To the Wilderness and Home Again
Ready for an adventure? Tim and I arrived home last night after two weeks in the Broughton Archipelago. You've probably never heard of it, a cluster of islands situated between northern Vancouver Island and the mainland in the Canadian province of British Columbia. It's remote, sparsely populated by humans, and it's wild and beautiful.
We towed our 25 foot boat to Port McNeill and launched it one evening. Our first night was spent in the marina, and in the morning we set off to explore. Low clouds hung from the mountains, and even rose from the sea, as seen above. Anticipation mixed with mystery.
As we chugged past Cormorant Island into Blackfish Sound, I noticed lots of small, almost tailless birds flying low and swift over the surface of the water. Hauling out my trusty bird identification book, we determined they were Rhinoceros Auklets. Although they live in the waters further south near our home, I've never noticed them before. Here, they were everywhere.
They are chunky looking birds, related to puffins. They breed in the temperate North Pacific and spend a lot of daylight hours on the water, fishing for food which they take back to their nests in the evening. The auklets frequently stood up in the water and flapped their wings. They get the rhinoceros name for that little white horn above the beak.
Just as we were leaving Blackfish Sound for Village Channel, Tim saw a whale blow. We slowed the boat down to idle and watched over the next few moments as the Humpback Whale surfaced and blew 4 or 5 times, then, with a show of his tail, dove deep and disappeared.
We spent the first night anchored off of Crease Island in a quiet little bay. When Tim took sailing lessons, his instructor referred to the many rocks and islets that dot our waters as "chunky bits". There were lots of chunky bits in the Broughtons.
We wound our way through kelp beds and around chunky bits before dropping anchor for the night. Then, it started raining. A good time to haul out books and make tea. Just perfect.
The skies cleared early evening and as we sat eating our dinner, enjoying the utter peace, two bald eagles came screaming overhead, fighting over a fish which one carried and then dropped in the water.
One eagle flew up to perch in a tree, looking very unconcerned and nonchalant about the whole affair, while the other skimmed across the water and made a few grabs with his talons.
In the end, I think he got the fish, or another one, and flew off to enjoy it on his own. The other eagle sat for a long time in the tree, perhaps looking for another fish to grab.
We slept like babies that night, lulled by the gentle movement of the boat, the fresh air, and the knowledge that there was nothing we needed to do in the foreseeable future.