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Voyages North
Cat Overboard! Hisnit Inlet. July 14, 2016
07/29/2016, Posted at Hakkai, Fitz Hugh Sound

Photo: Jack balancing on the bow pulpit.

"Elsie, come out here quickly and help me find Jack! The urgency in Steve's voice told me this was more than just an incident of Jack wandering into some unknown part of the boat. I dropped the sponge I had been using to clean the galley counter and raced up on deck.

Steve was standing on Osprey's stern looking overboard.

"He was on top of the lifesling. I saw him jump toward the dinghy, but he's not there now. I can hear him meowing but now I can't see him," said Steve.

The sun had set a while ago and dusk was settling into Hisnit Inlet in Nootka Sound where we had anchored for the night. I could still see the nearby shore with its encircling marshes and mountains beyond but not many details.

Then, I too heard the meows, louder and lower than Jack's usual meows. I ran to the port side deck and looked over. There, close to the Osprey's hull, I saw a flash of orange fur moving toward the bow. I called him, "Here, Jack, Jack, Jack." He turned toward me, tried frantically to climb up the boat's side, then swam right by me, heading for the stern. Afraid that he would swim away toward shore, I got down on the deck, reached my right hand as far as I could toward the water - and grabbed Jack's tail. He struggled against me, but I held on. Dragging him back, then briefly letting go to grab his harness, I swung him onboard. Steve grabbed him while I collapsed in relief on the deck.

Earlier that evening we had laughed as Jack balanced on the stern pulpit, then raced up and down on the deck. I had jokingly said that I wished he'd fall overboard at anchor when we were awake and could rescue him so he would learn a lesson. I hadn't realized how difficult rescuing him would be.
Steve put Jack in the galley sink and hosed him off, then I dried him with a towel as best as I could. He spent the rest of the evening grooming himself and shivering.

Did Jack learn his lesson? He acts like he knows no fear. He still walks on the bow and stern pulpits and when we're at anchor, he takes flying leaps from Osprey's deck into the dinghy and vice versa. But he does seem a bit more cautious when we're underway and we hope he's developed a better sense of when he can jump.

Hesquiat. July 12, 2016
Elsie Hulsizer
07/29/2016, Posted at Hakkai, Fitz Hugh Sound

Photo: Hesquiat Village. July 13, 2016

Long low swells on a rippled sea rolled Osprey gently as we motored north from Hot Springs Cove. It was perfect weather to visit the Hesquiat Indian village on the east shore of Hesquiat Peninsula. We like to go there to visit Dave and Dianne Ignace, who with their family are the only remaining occupants of the village, but stopping there isn't possible on every trip; it requires a light northerly. To avoid rounding Estevan Point and the Hesquiat Peninsula in the strong winds forecast for the next day we planned to visit Hesquiat in the morning, then go on to Friendly Cove in Nootka Sound that afternoon. It would make for a long day. Thinking about it made me tense. It seemed to me we had been hurrying too fast up the coast.

We anchored off the village behind a short spit. From Osprey's deck, I looked south toward the open ocean: miles of sea with nothing between us and the full force of the sea. Anchoring here feels like anchoring on the edge of the world. I turned to look at the village where just two small houses stood against a background of dark spruce and cedar. Over the years that we had been going there, the houses, occupied by the Ignaces and their family, had blended more into the background, their paint fading as the vegetation grew. It made a pleasant sight.

We took the dinghy across the shallows following a line of small buoys to a concrete breakwater jutting out from the beach. More a groin than a breakwater, the breakwater afforded protection only at high tide. We hitched the dinghy painter to a cable and climbed out. A young man walked toward us.

"Are Dianne and Dave home?" I asked him.

"Yes," he said shyly, pointing toward their house, the larger of the two houses.
We walked up the breakwater to the beach and then up a short path to the house. As we rounded a corner Dianne stepped out, her round face smiling as she held out her arms to hug us.

"We thought we saw your boat a couple of weeks ago, a green boat like yours. 'Is it them?' we asked. But the people just came ashore and played with their children on the beach without coming to the house."

We walked up outside stairs to the back porch, then into the kitchen where Dave greeted us, his face breaking into a smile as he shook our hands. While Dianne made coffee, the rest of us carted chairs out to the back porch where we could get some relief from the sun baking the roof. From where I sat I could look through the living room and out the window toward the sea; a view worth millions in a city.
As I sat in my chair with coffee in my hands and listened to them talk about their life in this remote place, I relaxed. Dianne told us she had been preparing oregano from her garden for drying. Their grandson, the young man we'd met on the breakwater, was looking for the source of a leak in their water line. Steve commented on how healthy they looked and Dave showed us his hand that had been cut badly, then repaired. He was flown to Nanaimo by helicopter; it had taken only two hours. The story gave me a different perspective on Hesquiat; not so far to civilization if it was an emergency.

The subject veered to fishing, a perennial subject on the west coast of Vancouver Island. It was bad, Dianne told us and there weren't any crabs or clams either. Surprised, I told them that Wayne Adams, in Clayoquot Sound had told us the opposite.

"They don't have sea otters there yet," she replied.

I had been thinking I would like to buy one of the kelp baskets that Dianne weaves and sells from a small shop in her basement. She reached behind her and pulled one of a shelf. It had a kelp bladder serving as a handle. I liked it and decided to buy it. We then went downstairs where Steve purchased a hummingbird carving made by her son.

As we motored the dinghy back out to the boat, a light wind was just building. There was still plenty of time to make it to Friendly Cove. It had been a good visit. I was glad the weather had allowed us to stop.

We came to the West Coast for adventure, but we return for the people.


Ahousaht Territory. July 10, 2016
Elsie Hulsizer
07/29/2016, Posted at Hakkai, Fitz Hugh Sound

Photo: Watta Creek in Bacchante Bay. Ahousaht Territory?

We were weaving our way through the maze of rocks in Sulphur Passage between Millar Channel and Shelter Inlet, when I looked back and saw a small yellow powerboat following us. I didn't think anything of it; it was keeping its distance. But when we exited the Passage and started to turn starboard toward Bacchante Bay, it too turned right, forcing us to turn farther right to stay out of their way. Odd behavior for a small powerboat, most of which would have just speeded up and passed us. Watching it, I felt a prick of uneasiness.

As the boat approached us, I saw its name, Ahousat Guardian, then, noticed its occupants, two young men in blue uniforms. One of the men held up a radio, but after some confusion trying to match stations (they were on channel 65, not a normal calling channel), they came closer. "Are you going to anchor in Bacchante Bay?" the man asked, pointing up Shelter Inlet.

"Yes we are," Steve answered.

"You need a permit from us," the man said, holding up a receipt book. "Bacchante Bay is Ahousat Territory."

I was incredulous. "It's part of Strathcona Provincial Park."

"It's something we just started this year. You need a permit to anchor or camp in Ahousat Territory, anywhere between Ahousat and Hesquiat."

We knew Canada had never signed treaties with the First Nations in British Columbia and were trying to rectify that with negotiations. A few Nations had settled, but most had not. Could this be something that had come out of the treaty negotiations? Because we don't live in Canada, it would have been easy to miss news about it. Reluctantly, we agreed to pay the $10 per person per night. In return, we got a paper permit with a map showing a large area from Hesquiat to Ahousat labeled Ahousaht Sound (a name not shown on the chart). The permit noted that "the fees collected support the Ahousaht Chiefs and their efforts to manage their land and resources for the sustainable enjoyment and benefit of all living beings since the beginning of time and into the unforeseeable future."
We continued on into Bacchante Bay and anchored off the marsh just as the rain started. Despite the rain, we took the dinghy up Watta Creek, crossing the marsh and following the creek into a deep pool where we could look upstream to tall spruce. Blueberry bushes hung over the water and raindrops stippled the water with bubbles. It was beautiful, even in the rain, probably worth $20 a night. But the incident made us feel as if we had been scammed, ruining some of our enjoyment in the beauty.

The next day in Hot Springs Cove, we learned more. Thanks to good cell service, I went online and googled "Ahousat Guardian" and found a website stating that "the Ahousahts have started a Guardian Program to promote economic development within their territory. They are asking visitors to purchase camping permits for their stay within their territory." The website makes it sound voluntary; the men in the yellow boat made it sound mandatory. We also learned more from Shaun, the innkeeper on the floating hotel, the Innchanter. Shaun told us the program was controversial; with even some Ahousahts saying it was a scam.

What I haven't learned is what, if any, authority the Ahousahts have to require permits in the Provincial Park and what would happen if someone refused to pay. The Provincial Parks website says nothing about a fee in Bacchante Bay, nor does it acknowledge joint management. The Queen Cove band has started something similar, charging $5 a night to anchor in Queen Cove, even though the cove itself is not in their reserve. The Mowachats at Friendly Cove have charged a landing fee for years, but that has always seemed reasonable to me; it's their reserve and they maintain the trails and the historic church with its stained glass windows and carvings.

Finding the answers to my questions will have to wait until we're back in civilization. More research is required than I can do with the slow internet connections we have here.

I know the situation is complicated. BC First Nations in BC have gotten a bad deal to date. They were given only postage stamp-sized reserves - so small the total number of acreage in reserves on Vancouver Island is roughly the size of the Makah Reservation in Washington State. With such small reserves they can't protect their fish runs and the watersheds that support them. As a result of logging and overfishing the runs are only a small percentage of their original size in an area that is still wilderness.

I hope they figure it out. I'm willing to pay fees where appropriate. But their manner of approaching us and the amount they charged - far in excess of a fee I might expect to pay in a state or provincial park- made me feel I was being scammed. One Canadian boater we told about the fees was furious and determined not to pay. The long term consequence may be that fewer boaters will visit this part of the coast.


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Voyages North on SV Osprey
Who: Steve and Elsie Hulsizer (author of Glaciers, Bears and Totems and Voyages to Windward)
Port: Seattle
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