May 12th, 2016 | By: Gregory Smart | Leg 1: Inside Passage
After a calm relaxing night in the idyllic sanctuary of Lagoon Cove, we spent a leisurely morning sipping coffee on the dock and watching the light of the rising sun creep slowly across the hillside across the bay. At last we were off, and motoring along the glassy canals among the Broughton Islands. We shared the waterway with shrimp fisherman working overtime to take advantage of every second of the six-week season, their boats festooned with huge piles of shrimp pots and their holds full of the same prawns we dined on last night.
Bald eagles have appeared in great numbers now, and every bend in the channel reveals one of the majestic birds perched on the shore or a snag high above the water. They stoop occasionally for fish along the water’s surface, clawing at the chance for a seafood breakfast.
At last we emerge into the main channel and steer northwest towards Port McNeill. The hidden entrance to the quaint and tiny town of Telegraph Cove slides by to port as Cormorant Island and the town of Alert Bay draw close to starboard. Alert Bay is a Kwakwaka’wakw First Nations town and home to the U’mista Cultural Heritage center, which houses a fantastic collection of carvings, masks, blankets, and other artifacts that serves not only as a fascinating educational experience for visitors but also as an important resource for the cultural health of the local community. Many of us make plans to take the small ferry over from Port McNeill tomorrow to explore the museum, historic town and surrounding forests.
In Port McNeill we tie up inside the fantastic North Island Marina, where the young proprietor Steve Jackman gives us a hearty welcome under a blazing sun. North Island Marina makes a good case for being the finest marina on the Inside Passage, both in terms of facilities and especially in service. Some of us take advantage of the in-berth fueling capabilities Steve offers to top off on diesel before our long and remote northward run towards Prince Rupert and Southeast Alaska, while all of us visit the large grocery store to restock our pantries.
Everyone is enjoying the fantastic weather and good company, and we’re all very excited to explore the area tomorrow and after that to continue on our adventure!