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SAIL’s edi­tors iden­tify the best of the best in terms of new gear and elec­tron­ics

erect­ing a square frame struc­ture on the shell beach which we cov­ered with a tarp, tuck­ing its edges into the shells and sand to seal it. Later that evening, af­ter we’d had a num­ber of gran­ite boul­ders heat­ing in the fire for many hours, we care­fully moved them into the sauna with a metal grill, then climbed in­side and scooped some wa­ter onto them. When the heat be­came un­bear­able, we threw our­selves into the cold sea un­der the light of the full moon.

A few days af­ter­ward, we ar­rived in Port Hardy and our re­lax­ing cruise along the in­side pas­sage of Vancouver Is­land came to an end, as Jel­ski headed home, and the rest of us took eight days off to hike the gru­el­ing North Coast Trail. That done, Brid­get left to do some other trav­el­ling, while Kieran, a shaggy-haired sail­maker, took her place, and we set off on the sec­ond half of our cir­cum­nav­i­ga­tion only to im­me­di­ately hit pea soup fog. Motoring up Queen Char­lotte Sound we were thank­ful to have our 1980s radar, as our eyes were use­less. Oc­ca­sion­ally a new blip would ap­pear on the screen, and then shortly af­ter­ward we would hear the whine of an in­vis­i­ble fish­ing boat some­where nearby. We cov­ered the length of the North Coast Trail in a day’s motoring. Look­ing down at my blis­tered feet and black toe­nails I was happy to not be walk­ing it again.

Set­ting out from Port Hardy, our course took us across the Nah­witti Bar and around Cape Scott to our next an­chor­age, Sea Ot­ter Cove. A shal­low gravel stretch open to the Pa­cific, the bar has been known to create enor­mous waves that at times will spit small rocks from the sea bed up onto the decks of boats, so that even the salti­est of fish­er­men seemed to shud­der at its mere men­tion. How­ever, on the day we crossed we were met only with a se­ries of smooth rollers.

As for Sea Ot­ter Cove it’s a beau­ti­ful an­chor­age flanked by a pair of moun­tains blanketed in for­est and crowned with a rare sub- alpine bog ecosys­tem. A smat­ter­ing of small islets also pro­tects the mouth of the cove and sev­eral real live sea ot­ters floated hap­pily on their backs in the kelp as we ap­proached. Over the next few days we made it our base as we ex­plored the area, climb­ing to the top of Mount St. Pa­trick, and surf­ing the nearby beaches. The coast­line in this area is beau­ti­ful, with enor­mous cedar and spruce trees com­ing right down to the sand, and not an­other soul in sight— the per­fect place to ex­pel the pent- up en­ergy that comes from be­ing trapped on a small boat.

From there, we had a rea­son­ably hec­tic sail around the Brooks Penin­sula to where we found an empty golden beach with per­fect right-hand waves for long­board­ing. In fact, we ended up spend­ing the bet­ter part of a week there, tak­ing turns on the boards and at one point shar­ing the lineup with a gray whale who came in to scrape some bar­na­cles off his back.

We also spent some time clean­ing up the beach with the help of the Vancouver Is­land chap­ter of the Surfrider Foun­da­tion, which pro­vided us with some su­per­sacks that we found far too easy to fill. In­deed, the amount of plas­tic we found was phe­nom­e­nal—roughly 30 per­cent plas­tic bot­tles, 30 per­cent com­mer­cial fish­ing gear, 30 per­cent polystyrene (ap­par­ently from the Ja­pan tsunami) and 10 per­cent any­thing else you could think of—bas­ket­balls, ping pong balls, tires, an as­sort­ment of shoes and boots, kids toys, an EPIRB (uh oh), tooth­brushes, shot­gun shells and in­tact flu­o­res­cent light bulbs.

Later a barge cruis­ing up the coast col­lected 140 su­per­sacks in all, which had been filled by dif­fer­ent groups of vol­un­teers at re­mote beaches dur­ing the sum­mer. In many ways it was an emo­tion­ally ex­haust­ing task, know­ing that what we found was just a tiny frac­tion of what is out there. It has had a last­ing ef­fect, though, caus­ing us to crit­i­cally con­sider our own per­sonal con­sump­tion—food for thought as we fin­ished up the last few days of cruis­ing on the home stretch back to the city of Vancouver. s

Bas Suck­ling is a Kiwi ge­ol­o­gist cur­rently liv­ing in Canada and usu­ally found at the beach or in the moun­tains, or some­where in be­tween. When not cir­cum­nav­i­gat­ing, Harry and Sarah live aboard Ma­maku in Vic­to­ria, BC, with their dog, Woody. Fol­low them at ma­maku_­sail­ing on In­sta­gram

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