No time for Kombucha / by Caroline Van Hemert

We spent last night at Echo Bay, a small marina with several float homes and a tiny elementary school where children in the surrounding area are transported not by school bus, but by school boat. In the summer months, the friendly harbor attracts everything from kayakers to 100’+ powerboats, including one rumored to be piloted by Jimmy Patterson.  Yesterday, it might have been the site of a classic sailboat show, with a dozen beautiful boats that had been sailed everywhere from the tropics to Newfoundland. During our short tenure at Echo Bay, we were hands-down the loudest, the stinkiest, and the most obtrusive presence on the docks. Two little people can make quite a scene. Fortunately many of the other boaters were of the grandparently type or young and free enough to feel happily unencumbered when they saw our reigning chaos.

A fellow biologist, also heading with her partner to Alaska, kindly gave me starter for brewing Kombucha tea. The instructions she provided were simple, but by step 3 (hold in a secure location in a large glass jar), it was obvious that its preparation could pose a problem on our boat for two reasons: 1) it takes time, which I have precious little of at the moment; 2) it requires that no one put their hands in the jar, spill its contents, or send it flying across the galley to break into a hundred shards. However, I needn’t have worried about the technicalities. We hadn’t even made it through breakfast clean-up before the Kombucha starter was no more. Pat saw a Tupperware full of what looked like the same sort of slime that accompanied our usual messes (somewhere on the spectrum of dirty diapers, pre-chewed food, and spoiled milk) and chucked it overboard. He didn’t bother asking what it might be, as the answer seemed obvious: something the kids produced, and something we didn’t want in our lives. No Kombucha for this crew. 

Yesterday, more than usual, I needed a long, solo run. (Actually, I needed a quiet cup of coffee, a few hours to work, and a long, solo run, but one out of three isn’t bad). To stretch our legs and burn off recent boat confinement, Pat and I took turns exploring the trails around the cove. These turned out to be largely overgrown, so calling this running was perhaps a stretch, but at least it involved sweating in the woods with no one hollering nearby. 

Despite the persistent high volume and high energy state of Chaika, she has taken us to some very serene places in the Broughton Islands. We’ve been tide pooling, rock hopping, rowing, and fishing in forested coves and along white shell midden beaches. After a number of days of this, we’ve established a fairly standard shore routine. As soon as we land, Huxley sets off up the steepest rock or into the thickest patch of forest while Dawson grins, attempts to follow his brother, and then quickly asks about a “Nack” (snack). Olives, freeze-dried peas, and dehydrated cherries are among the current repertoire of favorites. For us, each day offers new sights. For the boys, each day delivers a brand new world. They are not only rolling with the changes, they are rollicking, somersaulting, back-flipping, and generally loving life in the way that only kids can do.

Tonight we’re anchored at a quiet cove on Eden Island, where we were greeted by red-throated loons, great blue herons, and marbled murrelets. We will wake up tomorrow with an eager and noisy crew, ready for whatever adventure finds us.

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Huxley the climber. 

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Dawson ready for a snack. 

 Fishing off the docks at Echo Bay. 

Fishing off the docks at Echo Bay. 

 Family hike. 

Family hike. 

 Trail “running” on Gilford Island. 

Trail “running” on Gilford Island. 

 Giving it a good college try.

Giving it a good college try.

 Name that knot. Or ask Huxley. 

Name that knot. Or ask Huxley. 

 Sailing Johnstone Strait. 

Sailing Johnstone Strait.