May 26th, 2016 | By: Christina Hornett | Leg 1: Inside Passage
We woke up on the docks of Meyers Chuck with the sun shining down on the fleet. Everyone has been remarking at just how amazing the weather has been and how much they are enjoying themselves. This truly is a remarkable experience. As I sit on the bow of Deception watching everyone saying good morning and filling their coffee mugs – a little boat comes zooming up to the fleet. It is the famous Cassie I have heard so much about, bringing two big baskets full of her cinnamon buns! She hangs out on the dock, warmly greeting Captain Brian and checking in to see how we are all doing. Warm, individually wrapped buns are dispersed amongst all the clients. As a photo-op is chosen, Noel from Patos quips “All right everyone, hold yer buns!” which produces some giggles around the dock.And with the delicious, still-warm buns being consumed by all – everyone gets underway smoothly and we head on to our next location of Coffman Cove. This will be a short day – just 4 hours of cruising under blue skies and calm seas. A thank you to Richard & Stephanie who spot the first whales of the day onboard Patos. Everyone gets their binoculars out and enjoys the breaching whales for several minutes before they pass us by. We begin to hug the coastline a bit as the day of cruising ends and I enjoy from the flybridge the view of the goslings behind us beneath the backdrop of a blue sky and white puffy clouds and the beautiful coastline of trees and little sandy coves scattered throughout. Something catches my eye along the coastline and I look again. Could it be? Another whale making its way south – the fleet all idles and watches the whale breach and blow air as it surfaces.
Shortly thereafter, we turn into the quaint spot of Coffman Cove, “Alaska’s Best Kept Secret” on Prince of Wales Island. This little oasis is the only community in this area that is accessible by a paved road – which leads 1 hr. south down to Craig. After rafting up along the dock, everyone individually heads up to “town”. Along the dock is a fish preparation station for the locals and guests to clean their catch of the day along with a welcome sign to the Cove. As you walk into town there is the Doghouse – a bar attached to a liquor store, and a key location for gathering up fresh local oysters, which Captain Brian does for a little social hour later in the evening. Next to that is the Bait Box – serving up hamburgers, fries, and milkshakes. Jon and I indulge in some burger enjoyment while others enjoy some thick, delicious milkshakes. It was at the Bait Box that myself, Greg, and Jon met Chuck. Chuck was in the typical Alaska uniform of jeans, flannel, jacket, and cap. His tanned face and youthful eyes belied his alleged 70 years of living here on this planet. After finishing up in the service, he realized that he didn’t really have a desire to be around people – and he moved up here to live a life in the outdoors surrounded by a very small community. With his continuous smile – one can only see that he has picked a pretty great life for himself.
About two blocks up from town is a short gravel road that leads to the library. This short road passes a basketball court, a community center, and a group of friendly shaggy dogs before ending at the library steps. The library is a true wonder and a must-visit for anyone coming to this area. With a small, unlocked box titled “Book Return” – you walk into the front door and the library is unstaffed, opened by volunteers and sometimes staying open 24 hours just in case someone needs to use a computer or grab something new to read. The library is filled with a wide variety of books – and even has a request sheet for books you may want to see ordered. The only book listed on this sheet says “the new Harry Potter”. It makes you stop and think for a second just how remote these locations are – that a book as popular and common as the Harry Potter series has yet to make its way up to Coffman Cove! Each remote spot we have visited so far, I have been able to envision myself being happy in – enjoying the seclusion and peace…but then I am reminded in instances like this just how much you have to change your way of thinking and living. If you want that new book – you can’t just walk to the bookstore and begin reading it that day. You can’t just order that Thai food for delivery because it sounds better than cooking something yourself. You need to learn to be self-sufficient here and that is something that I find very appealing in a world where I have every convenience I need all within minutes.
Coffman Cove’s population increases three-fold in the summer as tourists come to town. Further into town are various cabins and lodging, as well as guided ocean charters. Plenty of fun and adventure can be had in this oasis whether it is on land enjoying some hiking, swapping tales with the fisherman or hunters at the bar, beachcombing, hunting…or out on the water kayaking, fishing, or canoeing.
Back at the dock, Captain Brian and Jon begin to shuck and prepare oysters for the grill. TheDeception crew has invited everyone over for some appetizers and soon the salon is filled with relaxed bodies and smiling faces as everyone remarks at the friendliness of the town. Sounds of laughter and lively discussions permeate across the docks and a local and his grandchildren come with their dogs to say hello to this menagerie of yachts. Again, the people here are so friendly and eager to hear where you are from and what brings you to their neck of the woods. The two oldest kids are super polite and interested in who we are. Greg, Don from Ajax, and I, ask the kids questions about their school, which comprises a total of 13 students. Their teacher lives just down the dock from us on a sailboat, who they subsequently visit after saying their goodbyes to us. It is remarkable to see the childhood they get to have in a world with no cell phones, no internet, no MTV, and no social media overburdening them with who they need to be. It is a healthy way to live here – riding your bike, visiting neighbors, and having a small, tight-knit community that supports one another. Even the dogs seem happier here – an older dog visited our dock earlier and got cozy next to the dock for a bit before playing stick with naturalist Greg, who the pup followed up into town and then continued on his way back home. As we talk to these great kiddos and their grandfather, their 3 dogs (Winter, Darby, and Daisy) nose our legs for pets and scratches.The evening winds down on Deception with the crew watching a few episodes of Rome to watch and bowls of ice cream enjoyed all around. Yet another magical and unique day on the flotilla. This really is the way to live…
A very content and happy Christina, signing off here in Coffman Cove.