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Voyages North
Shearwater to Claste Bay, July 19 - 20, 2010

Photo: Claste Bay, Roscoe Inlet

From Ocean Falls we motor through Gunboat Passage to Shearwater, arriving on Monday afternoon, just after the weekly produce barge has arrived--the best time for grocery shopping at Shearwater. Everything is expensive but it's fresh.

We enjoy halibut and salmon burgers at the Shearwater Restaurant that night. It's nice to not have to cook for a change.

The drill motor pump Steve uses to change engine oil has died and Steve had been hoping to buy one at Shearwater, but no luck. Instead, the next morning he borrows a hand pump from our friends Chuck and Margie of the sailboat Dreamcatcher, who just happen to be anchored here too.

We decide to explore Roscoe Inlet for a couple of days then come back to check again if the mail arrived .

We leave Shearwater late in the afternoon and sail north up Troupe Passage, sailing through intricate Troupe Narrows. With a light wind behind us and a chart plotter to show our track through the rocks and islands it's easy. Once through Troupe Narrows we turn into Roscoe Inlet, finally sailing into Claste Bay at 8 pm and anchoring off a beautiful marsh.

When I go out after dinner to raise the anchor light, a moon is shining through the haze.

Ocean Falls
07/22/2010, Ocean Falls, July 17-19

Photo: abandoned house in Ocean Falls

We leave Codville Lagoon and sail north up Fisher Channel with a strong inflow wind. We sail wing and wing with the spinnaker pole holding out the jib, leaving another sailboat that doesn't have a pole in the dust (spray?). The wind pushes us all the way up Fisher Channel, into Cousins Inlet and around the bend where we can see the town of Ocean Falls with its hydroelectric dam, its office buildings, its hotels, its houses. But wait -- something's wrong! All those buildings are in disrepair. They're abandoned.

Ocean Falls was once a major pulp mill company town with a population of 2,000-3,000 at its peak. The mill closed in 1980 and the BC government started to raze the town in 1986. A public outcry saved some of the buildings which are still there, abandoned and empty. A few stubborn people, who refused to leave, do what they can to maintain the town. The major businesses remaining are the hydroelectric plant, a fish hatchery, a lodge that sometimes operates, and a very pleasant marina operated by friendly people. The ferry still stops there twice a week in the summer. It arrives at 1 am, which must make for a strange experience for someone who's never been here.

We tie up at the Ocean Falls Marina along with a number of other visiting boats and walk around town. The roads are still there and we walk by a multi-story office building, a school, apartments and a row of nice old houses with rotting roofs. Amazingly, many of the houses still have windowpanes in them and there is no graffiti anywhere.

I put our laundry in the marina's laundry cart and trundle it up the empty street to the vacant lodge. It's not operating this summer but they've left the laundry and shower room open for visiting boats. I leave the laundry cart outside the door as I know I don't have to worry about any one stealing it.

We spend two pleasant days in the sunshine at the marina.

Ocean Falls

Photo: Abandoned city of Ocean Falls from Cousins Inlet

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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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