ALASKA 2015: LEG 1 – OCEAN FALLS | NW Explorations



Pulled anchors at 0800 and navigate our way back out to Fitz Hugh Sound. There has been a change in the itinerary – we are headed to Ocean Falls.

The change in itinerary is a thrill to Pat and Rick aboard Eldean, who had an opportunity to visit two years ago and enjoyed the eclectic feel of the ghost town.  The naturalist hops on with Eldean for the day since Rick has demonstrated that he knows a thing or two about geology, and they have some good stories of Ocean Falls.  She wants to pick their brains and get them to share stories of Ocean Falls with the fleet.

Ocean Falls has an interesting history.  Although there are a scattering of abandoned canneries throughout this region, Ocean Falls is a true ghost town.  The once thriving community of 5,000 relocated when the pulp mill closed its doors in the 1980’s and today the year round population is closer to 50.  A number of the buildings were razed, but the ones that still stand have their curtains blowing in the breeze and furniture still standing in the living room… the entire town is blanketed in wildflowers and salmon berries.  Nearly Normal Norm is the informal historian for the town, as he’s lived there for over 30 years.  He also serves as curator for the strange museum of sorts that is housed in one of the old buildings.

Ocean falls is located at the end of Cousins Inlet, about 5 hours from our anchorage. When we pull in to the docks, the wind is blowing good and makes docking a bit more of a challenge.  Our fleet has plenty of practice at this stage of the trip though, and all goes smoothly.

Once docked, folks head up to town to explore.  Captain Brian finds the only restaurant in town, as well as the owner (this proves a boon). The owner indicates that he could go ahead and be open for dinner but will need a head count in advance.  It’s that kind of place.  Ajax and Telita as well as crew aboard Deception elect to give it a try and put in their orders for baby back ribs or crab dinner.

In addition to a restaurant, we discover it has a pay phone and wifi… Doubly impressed!  Not bad for a ghost town.  The small building off the docks provides some puzzles and games, two computers to use free of charge and a smattering of local history. Later in the evening Melissa aboard Navigator stops by Deception to share the beautiful set of Ocean Falls pins the gentleman in charge of the docks provided her as souvenirs. This is the kind of out of way place that is worth heading out of your way for.

And if souvenir pins aren’t reason enough – we meet Nearly Normal Norm – who does indeed introduce himself that way.  He proves quite a local character, and we are provided free admission to the ‘museum’.  It’s a large collection of items collected from the abandoned buildings in town that give you a taste of what it was like here fifty years ago. In particular, he has a collection of frogs that visitors have brought from around the world and donated to his collection.  Each one has a good story.  If you ever have an opportunity to find yourself in this eclectic corner of the world, be sure to bring a frog!

After we poke around Norm’s collection, we head on a short walk up to Link Lake just up from town.  Link Lake is somewhere around 10 -15 miles long and 500 feet deep and feeds the hydro-electric Dam that provides electricity to Bella Bella and Shearwater.

In the afternoon the crews take advantage of the wifi and the warm and sunny afternoon, we’re happy we stopped off here.  Well out of the way, but well worth it too. Eldean works on figuring out some anchor chain challenge in the locker with the help of Captain Brian and Rowan, while Navigator hosts cocktails.  Ajax and Telita join the crew aboard Deception for what turns out to be a simple but surprisingly good dinner at the restaurant.  In fact, those who ordered crab are treated to two apiece.

Tomorrow we head Rescue Bay.

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