Photo: Blue Lips Cove
The wind whistled up Kyuquot Sound and Osprey bucked on the waves as we dropped anchor off Cachalot. But no matter how Steve steered or gunned the engine, he couldn't get the bow to come into the wind and we weren't sure the anchor was holding.
"I don't like this," said Steve.
"Let's go to Blue Lips Cove and come back tomorrow," I suggested.
The anchor when it came up was encased in a ball of kelp. Chances were good it hadn't been holding.
We motored the few miles to the entrance to Amai Inlet where we entered the narrow channel of Blue Lips Cove. Inside we found a deserted anchorage so protected there wasn't a ripple on the water. After a day of wind and rain coming north from Nuchatlitz then a night of rain in Dixie Cove, the peaceful little cove seemed like a refuge. The sun came out and eagles trilled. (Blue Lips is a local name for a unnamed cove at the mouth of Amai Inlet.)
The next morning we motored back to Cachalot on smooth waters. We dropped the anchor off a row of old pilings, this time in water deep enough to avoid kelp. And this time it held. Across the inlet a black bear grubbed for crabs at low tide but the beach at Cachalot was deserted. We went ashore at the old pilings and walked along the beach, noting the occasional chunk of whale bone, miscellaneous rusty bolts and a few pieces of crockery. No one would mistake this beach for a pristine environment, but yet it was peaceful in the sunshine with its backdrop of tall spruce trees on the land. We were on the site of the former industrial whaling plant of Cachalot. Cachalot, locally pronounced catch-a-lot as in catch a lot of fish, comes from the French word for sperm whale and should be pronounced cach-a-lo. Starting in 1909, ships from this site went out to sea with bomb-lance harpoons, shot whales and brought them back here for butchering. They were so successful that they almost wiped out all the whales in the area and had to close in 1927.
We were here for a purpose: to clean the brush away from a ferrocement statue of a sperm whale - placed here by our friend Wayne Adams in the 1970s. Nothing on the statue tells who placed it there or why. "The best anonymous art I ever did," Wayne told us when Steve suggested he should put a plaque with his name on it on the whale. "It's about the whales who lost their lives there, not about the art."
We found the whale in a small patch of thimbleberries backed by salal. It's in good shape except for some moss on its tale and nose and some cracks on its back. And from the relative absence of large vegetation around it, it's obvious someone besides us comes here to clean out the brush. Steve got out his machete and started chopping. Soon the whale was even more visible from the water than before. We don't want people to forget the whales either -- and we want to preserve the art.
Photo: Whale statue at Cachalot