Leaving Quait Bay and approaching the fog bank off Meares Island
If the wind blew Friday (which it did), we weren’t aware of it: Inside Quait Bay, all was quiet and calm. It did, however, rain down in buckets . . . . All. Day. Long.
With a break in the forecast before the next round of weather hits, we were able to leave Saturday morning on a rising tide. It was foggy along Meares Island and visibility was down to less than 100 feet, but the sun managed to burn through as we neared the coast. Once back in open water, the seas were stirred up from a trough that’s lying to the northwest and it was a little uncomfortable with a 1.5 to 2 metre swell that was only six to seven seconds apart and rocked the boat from gunnel to gunnel at times – all and all, our worst passage of the season so far.
But the conditions improved as we moved south and, seven hours later, we arrived in Ucluelet (Yoo - clue - let) under blue skies and anchored off the main marina towards the head of the inlet. Ucluelet, which translates as “safe harbour”, is a major fishing port located in a well-protected harbour and serves as a hub for tourists, kayakers and hikers visiting Pacific Rim National Park. It’s also the largest town we’ve been in since Port McNeill (over two months ago) and somewhat of a culture shock: It’s busy and loud but, at this stage in the game, a welcomed change because the forecast for the next week is grim.
There’s an intensifying frontal system lying over the offshore waters to the north that’s expected to bring storm force winds to the top of Vancouver Island. By early tomorrow morning, we should see 30 to 40 knots of wind from the southeast ourselves with seas building to three metres (four up north). There’s no way around it; it’s going to be ugly, but Ucluelet should be a good place to ride out the storm. At the very least, there are plenty of distractions in the way of shops, restaurants and cafés to help stave off boredom if “cabin fever” sets in.
The Wild Pacific Trail.
But today it’s calm and the weather is beautiful, so we took full advantage by walking the Big Beach and Artist Loop sections of the Wild Pacific Trail, a five-kilometre (3-mile) stretch of manicured paths that runs along the coast overlooking lava fields and driftwood strewn beaches. There’s only one way to describe the experience and that’s simply as being “amazing”. By far and away, it’s the best thing we’ve done along the West Coast, possibly in all of British Columbia. Even David who doesn’t see the point in hiking enjoyed the experience and said it was worth the achy muscles and tired bodies. Coupled with the friendly nature of the residents and all the amenities, it’s easy to see that Ucluelet is going to be one of our favourites stops this season – which good because with the weather forecast we have, it looks like we’re going to be here a while.
David walking along the Wild Pacific Trail
One of the many beautiful beaches along the Wild Pacific Trail