Thursday, August 14, 2008

Oak Bay (or is it Hotham?)

On Monday morning (August 11) we decided it was time to leave the seclusion of Dead End Bay and head to an area where we'd be among other boaters. When we listened to Cruiser's Net that morning it seemed as though every other caller was checking in from Oak Bay. Since that was only a leisurely one hour cruise away, we hauled anchor, navigated out of the narrow twisty passage leading us out to McBean Harbor, then made our way over to Oak Bay.

Once there, we found that all those "Oak Bay" callers were actually in our old friend Hotham Island West anchorage. We'd been there a couple of weeks ago (in 60 km winds) and wanted to see it again. So we motored in and dropped anchor among the sailboats.

This time around, it was a much more pleasant (and calm) anchorage. In fact, it is now one of our favorites. It isn't as "bluffy" as some of the other star anchorages of the North Channel, but is beautiful in its own way. There are enough rock outcroppings to keep it interesting, you get a great view of Mt. McBean, and there is wildlife to view from your boat. While we were there, the resident beaver kept pretty busy going back and forth in the harbor during the morning and evening hours to feed. One of the mornings, we got a really good view of him as he ate reeds about 100 feet from Meridian. Did you know beavers ate reeds? We didn't. Also, the loons continued to actively taunt Bernie as they magically appeared out of nowhere when she didn't have her camera, then dove into the well known "disappearing loon dive" just as she reached for it. Although we have no close-up pictures to prove it, Oak Bay seemed to have more loons than any of the other places we've been. They were EVERYWHERE. But they're wily. Some people say they're shy. We don't believe that. We think they enjoy taunting all those camera toting cruisers. And they have an amazing variety of calls - from hauntingly beautiful to laughingly playful.

We stayed in Hotham for two nights, and on the second morning the water was perfectly calm, showing an almost perfect mirror image reflection of the surrounding trees and sky.

During our stay at Hotham, we took two long kayak rides out into Oak Bay. They were long because we paddle slow. But that's another story. This is a very scenic area of the North Channel, with rock outcroppings, bluffs, small islets, coves, channels, etc. virtually everywhere. And since Oak Bay is very protected, it makes for some exceptional kayaking - probably the best we experienced since Thomas Bay in Georgian Bay. On one kayak ride, we startled a beaver who made a lot of noise as he ran down the hill, jumped into the water, and swam away. He seemed downright annoyed with us.

While we were at Hotham, the Perseid meteor shower was at its peak. Bernie has made it a habit to wake up at about 1 am and go to the foredeck to watch the stars. This time Phil joined her. Well, he did for a couple of minutes anyway. But the wet dew on his bare feet, the cold wet canvas of the cushion covers, the ravenous mosquitoes (that Bernie had assured him were never there after midnight), the lack of a sleeping bag that somehow Bernie had managed to zip herself snuggly into and was in no mood to share, and the constant "Shhh, you're whispering too loud" drove him back to the warmth and drowsy comfort of the aft stateroom. Maybe he'll see the Perseids next year.

While we really didn't want to leave, we decided to head over to the town of Spanish on Wednesday (8/13) to replenish water and electric and to empty out our holding tank. So off we went . . .

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