On a cool, gray morning in Gold River, BC, we boarded the MV UChuck III with about 75 other passengers. The MV UChuck III is a working boat that makes regular deliveries to the islands off of the west coast of Vancouver Island. They take passengers along on all of their runs and ferry hikers and kayakers for overnight trips.
The covered upper deck, behind the wheelhouse, is open to the air and was crowded when we boarded. As we set sail, cruising westward into the wind at 12 knots, the deck quickly cleared as people went inside to escapoe the wind and cold. Few people, and three well-traveled dogs, remained on the quiet, outside deck. Some coffee from the ship’s café helped to keep us warm.
We passed fishing camps, curious Steller sea lions, and a couple of colonies of harbor seals hauled out on the rocks.
Two and a half hours later, we docked in Friendly Cove on Nootka Island. Westward, there is nothing but sea from Nootka Island to Japan. A free-ranging island dog met the boat and was very excited to find canine visitors aboard. He howled and howled on the pier waiting for us to tie up and attach the ramp so he could welcome them.
Nootka Island is owned and inhabited by the First Nations people. There is a modern lighthouse, a historic church, a few subsistence residences – including a master carver, and a half dozen rustic, dry cabins.
We made our way down a mulched, forested path toward the far end of the Pacific coast beach.
As most of the people stayed near the pier, we felt like we had the island to ourselves. We passed an inland lake, a small cemetery, and the cabins before the trail ended at the beach. We found this big log on the edge of the rocky beach, a perfect bench for our lunch. Given the amount of bear scat near it, we weren’t the only ones who thought this was a good spot!
After lunch, Rob read the Nootka Sounder newspaper and I walked the beach. Unbeknownst to each other at the time, we each took pictures of the other enjoying our adventure in our own way!
The tide had just started to recede. You never know what it will leave behind. I could have spent the whole afternoon wandering this small stretch of beach. There were beautiful rocks in so many colors, jellyfish, driftwood, kelp, mussels, crab shells and more.
On this big, exposed rock lives one tree and an active hornet’s nest. It seems like a tough place for either of them to survive.
On the way back to the ship, we encountered a noisy flock of cedar waxwings and then stopped to watch a sea otter feeding on crab in the Cove.
Back at the ship, some reluctant kayakers loaded and then we cruised back to Gold River.
In this direction, we were going 12 knots with the wind. The net effect made for calm air. The deck was quite comfortable and the sun was even starting to break through the smoky haze.
It was a wonderful day of adventure on Vancouver Island’s rugged west coast.