When you last heard from the intrepid explorers we were readying ourselves for our crossing of Hecate Strait and exploration of Haida Gwaii. Well we made it. Haida Gwaii is the land of big trees, big rain, big winds and ancient villages. We have experienced all of it.
Our crossing of Hecate Strait was as good as we could have hoped for. Relatively small seas, with one to two-foot waves on top of the ever-present swell. Swell is the open ocean wave that is the remnant of distant storms. You hope that they were distant storms, and then the swell is a meter or less and is just a gentle rise and fall. If the storms are near, this becomes a large rise and fall and is no fun at all.
We arrived in Haida Gwaii after a 16-hour, 100 mile crossing, that started at 5 am and anchored in Rose Harbour on Tunghit Island in the Southern portion of the Island chain. After settling the boat, ourselves, and stowing the gear it was to bed by 9 pm for a well-deserved sleep.
Speaking of bed time, that’s a bit strange as well. As we are heading further north, the days are getting longer and we have noticed that it is still light out until nearly 11 pm now. Going to bed while its still light out reminds me of being a kid with an early bed time.
The next day we were off to Anthony Island on the south west side of Haida Gwaii. The Haida name for this island is SGang GWaay. This is an UNESCO world heritage site and Canadian National Historic site due to the remains of an ancient Haida village located there. To visit the site or any other in the Gwaii Haanas National Park we needed to attend an orientation meeting prior to our arrival. At certain locations you radio the on-site Watchman for permission to anchor and come ashore. In many locations the Watchmen limit the number of on shore visitors at any given time to reduce our impact on the sites. They will also conduct the tour or provide information and answer questions for you.
SGang GWaay was a unique experience. To walk through, what at one time, would have been a thriving winter Haida village and see the remains of the long houses, memorial totems and mortuary totems, all narrated by a Haida guide was eerie and educational at the same time. While looking at the totems they may seem to be in disrepair but the Haida protocol is that the totems be allowed to return to earth as part of the natural cycle. Once these are gone there will be no more.
On our way back from SGang GWaay we met up with another sailboat with a cool story. They are a young couple with 2 daughters 9 and 12 years old who are not only headed north to Alaska, but they are going to carry on and do the Northwest Passage. WOW now that’s an adventure. I’ve heard that there are fewer people who have done the Northwest passage than have climbed Mt Everest. These folks are brave.
We continued our exploration of Haida Gwaii stopping in at Hot Springs Island to soak in the natural pools and then on to Crescent Inlet to wait out the oncoming gale force winds.
Waiting out weather is a fact of life when cruising and here is no exception. In fact, I’m convinced that the word June is Haida for grab your rain coat. You see everything from sun to clouds to down pours of rain within an hour. We’ve seen misty rain and we’ve seen ping pong ball size rain. The hard top and enclosure have been worth every penny we spent!
We are posting this from the Village of Queen Charlotte as we wait out a day of gale force winds but at least its sunny. We are hoping that we have a small weather window starting early in the morning Saturday and will try to make our crossing then. Destination Prince Rupert if the seas permit with a possible overnight stop at Spicer Island.