I soon learned a cruise aboard the MV Uchuck III is a voyage of discovery.
Upon arrival we discovered the spectacular wilderness beauty of Vancouver Island’s wild west coast on this hot summer day in August. Once en route we witnessed the day-to-day workings of a coastal freighter as she delivers provisions to a fish. And we visited British Columbia’s birthplace, Friendly Cove (Yuquot) the final destination point of this day cruise.
Departing from the Gold River Government Wharf we were treated to a natural phenomenon; a green algae bloom that tinted the inlet and the open ocean a light robin’s egg blue, similar to what you would see in glacial melt waters such as Butte inlet. This occurs naturally each year in August and made the scenery that much more spectacular.
The MV Uchuck III departed from Gold River, heading up Muchalat Inlet. On this trip a stop was made at a Grieg Seafoods fish farm to drop off bundles of feed for the penned salmon. This gave us an opportunity to watch the First Mate deftly lift the bundled feed from the ship’s hold onto the dock using a union purchase winch and crane system. This is old school at its best and very interesting to watch.
The MV Uchuck III continued down the Inlet along the shore of Bligh Island. This island was named after William Bligh who was, at the time, Captain Cook’s navigating officer on the ‘Resolution’ in the 1700s. He later gained infamy as Captain on the ‘Bounty’ mutiny. We made a brief stop at Resolution Cove, this is the site where contact was first made between the Europeans and the Mowachaht natives. Captain Cooked stopped here to make repairs to the ‘Discovery’ and ‘Resolution’. Trade soon commenced, sparking the sea otter fur trade at Friendly Cove, locally known as Yuquot, the traditional summer home of Chief Maquinna and the Mowachaht people.
Crossing Nootka Sound we arrived at our final destination, Friendly Cove. Walking from the dock to this Pacific Peninsula you cross into a different world; a world steeped in history and natural beauty. This is a quiet place, it calms you. Waves from the open Pacific wash upon miles of pebbled shoreline, the receding water rolls the beach pebbles, creating an almost breathing sound that is very moving, and calming.
There was much to do on our three-hour stopover; hike the shoreline trail past an old cemetery buried in the rain forest, spend time on the beach, visit the historic church that is home to traditional house totems and visit the Lighthouse and its keepers.
The trip back offered more spectacular scenery as we cruised around the other side of Bligh Island. We saw porpoises and bald eagles, unfortunately no Grey or Humpback Whales were spotted on this trip.
The MV Uchuck III offers day cruises to Friendly Cove Wednesdays and Saturdays (June to September).
– By Neil Havers