“Dude, Take My Car” Upon our return to McLoughlin Bay, the ferry terminal outside of Bella Bella, home to 1,400 Heiltsuk people, we had a six-hour wait before the ferry departed. While the tiny waiting room offered free tea and coffee, after 12 days of going without, I wanted a diet coke and chips. As Bella Bella is only accessible by water (or air), and because we were able to launch our canoe right beside where the ferry docked, we had left the car at the ferry terminal in Port Hardy, a town at the northern tip of Vancouver Island. So, I casually asked a staff member how long it would take to walk to town. His answer was stunning. “Dude, just take my car.” And that’s how I got my pop and chips.
This section is about our trip to a part of the Inside Passage. The short stories, pictures and movies highlight this area’s beauty, remoteness and challenges—all considerably more significant than we had previously even considered. To say that the Inside Passage is big is an understatement. It runs from the northern tip of Vancouver Island into Alaska, a distance of over 2,000 km.
Paddling the whole Inside Passage was not our goal. Over a couple of months, we planned a route with 10 solid days of paddling, covering an out and back distance of less than 200 km within a small (roughly 2,000 square kms) but special part of the area.
Most of the area we paddled lies in the Hakai Luxvbalis Conservancy. However, our plans were just an idea, given the maze of islands, exposed crossings, winds, currents and notoriously bad weather, including an expected four days of rain, many foggy mornings and cool temperatures. A main component of the plan, if everything worked, was to rise early and paddle with the tidal currents, as we worked our way south and back north.