Rain in a wild-west town
13 September 2008 | Nuchatlitz and Zeballos, West Coast Vancovuer Island
Walter's Cove to Nuchatlitz (49 49.3N, 125 59.1W), Esperanza Inlet. August 18.
The weather fax shows a series of lows and fronts marching towards us across the Pacific. We realize that we're going to be spending a lot of time holed up in harbors waiting for the weather so we'll need to make tracks south whenever the wind permits. We had planned to visit Cachalot and Dixie Cove in Kuyuquot Sound but when we leave Walter's Cove the wind is calm with only moderate southerlies predicted today but gales tomorrow. We decide to keep going south. We motor south through Clear Passage, then sail against a moderate southerly into Esperanza Inlet where we anchor in Nuchatlitz for the night. Nucahtlitz doesn't look like a snug harbor but we know from experience that it's a good place to wait out a southeaster. The next day the wind blows 35-40 at sea but we never see much over 20 knots in the harbor.
Nuchatlitz has always been one of our favorite places on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. On this visit we watch the storm across the islands and see a sea otter feeding alongside our boat, but we feel somewhat at loose ends because none of the friends we have made here over the years are here: they are all either vacationing somewhere else or have moved away permanently. The fact that the blackberries we picked here in previous years aren't ripe yet in mid-August doesn't do anything for our moods either.
Nuchatlitz to Zeballos (49 58.7N, 125 50.6W) August 20.
When the wind and rain stop two mornings later we head east into Esperanza Inlet to the town of Zeballos. By the time we get there, it's pouring rain again. We decide it's a good day to visit the Zeballos Museum. We tromp through town in the rain to the little yellow building that houses the museum. It's closed, which doesn't surprise us as it's run by volunteers and always has had limited hours. The sign on the door says open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 1-5 and Monday 4:30-6. It's Wednesday. The sign also says that if we want to visit the museum at other times, we can either call Kathie or stop by the village office. We stop by the office and at 5 pm a woman named Debbie meets us at the museum and gives us a short talk on Zeballos' history. Zeballos started life as a mining town; gold was discovered there in 1939. The town went through the usual boom and bust times of a gold rush. The last gold mine closed in 1948 and a later iron mine closed in 1969. Many of the buildings in town still have the old-fashioned false fronts of western towns dating from the gold-mining days.
Sadly, Zeballos is now in a bust phase. Not only are the mines closed but logging and fishing are down and tourism has largely passed Zeballos by. The lively little restaurant we ate at in 2004 is closed and the general store is even emptier than it was then. The Zeballos Hotel, with its verandah, caf�, and pub is one of the town's few bright spots.
Other bright spots are walking trails, parks, and picnic tables along the water. The next morning dawns clear and bright and we take advantage of the good weather to take a walk along the Zeballos Estuary Trail.