I had a great sleep on a soft (like a mattress at a good hotel) camp spot. Hard to tell what time it was as the sky was grey again and the morning fog was in, but no rain so it had promise. Today would be spent on the water with the only pavement the few miles to the Bear Cove ferry terminal. As it turned out it was only 04:30 and I was wide awake and the mosquitoes were ferocious (they get up very early to it would seem) A pair of Steller’s Jays came by to say good morning and watch me pack up. I had showered the night before so for lack of anything better to do, and the ferocity of the little flying vampires I suited up and headed for the Ferry.
I was ridiculously early and had hoped that I could at least get some coffee, but no luck. So I chatted with the ladies in the office, read every pamphlet that they had and settled for some overpriced juice from the vending machine. After a time some other humans began to arrive and one couple from Holland came over to check out the FZ or Fazer to him (John). He had a Ducati ST back at home, but a friend had a Fazer (Gen 2) and so we talked bikes, and racing for the duration of our wait to board. John was very excitable and very intense and his wife became bored with bike talk and wandered off. The ferry would be hauling a very light load of less than a dozen vehicles and I was the second to go aboard after a huge boat on a 3 axle trailer was made to back down the ramp into the hold (I would understand why later). I headed for the galley as soon as I was onboard and lashed down (the voyage can be rough at time on the open water of the sound).
A full hot breakfast and molten hot coffee hit the bottom of my (by then) very empty stomach. I had bought a cable bike lock in Naniamo so that I could lock my jacket and helmet to the cargo deck on my bike and it worked great! Now at least I did not have to lug them around or worry about then growing legs and vanishing. The ferry seemed to take a long time loading and readying for departure (although it may have been my excitement and impatience coloring my perception) but we finally were under way. The mind is a strange thing, as my “mental DJ” started playing the theme for Gilligan’s Island as we left Port followed by “don’t pay the ferry man” by Chris De Burg. They probably have a pill for that…. We were not even out of the Harbour when 2 whales were spotted, I was only quick enough to get pictures of one, the humpback, very cool (my first).
As we moved farther out into the Queen Charlotte Sound which is open water to the Pacific Ocean the fog rolled off and we were treated to a very beautiful and welcome blue sky. By the time Lunch was served we had clear skies and fairly calm seas.
We then moved in between Calvert Island and the coast and whales became a common site. I was using a couple of marine biologists that were on the lower deck as my spotters, I was two decks up, and when they would get excited and start pointing, I just pointed my camera in that direction. I saw a lot of spouts, but until we moved into Fitz Hugh Sound They were too far away for the lenses that I had with me. I did get a great sequence of shots in the sound of another humpback whale taking a breath and showing his tail, once they do that they are under for about 40 minutes (gone).
I met a few interesting people on board; Ian a retired fisheries guy who was, like me baching it, John and his wife, A nice couple from Norway in their rented Volvo. And some great ladies on the crew, B.C. Ferries has a good crew on this ferry that made the voyage that much better (thank you). I spent the majority of the cruise on deck with my camera and explored the whole vessel, finding a sunroom (on the upper most deck behind the bridge) that I figured would serve as sleeping quarters after we left our final stop that night in Shearwater (the old naval base).
We stopped in Bella Bella first, and dropped off a few cars. A native family was gill netting in the Harbour and showed off his catch. A couple of the crew that had no duties during the stop over (1 hour) went fishing off the rear ramp and very quickly landed a large flounder (which he threw back, wanting only salmon).
The bald eagles were screaming from the tall trees around the Harbour, but again my camera was ill equipped to capture the camera shy beasts. Then we were off just around to the north side of the next Island to shearwater, nearing dark as we pulled in.
“Traversed the planet when heaven sent me. I saw the kings who rule them all still by the firelight and purple moonlight. I hear the rested rivers call
and the wind is crying, from a love that won't grow cold. My lover, she is lying, on the dark side of the globe.” - Led Zepplin
The huge boat that was made to back on in Port Hardy pulled straight up the very long, narrow ramp that was attached to a barge because of the shallow Harbour (explaining why they backed him on, even a skilled driver could not have backed up that narrow ramp). It was fully night and cold by the time we departed Shearwater and I headed up to the sunroom to sleep. I awoke some time later freezing as the room is not heated and the inlet up to Bella Coola is very cold, especially at night. I made my way down to the main seating area inside and found a chair that reclined just about flat, and quickly dropped off to dreamland. The sea air, wind and excitement of the day had taken its toll. Morning came quickly and the pale light through the windows woke me. The deck outside and everything on it was wet, but the views were magnificent. I shot off some pictures, and then went below for a quick breakfast as we were only half an hour out of port. I had slept in for a change.