trip report

Old Jun 8th, 2003, 03:34 PM
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trip report

We just returned from British Columbia. We went to the Queen Charlotte Islands on a Schooner for 10 days and then spent 4 nights in Victoria and two in Vancouver.

We had to be in Sandspit for the start of the trip. Since there is only one flight a day to Sandspit, we had to overnight in Vancouver. We stayed near the airport at the Holiday Inn Express. People were nice but there was no restaurant so if you get in and want dinner there really isn't an easy way to get it without a car. There was a Costco across the street and I had to stop there in the morning to pick up some chocolate -- had to make sure I had it for the sailing trip.

We flew out of Vancouver into Sandspit. I should have known something was wrong when we were left there but after an hour or so the woman from the visitors center took us and another party of three to the ship. There had been some confusion -- the naturalist was on our flight and she was supposed to get all of us but she took one couple and left the rest of us there.

This ship is a 92 foot schooner and there were five crew and nine passengers. For that many people it is a small ship. Eight of us slept in one cabin -- along both sides there were two double beds end to end and a single bunk above it where we put our clothes. At the end of the room were two heads. The sleeping areas were separated by curtains -- like old railroad cars. And yes we heard each other snoring. But one of the passengers who knew she snored loudly brought ear plugs for all of us.

The captain was having a small problem with the ship so we didn't leave the area that day -- which was a mistake as the weather was pretty good and we later discovered Hekate Straight is the fourth most difficult body of water in the world to navigate. He thought he fixed the problem late in the day so we all had dinner and went to bed. When we woke up on day two the weather had turned really bad -- a winter weather pattern -- and no ships were moving. So we stayed anchored where we were and he rented a van so we could go to shore -- a tiny town called Queen Charlotte City where my husband bought the last touk -- and I used on the naturalist lent me. Turned out we really needed hats -- and long johns -- and sweatshirts and polartecs and gore tex and gumboots and gloves every day. Anyway we went for a drive to the north part of the island and took a walk through the moss covered woods which were very beautiful. The naturalist had a friend who had a bed and breakfast in one of the tiny towns so we stopped there for tea and to warm up. Then we returned to the boat.

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Old Jun 8th, 2003, 05:47 PM
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LOL! I am trying to decide if this was a bad trip for you or not! - Certainly interesting (to say the very least!!) Hope you got an apology from the lady who left you guys stranded.
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Old Jun 9th, 2003, 02:02 PM
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Back again. Day three we went through Hekate Strait. No one told me not to eat breakfast. The weather was only slightly better than the day before. Out of 15 of us only three people did not get sick -- one of them was my husband who is so proud of himself. The Captain felt it and the first mate who was guiding the ship reached a point where he was going to be sick turned around over the boat and lost it said he felt better and kept going. I lay down in the wheel house which probably would have been ok but I woke up freezing and by then the tiny wheelhouse had people laying on the floor and the other couch. I decided I had to go downstairs -- that big breakfast with coffee and juice they had served us and I knew I couldn't wait 4 more hours. So one of the crew took me down -- my husband who did not get sick was standing 80 feet from the bow and getting soaked -- I took a few mouthfuls of salt water on the way down. I stepped out of the wet gore tex and gum boots and fell onto my bed but not before I saw Dwayne -- the farmer from Manitoba on his honeymoon sprawled out in front of the two heads. I opened my eyes 5 minutes later to see him crawl to it. And lay there telling myself I would not be sick -- only to have to tell him 10 minutes later to let me through -- he moved fast for a sick person.

We got through it though and made it to Moresby Camp where we anchored. I do remember one time when Spence came to check on me and I told him I had lost my breakfast and he replied that was ok there was plenty more food on board -- which there was we never lacked for anything here and the cook baked fresh bread every day.

We spent the night anchored at Moresby Camp and everyone felt better. However the next day we received some bad news from the Captain -- what he thought he had fixed the first day was not fixed and he needed to call in his mechanic from Vancouver to fix it. Since it was Sunday he had to wait until Monday for the places to be open to get the parts and there is only one flight a day into Sandspit and then with a taxi ride he would get there about 4 in the afternoon. To give us something to do that day he called in a 25 foot zodiac that went about 35 miles an hour for Monday. But before we got to Monday we had to get through Sunday and some people decided to take the zodiac to the island to walk. When they were returning the engine broke and Dwayne the farm boy broke one of the paddles getting everyone to the boat. But everyone returned safe and we would only have one zodiac for the rest of the trip.

The trip on Monday was great -- we saw lots of sea lions and seals and sea birds -- we stopped at two native sites --walked along the beach and in the moss covered forest which was soft as could be. The first site I could not really see the totem poles as the Haida Gwaii -- the native people there -- do not preserve them but let them return to nature. With the climate and rain that happend fairly quickly. But the second settlement there the ruins were better and you could see how they formed their houses and imagine their life a little easier.
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Old Jun 9th, 2003, 09:11 PM
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You'll laugh about this some day, maybe.
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Old Jun 10th, 2003, 06:36 AM
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Just to catch up we arn now on day 5 of a 10 day trip. While we were on the islands with the zodiac the resident psychiatrist -- really by profession -- ran out of batteries for her camera and I think taking pictures was important to her. Then when we returned to the boat she could not get to her bunk because the mattress from the wheel house was there blocking it because to get to the engine room and take everything apart you had to pull up the floor in the wheel house and there just wasn't any other place to put the mattress. I think that was the last straw and she decided to leave in the morning -- we were still at a place where we could get a taxi in and she was from British Columbia and coiuld get the ferry from Prince Rupert and take a bus home from there -- she said her garden was calling, So the captain took her eatly the next morning -- day six.

While he took her the rest of us talked about leaving also and by the time he came back 4 of us decided to leave and two were debating it. This was relayed to him by Trudy the naturalist. He called a meeting of everyone and asked us what he could do and what we wanted. The consensus was that we wanted to see nature more than heritage sites and he worked out a schedule for the next three days -- we all stayed. The ship was supposed to be ready by 1:30 that day and it was already 11:00. It took longer -- until about 5 for the ship to be ready but we didn't know that then. We had lunch and went ashore for a walk. We separated and were supposed to meet back at 4. Trudy came looking for us a little early because the Captain had had another idea for us -- he would call in a seaplane to take us for a view over areas we wouldn't get to and then land for a walk and then meet the ship -- you see we still had to go into hecate strait -- but it would only be about an hour this time and the weather was a bit better. With the seaplane we sould not be on the ship when it went through Hecate Strait -- instead we would meet it later. A great idea -- unfortunately the weather did not cooperate. We put on our gear -- long johns rain pants polartec gore tex jackets -- dressing was such a chore -- great to be back to t shirts and shorts -- got in the zodiac-- met the seaplane-- got on board-- started the trip only to be met by clouds rolling in low and fast. We never got above about 75 feet above the water -- and we had to go back and take the boat ride through Hecate Strait.

So most of us took something for seasickness this time and went to bed but the trip was not nearly what the first one had been and we got to Anna Inlet where we anchored.

Oh -- one more thing -- we had not been allowed to take any showers yet because the ship can only carry so much fresh water -- We expected showers every three days -- when we stopped at a watering place -- but we didn't get there until day 7. So after a sweaty hike in Anna Inlet that morning -- which was gorgeous but slippery and definitely boot sucking at times -- once or twice when we all stepped down somewhere we sant to the top of the boot which was knee high. It was a battle between us and the earth but we always managed to get the boot out on the foot. At one point on this slippery decayed log trail both my husbands feet went out from under him and his butt landed in a hole with his arms and legs up in the air -- since he is always more sure footed than I it was funny to see him that way.

Anyway we finally landed at the watering hole and we all had hot showers -- it was great.

After the watering hole we needed to get to Burnabow narrows for the morning. Going through the San Perez inlet we were in a pod of 50-60 humpback whales. The captain had never seen so many whales in one place. Everwhere you looked you saw them blowing and then diving. It was an amazing site and lasted for around three hours. So day 7 was very good.

But my husband who had lost track of the days gave me an anniversary card this morning -- a day early. A couple of years ago we were on an African Safari on my birthday and he didn't bring a card so he got some grief about it. This was out tenth anniversary and he didn't forget.

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Old Jun 11th, 2003, 01:35 PM
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We are up to Day 8. We went through Burnaby Narrows at low tide and Trudy the naturalist put on a wet suit ( water is 48) and hopped into the water. It was about waist high on her. She picked up a sun star eating a mussel, sea cucumbers and all sorts of other things and we got a good look as some of the wonders of the sea/ocean. It turns out that the cold waters support more life that the warmer waters of the equator. We really enjoyed the variety of the life we saw.

Then we stopped on shore and my husband went tromping off to see what was in a field -- he found about half a dozed deer and came back to get me and some others. When we went back again we noticed a fawn that had just been born maybe 15 minutes before that he had passed both time and not noticed. The fawn was lying in the grass and the mother was watching close by -- The farmer among us noticed the afterbirth was still hanging out of the mother and the fawn was cleaned off although not yet standing -- so the 15 minutes old was his estimate. Pretty Amazing.

We then went on a hike in a different area. But these hikes are not trails that we know -- they are bushwacking along the river because not enough people come here to have established trails. It was so beautiful -- the moss hanging off the trees and covering the forest floor. It looked as if -- if you sat down for an hour you too would be covered in green soft moss.

We moved the ship near to Hot Springs Island -- no whales this time through but there were a few dolphin. Hot Springs Island was our destination for the morning of Day 9. It was well taken care of and the water was so warm. This area is under the control of the native Haida people. Showers must be taken before getting in the pool -- there are three of them. The usually only allow 12 people on the island at a time but they let all 13 of us enjoy it.

Then we moved again to Limestone Island where we were to go ashore at night and help in a study of the ancient murrelets -- a seabird there. It was really neat -- these birds are about the size of a robin but they lay an egg the size of a chicken's egg. The egg is about 1/4 of the mothers weight. She then goes to feed for another week or two and comes back to lay a second egg. The mother and father then take turns sitting on the eggs for the next month -- these nests are on the ground under tree roots and other decay. When the baby hatches the parents talk to them implanting their voice on the baby. This is because they do not feed the birds in the nest -- When they are one day old they will have to make their way through the forest at night to the ocean to their parents where they will be taken a couple kilometers off shore before they are fed. The reason for the large egg is that they need the energy to get all that way and they have legs that are about 75% of the adult size. They can't fly yet and hop their way out of the forest through the rocky beach to the water. The researchers have build funnels with plastic sheeting and they are intercepting them on their way to the sea to tag them and record them. One thing they learned is that these birds are programmed to go to the light -- the ocean is so much lighter than the forest. They learned this because several of them wore headlamps and as they bent to pick up the birds they kept moving to where the light was shining. So they ha to turn off the lamps when they located them. Anyway because we interrupted their journey to the sea, we take them down and let them go to their parents. It is pretty amazing. They are a little ball of fluff except for the legs which are very powerful.
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