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Our Journey on Scolamanzi II
Our Journey on Scolamanzi II

Bears, Elks, Bald Eagles and Dall’s Porpoises … all in one day!

With the weather being to foul to cruise, we were stuck in Campbell River for 4 days. A bear watching expedition sounded sounded like a great way to kill time. We departed at 8:30am warm and dry in a comfy enclosed aluminium boat. We were only 7 on board which makes it a nice number for wild life viewing. Less people, less noise. To start with we were very surprised to see totally flat water! No stormy foul weather in sight. It was overcast with only a slight drizzle on and off. The tour guide of Go Wild Tours eased our minds with the fact that they have never taken a tour group out without seeing a bear. We were hopeful … But only slightly. The salmon season was coming to an end and that might mean less bears around as well. After a welcoming by the local First Nations guides at Orford River we boarded a small bus to take us to the various lookout posts placed at strategic spots all along the river. We were driving back and forth between lookouts for a while, before we spotted the first bear looking for a feed along the river bank. More bears including a mom with triplets followed and it became a really lovely trip! Johann observation that it says a lot of the environment if a bear can raise three cups in one season and in fact for 3 years in a row! That is how long the cubs stay with mom. Beside about 10 odd bears, we were also enthralled by the many bald eagles, three enormous elks grazing in thick mist and many other animals of the forest.

On the way back to Campbell River the sea lions, seals and Dall’s Porpoises made for a very enjoyable day. The following day was planned for Johann to join a fishing trip. The weather just did not play along as winds started to increase to 35 knots and low visibility due to the rain. He managed to get great advice from the guide about how to setup the tender for fishing in the PNW (which is very different to fishing in SA and Australia). I still doubt that we will ever bring a fish on board this new boat… maybe in a few years’ time… but I am happy to grant him the satisfaction of gathering all the gear and I guess many more colourful lours will make their way on board.

Pouring rain and 38-40 knot winds inside the marina made us stay put. Johann used the fresh water from heaven to wash the boat in freezing conditions! Just as quick it has started, that soon has it stopped and it became an amazingly still day. Good enough conditions were predicted for the next morning to leave, as long as we leave at 4:30 am to catch the current going south. The early start paid off. It became a long day. Johann decided to push on past Nanaimo to Ladysmith. A couple of hours of fighting tides and headwinds plus an hour delay waiting for the tide to go slack so we could pass thru Dodd Narrows finally brought us to Ladysmith Marina at around 4:30 the afternoon. The hospitality was outstanding! We were asked to dock by backing down a narrow laneway and into a small space side on. This attracted quite an audience of spectators and worried yacht owners! Johann (in his supper relaxed way) confidently put Scolamanzi without any problems into the gap. We made use of the last hour of daylight to go for a walk – historic Ladysmith had a few interesting buildings and museums. The whole town was closed for Thanksgiving long weekend. We actually could not even find anyone at the office to pay our mooring fees before we had to leave the next morning around 10am! Beautiful calm waters after the storm made for a pleasant journey down to Sidney, BC. Here we booked into Port of Sidney Marina. What an amazingly beautiful area with all the small islands, bays and inlets. Everywhere the shores are lined with beautiful homes and the odd golf course thrown in.

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