back through the dusky forest to the dock where we were re-greeted by our new doggy/wolfy friends.

After two lovely nights at Hot Springs Cove, we fired up the engine to continue on our way. At first, all was well, but then the reassuring splooshing sound of water from the back of the boat stopped. Jason shut down the engine and began the process of trouble-shooting why the water intake was no longer working. After some back-and-forths on what we should or should not tear apart, he finally worked the hose loose that I thought he shouldn't and he discovered our problem. A poor little fish had met its maker in our water intake system. Sad. Jason pulled him out, put everything back together and we were on our way.

Click here for photos.