When baby seals cry
One might think we would spend the rest of our lives at such an ideal spot as Eucott Hotsprings, but move on we did. We still had Labouchere, a section of Burke, and North Bentick Channels to navigate to the apex of our inland adventures at Bella Coola. It was still a long haul to get there, but the forecast gave us hope of some sailing once we got near Burke Channel, where the wind always howls up towards Bella Coola.
Even though the day did start off motoring – about two hours worth – we were able to raise the sails on schedule and get some down wind sailing in just as Burke Channel opened up to us. Meriwether sailed on a broad reach with a good breeze up her quarter. The geography of the channel meant we had to sail a slight angle across it, which required a single jibe about half way through pointing us directly into North Bentick Channel. This is what sailing is all about; sailing angles. Pre-planned zigs and zags to maximize wind while minimizing distance and effort. It is never as easy as pointing the boat where you want to go and enjoying a boring ride, well almost never.
As we entered Bentick, the wind calmed and we got back to motoring the remaining distance. I had figured that was the end of our sailing this day, but a few minutes later the wind had made a return. I ignored it, knowing it was just trying to play a trick on me. 15 minutes later I ignored the still steady wind. And 15 minutes later I ignored it again. As it turned out, a steady breeze did continue and would have allowed us to sail the last 90 minutes of travel and I brushed it all aside – bah. I would have so enjoyed to sail all the way in.
We arrived to find all the transient dock space occupied. Only one space on an old outer-dock was available and we were directed there. The wind, still howling, would beat us broadside onto the dock. Not great for peace and quiet. Really not great for coming into a dock either. Meriwether’s bow is so effected by even the most gentle a breeze, and now we had 20 knots from the side. I expected the docking to be a complete shit-show, but we nailed it no problems at all. Confidence and experience has made even rough[er] dockings a whole lot easier in recent months.
Arrived in Bella Coola, with a good internet signal (and Wi-Fi on the docks) we got work done, resupplied in town, cleaned ourselves and our cloths up, got rid of our trash built up since Shearwater, and got in a few hikes to boot. For Kerri, these few days sitting still means sitting at her desk, working for long hours. For me it means walking up and down the docks numerous times each day to do the laundry, shopping, resupplying, and other to-dos. It is not really the most restful times in our boat-life. Always lots to do when in a port. Kerri does her best to get me out for some nature-time when she can and this was no exception. Though there we no trails nearby, the dirt road right beside us did lead out to a waterfall and a small recreation area. We even hiked into town for the grocery store, about 1.5 miles each direction.
What we will remember Bella Coola for are the baby seals. This place is an obvious seal nursery, where the babies are left behind while moms head of for the daily hunt. The babies spend all day crying for mom in an extremely pitiful and very English-like, “Mom” and “Nooo”. It is heart breaking and teeth grinding at the same time, as we found one mom had not made a return for some time. That baby cried 24 hours a day, right under the dock where we were moored. We were not the only animals frustrated by all the crying, as the nearest mom-seal was obviously being harassed by the baby-looking-for-food and would answer nearly every “mom” with an equally loud growl. I slept through it just fine – physical exhaustion and all. Kerri, not so much.