Monday, June 20, 2016

Broughton Marinas

The jet boat ride through the rapids put the fear of God and the highest respect for Mother Nature in us so the night before we were planning on going through Dent Rapids, there was not much sleep to be had. In order to hit the rapids at slack tide we had to leave the dock at 5:15am. Anxiety made it hard to fall asleep and my nervousness about missing the slack woke me up at 3am so I just laid there and worried as time slowly crawled by. Jason didn't sleep so great either. At 5am we were all up ready to go and after Jason knocked on our dock neighbor's boat to wake them, we threw off the dock lines and moved out.

It was a beautiful glassy morning and we arrived right at slack tide and what had been an angry boiling, swirling whirlpool was now placid and glassy. We anxiously kept glancing behind us, hoping our dock neighbors would make it through in time. At long last we saw them in the distance and let out a sigh. One rapid down, two more to go.

When we arrived at Green Point Rapids they looked calm. We watched another boat go through without problems so we felt comfortable entering this smaller rapid. We made it through with no problems and were all set up to make it through Whirlpool Rapids. Again no problems there. We breathed a sigh of relief and felt happy to be done with rapids for the trip.

Our next hurdle for the day was Johnstone Strait which can be a notorious bully. We figured we would nose out and take a look. It didn't seem too bad, rough but not too rough, so we rolled out the jib and started beating into the wind up the strait. We tacked about six times with the size of the waves steepening to six feet at about a three second intervals all the while dodging bands of huge logs. At this point it had become, to put it civilly and said with an English accent, unacceptable rough (though there were much less polite things running through my brain). We had made the classic mistake of entering the strait with wind against tide which made the waves super steep and stacked super close together so we went to Plan B where we crossed the strait, ducked into a little section of protection and rolled in the jib. We decided if we hugged the shore line maybe it wouldn't be so rough. This worked like a charm. What had felt rough now felt tame compared to the wild butt-kicking we had just experienced. Everyone was now relaxed and joking around. Emma even face-timed her mom as we bashed through the waves and Isaac called Port Harvey marina where it was rumored we could order a pizza in their small cafe to see if they were serving pizza yet. The conversation went like this.

Isaac: Hi! Are you serving pizza for lunch?
Person on the other end of the line: No.
Isaac: How about dinner?
Person on the other end of the line: No. *pause* Our restaurant sank.
Isaac: I'm sorry. That's too bad.
Person on the other end of the line: We can make a pizza for you and deliver it to your boat though.

That's not a conversation you have very often. Their restaurant sank? Crazy.

We eventually made it to Port Harvey where we warmly greeted by the marina's owner who told us the story of how their restaurant, store, showers and washrooms had sunk over the winter. Big bummer, but he was working on rebuilding everything and was excited about installing a real wood-fired pizza oven. He warned us that a black bear had just crossed through his yard and that a grizzly was hanging across the water but he would let us know if he saw the grizzly again. He took down our pizza and cinnamon bun order and then we were off for a hike with bear-bell in hand. After the hike we were told that the grizzly was back so we all took turns watching him through binoculars as he turned over rocks along the shoreline and then disappeared into the woods.

In the early evening, the sweet couple who own the marina came walking down the dock with big smiles and two big pizzas in hand. Talk about a teen cruiser's dream! We all sat down and ate pizza until we were sick.

The following day we were greeted in the morning with warm cinnamon buns, again, delivered to our boat. What a sweet operation! After breakfast we set out for Lagoon Cove Marina, famous for their spot prawn happy hours. We were greeted on the dock by the owner, Jean, who remembered our boat. The previous owner had spent several months in the Broughtons and must have visited Lagoon Cove several times. After another bear-bell hike, we lounged around in Jean's yard playing horse shoes and talking while admiring the beautiful flower gardens and view. She has a pretty sweet spot.

At happy hour time we hoofed it up to the dock with a plate of cheese and crackers anxious to talk with other boaters and, of course, try the famous spot prawns which were delicious. We spent a long time talking with Jean. She told us about growing up in Romania during WWII and moving to the US. She spends her winters in Portland and summers up here but she is now looking to sell the marina because she lost her husband a couple of years ago. She had a blessing fall into her lap this summer though. A young couple, Jan and David, from Vancouver were passing through in April, fell in love with Jean and the marina and haven't left. They have been working there ever since and will stay until she has the place sold.

We spent some time with Jan and David and they have a great story. Jan is from Vancouver and David is a gold miner from Dawson City, AK and totally looks the part. After meeting a year ago in the Philippines, they bought a boat together and had been living at Bowen Island. They decided to take a two week trip in April and along the way met some other sailors who talked them into going to Haida Gwai. Subsequently, they had windlass troubles and got left behind. One cold, wet day they limped into Lagoon Cove after dark hoping to find a restaurant. No such luck but Jean took them into her house and warmed them up with some homemade chicken soup and they have been there ever since. They are now the talk of the Broughtons and job offers are coming in from all over. Most of the marinas are run by older folks so there is much excitement about a young couple who want to work at a marina. They were super fun to talk to and we got to hear about their experience on Johnstone Strait the same day we were on it. They were in a little prawn boat and Jan told us with a huge smile about how she was airborne more than not as she got thrown around the boat. I was happy to hear that we weren't the only ones that got a butt-kicking that day.

Click here for photos.

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