Saying goodbye to Shearwater was hard for the fleet but disembarking into the warm sun and cool blue mountain-scape was an incredible start to our new day. We lingered in the sunrise while all our vessels caught up, soaking in the beautiful morning, exploring the rest of what Shearwater’s surroundings had to offer.
On a nearby property stood a handful of beautiful totem poles, and we slowed down, spending time honoring such detailed pieces. Many totem poles display beings, animals, and marking of a family’s linage, validating their rights and privileges within that family line. The design that most people recognize today were, for the most part, developed in the last 200 years. With coastal First Nations involved in fish and fur trading, this helped their communities acquire new tools to enable construction of more elaborate poles. When totem poles are in their works, this skillset does not only require artistic abilities, but ecological ones too. Most totem poles are made from the strait grained, rot-resistant Western red cedar, and even before that tree is felled many First Nations will perform a ceremony of gratitude and respect in honor of the tree.
Heading into our winding and beautiful crossing of Reid Passage, we were greeted by a few Sea Otters blending into the kelp beds exposed by today’s low tide. These adored creatures are the smallest marine mammals in North America, and the largest member of the weasel family. Sea Otters have the thickest fur of any animal, containing anywhere from 600,000 to 1,000,000 hair follicles per square inch. This dense and water resistance insulation allows them the ability to live their whole life without ever touching land. With how beneficial this pelt is for a marine animal, humans too found that they could use such thick warm protection and in the early 1900s, sea otters were heavily hunted by members of the fur trade.
In 1978 sea otters were designated as an endangered species in Canada and in 2007 their populations rose and granted a new title of only being a species of concern. With protection efforts and ecological preservations, in 2017 Fisheries and Oceans Canada estimated an otter population of over 8,000 individuals that had reoccupied between a quarter to a third of their historic range in the province.
Saying goodbye to the munching and relaxing otters, the fleet continued into Reid Passage, and we throttled back for not only a scenic, but a controlled crossing. Reid passage was named after Elizabeth “Lillie” Reid, the youngest daughter of the master mariner James Murray Reid of Victoria.
Maneuvering with both confidence and attentiveness, we navigated our vessels around a channel marker that at low waters made for a stunning vantage point. However, these low waters also called for a crew bow watch, being aware of their vessel depth and stepping outside to take in as much vast beauty as possible.
With glassy waters and vibrant blues to greens, it was a mesmerizing scene. Cruising past the marker we realized that we were sharing the moment with discrete black bears, a choir of birds, and many elusive harbor seals.
After a 50 nautical mile cruise to Bottleneck Inlet, we anchored, rafted and cozied ourselves into the inlet. Tonight, we were excited to have the anchorage all to ourselves, launching dinghies and putting kayaks in the water to ready for our afternoon adventures.
As we explored, the inlet felt very welcoming, untouched, and protected. The forests showed scars of logging but the lush mosses and lichens presented proof of healing and resilience. Mink scurried along the coast lines, poking their heads out to size us up as we floated on by in our kayaks, and large Devil’s Club foliage hung over the tidelines, claiming its position. Devil’s club puts off a very intimidating exterior, but through thorns the tender plant has been used for thousands of years for alleviation of both physical and spiritual ailments.
As one of the most important spiritual and medicinal plants to indigenous communities, different parts of this plant are used by over 38 linguistic groups in over 34 categories of both physical and spiritual applications. A few of the medicinal uses include aid to arthritis, broken bones, diabetes, fever, flu, pain relief, sores, stomach aches and even make for gentle skin washes. The list truly goes on and on. It’s hard to put into words how powerful it is to watch such a striking plant dance in the breezes, knowing that its evolutionary lineages stretch out further than that of our own human lifeline.
Making our way home for the evening the clouds rolled in and the gusts tucked us all in softly. Cozy and warm at home on our vessels, we all wound down and let the sunset send us off to sleep.
P.S. Is Alaska on your bucket list? We can take you there! Email us to reserve your spot on our 2023 Mother Goose AK Flotilla. firstname.lastname@example.org