The pacific northwest has finally served up it’s signature weather for our trip from Bishop Bay to Patterson Inlet. Low lying skies with rain that is not quite rain, but leaves you wet no less. We could begin to list all the adjectives in English: misting, spitting, sprinkling… We navigate our way up Ursula Channel around Gribbell Island and into Verney Passage headed in the direction of Gil Island. These labrythine passages and names – Channel, Sound, Passage, Bay – have Alan aboard Aquila inquiring whether there is any rhyme or reason to these terms. He has diligently drafted a list and the crew aboard Deception are tasked with providing insights to their nautical definitions, if they exist. Off Gil Island lies Gil Rock where the BC Ferry Queen of the North ran aground on March 22, 2006. All but two passengers were loaded into life boats and rescued by fishermen from the nearby tribal community. These waters are littered with stories.
As we snake our way out to Gil Island and approach open water Deception calls out a whale sighting off their bow. As the fleet follows, Ajax and Eldean spot these spouts as well. Deception’s naturalist has joined Jack and Annette aboard Telita, and she understands now Annette’s puzzlement over all of her earlier observations of wildlife – Telita seems left out of the sightings until finally a blow many yards off her stern. No show of their flukes to confirm, but we suspect they are humpbacks which are the most commonly sighted whale in these waters.
As we enter Principe Channel we find ourselves with choppy seas and 11 knot winds but within a half hour or so we have turned east to enter Patterson Inlet.
The loons are calling as the fleet sets anchor. It’s another deep anchorage – 75+ feet, but the boats find some nooks and crannies to drop hooks. Annette and Jack aboard Deception have just sat hung up wet jackets and sat down with a cup of tea, and aboard Deception they are enjoying a warm bowl of soup.
No less, by dinner time the clouds have lifted and the sun makes its way through the heavy. Aboard Ajax John is on deck when he interrupts their conversation: “Situational Awareness – Bear on Shore!” They share the sighting over the radio to the fleet. We all turn our binoculars to the small grassy cove in the northeast corner where we sight a lone black bear feeding on sedges. He ambles over the rocks along the shore scouring for whatever source of calories he can identify.
Dusk here doesn’t settle until well after 10 pm, so after dinner, as the waters fall glassy calm, Dave and Hunter from Ajax borrow Deceptions kayaks to explore the cove. They angle in where we sighted the bear, and from there edge around the small anchorage eventually docking astern of Deception where they are invited in for an episode of Horation Hornblower – a mariners delight.