Kyuquot Stay & Play Cruise
Story & Photos: Julie Shimunek
I am normally sitting at my desk at Get West Adventure Tours taking reservations and organizing tours. I love booking the trips and talking with you on the phone but there is nothing like going on a trip to really get acquainted.
Even though there was some rain in the forecast, I was excited to accompany the 15 couples up to Kyuquot Sept. 20. A new adventure for us - 2 nights in Kyuquot and then a trip down to Friendly Cove on Saturday. This was my 6th trip to Kyuquot and had always felt that there was never enough time to chat with people and visit all our hosts up there, not to mention just toodling around the island and taking in the scenery. So now I was an explorer on the first trip of this kind in the history of our company so what did I do? I brought my guitar and mandolin! Adrian the first Mate usually brings his ukulele because you never know when someone wants to break out into song. I was pretty happy actually when Boudi (another guest) brought out his harmonica and next thing you know there was a group of people standing around singing at the top of their lungs. Our rendition of Sitting on the Dock of the Bay was awesome!
That was Saturday though, we are still on Thursday heading up the Tahsis Inlet at the moment. We did a slight detour into Kendrick Inlet where we needed to deliver some groceries and items for Nootka Sound Timber. All eyes were on the lookout for sea otters and someone did see one, a big fatty all by himself bobbing around. I was downstairs checking on what Elaine was cooking up for lunch so I missed it. Once the guys got all the freight off the boat we took off again and all of us keeners craned to see if the otter was still there. Gone!
It was raining lightly as we rode through the flat, calm water up the Tahsis Inlet. As we headed west through Hecate Channel, it seemed the perfect setting for the humpback whales who surfaced just off the port side. Bingo! Captain Spencer always announces on the loudspeaker if they see anything. Everything stops and we drift in the silence. Just like a bunch of kids we watched under the shelter of the large tarp on the main deck. A gentleman who was turning 97 next week said to me, “it is even more beautiful to see them in this setting.” I had to agree.
Soon we headed out into the open waters. The forecast had been for what I like to call “a little sporty” but we were all overjoyed to find pretty calm seas out there. After two hours we arrived in Kyuquot and the guests were taken to the various B&Bs and Walter’s Cove Resort where a beautiful fire in the woodstove was waiting for us wet-nicks as we trundled in. Just a quick drop off of the bags and time to get your bearings, then it was off to the Kyuquot Inn for the famous, mouth watering pork roast feast. Also on the menu was home made Naan bread and hummus, salad, roast spuds, veggies, lentils, and homemade brownies for dessert. We always eat family style in the Kyuquot Inn with everyone at the table passing around the food. After dinner we all retired to our quarters and had a restful sleep. Very quiet in Kyuquot.
The next day we popped back on board after breakfast at the Inn. It was hosing outside so it was a little damp coming back to the boat. Joanne Osenenko who ferries our guests around from the Inn and Norberg’s dock to the municipal wharf brings them back in a large open punt that holds about eight people. Our Uchuck umbrellas came in handy! At 8 am the Uchuck headed out into the Pacific Ocean again and then hung a left into the Kyuquot Channel. There were freight stops along the way which we enjoyed while watching the unloading of the supplies. Excitement was building as we anticipated what was waiting for us back in Kyuquot though. More good food and tours!
Joanne’s son Luke offered to take people on a one hour wildlife tour, only $20 each! Five minutes to sea otters and then another ten to Sea Lion Rock. He picked our group up at the Walters Cove Resort dock. Luke is a wealth of information about local history and told some stories from the early days. I wished I would have taped it! We were quite entertained by all of his stories…. and then we saw them. The otters that were once completely decimated from the West Coast of Vancouver Island are now thriving again due to the efforts of conservationists in the 60’s who reintroduced them back to the area. There is so much boating activity in the Kyuquot Sound that the little otters just look on at us with mild curiosity. After a few circles around the little furry friends we head out away from land in Luke’s aluminum boat.
In ten minutes we came around the back side of Sea Lion rock. We were so close to the Wild West Coast I could taste it (I did poke my head out and get a little sea spray - it was fantastic!) You get a sense of the power of the ocean when you are sitting on a bizillion tons of raw water and you are bobbing like a cork in it. But then any feelings of “oh my gosh what am I doing out here?” were quickly replaced with “ look at the size of those sea lions!” The males made quite a ruckus once we got closer. I have never heard that sound before. It was a cross between a bear growl and semi brakes roaring. Wow! I felt like Jacqueline Cousteau! Rain? What rain? I was imagining how wonderful it could be to see all of this on let’s say a nice June afternoon or even better… a sunset evening when the sun casts those beautiful colors that take your breath away. All I can say is, you better bring your binoculars, camera, and video equipment on this trip.
Luke says he will be on hand for these types of tours if he is not doing a taxi run, or guiding-his boat. June will be a great time to go because of the extended daylight. After spending enough time watching the sea lions, we made our way back to Kyuquot after a little meander around the outside of Walters Island. More stories of the early settlers with their orchards and cows. There was time for a little walk on the trails back on Walter’s Island to explore the beaches on the Pacific Ocean side. Back to the Kyuquot Inn for a delicious spaghetti dinner with everyone sharing about their adventures. It was not over yet though. More of Elaine’s delicious food was not the only thing on the menu for Saturday.
After a great breakfast we made our way back down the coast heading to Yuquot or as it is known worldwide - Friendly Cove. The morning was stellar and it looked like a fair wind had moved away all the rain and drizzle. I was glad to bring my guitar and share it with Sarah who hadn’t played in a while. We came down Tahsis Inlet once we had made our way through Esperanza Inlet and Hecate Channel. The weather was glorious and we were anxious to get off the boat and explore the cove. I was happy to be tour guide for I knew this place very well. First stop was the old church and then on to the cemetery, lake and cabins along a rain forest trail. For the walk back we strolled along the beach. This place is only accessible by boat or sea plane. It is the end of the Nootka Island Trail so the path is nice and worn that leads you back to the Lighthouse and the Uchuck. We had a few hours at the beach and everyone just relaxed and explored. We left and two hours later we were back at the Gold River Government wharf. Perfect end to a perfect trip. It was so much fun.
The beauty and peacefulness of the West Coast seems to bring out something unique in everyone that goes on the trip. Strangers become friends as it is very easy to relax and enjoy the sights and sounds together. I think I just found my new favorite trip.