Cotton-ball clouds obscured the mountaintops this morning as we left Port McNeill this morning and cruised south east into the Broughton Islands. Porpoises lunged and cavorted in the tide rips that form in the channels between the many islands, and far away across the northern end of Johnstone Strait we could just make out through the sharply pointed obsidian shapes of Orca’s fins along the Vancouver Island shore.
Harbledown and West Cracroft Islands form between them a narrow channel which serves as our entrance into the heart of the Broughton Islands, and we pass the remains of a centuries worth of boom and bust logging and fishing, often little less than a few moss-covered pilings in a cove or the sagging remains of a logging camp in a dense Alder thicket. The forest here relentlessly reclaims anything left behind, wrapping the rafters of old cabins in creepers and thick moss as they melt back into the earth.
The many protected passages between the islands are also home to another, more recent (and conterversial) industry, salmon farming. The dark green facilities dot the shoreline, the massive floating net pens surrounded by yellow marker floats. As the worldwide demand for salmon has grown and wild stocks have been overfished, salmon farming has stepped in to meet that demand, but not without generating enormous concern from those of worried about the impacts such a large industrial process can have on the wild ecosystems and creatures that make this region so unique.
Just after midday we pull into the quiet calm of Lagoon Cove, where a tiny remote community centers around the charming, rustic, marina facility where we will stop for the night. The friendly staff had us tied up in no time and we set out to stretch our legs on the hiking trails, toss a game of horseshoes, or get some exercise at the various stations around the property where various mundane tasks (splitting wood, mowing the lawn) are cleverly disguised as exciting aerobic opportunities.
At the nightly happy hour potluck, long time owner Jean Barber prepared the usual enormous pot of delicious spot prawns caught only hours ago, as well as a fantastic platter of salmon. The night was also a historic one, as she announced that she has sold the property to spend more time with her children in Oregon. The new owner, Jim, a laid back retired furniture builder from St. Louis was also present, and we have no doubt he and his family will continue on the excellent tradition that Jean and her late husband Bill worked so hard to sustain!