Tuesday 23 August 2022 – For reasons which will become clear, this will be a fairly brief post, somewhat hastily cobbled together. I hope you enjoy the photos, though.
The day started well, in that we were up promptly, breakfasted, checked out of the hotel and in for our private charter flight, a small float plane, from Victoria to the Farewell Harbour Lodge. For a while, though, it all fell apart. The lass behind the check-in desk at Harbour Air told us that there would be a delay. It wasn’t quite clear why for a while, but eventually we understood the situation. Cloud and fog made flying in to Farewell Harbour too dangerous in the view of the Harbour Air despatcher, who was therefore unwilling to send a plane to us in Victoria unless the situation at the far end cleared. We were advised to wait and see whether the weather and the forecast changed. New forecasts came in every hour, and each one indicated that visibility would still be a problem.
Naturally, we started pondering alternatives, but the raw truth is that we needed to get somewhere over 500km away to an island in the Johnstone Strait, so flagging down a cab or seeking a bus ride wasn’t really an option. Even driving to the nearest place on Vancouver Island whence we could catch a water taxi looked too difficult.
Despite the best efforts of BT, whose circuitry detected a crisis and therefore implemented a cap on Jane’s phone, we managed to contact Discover Holidays, who are looking after us whilst we’re in Canada. Fortunately, Jane got through to a lady called Sarah, who had worked on developing our itinerary with the heroic Brendan at NATS, so we didn’t have to waste time explaining the problem to her. The idea of a driver was mooted, but then all of a sudden, a plan came into being which was to fly us as near to Farewell Harbour as the weather allowed (e.g. Campbell River) and take a water taxi from there. So we got our plane after all.
We climbed in, buckled up and the pilot taxied out past the air traffic control tower
(because Victoria Harbour is unique in Canada because it actually has a runway marked in the harbour), and off we went. Conditions were pretty clear, so here are some of the photos we managed to garner as we went:
Victoria Harbour, with the breakwater we walked around yesterday at the top of the picture;
evidence of some fairly drastic logging;
several views showing what a big slab of land Vancouver Island is;
a couple of arty attempts on my part;
a photo by Jane of Campbell River (meaning – yippee! – it had cleared and we were carrying on all the way to our proper destination);
coming down towards our landing and skimming along just below the clouds; and finally
arrival at Farewell Harbour Lodge, where we found out a couple of interesting nuggets. Firstly, the pilot of our plane (a De Havilland Beaver – I was going to call this post “Nice Beaver” but Jane gave me One Of Her Looks) was named, appropriately, Dakota; and secondly, Tim, the proprietor of the lodge, could take the credit for us arriving, as it was his suggestion that we fly as far as the weather allowed, and he was pretty sure it would clear, as indeed it did.
It was, thus, with considerable relief that we arrived at the lodge (which looks great and seems very well-organised)
only some five hours late and just in time to get a beer in as Tim gave us the indoctrination spiel. A key fact that emerged from this is that tomorrow will be an early start, hence my brevity. I am being brief. Yes, I am.
We actually peered round the back of our cabin and found where they park the boats, as well as this scene
which is documentary proof that you can indeed have your kayak and heat it. Thank you. Thank you for listening to my joke.
A delicious dinner was at 7, after which we got a very interesting talk on humpback whales from a lady called Vicky, and so it’s now quite late – at least relative to the 0530 alarm we’ll need if we are to join in tomorrow’s excursion to seek grizzly bears and other fauna. So I hope you’ll excuse me whilst I get to bed to try to get some sleep. Come back tomorrow and find out if we made it.