Passages in Howe Sound

Heights of Howe Sound revealed

1-10 June 2012

We do some repairs, laundry and communications, meet up with Vancouver friends, and wait for Elisabeth to arrive from Nova Scotia. It is all very exciting although much of this activity involves using the boat like a car, which is really harder than most people imagine.  It can be very exhausting in fact, for we must raise anchor, motor for an hour or two to a new place, sort out how to dock there, put out fenders and dock lines, dock, and race around on shore or meet people for brief periods. Then we ready ourselves to leave the dock, depart, stow the lines and fenders, and find a place to stay for the night. Anchor again. Repeat.

Sign seen near the ferry dock on Bowen Island

All at a maximum speed of 6 knots an hour.  Sometimes in the pouring rain.  But who’s complaining?

We can’t believe that, anchored in the Marine Park in Halkett Bay on Gambier Island, we’re just 5 miles away from Horseshoe Bay, one of Vancouver’s major ferry terminals, or Snug Cove on Bowen Island.  Or, in the other direction, Gibson’s Landing on the Sechelt Peninsula.

Waterfall in Halkett Cove Park

When the clouds move off, we see long cataracts tumbling down the sides of steep snow-covered mountains on the mainland.  We watch eagles and otters and great blue herons and Canada geese and longtailed ducks feeding and fishing. Harbour seals sneak up and watch us shyly, then dive noisily.  Ferries come and go and we rock in their wakes.  A sailboat race around Bowen Island fills the Sound with hundreds of boats of every size and make.  We row ashore and go hiking on short steep trails through the cedars.  The ferns are taller than we are and vibrant green moss grows on everything. It is dark in the forest, and the light seems to glow greenly; your sense of size is altered by these enormous trees, but so is your eyesight, your sense of colour.

When it rains, the scent of damp cedar fills the air and sometimes wood smoke.  We get cold so we light a fire, make a minestrone soup and sit in our dry cockpit enclosure, admiring the world or watching the light fall.

Howe Sound under cloud cover

British Columbia is crazily beautiful and we’ve fallen in love.  We admit it; we’re seduced.  If real estate weren’t so terrifyingly expensive here, we’d be tempted to make the jump from our coast to this one. But as we go from place to place, using our boat like a car—or parking it for a couple of days at a dock in Snug Cove on Bowen Island, and taking the ferry across to Vancouver to visit with friends—we cannot imagine where we could possibly settle.  Each place we see has its glories.  Each is but a tiny fraction of the whole.  And we’ve only begun to explore.

Friend Janice at the helm

Each place is hard to leave, but each new inlet beckons, luring us onward.  Northward, northward now!

About Karin Cope

Karin Cope lives on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia. She is a poet, sailor, photographer, scholar, rural activist, blogger and an Associate Professor at NSCAD University. Her publications include Passionate Collaborations: Learning to Live with Gertrude Stein, a poetry collection entitled What we're doing to stay afloat, and, since 2009, a photo/poetry blog entitled Visible Poetry: Aesthetic Acts in Progress. Over the course of the last decade, with her partner and collaborator Marike Finlay, Cope has sailed to and conducted fieldwork in a number of remote or marginal coastal communities in British Columbia and Mexico. Their joint writings range from activist journalism and travel and policy documents, to an illustrated popular material history of the Lunenburg Foundry entitled Casting a Legend, as well as their ongoing west coast travel blog, West By East.
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