the Discovery Islands the Inside Passage

Frederick Arm

Tuesday, August 17, 2010S.V. CAMBRIA

Estero Basin

We left Thurston Marine Park this morning for Frederick Arm, a mainland inlet up from Nodales Channel and only a few miles from Shoal Bay. Fredrick Arm itself is nothing special. The anchorage is open to inflow winds and there's a working logging camp littering the area with booms in the northwest corner: the real attraction is Estero Basin.

The basin is accessed through “The Gut”, a small river or creek where the tidal waters flow rapidly in and out, so timing your trip around slack water is important unless you want to shoot the rapids or are prepared to portage your dinghy at some point. Unfortunately, time wasn't on our side and we had to enter as the tide was going out leaving David to drag the dinghy across shallow waters, rapids and sand bars. His efforts paid off.

From the shallows of “The Gut”, Estero Basin opens up into a huge gorge carved out of the mountains; its deep waters enclosed by a steep shoreline of forested slopes, sheer cliffs, and fresh water. Although there were a few other boats anchored at the head of Frederick Arm, they were there to fish and set crab pots, and we had the basin to ourselves.

So in we went, across the drying flats and to the head of the basin where we found a small island with bathing rocks along its shore and lazed about like lizards absorbing the last of the summer sun before motoring back to “The Gut” and Cambria for the night.

Once again, we find ourselves exploring an area which eludes description, in part because of the stunning scenery but also because of the emotions that scenery evokes. How do you describe the eerie stillness of the basin as you travel four miles in uncharted waters feeling as if you're the only two people on earth? Or the complete silence and the solitude which surrounds you? Or that you're in an area so remote and wild it's like it's like glimpsing into the past while existing in the present? I'm struggling, and I was there.

With no other distractions in Fredrick Arm, we'll leave in the morning and make our way back to Shoal Bay so that David and Kelly, also known as the Brownsville Blues Band, can spend a couple of days practising their set list – Mustang Sally, Melissa, Rock Me Baby, Blue Jean Blues, Black Magic Woman, Stormy Monday, Wonderful Tonight, to name a few – for this weekend's music festival.

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