2018 PITTMAN INNOVATION AWARDS
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