Updated: Jun 13
I reviewed the weather forecast for the next seven days to assess when there’d be a weather window to round Cape Scott and arrive in St. Josef Bay in time to meet the group from Skills Sea Kayak on June 26th. Tuesday June 21st seemed the best day to leave Port Hardy. I would have a falling tide in the morning, and a slight breeze from the southeast. That would allow me to cover enough miles, camp on one of the north facing beaches of the island and be within striking distance of the Cape. I called JF at Skills Sea Kayak to coordinate.
“When you round Cape Scott, be sure that the tide and the wind are with you. Otherwise, it can get really choppy out there. Best to go in the morning when the winds are light.”
“That sounds good. What about the swells? I saw on the forecast that they come from the Southwest.”
“If the winds are light, you won’t have to worry. But if there’s a strong northwest wind with a rising tide, the weather might be clear, but I wouldn’t want to be out there. That’s why you should go early when the winds are most likely to be weak.”
We coordinated a few other things, including picking up my kayak dolly which I would leave in Port Hardy, to free up room in the stern hatch.
With that done, I now had two full days to spend in town.
Port Hardy is not a big town, and I think I walked down almost every street. At the waterfront is a park where there’s a large obelisk and a tall totem pole to commemorate fallen Canadians in past wars. (WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam.) The inscription at the base of each read, “Brothers in Life, Forever Together in Death.” I’ve noticed that Canada is keen to honor their war dead with memorials such as this one. Nearly every town large or small has a public square dedicated to the fallen.
I walked north beyond the park, and I noticed a strange scene. A bald eagle swooped up and down from the trees while being chased by a murder of some ten crows. The eagle flew close to the ground before rising up high and followed by another dive as though it was riding an invisible rollercoaster in the air. The ravens followed the eagle close behind screaming like hounds chasing a fox, and one of them came so close it almost nipped one of the eagle’s tail feathers. The eagle, however, seemed to act like it couldn't care less, and even slowed down to let the ravens catch up. I pointed this out to a local man on the street, and he gave out a laugh.
“Ah yes… it happens all the time. He’s taunting them, just to get a raise. The eagles fly right next to the raven’s nests, and it drives them insane. They’re like kids in the neighborhood who run after they ring your doorbell; always making mischief…”
I kept walking and suddenly noticed ,familiar smell.
“There must be a wastewater plant somewhere nearby.” I thought.
Sure enough, around the corner of the street and down a hidden dirt road was a package plant with a bar screen, aeration tank, and a clarifier. It took a photograph of it to show it to the folks back at work. It’s rarely the case that a town so small can afford a wastewater treatment plant, but it seems that Port Hardy must have obtained a grant from the provincial government. This type of infrastructure investment means that the town can afford to grow and develop. Any property the switches from a septic to a sewer network shoots shoot up in value. I would have liked to visit the plant but unfortunately the gate was locked, and no one was around to show the place.
Later that night I went to treat myself to a good meal. I found a pizza place downtown and ordered a large pepperoni pizza. It was a total disappointment.. The pepperoni slices were almost a quarter inch thick and soggy. It seems like there is one thing Canadians have inherited from the British; a tradition for making nauseatingly poor dishes. Even the fish and chips I’ve eaten on this trip have been so soggy that even an Englishman would have felt embarrassed if it was served in his country. T Why the English nations have such bad gastronomical talents is a mystery. Perhaps it is because their empire was so spread all over the world that rather than develop their own native culinary talents, they just appropriated those of the locals. A friend once told me that if you want good “English” food in London, then you should eat at an Indian restaurant. When I cycled through the Dolomites in Northern Italy I stopped in a local pizzeria where the owner only spoke German. The place was a hole in the wall, but their calzones were so delicious, that to this day I regret not taking a second one to go for the morning breakfast.
The next day I went to buy supplies for the journey. Not having to carry the kayak dolly in the stern hatch opened a world of possibilities of what I could bring with me. I chose to buy twenty-four bottles of Perrier as a treat. I would not be seeing the inside of a supermarket for at least the next three weeks.
Next to the supermarket was an outdoor store where I found a bear banger for sale and decided to buy a set.. “It will make mom happy if I tell her I have this with me,” I thought. I also bought a set of replacement gear bags to help with carrying things to and from the kayak.
I read on Google that the nearby settlement of Fort Rupert had a curling club. During my college days my roommates and I enjoyed watching the women’s curling competition during the winter Olympics on TV, and I thought it would be interesting to see what a curling game looks like in person.
I called up a cab, “I’d like to go see the Curling Arena in Fort Rupert.” I told the driver.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes.” I said, without even thinking why he would ask. We drove six miles and he dropped me off in front of a prefab metal building with a sign that read, “Fort Rupert Curling Club, GE Wilson Memorial Arena”.
“You want me to wait?”
“No worries, I'll be here for a while.” I said, and he drove off.
I walked across the dirt parking lot to the building entrance, and promptly discovered that it was locked. I saw someone on the street walking their dog.
“When do they open?” I asked.
“In the winter.” He replied.
“Oh…. I see….” I said, feeling a little dumb. Of course, they don’t play curling in the summer, why would I think that?
The rest of the afternoon was spent walking the six miles to Port Hardy.
Vancouver Island Circumnavigation - ROUNDING CAPE SCOTT