The stars faded and the cool still air which had filled Lagoon Cove over the course night quickly warmed as the sun rose into a clear sky today. We are approaching the new moon, and the tidal currents have increased in response. The rapids which form at every swing of the tide in the region’s many narrow inlets and rocky passes define navigation in this area, and so our departure is delayed to await more favorable conditions.
As we sip coffee in the salon local fishermen return from an early morning outing, lifting quicksilver salmon onto the dock with an easy practiced familiarity. They hang a beautiful Chinook from the imaginatively repainted scale, and the arm length fish weighs in somewhere between “legal” and “it got away”. Surges of whitewater across the bay attract our attention and we turn away from the fish to see a pod of Pacific Whiteside Dolphins rocketing across the shallows in pursuit of frantic herring. The dolphins rapidly complete a quick circuit around the whole perimeter of the cove and are gone as rapidly as they appeared.
Underway in the late morning we weave past logging camps and tiny islands with cabins perched on the rocks. Tugboats slowly pull enormous rafts of freshly cut logs past salmon farms and rocky beaches where black bears forage for crabs among the boulders. In Johnstone Strait the wind is blowing stiffly, 20 knots from the northwest, raising a following sea. Small whitecapping swell pushes us south, past York Island and Gunner Point, the site of a remote WWII shore battery which protected the northern approaches to Vancouver and the Salish Sea from an enemy that never materialized. We turn east into the protected waters of Forward Harbor after passing the anchorhead point which protects the entrance. Forward Harbor is a long narrow waterway with low forested hills at the east end which allow for a breathtaking view of the soaring rocky peaks of the cascades in the distance.
The anchors reluctantly find purchase in the deep waters off the beach and soon we step onto the beach. It is composed of small round stones that chatter nicely underfoot. A trail leads up the hill away from the beach through stands of tall hemlock and Douglas fir. In the fern-filled hollows a handful of huge old-growth cedars have escaped the saw and stand with their crooked leaders stirring in the breeze 200 feet above our heads.
The faraway peaks fade to pink and then to grey. Not a ripple in the water. A loon calls twice in the still night and then all is quiet.