Day 4: Naval Operations
The Flotilla is beginning to function like a naval fleet. Orderly on-time departures and comfortable en route formations are now the norm. As we depart the anchored congestion of Prideaux Haven, crews quit the lagoon eager to be underway to our next destination, Toba Wilderness.
Chris, lead Captain, opts for a route through the fjord-like Homfray Channel which is lovely and lively this morning in a northwest wind.
The short voyage encounters Toba Inlet where Commodore Don, suggests a detour to explore several precipitous waterfalls, and most vessels follow the lead of Blue Pearl a few miles up-inlet. The shoreline in these deep fjords is steep and vessels are able to approach bow in close enough for a wash down. Depths a boat length from shore can often exceed 100 feet.
Arrival of the fleet at Toba Marina soon crowds the previously empty floats. With boats tied-up and plugged in, the crews take in the views and breathe in the mountain air at this sublime destination.
Later, a traditional sunset gathering with noshes and potations, fills the handsome shore pavilion.
Day 5: Lay Day
Crews enjoy a day off from travel with no plans or timetable.
We stretch legs and strengthen calves on a couple of steep hikes in sufficient numbers to keep bears wary. Many sleep late, relax and refresh themselves in the emptiness of the location.
Charter fishing attracts ten eager anglers, and four fast fish boats arrive from Campbell River to hunt the Chinook (King) Salmon. Everyone catches their limit and abundant cleaned fresh fish find their way to grill-masters for the upcoming evening potluck.
A strengthening breeze frees the inlet from the previous hot weather, easing by sunset when revelers from the fleet convene to feast on copious quantities of boathome cooking.
In the spirit of an ancient potlatch, gifts are given in the form of songs, poems, stories, badinage and bad jokes. Denise, sweet vocalist, accompanied by Don on the cajon, render musical numbers, and uninhibited mariners devolve into general lunacy.
Day 6: Into the Rapids
Morning finds the boat crews preparing to depart for the day’s destination, Dent Island Lodge, through yet another dreamland fjord and mythical mountains.
Onward the fleet motors until it intersects the feeding intentions of several humpback whales. The boats slow, stop and photograph these favorite beasties whose return to the inside waters of Vancouver Island has been observed and welcomed in recent years.
Captain Chris has timed the boats departure from Toba to transit Yaculta Rapids at the turn of the tide when the turbulent eight-knot flow settles to allow for a comparatively calm passage.
Dent’s two long finger floats are approached, and Justin, the resort’s manager and wharfinger, has a plan to tie the flotilla in an efficient and intimate manner. Canoe Pass, a small but powerful tidal rapid actually touches the outer moorages making landing boats here during slack water essential.
Dent Island Lodge is an extraordinary wilderness resort offering a serene location, excellent fishing, comfortable accommodations, and for the Flotilla, fine dining. We arrive in time for lunch and then board a jet boat to experience, at full force, the rapids we calmly crossed at slack tide.
Dinner is a gorgeous three course sea-and-farm-to table-menu enjoyed on the decks overlooking the marina. Good fellowship and high spirits carry all into the quiet night aboard our floating homes.
Mariners, displaced from their usual place make space for each other with pacific grace.
If you’re cruisin’ and confused
And you don’t remember who you’re talkin’ to
Concentration slip away
Because your family’s so far away
Well, there’s a rose in a fisted glove
And the eagle flies above
And if you can’t be with the ones you love, honey
Love the ones you’re with
Love the ones you’re withStephen Stills, 1970