Leaving our dock after New Year’s has become a habit and in January-February we’ve headed out on the Strait of Juan de Fuca for Canada’s Pacific Rim National Park. With Washington State on our port-side, we pass Sheringham Point and Port Renfrew to starboard – finally leaving the ameliorating influence of Washington behind and braving the open Pacific and the enormous winter waves. These serve to remind us of how the wonderfully exciting offshore days also carried awful seasickness. Even so, being out here is a reward in itself.
We are not the only people who love the Pacific Rim. This area has become a favoured Wilderness Playground in the summer months. In fact, over 7500 people tackle the rigorous West Coast Trail (a 75-85 km walk from Port Renfrew to Bamfield) every year between May 1 and September 30. It is sited as #1 of Top 10 Hikes in the world by Besthike.com. The presence of old growth forest and spectacular scenery draws folks despite the chance of miserable weather. The beautiful scenery brings folks to the trail even though 80-100 people are seriously injured every year, and even overrides the possibility of meeting up with bears and cougars. For such an amazing destination, the inexpensive cost of of less than CAD $400 (fees and services) seems improbable in our busy and expensive world.
We on Traversay III are even luckier than these wilderness campers. Owning a boat and only paying for food and fuel, we luxuriate on Traversay III instead of enduring a wet tent and a crowded campground.
We’ve passed the West Coast Trail (WCT) many times but have never stopped, or even been tempted. On our outbound trip we leave the WCT a long way to starboard, pass the lonely Cape Beale lighthouse and head into Barkley Sound to anchor in Effingham Bay. We’ve had to navigate in total darkness for the last 2 hours. This always arouses some anxiety on my part, but in 30 years of sailing with Larry, we have often headed into lonely anchorages in the dark. The reward for this passing nervous discomfort comes next morning when you wake to find that you are in a lonely anchorage in fantastic surroundings. In winter, even the Park Rangers are not in evidence. We’re alone for the entire time.
Our first trips to Barkley Sound were a result of taking Dr. Andy Lamb’s Marine Identification Courses in the 1990s. He organized all-inclusive dive tours to the area. That is when we became comfortable with getting into the cold water, taking a camera down and photographing the amazing underwater creatures. These days we don’t see as many rockfish as shown in our dive log of 1992. We ourselves are innocent of fishing (except in our freezer) but it seems fish and even crabs are victims of overfishing.
Even without fish to photograph, Larry can still take beautiful photos of bat stars and anemones. The old camera got ‘flooded’ on our last scuba dive. Larry’s busy fixing it by writing computer code to get our spare camera to communicate with the flash.
Hopefully, the accompanying images will not be the final photos in our dive portfolio. We come here because some of the animals we see are only present at this extreme coastline.