Boats, bows, rods, reels and traps

Yup, the last long weekend was a busy weekend. About 40 youth and associated mentors heading out and away for a few days of camping, fishing, trail-building, archery and anything else that seemed like a good outdoor idea.

The larger vessel

We set off in two vessels, one a speedy affair with room for nine, and the other a larger, more sedate boat with room for all the gear and space to spread out above and below. Going out, I was in the smaller boat, coming back, I traveled in the larger. Both were fun, with the voyage out being busier. As the larger vessel was cruising slowly and steadily toward our destination, the smaller boat zipped about, looking for favourite (previously successful) spots to fish, and to pick up and drop prawn and crab traps.

Two traps contained many prawns, and these were a mainstay for an almost midnight feast later that day. We ended up eating so late because the zodiac and tin boat transfer from the tiny offshore dock to the beach near base camp took quite a few journeys. All that gear and all that youth – thank goodness for young people when it comes to pitching tents and stowing gear in the rain and near dark.

Very comfortable

The rods and reels proved far less successful over the weekend, with very little success in hooking a fish. A large sea cucumber got a bit of a surprise and was no doubt mightily relieved to be returned to the deep. The prawn and crab traps did not deliver either. Oh well.

“Nothing! You?”
“Nope…”

The rain fell from the moment we left Friday afternoon to just before dawn on Saturday, when the skies cleared and warm sunshine was an almost constant companion through Saturday and Sunday. A fair number of mosquitoes were also near constant companions, but not unbearably so.

Very bearable

The weekend was visibly bear-free, aside from frequent scat sightings, and some splashing in the early hours from across the narrow channel. Nothing to be alarmed about. I alarmed a bald eagle that was perched atop an old stump at the point of the spit – I think it may have been my early morning pee break that startled her, causing her to fly off somewhat sooner than she may have been planning. A magnificent sight (the eagle, not me peeing…)

The dry and near windless days allowed for perfect archery conditions, and it was good to see the young ones honing their technique and improving their accuracy. They were able to display their skills to a group of ten elders who visited for the day on Sunday.

Prior to the arrival of the elders, much effort was put into further improving the trail through the forest from the beach to the camp. And you’ve never seen a tidier base camp than how it looked for that afternoon – when grandmothers and grandfathers visit, it had better look right!

When the elders arrived on the beach, they were welcomed with a song sung by a young warrior. His voice was strong and steady, and his song echoed back from the low mountains surrounding the inlet. A memorable moment from a trip with many fine moments.

We awoke on Monday to low cloud and a threat of rain. After the warmth of the previous two days, it was something of a relief to be able to pack up and shift all the gear back to the beach and on to the boats in cool conditions. And would you believe it, once we cleared the inlet and headed out into wider waters, the clouds fell behind us and we sailed under blue skies. A certain OldPlaidCamper might have dozed off up on deck, lulled to sleep and pleasantly tired after a very good long weekend.

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Departure

All at sea?

Me? Maybe, maybe not. This will have to be a very brief post this week. My excuse? I’ve been back to school (Back? Don’t you work in schools most days, PlaidCamper? Well, yes, but this time I’m one of the students, and the classroom isn’t in a school, but in the community and well, perhaps I’d best just get on with the post?) Evenings have been very busy, reading up/doing homework for a course that continues into the coming weekend. It’s been quite intensive, and I’ve felt very tired at the end of each day, so much so, the fact it is May already almost passed me by. There are “learning celebrations” as our lovely instructor likes to say when talking about tests and exams. Will I pass? Maybe, maybe not…

Small vessels

The courses lead to theory qualifications for Small Vessel Operator Proficiency. I say theory because we are in a classroom, not a boat, and the learning, whilst important, is no substitute for practical experience – hours at sea!

I’m learning alongside a group of youth, and any one of this group has many more hours of practical experience in small vessels than I’ve had over a somewhat longer lifetime. They are often applying some theory to quite a body of practical knowledge. The aim this week is to give a basic safety foundation to these students, add the theory to their experience. I have to say the learning has been illuminated by many family stories being shared – sad, funny, frightening and thrilling. The West Coast roots and love of the ocean shows.

“This sort of log?”

It’s been great fun learning together, and I’m delighted to report everybody passed the first couple of exams. I’m not looking for a new career, but in a day and age where certificates and qualifications are needed along with developing experience, the young ones are positioning themselves very well for post secondary opportunities, in and out of school.

I know I wrote above about how tired I’ve felt, but in truth it hasn’t hurt to experience and be reminded that this is often how many learners in our schools feel day after day. Yes I’m tired, but I’m enjoying this learning – sometimes (often?) what we are asking our children to learn may not be all that relevant or engaging in terms of curriculum – how tiring must that be?

Small vessel

I’ll leave it there, as I’m off to refresh my memory about the finer points of coastal navigation, or I will if I stay awake long enough. Perhaps I should give myself some latitude, or even a little leeway, and have a beer, take the night off? Oh, that was bad.

Navigational aide memoire?

The photographs this week were taken last weekend, when April mistook itself for May, and we weren’t complaining. Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Almost May

Sand and stone

Wind and rain, bark and bone. Sounds like the start of a spell, but it’s a small list of the gritty and grainy outdoor life we’ve been experiencing the past little while.

I was lucky enough to find an extra hour on the beach last week. A meeting finished earlier than expected, and there wasn’t enough time left in the day to get back and start something new – if I drove really slowly, and I never rush in the Jeep…

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Scoured

The wind was blasting down the beach, from north to south, and provided a real push in the back as I headed out. In a positive frame of mind, I likened it to a helping hand. Sand snakes were racing past me, long writhing ribbons that I couldn’t keep pace with.

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Sand snakes

A few hardy kite surfers were performing tricks in the surf, traveling scarily fast and leaping up into the air. Holding onto my hat, I stopped to watch them, admiring the skill and choreography as they appeared to narrowly avoid colliding with each other. A tip of the hat there, not that they could see. It was too cold to stop for long, and I’d targeted a particular set of rocks as my goal for a there and back trip.

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I clambered up on the rocks, and goodness me it was windy up there! I decided not to linger too long, knowing the walk back up the beach was going to be a tad more trying without that helping hand. It really was a bit of an effort, and every now and then an extra strong gust would blow the sand somewhat higher than knee height. My apple snack was a trifle gritty…

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Same rocks, several days later

I’ve written before about the joys of a few “stolen” moments in a work day, time when you can get outside and enjoy the elements. This was very much the case last week. I wouldn’t choose a big blow as my favourite weather, but I didn’t mind blowing away a few post-committee cobwebs!

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The photograph above of Scout on the rocks was taken a few days later, at the rocks I’d headed to earlier in the week, and the day was a good deal calmer. Still windy, but manageable.

Bark and bone? A different weekend day, one where we heard logs crashing into the rocks guarding a small cove. The deep booms were something to hear, as these tree bones were thrown against stone. The tide was dropping, as were the winds, but so close to the end of a fierce blow, we weren’t going to venture down onto the upper sands of the cove. Every now and then a heavier wave would still have enough energy to surge up the beach. Gritty outdoor types we might be, but we weren’t going to risk a sudden foot soaking or worse down on the beach. We’ve got sand, but also plenty of prudence.1278AA79-3601-405F-BC3C-4C575B95C89E

The forecast for the coming long weekend looks rather damp. We will aim to get out, no matter the weather, but if trips are shorter, then we’ll have to head indoors, empty the sand from our shoes, and eat a small chocolate egg (or two!)

Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

Rain and mist – normal service

It’s good to be back on the coast, and after a lengthy spell of warm and sunny days, rain and mist has returned, most welcome after an unusually dry early spring.0E2FDEC0-44CC-47E9-B77E-4377442F26D3

We’ve been doing our usual rain dance, that is, aiming to get out and about in between the showers, and for the most part we’ve been pretty lucky. We haven’t escaped all the rain – for a while, the Jeep was strangely dog odour free, but it only took a couple of damp days out for the reassuring smell of wet dog to permeate the back seat once again. We drive with the windows down, enough to get a flow of cool fresh air, and low enough that the tip of Scout’s nose sticks out. I’m told it looks very amusing.705B2718-DAFB-47A4-AACE-994D62785F87

The cool days have been rather soothing, and lend a sense of normality and calm after our mad dash about Britain, and after all the pleasantly warm sunshine we’ve been having since returning home. The sun was lovely, but all a bit too soon or too much compared with what is expected. Give it a lengthy rainy period, and we’ll be wishing for warm sun soon enough.1E3840F4-E97B-4C83-9043-DAD4F919C72F

Scout has had fun, reacquainting herself with her familiar haunts, nose down and tail wagging along the trails. Her quick walks usually include a visit to the inner and outer harbours, and these wooden docks are amongst her favourite places. I like the sights, and can stomach the fish and crab aromas, but Scout cannot get enough of the smell-soaked boards. It’s good that there’s something for everyone.

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We’re devoted to the harbour

Earlier today we startled a harbour seal and it splashed in alarm just beneath our feet, and away from the dock, heading backwards almost doing a backstroke, and looking a touch aggrieved before it slipped under the surface. Sorry, seal, we honestly didn’t know you were there.

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Seal playground

So normal service has been resumed, equilibrium re-established, and there’s a lot to be said for that! The photographs for this post were taken over the last two weeks, and were chosen to reflect normal service, or what passes for that out here.

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Smells good

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!

Weathered

We’ve heard that parts of North America and Europe have been unseasonably cold in the last little while. I’ve also read that Australia has been unseasonably hot, even by their warm summer standards. I’d love to write about how the west coast here has been mild, with a weekend ahead of gentle sunshine, but that wouldn’t be true. If the forecast is correct, we’re due a relatively chilly snap, with a suggestion of snow. I’m rather looking forward to it…1318da27-5d14-46b6-a7d4-f10f602f3981

We get out and about whatever the weather, unless it is dangerous to do so, and this almost brave and rugged outdoor approach is, understandably, reflected in my appearance. Why, not so long ago, a delightful young chap I’ve been working with heard it was my birthday, and he asked if I minded looking so old? In fairness, I believe he meant to say rugged, but it isn’t a word in his vocabulary. He then asked if hair loss hurt, and could anything be done about it? After putting my toque back on, I replied, with a quaver that gave the lie away, that I didn’t mind going bald. After all, aren’t bald eagles majestic? He agreed, they are quite something, but they aren’t actually bald.

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Majestic

Last weekend ended up being far more overcast than had been predicted, but young dogs need to take rugged humans and run them ragged on long walks. Off we went in search of adventure and a bald eagle or two. As promised in my previous post, I remembered to bring along a camera with a better zoom than the phone, and I’m glad I did. We nimbly leapt down from the trail into a rocky area, and with an easy and let’s say spry spring in our step, moved to a sheltered area to enjoy our coffee and admire a bald eagle perched slightly away and above. Once again, the eagle remained in place for our entire visit, and at one point it tipped it’s head back and sang out when another eagle flew past. What a thrill!

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Rugged

The following day was also grey, and the wind had a bit of bite to it. Undeterred, we set off to stretch our legs along a beach to a distant set of rocks where we’d spotted oystercatchers on a previous trip. No oystercatchers this time, but when we clambered (I mean skipped) up the rocks, we were treated to a fine collection of weathered and storm tossed logs. The greyish glow of the light seemed to bring out the shape and texture, and I messed around with taking some monochrome and silver shots.

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Silvery

I’m almost tired now, so I’ll leave it here for this week. Perhaps a quick nap, then I’m off out to enjoy our forthcoming little chill, hoping to see some local snow, and also hoping my toque keeps the bald spot warm…

Thanks for reading, have a wonderful weekend, and whatever the weather throws at you, I hope you get to be outdoors!

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“This is easy!”

Ocean Rebel

Yes, Ocean Rebel! A wonderful name, and I had to use it for this post heading. It is such a good one, could be a story title, and it’s great for a boat – which is where I saw it. If I ever write the untold and untrue account of my exploits as a paddler, I now know what the title will be…

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Prepared, as always – can you see the eagle there?

Never one to be caught up in daydreams about writing, I’m attentive and eagle-eyed, almost always aware of my surroundings. For example, I saw the boat docked at Whiskey Landing (hard to miss) but have to confess it was a few minutes before I noticed the real Ocean Rebel perched up high. Prepared, as always, I didn’t have my camera, so had to snap a few distant shots with my phone. The eagle looked great up there. Patient, watchful, and occasionally ruffled by a gust of wind.

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Perched and patient, a Saturday morning spent sitting on the calm side

A photographer armed with an impressive looking camera stopped by and took a number of shots, and the eagle seemed happy enough about this. A family trundled down to the lower dock to take in the view, and from where I was sitting, it seemed to me they didn’t spot the eagle above them. Either that or they were too cool to show they’d seen it. I still get excited every time I see one…

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The stormy side, Saturday afternoon

On Sunday morning, we were on Long Beach, a sunny day after a stormy one. Gulls were out in force, and we saw and heard quite a commotion down the beach. As we got closer, we could see a bald eagle being harried by a handful of gulls. Or was it a handful of gulls protecting themselves from a rampant eagle? Turf wars and lines in the sand? Ocean rebels? Right and wrong? I’m probably supposed to take a side and stick to it in these partisan and alleged fake news times…

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Calm down, there’s enough space…

Yes, prepared, as always, I didn’t have my camera, so once again the photograph above was taken on my phone. By the time this was taken, the gulls and eagle appeared to have reached an accommodation – smart move, and no need to start a beach shutdown, all was well. It’s a big beach, with plenty of room to roam.

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Can I be an ocean rebel?!

We will be on the beach and on the trails this weekend, as the forecast is for a couple of dry days with some sunshine. This time, instead of wishing I had my camera, I’ll bring it with me, and be thoroughly prepared to capture some ocean rebels, if they don’t move off before I find the right button. (That’s captured photographically speaking – I wouldn’t want to imprison the wild and free!)

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Wild

Hmm. Wild and Free? I believe we have a sequel to Ocean Rebel! Thanks for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful, wild, and free weekend!

As easy as falling off a log…

If something is as easy as falling off a log, should you do it? Isn’t it easily avoided? Maybe it just happens, no effort at all. I’ve fallen – or at least slipped – off a log, and it hurts. Easy? Yup. But I’m not so sure it’s the thing to do. Why am I asking? It’s the nonsense that fills the gaps in my head when perched on a log.d5bf7b94-1ca3-4863-85e3-9ac083a8d245

Last weekend we were blessed with a day that seemed more like spring than winter. Blue skies, warm sunshine and very little breeze. It was a day made for the beach, so that is where we went. We found ourselves scrambling over the rocks and between the logs, searching for just the right spot to stop and take it all in.6d9d7bbb-30d3-4d9c-9912-c746c57332b4

Getting there, the tide was low, and the stretch of sand was wide. We couldn’t understand (but didn’t mind) why there were so few people about? We were out for several hours and saw only a handful of hikers and dog walkers. Oh well…ef3a9dfc-0af4-461d-bec4-f79371973933

When perching, I didn’t fall off a log this outing, but I did come close to tumbling a couple of times in my attempt to keep up with Scout – she was sure-footed along the trunks, and didn’t mind showing me up as she leapt from log to log.8ed9fab3-4241-4d7d-a871-682a139fe766

We spotted a few bald eagles, but our closest bird encounter was earlier in the morning. We were enjoying a fine cup of coffee from the recently opened Foggy Bean, admiring the view from Ucluelet across to Hitacu when the little fellow pictured below took a keen interest in our drinks. I suspect he was after something to eat rather than a caffeine hit, but what good taste he had…

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“Ooh, is that coffee? ‘Cos, yeah, we’re raven mad for caffeine…”

Not so sunny for us this coming weekend – the ravens will miss us sitting at our usual spot, and we will miss being there. Still, the very early spring day last weekend was easy to enjoy – as easy as falling off a log.

Thanks for reading, and have a wonderful weekend!