British Columbia Clayoquot Sound

Ahousat: A Genuine Wilderness Outpost

Tuesday, August 20, 2013S.V. CAMBRIA

Ahousat General Store

We could have stayed in Bottleneck Cove forever, but time and tide waits for no man so we reluctantly left yesterday after two fantastic nights and made way for Ahousat*, in Clayoquot Sound, where we tied upto the dock at the general store.

Owned and operated by Hugh Clarke, whose father donated the land at Hot Springs Cove to the BC government, Ahousat has a 1950s feel about it – laid back and friendly.  Local children play along the dock and try to catch fish while Rowdy, the resident stray, watches on.  Most hours of the day, Hugh can be found sitting by the front door of the store holding court with whoever passes by and has become somewhat of an attraction for visiting yachts.  But the main draw for us was the café:  I have no idea why but, if there’s one thing we crave on a regular basis that isn’t chocolate, it has to be French fries – the best answer we can come up with is the salt. 

After having our fill of fish and chips, we chatted with the couple who run the café for Hugh and learned about a recent encounter with a cougar that was caught on surveillance camera.  Watching the video on Bill’s computer, we weresurprised at how fast they can swim, and I have to admit that I was worried about a repeat performance:  Apparently, I wasn’t the only one.  Sitting on the deck of the boat last night, I could hear people onshore talking about the cougar.  Hugh patted his hip in effort to reassure everyone and told them that he had his gun ready.  Rumour has it that he’s killed three over the years and even has one unlucky cougar’s head mounted on a wall in the store.  But he suffered a stroke not too long ago and I have to admit that I wasn’t sure what to be more concerned about– being attacked by a cougar or his aim.

As it turned out, I needn’t have worried.  It was a quiet night and just to prove the point, Sally had me up at five this morning with an emergency trip to shore but the only predator lurking about was Rowdy, who has a bit of a crush on her.  She was sick again at 8:00 am, so it’s back to a chicken and rice diet until her stomach settles down again.  She still doesn’t have any other symptoms, so we’re convinced that she keeps picking something up on a beach – that dog will eat anything. 

Sally wasn’t the only one out of sorts this morning.  David woke up with another rotten head and went back to bed until 10:00 am when I finally got him up so we could finish our chores and be on our way.  We had planned to continue up to the head of Matilda Inlet and Gibson Marine Park to have a bath in the warm spring and take a hike to the beach but, because of the recent cougar activity (not to mention the wolves), decided it was best to move on.

After topping up with fuel (Hugh keeps his prices lower than Tofino by as much as CA$0.10 a litre) and water (which has a cedar tinge to it but tastes fine), we finally got away around one o’clock and went to Ritchie Bay, on Meares Island, for the night.  Considered a roadstead anchorage, it’s open to the western quadrant and a slight swell enters in, but it’s convenient stop and about all David could handle for the day.  Besides, the holding is good in sand and mud and the anchorage is quiet, which is all that really matters at this point. 

*If you’re using an older cruising guide like us (Dreamspeaker Vol. 6: The West Coast of Vancouver Island, Exploring Vancouver Island’s West Coast), things have changed a bit in Ahousat.  Hugh’s sister no longer runs the café, and the place is for sale for CA$2.5 million but has been on the market for several years.  An outfit out of Oak Bay near Victoria expressed some interest while we were there, but we don’t know if anything became of it.

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