Curiouser and Curiouser

Cruising southbound abreast the long eastern shore of Prince of Wales Island, Jupiter encounters the Kashevarof Passage on a day best enjoyed in port. The wind and tide are roaring northward, waves are steepening with decreasing period making the production of coffee and toast an ungainly undertaking.

The crew’s original destination remains two hours distant, hence a turn to starboard is executed into a little and little-visited inlet named Lake Bay. The cove appears small on the chart and smaller still at low tide as we anchor up.

The anchorage occupies the estuary of nearby Barnes Lake which acts as a hydraulic battery, charging, storing and discharging eighteen feet of tidal-exchange seawater through cables of rocky rapids on a six-hour cycle.

Protected from Kashevarof’s chop and choo, we continue to experience half the wind and all the estuarial currents flowing around and under the boat. At anchor Jupiter’s tide-rode disposition veers 180° with every turn of tide.

As the foggy day resolves into rainy night, the crew grows enchanted by the setting. An intriguing log cabin stands ashore and wreckage of other structures invite exploration. As the weather abates we are readying a kayak inspection of the abandoned homestead and the tidal channel leading inland.

Finding no history of Lake Bay, the wrecked house with its failed retaining wall, the thriving sugar-maple and the durable log cabin prompt inventive speculation aboard.

Kayaks are often the easiest way ashore for neritic forays.

Access to the old cabin is hindered by a tumult of wild blackberries. We call out to warn any resident bears off the unripe fruit, hoping to find them absent.

What initially appeared to be pilings of a dock or boardwalk we find is a failed attempt to retain land and restrain the sea from the flimsy foundations of structures. An awkward path brings us from the beach into the compound which overlooks a salt marsh beyond.

Curiously, signs of habitation are left untended as though return was intended. Visitors, like mice, have invaded, taken and torn.

Skillful craftsmanship and a wasted interior remain after the cabin’s abandonment. A carefully placed Big Leaf Maple thrives.

A mid-century framed dwelling, toppled by ocean undercuttings, exposes the folly of beachfront building.

In a time when everything seems knowable, and during a summer where many things are interpreted for us, peering through broken windows into abandoned habitations engenders more questions than answers. Who, why, when?

The lack of clarity is unsettling, but an invitation to imagination and fabrication.

An understanding of the natural world and what’s in it is a source of not only a great curiosity but great fulfillment.

David Attenborough

Curious encounters abound: Sea Lions and Cormorants coexist on a navigational aid, small Western Toads range at the abandoned settlement and postcoital Leopard Slugs are underfoot.

Not all who wander are lost.

Cheshire Cat, Alice in Wonderland


  1. Lee Tolley says:

    Hope y’all are having a wonderful summer. Wandering can bring some delightful surprises. I enjoy following Jupiter’s travels.

  2. Penny says:

    That hammock. What a shot! So evocative.
    Then—the slug video. What magical things transpire on our planet, of which very very few of us have any knowledge……..

  3. Dana Starr says:

    Another fascinating tale of your explorations on Jupiter. It would seem rather daunting and somewhat spooky to explore these remote ruins in such uninhabited and long forgotten areas. The photos tell an interesting tale of the abandoned habitations and the hammock is especially remarkable. You guys are brave adventurers. Don’t you get a bit scared at times when exploring such an unknown place? Do you carry a sidearm for protection in the event of an unlikely dangerous encounter with man or beast?
    Thanks for the post and for including us on the record of Jupiter’s adventurous travels.

    • The most dangerous encounters on this foray were with the bramble bushes, and avoiding rusty protruding nails and broken glass. A sidearm would not have helped.

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