Cormac! / by Caroline Van Hemert

We arrived to big news in Bella Bella--we have a new nephew! Congratulations Ashley & Scott and welcome little Cormac! We're thinking of you. Since the last update, we've had an eventful few days, crossing Queen Charlotte Sound, traveling along the exposed outer coast, and making our way through Fitz Hugh Sound. Leaving Vancouver Island near Port Hardy, we hopscotchd across several groups of islands, which helped to shorten the length of any single crossing on our way to the mainland, 15 miles away. We were treated to sunshine, incredibly clear water, sea lion haul-outs, and lots of bird life. Less welcome sights were the fish farms that pepper their shorelines. The exposed locations of many of these operations and the ferocity of winds and waves we've experienced just in the past three weeks seems like a very dangerous combination for wild salmon populations. The following day we traveled along the exposed coast of the Cape Caution area (so-named for a near disaster with Cook's ship the Discovery) and learned firsthand the meaning of "3 meter swell." Our boats would disappear between the huge rollers as surf crashed on hidden reefs and along the rocky shoreline. Sunshine and the open Pacific--the closest we'll come on this trip to a tropical vacation! As winds picked up in the afternoon we ducked into a small cove, which dried to extensive sand/mud flats and colorful tidepools at low tide. We learned the other extreme of the tide cycle when we woke up at 1 am to find water only inches from our tent floor! Traveling further north along the interface between estuarine and pelagic environments, we saw an interesting mix of species--sea otters, river otters, sea lions, rhinocerous auklets, cormorants, and many others. Clear skies and settled seas made for a couple of great rowing days. One of these became a very long day when we had trouble finding a suitable place to camp and rowed by moonlight for several miles. Full moons also bring big tides, and we had a scare last night when we woke to find our boats nearly adrift despite hauling them 8' above the highest point on the beach. We celebrated Easter morning with headwinds and choppy conditions but have been spoiled this evening by the amazing hospitality of Rick and Catherine in Bella Bella. They treated us to a hot shower, prawn dinner, and soft bed. What a great surprise!