With our fuel, water, and provisions all topped off we slipped our lines under a the brilliant morning sun and pulled away from Port Hardy, under the drone of departing floatplanes, crossing the wakes of half a hundred small skiffs .
Thick fogbanks envelop us south of the town of Alert Bay and visibility drops to less than a quarter mile at times. All hands stand lookout at the bridge, calling out floating logs and fishing boats which materialize out of the gloom, at times alarmingly close off our bows.
The warmth of the sun soon burned away the fog and the mountains and coasts which border the narrow straits of the Broughton Group came in to focus. While still steep and dramatically imposing, this coastline seems somehow less daunting than the wild coasts farther north. The slopes tend to roll away from the water as opposed to erupting vertically, and forests which ring the coves and inlets are less dense, somehow more inviting. Humans have also left their mark more clearly on this land, and the scars of extensive clearcutting crisscross the slopes. Barren ground marks the most freshly cut areas, while slightly older cuts are filled with bright green alders that rush to fill the newly exposed ground.
We turn east at the north end of Jonstone Strait, into the narrow Baronet Passage. At Cracoft Point, where the two passages meet the currents mix, bringing nutrients to the surface. Humpback Whales surfaced to breathe among flocks of Red-necked Phalaropes and Rhinoceros Auklets, and scores of small skiffs trolled slowly along the shore. The fishing is good right now, and every other boat seemed to be actively pulling in a fish, the salmon flashing a brilliant silver as they twisted into the air at the end of the lines.
By midday we arrive at Lagoon Cove, a small marina in a beautiful protected inlet. The atmosphere is down homey and funky, and after we tie up several of us plop down to clean fresh caught prawns with Lyle, the maintenance man. Two 5-gallon buckets of prawns yield about six pounds of tails, which we all enjoy that evening at the cocktail hour on the deck of the clapboard workshop, built on piles above the tidelands.
There is a network of trails around the property, and the good humor of the proprietors is evident at every bend. Swings hang from the old growth cedar and the wood splitting shed and the manual lawn mower are clearly disguised as “exercise stations” where you are invited to improve burn off the inevitable weight gain caused by sitting on a boat all day with a box of cookies within arm’s reach.
By sundown the docks are full, and we wheedle away the long evening by talking with our new neighbors and playing horseshoes until it’s too dark to see. Laughter rings across the still water and later, stars burn in the crisp sky over our heads, crossed occasionally by a brilliant streak of light. The Persied Meteor showers peak tonight and for those of us who can force our eyes open for even a moment after midnight, it is a wonderful sight.