Boardwalk Empires

“Come on in, and welcome!” came the quick, anonymous reply on VHF channel 14 after Jupiter’s crew called about moorage at the Kyuquot public wharf. Finding space at the float, we tied up, and nothing happened. Nobody appeared to be slightly interested in our arrival, as though they did not notice.

Kyuquot (Walters Cove) welcomes cruisers who find moorage.

Wandering the West Coast in Jupiter this summer we found several isolated settlements where residents appear to enjoy languid unpretentious lives, often fishing or guiding for visitors in summer. These small communities, where many First Nation people still reside, occupy ancient sites settled by their ancestors. A well-protected cove serves as the community commons, previously criss-crossed by canoes, now traversed by small gas boats. An open radio channel substitutes for phones, all homes peer onto the cove, with residents enjoying or dreading an open mic neighborhood watch.

Nothing goes unnoticed.

The view across Kyuquot’s cove

Having few or no roads, access to homes, cabins and businesses is by footpaths or raised boardwalks along the waterfront, imparting a familiar human scale lost elsewhere.

Boardwalks along the waterfront replace roads.

Everything and everyone arrives by boat, or sometimes by floatplane. The few stores with brief opening times are neatly stocked with bare essentials. Everyone among the few folk we met was open and pleasant, enjoying the extra company.

These and other outports benefit from the scheduled transport and delivery service by the Uchuck III, a repurposed mine-sweeper, and lovingly called the UpChuck.

Jupiter encounters the Uchuck III close abeam on her appointed rounds.

The lack of cellular service in these outports would drive any “influencer” to leap off the nearest dock, but sometimes a store or café has Wi-Fi, generously offered to navigators who behave nicely.

Nancy and Eric operate the excellent Kyuquot Inn where locals meet and eat well, and where boaters, starved for data, enjoy broadband wifi and homemade french fries.

“A small town has as many eyes as a fly.”

Sonya Hartnett


  1. Dawn Lonsdale says:

    Delightfully cavalier attitude to health and safety displayed by Nancy and Eric with their big knives hanging above their seating area. As long as those are good strong nails!

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