Today we said farewell to Fred and Andrea and welcomed a new crew member Ron aboard Discovery. We will miss their enthusiasm for everything, but we are excited to have Ron along for the rest of the trip. A lay day in Port McNeill today gave us plenty of time to finish up our chores and look around town. One of the town’s attractions is the world’s largest burl!
A small local market popped up on the lawn in front of the visitor’s center this morning. Our crews went up and treated themselves to some delicious baked goods. The market was a fun glimpse into the distinct cultures of the surrounding islands. Along with bakery treats there were gourmet cupcakes, cabbage rolls, hand embroidered dresser scarves, canned goods, tinctures, soaps, lotions, medicinal mushroom remedies and hand dyed clothing using native plants.
A group of us from Patos and Bonum Vitae took the BC Ferry over to Alert Bay on Cormorant Island. Alert Bay is a village of the Namgis First Nation people. There is a beautiful cultural center there that displays reclaimed ceremonial regalia from the surrounding tribes. The headdresses, masks, and ceremonial garments were taken from the native people in the early 1900s when the Canadian government banned their traditional potlatch ceremonies. Juanita, the curator of the collection, gave us an excellent tour and explained the meanings and legends behind the different carvings.
We then had a wonderful seafood feast prepared by a local catering company. The husband and wife team had caught all of the fish from their own boat and prepared everything. There was traditional salmon baked on cedar planks, fried halibut, smoked and fried hooligan (a small oily fish that was a prized trade item for the tribe), clam cakes and fry bread. It was a great meal!
The harbor at Port McNeill has extensive tidal flats at low tide that are great for bird watching. Today we spotted multiple loons, a flock of common mergansers, and lots of bald eagles. The evening was warm and we watched the long afternoon fade into evening with a lovely sunset (not until after 9pm!) We are loving these long days!