Bunsby Islands & Kyuquot

July 15: Bunsby Islands

We're staying in the Bunsby Islands, which are named after characters in the Charles Dickens novel "Dombey and Son." Sad to say I haven't even heard of that book, much less read it, so it's hard to say how "Cuttle Islets, Clara Islets, Gay Passage and Cautions Point” may relate to personalities in the novel. This is a fairly popular anchorage, so unlike others we've been to recently, we're sharing this little bay with two other sailboats. The guidebook says this is where the sea otter repopulation effort began 20 years or so ago, so we'll have our eyes open. We certainly did see a lot of sea otters on the way here. They twist themselves up in kelp beds and go to sleep, heads and toes out of the water.

We dinghied ashore at Columbia Cove, and took the supposedly 1/4 mile trail to the beach on the south shore of Brooks Penninsula. That's the longest 1/4 mile I've ever gone. I'd say it's about 20 years since anyone maintained the trail, and some of the most giant trees have fallen across it, sometimes two or three at a time. Sometimes the trees are so huge that going over them is not an option. Instead you have to go under them. Sometimes there is only 2 - 3 feet clearance underneath the trees, and under that is black mucky mud. So you throw your bag over the top, and get down on your hands and knees, and try to avoid the worst of the muck, and then retrieve your bag on the other side. At times it reminded us of scenes from "The Fire Swamp with Rodents of Unusual Size" as depicted in the movie, The Princess Bride. We ran across three separate, exceedingly large, piles of bear poop, each right in the middle of the trail. We kept up a loud conversation and sang, which is supposed to keep the bears at some distance. (We’re still alive to write about it, so it must have worked!) We were also comforted by the obviously vegetarian nature of the diet of these particular bears...  
The beach, when we finally did emerge, was beautiful and warm. There was lots of driftwood, and lots of garbage that had floated in on the waves. We saw dozens of tennis shoes, including one complete pair. Also, lots of Japanese floats, but they are no longer the blown glass kind; instead they are rubber or plastic, and made in China. We had thought of building a beach fire, but the tide was coming in, and we didn't want to lose the dinghy back in Columbia Cove.

Left:  the Diva crew, whom we met on the beach.

As it happens we next went to the little town of Kyuquot, because a domestic crisis was brewing (our housesitter quit). So we needed a phone to get things realigned at home for (hopefully) the remainder of the summer. Kyuquot is a charming little community on several islands. No cars, no alcohol. The coastal steamer comes once a week. The houses have lovely gardens, and a boardwalk rims the bay. There is a resident sea otter and a resident seal. The seal is named "Miss Charlie" and has lived there for 37 years. She even has a restaurant named after her (excellent food). I had no idea seals lived so long. Across the bay, on another island, is the Indian community. On another island, close by, is the Red Cross outpost hospital, looking all spic and span with its Red Cross flag flying. Various other islands within a short distance have houses or shacks -- big or small, fancy or run down. I did one carefully selected load of laundry, and I had to wait in line an hour to do that. There is one washer and one dryer out on a barge, apparently for the whole town. $5 per load.

Kyuquot -- Miss Charlie's restaurant on the right, the store in the center, and ours the only sailboat at the dock.

While waiting for the washer, I met "Lisa," straight from Beijing, headed for graduate school in Ontario. I'm guessing the extreme wilderness experience was a real shock for her after having lived all her life in Beijing. She was very interested in my impressions of Shanghai (where we saw the boat last fall) and we talked about Shanghai crab (she thinks it's wonderful, I think it has so little meat that it's a waste of time) and Dungeness crab (she hasn't had a chance to try it yet).

We keep seeing the same boats, from harbor to harbor. We have anchored or tied up several times now with Diva from Seattle, Harmony from Sitka, Tub Toy from Orting, and Mystery from LaConner. The last two boats are each being single-handed. They have buddied up to go around the island. I think in a way it is a macho contest for them -- they eschew engines, and try to sail in and out of anchorages (successfully, I might add). The owners of Harmony live aboard all year, and winter in places like Sitka, or Campbell River, or Olympia. She is a former United Air Lines employee -- now an artist -- and he is a commercial artist who currently designs ceramic bathroom fixtures for such entities as Calvin Klein. (!) He's Japanese and she's American, so their boat (we were invited aboard) is an interesting mix of cultures. As we left Kyuquot, the owners of Diva had hauled out their sewing machine to assist the owner of Mystery with some sail repairs.

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