British Columbia Checleset Bay

Shedding a Little Light on the Subject: How a Sunset Changed My Mind

Thursday, August 01, 2013S.V. CAMBRIA

It was foggy again yesterday with limited visibility but had lifted enough by early afternoon that we decided to leave Columbia Cove and move on to our next destination – the Bunsby Islands, a group of low, windswept islands located in Checleset Bay that are considered a “must see” for the West Coast. 

It was here that from 1969 through 1972, 89 wild sea otters from Alaska were released and re-introduced after the entire population in British Columbia had been wiped out decades earlier by fur traders.  According to the most recent statistics we could find, the transplanted population has grown at a rate of about 19% per year and in 1995, there were at least 1450 sea otters, many of which live along this section of the West Coast – Checleset Bay, Kyuquot and Nootka Sounds. 
A sea otter grooms itself as it swims past the boat in Scow Bay

There are several protected anchorages in the island group to choose from and we opted for Scow Bay.  Not because it was our first choice (the others were shrouded in fog) but it turned out to be the best one.  Though not surrounded by sea otters like we’d hoped, we were gifted with a more memorable experience than we could have ever wished for.

Alone at anchor in Scow Bay, we sat on the deck of the boat last night and talked about the challenges and difficulties that we’vefaced along the way and those yet to come – the cold, the fog, rocks, reefs and our ever-weakening house batteries.  The Inside Passage is a walk in the park compared to this:  Hazards abound and, as much as I hate to admit it, we’d be lost without our electronics (at the very least, GPS) because of the fog.  In these “summer” conditions, dead reckoning a position verges on impossible yet the early explorers (and even some folks today) managed to do it, though it’s difficult to imagine how. 

David believes this is an incredible experience and is enjoying the challenges that the West Coast presents, but it’s been more difficult for me to find the positive in it all.  Summer is my favourite season.  I love to be out in the warmth of the sun soaking it all in like a lizard to help see me through the winter months.  And the West Coast is clearly not the place for fair-weather friends . . . or sailors.  So I’ve been struggling and longing for the hot, sunny days of Desolation Sound – despite the fact that I knew what to expect from the weather here. 

And as if on cue, the West Coast chose that moment to reveal itself to us through the most amazing sunset we’ve ever seen:  It was truly other-worldly.  As the fog rolled in from the sea, the sun slowly burned its way through the upper clouds and turned the sky into a beautiful shade of soft-orange.  Dulled by the fog, we could look directly at the sun and take it all in.  So we did.  And as we sat there in silence and watched, I could finally see the beauty in the fog and it’s ability to add another layer of life to this already spectacular coastline and accept it for what it is.

Watching the fog roll in along the coast

Sunset in Scow Bay

Exploring the Bunsby Islands

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