Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Sailor Jerry and the Beautiful Singing Sea Wench

Welcome aboard to our last guests to the far north of British Columbia were Jerry and Mary Lee of the Sailing Vessel Sea Story. We have made many trips together and met last year in Puerta Vallarta. We spent time enjoying the great restaurants, making new friends and listening to Mary Lee entertain at a local bar.

Although not as temperate, the weather was beautiful on Canada's famed Central Coast. Almost without exception the seas were calm and the fish were biting.

Jerry and Mary Lee had heard tales of great fishing in the Northwest but had never had the experience. Such fun it was - salmon, lingcod, and the beautiful yellow eye. Each of them turned out to be adept fisherpersons and successfully kept us from nearly going hungry.

The Central Coast is further north than is typical for many boaters to travel. The trees are wizen and tell stories of the winter storms. The ruggedly beautiful coast has called to many a mariner. Fortunately, our singing Sea Wench was aboard and not perched on Purple Bluff luring us to the rocks.

Each season we are sad to leave the north coast cruising life but excited about a new and unfolding adventure or two. On to Victoria and next to meet grandson, Jude.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Splendid Salmon, Lovely Ling and Heavenly Halibut

In the sea some of the uglier creatures are the most tasty. Our three targeted fish are salmon, halibut and ling cod. We did well this year - so well that a local guide asked Doug to captain one of his fishing charters but the Canadians frown on our working without a work permit.

There are five species of salmon with the most coveted being the Chinook salmon which is also known as Tyee, Spring, King, Blackmouth and if over 50 lb A HOG. We can not possibly use all of the salmon we hook so we catch and release early in the season. Our biggest release was a 40 pounder - talk about heartbreak.

Ling cod can grow as large as 70 lbs but we release all fish over 30 lbs since they are brood stock. Our big ling this year was right at 30 and hit like a freight train. In a dead tie with halibut in a ugly fish contest it is Doug's very favorite.

Halibut is the most elusive of our targeted fish. Friends sometimes pick them up while trolling just off the bottom for salmon. We have not been so fortunate but were directed to a great halibut fishery and did well. Doug is pictured with an 82 pounder and Jan with a 58. A good day's fishing!

We love to fish, we have many Canadian friends and can not image doing anything else with our summers but summer is coming to a close. One more blog with our friends Jerry and Mary Lee and then off to new adventures!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Reason (s) For Growing Older

Today is my 63rd birthday and while I lament my graying hair and the few aches and pains I feel in my joints, there are many things I celebrate but most precious to me are the children of the generations that follow.

This posting is a tribute to each of them.

The newest member of our family grandson, Jude Ethan, joined us on July 5th. His Mommie and Daddy are Doug's daughter, Shari and her handsome husband, Ryan. We are so excited to meet him in September and look forward to many good times together. Welcome to our world, Jude!

Rory and Abigail are three months old today and are the beautiful daughters of our nephew, Seth and his stunning bride, Meghan. We have met both girls and were captivated by their sweet natures and emerging personalities.

GrammyKat holds Rory in the bunting that her greatest Aunt Jan knitted for her (Abbie's is pink and black). We hear that Abbie and Rory are sleeping through most of the night and that Mommie and Daddy are losing that blurry look. A big snuggle to each of you and we will see you in September!

Alexis is the newest member of Kuzi and Wendy's family and is proving to be her own little person. Before her first birthday she made it clear that she was not going to be left out of her big sisters' worlds. She has that fierce determination that I recall in her mother.

Madyson and Payton have been part of our world for a while. Maddie is 6 and Payton is 3. Their world is filled with many wonderful curious things - bugs and such. Both girls astound us with their insights and imaginations. They are stunning and we adore them.

And finally Wendy jumping her stallion.

Pretty babies, pretty mommies, handsome daddies - all in our world. And that is why we must grow older.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Third Time is the Charm or the Trip that was Everything

Some trips you struggle to get a single salmon, never see bit of wild life and the weather sucks. So it has been for Rick and Becky's last two trips north with us.

Rick is an ardent fisherman but with us could not catch a single salmon. Becky loves the sun and it spitefully rained every single day of each trip and the only wild life we could find was a few lonely black bear.

But this year it all changed and in four days we saw it all and caught it all.

Rick and Beck caught a 30 lb salmon and then followed that show with 9 more.

A lonely wolf tracked us from the shore - indeed a rare sighting indeed only our second in four years and never this close.

We went for crab and caught twenty-four some were 9.5 inches across. We went for prawns and caught 369 - quite a haul for two pulls.

We fished for halibut and Rick hooked three.

An Orca family of four entertained us for twenty minutes. Daddy (big fin), Mommie (little fin), a second adult and a young one.

And the weather was just glorious - with just one cloudy day. Canadian lighthouses are picturesque with their bright red roofs and spotless white buildings.

There were eagle shows everywhere.

It was a wonderful trip and we all had great time.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Catching The Big Fish

Doug's childhood friend, Denny, and condo friend, Gerry, flew north to fish...and fish we did. It was a marathon fishing expedition by our definition but we will leave fishing on the slack night tides to Denny's next trip.

The flight into Bella Bella was late and so on the first night we only fished for a couple of hours. Gerry picked up three salmon and set the bantering tone of fishing rivalry.

The next morning Denny countered with the largest salmon of the trip at 32 lbs. This is the biggest salmon
Denny has ever caught. And Denny has been on many professionally guided fishing trips.

And the bantering continued as Gerry quickly pointed out Denny's fish fighting cut significantly into his fishing time. Although the four other salmon were of respectable size not one was close to Denny's lunker .

Then we headed for bottom fishing. Jan caught the biggest ling -18 lbs. Then she caused the biggest problem of the trip by getting her line tangled in the prop.

Ever-patient Doug donned his diving gear and untangled the line from the prop which really cut into the fishing time.

The next morning we caught 9 salmon, 2 yellow eye and three lings with Gerry bringing in the largest yellow eye - 12 lbs.

We tried to catch the elusive halibut but the two small ones were not worthy of a picture being just 8 and 10 lbs.

A sucessful fishing trip for everyone!


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The Great Bear Rainforest: The Locals

Although we can attest to the rain in The Great Bear Rainforest, the bears remain an elusive mystery. Rumor has it that this is courting season and they hide in the sedge grass for their antics. But grizzlies are only one part of an ecosystem with many components.

Near the top of the food chain in the sea is the voracious ling cod. Ling cod are interesting. Like halibut they begin their lives as juveniles changing to males and remaining males until they are about 30 lbs when they change to female. A big female (up to 70 lbs) spawns nearly two million eggs a year which are guarded by the male. Although big ling are legal to harvest, we never keep them to preserve the fishery. It is not uncommon to catch a small rock fish and suddenly think that you have hooked the bottom only to pull up a giant ling. Both Deb and Ralph had that experience. One ling had a black cod in its mouth and the other a young ling. Neither ling nor halibut seem sentimental about family members. It really all about me.

On land wolves are second only to the grizzly in the food chain. Through scat DNA analysis it is known that wolves are capable of killing black bear. A wolf sighting is rare and special. Forgive the quality of the photo for wolves are elusive. This is a sea wolf and sea wolves have a hunting territory that covers many islands. Since their is no livestock they have not been hunted as have other types of wolves. They are proficient at surviving in the sea swimming from island. They hunt land animals and can catch salmon with ease.

To see wonderful bear and wolf photos go to

where our friend and master wildlife photographer, Ian, has a website. He and Karen, his wife, have been cited as the environmentalist of the decade with their important work on the central coast of British Columbia. The McAllisters are credited with providing the name The Great Bear Rainforest. Their work ranges from putting in hydrophones to record whales to organizing against super tankers coming through this pristine area - other routes are viable. An oil spill here would be a crime of monumental proportions.

While the bears are chasing one another and the wolves chase the bears, the birds are nesting. Occasionally they bring their babies out for us to glimpse. When they thought we are watching too intently, the mergansers parents hustled the family out of sight and a kingfisher watched.

Seals bask on rocks with their babies looking like overstuffed sausages slipping into the sea if you venture too close. They look much like a sad dog with their baleful, soft eyes.

The Great Bear Rainforest: The People

Deb and Ralph are hearty souls to sign on to a three week trip through the most remote and spectacular section of North America. We can attest to the accuracy of the second part of the name - it is truly a rainforest. Some days it drizzled and some days it poured and occasionally the sun startled us unveiling a beauty that simply is breath taking.

And what do four people do for three weeks in less than 400 square feet? Well, they play bridge, of course! And when they tire of bridge, they seek out a hots prings for an anchorage and enjoy a good warm soak. And then they don rain gear and get acquainted with the locals - wolves and such. And when they get chilled it's time to return to the boat and enjoy another gourmet meal. The seafood is quite fresh and quite delicious. We often would have the difficult choice of do we eat prawns or halibut or salmon or fresh oysters or lingcod or crab orwould you rather have fried chicken. Mostly we enjoyed the seafood but occasionally we enjoy a comfort meal.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Great Bear Rainforest: Getting Started

Doug's sister, Debra, and our brother-in-law, Ralph, joined us for a three week cruise through the Great Bear Rainforest which is remarkable for wolves, grizzlies, Tyee salmon, spectacular water falls, giant prawns, towering black granite mountains, natural hot springs and hanging glaciers. It is considered the most pristine area of the British Columbia Coast. It is wild country with a few services located at remote First Nation Settlements - not a place for those who are fully self-sufficient since much of the area is outside of the radio range of the Canadian Coastguard.

Our first stop was to a proven salmon fishing area in the Bella Bella area where our friend and master fisherman, Mel, took Ralph out fishing and put two Chinook in the box - both in their mid twenties. Meanwhile Mel's wife, Bernice, gave Deb advice about the trip north.

And so we headed outside of the land of calm waters (the Inland Passage) on the west side of the Aristazabal Island where we sighted a pair of Sandhill Cranes and Deb caught two small halibut. A wonderful beginning to our journey.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Waiting in Shearwater

Last year my friend Heidi asked Doug how many "motors" he had on the boat. I think we readily identified 19 all of which need to be maintained. It was not a total surprise when our water maker decided to be difficult. Such would be in keeping with the mariner's tradition of working on boats in remote and exotic places such as Shearwater, British Columbia.

Shearwater has an interesting history. During the WWII it was a Canadian military outpost. The hangers are now a boatyard and the headquarters are the elementary school. Shearwater lodge is a mecca for fishermen and sports a good restaurant and bar and a well stocked grocery store as well as a nice laundromat. An interesting addition this year is a new lodge that was floated early this spring. Throughout British Columbia there is a history of floating houses and floating fishing lodges. The advantage is that when circumstances change or the fish move it is an easy relocation. The new lodge was purchased and floated in on a high high tide. It still sits on the barge which is now covered with a rock facing.

Shearwater is an assembly of interesting people from many different walks of life. Notable are Rob who we befriended in Eucott Bay when he had boat trouble last summer. Rob hails from Fort St. John where he had a trucking business that hauled fuel and raised wild boars. He has made a great life transition and now hunts for prawns and works for Shearwater.

Ian and Karen McAllister have dedicated their lives to keeping the north coast of British Columbia safe for wildlife and pristine. Please visit their website at

where you will be treated to some of the most remarkable wildlife photography and a description of their passionate work.

There are certainly less attractive places to wait for parts. We visited friends, watched a beautiful black bear taste a neighbor's lawn, and were enchanted by the sunset. A pleasant few days of waiting.