Having got below Brooks Peninsula, we felt we could relax a bit, if not too much. We took the reward of a long night’s sleep without alarm and a leisurely breakfast of fried potatoes and eggs before suiting up and departing through Gay Passage to the south. Soon we were in the open ocean.
It is known to all that the weather improves markedly below Brooks, all but Environment Canada. The forecast called for southerlies building to gale force late in the day. In the morning winds were light and the sea state subdued. We took a route inside the reefs and by Spring Island the sky had cleared. We had sun for the first time since arrival at Port Hardy.
At Tatchu Point Jay spotted a fin to stern, then three. A Humpback greeting, I presumed, but Kurt said Orcas. They didn’t approach. Murres, Puffins, Sooty Shearwaters–birds of shore and sea mixed it up in this zone.
Turning into Esperanza Inlet, we ran before the breeze and in the warmth of sun soon stripped off our layers of protection. We intended to take Nootka Island’s inside passage. The day continued to open as the mountains of Vancouver rose around us; the sea became a lake and emboldened by evident summer, we agreed to go all the way to the fishing village, Tahsis.
In Hecate Channel Kurt spied a whiteness within the monotony of green trees, a bald eagle at his perch. We diverted course; Jay unearthed from his duffle a bazooka telephoto lens and began firing as I edged the boat in close. Here we learned Jay can whistle. With tongue doubled back, create a donut with thumb and forefinger. Insert in mouth and exhale with force. The sound produced pierced such that I felt a blade enter my brain from both ears. But the eagle didn’t stir where stirring was the intent. We wanted him on film in flight. Minutes of haloowing and clapping finally lifted him, though more from resignation than fear.
Immediately after, the engine began to hesitate. We had already had some issues and had renewed fuel filters. Now steam poured from the exhaust pipe. We limped through tight Tahsis Narrows, so deep they are unaffected by tide, and up the runway-straight entrance to Tahsis, docking in the late evening under iron peaks still covered in snow.
Before dinner, before beer even, showers, paid for by Kurt. Then Vancouver Island beer and Lamb tenderloins at a dockside restaurant and to bed.