Barkley Sound West Coast Vancouver Island

Bamfield: The End of the Line

Friday, September 13, 2013S.V. CAMBRIA

Bamfield's western shore.

Bamfield, our final stop along the West Coast, is somewhat unique in that the town is divided into two sides – the east and the west – by Bamfield Inlet, also known as “Main Street”.  The east side is connected to the rest of Vancouver Island by a dirt road, giving access to tourists and hikers, but the west side isn’t and can only be reached by boat.

The Bamfield Marine Research Station sits near the entrance to the inlet on the eastern shore and is the former site of the Pacific Cable Board Cable Station – the eastern terminus of the transpacific cable that connected North America with Australia through a series of undersea cables.  At 8,000 miles, it’s the longest cable in the world, sinking to depths of up to 3.5 miles along the seabed.  The first message was sent on November 1, 1902 at a rate of 120 letters per minute.  I have no idea if that’s fast or not in today’s terms, but I’m guessing it was lightening speed one hundred years ago.  The station was operational for more than fifty years but closed down for good in 1959.

In addition to the marine center, the east side of Bamfield contains most of the businesses for the community, including a pub, grocery store, chandlery, and café.  And the west side contains most of the character. . . and characters, for that matter.  A boardwalk runs along the west shoreline, taking you past quaint homes, cafés, bistros, a general store and cat village (yes, you read that right) to name a few.  It’s also home to the only land access to Brady’s Beach – one of the most beautiful and dramatic we’ves een along the West Coast.  Charming and full of personality, I could easily see myself living in Bamfield, trading Cambria in for a cottage and a kayak.   

The water-taxi stand in Bamfield.
A village for feral cats.

But, unfortunately, we have to leave tomorrow.  It seems from the most recent forecasts that we’re experiencing a change in the weather and so, realistically, it’s time to go.  With the end of the cruising season fast-approaching, we found ourselves reflecting on this past season generally, and the West Coast of Vancouver Island in particular.  I said at the beginning that this could be our greatest adventure yet:  In some ways it has been and neither one of us is quite ready to give it up, but it truly is time and we have no choice.  

Dramatic rock formations along Brady's Beach.
Taking in the view.

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