Saturday, July 2, 2016

July 2 – To Haida Gwaii

The chronicle of our three day move to Haida Gwaii. As a spoiler let’s just say that the last leg was a lot more “interesting” than expected.

Wednesday was a nice day but we had some things to do to prepare for our trip farther north so there was nothing of interest to photograph.

Thursday we drove up to Port Hardy. The road was very empty and, except for the last few kilometers, was very smooth making it an easy drive.

Campbell River, BC to Port Hardy, BC - Google Maps

It was mostly sunny but hazy. There was also not much to see. Lots of trees and a few low mountain views.



We are in the Port Hardy RV Resort, which is quite close to the ferry. I didn’t add this to the post until after we got back. I felt uncomfortable showing where our RV was and then saying that we are going to leave it alone for 10 days.


It wasn’t usually this busy. Most of the time it was about 1/4 full. They get a lot of one night people that are either going on or coming off the ferry.


We are leaving the RV and car in here and taking the ferry up first to Prince Rupert and then from there to Haida Gwaii (formerly the Queen Charlotte Islands)

Port Hardy, BC to Prince Rupert, BC - Google Maps

We didn’t get much sleep last night. The ferry for Prince Rupert leaves at 7:30 am but you are told to get there 2 hours early for some reason so we were up at 4 am to get ready and be at the front of the campground for the shuttle bus that goes from town to the ferry. Then at 2 am it started pouring rain, I didn’t relish the thought of standing out there waiting for the bus.Thank goodness by the time 5 rolled around it had mostly stopped.

At the dock, with the bow of the ship waiting for its food. We don’t get to Prince Rupert until 11:30 pm so it is a 16 hour trip.


The best seats in the house are right at the front but you have to book them ahead of time at $35 pp extra. As the walk on people are first on the ship we scored some pretty good seats. The ship is not that full so it would probably have been relatively easy to get them anyway.


Most of the day sitting like this.


But sometimes like this.


As we left port it looked like, off to the south, at least someone was getting some sun.



It was a really disappointing day weather wise. I had been so looking forward to the scenery of the inside passage but we didn’t see much. It was drizzly, foggy and cold all day.

When I braved the outdoors I was usually alone.





Just about the only sights were the many lighthouses off in the distance.



A little patch of blue sky to brighten someone’s day.


One of the announcements telling about the lighthouses said that they are all manned. I wondered why that is required these days.

This light used to be nearer the shore but a storm destroyed it. Now it is just a beacon atop the steel tower at the highest point on the island.


At one point in the morning the captain announced that he had seen some humpback whales breaching ahead. That is when they seem to try and jump out of the water. Needless to say this happened


When we got close enough we all saw one breach. It was amazing to see and a first for me. Of course it happened so fast and rather far away that I doubt if anyone got a picture. It also gave a tail flip that again was unexpected. The only thing I did capture was it rolling on its side and slapping the water repeatedly with its flipper.


To pass the time I have been writing this part of the blog just after dinner on the boat. Just as I started writing about the whale this morning, a huge humpback broke the surface for a steamy breath not 50 feet from the side of the ship right in front of our window.

Our one stop for the day was the village of Klemtu.


We backed in and then slid sideways into the bumpers.


Then the back of the ship went down as the ramp.


One truck, some cargo and about 5 people got off.  I don’t think anyone got on.


Nothing seemed to be happening so I went back to my seat, I am not sure what took so long but we were docked for about 20 minutes.

The second half of the trip is through much narrower passages. At least with all the rain there seemed to be a narrow waterfall in every valley.



The very last section got quite narrow. At its narrowest it is only 1/4 km and supposedly the hills on either side can be 3000 feet high but …


A few of us were on the back deck and someone spotted an animal on shore. We all ran over but it was very far away. From the picture I think it might actually be a dog.


The ferry really leans over when it turns. I guess there must be some obstacles in this channel because we seemed to be doing a bit of zigzagging.


Once we arrived I had to figure out how to get to the hotel I had booked. Open Sesame.


I had selected one that was only a little more than 1 km from the terminal in case, as a last resort, we had to walk. I had called the visitors center and they said to take a taxi. I also talked to a guide on the ferry, who was taking some people to Alaska. He said that when the ferry arrives someone calls the taxi company and they just send a never ending loop of taxis until everyone is taken care of.

We got to the hotel at around 11:30. It is pretty plain but we just needed the bed.


So after we set up the octopus of devices to recharge, we crashed into bed.


I really hope the weather is better for our trip back.

The ferry to Haida Gwaii is shorter at ONLY 8 hours and leaves at a more reasonable time of 10:30 am.

Prince Rupert, BC to Skidegate, BC - Google Maps

We got taxi back to the terminal on another grey day.


The seating isn’t as fancy on this one.



I took a quick look around the Sundeck, which I don’t think anyone got a chance to use today.



The route out to the islands is quite open and it was a bad sign when they came around asking if anyone wanted a barf bag. Then as we were about to enter the LONG open area, the captain makes an announcement that since we are entering some severe weather, no one is allowed outside, the elevators are locked and the kitchen shutdown.

It sure lived up to its advance billing. For a while we were going across the waves so lots of side to side motion. After a turn to try 45 degrees into them the back and forth rocking started along with the side to side just to really confuse your balance. Jennie had long ago taken an 8 hour Gravol but it was no use. I even almost threw up. I made the mistake of sitting with a long view of the stern of the ship going up and down, way below the horizon to way above it.

This is the view from the window beside our seats. I think I heard someone say they were 2-3 meter waves and lots of wind. On the upwind side I watched the windows getting splashed, as the bow came down, 3/4 of the way back down the ship.



They have some nice big portholes near the front of the ship. Sitting there made me feel a bit better because I could sort of guess what was coming.


We never buried the nose but it sure felt that we came close.


Lots of kind of scary moaning and groaning from the ship each time is came down hard.


Then in the middle we went through a patch of nice bright sunshine but the waves didn’t go down. They let us go out on the very back, somewhat protected, deck.



When the bouncing began, it started out being a fun ride for me. At the end not so much. I ended up curled up on the floor right beside Jennie. We were far from alone. They were going through barf bags and tissues at a good clip.

Even the locals said that this was a really bad ride. All of them started breaking out the stories of the worst weather they had been in.

Back into the clouds for a while.


Until we finally got into the lee of the islands and things calmed down for the very last section.

When we had gotten on in the morning we saw a motorhome just a bit smaller than ours being loaded. I hoped they had it really blocked in and wondered how it handled all the bouncing.

I also notice that the motorhome had to back in down a vey long ramp. Only the back of the ferry opens. I guess with the kinds of conditions that it can encounter they want a bow that is as solid as possible and does not open.

We got off the ferry at around 5:30 and walked up the hill to pick up our rental car. The agency is in town but you can pick them up at a lady’s house near the ferry. Today she couldn’t be there so the owner had to drive over and we filled out off the paper work in his truck.

Tonight we are staying at Jags Beanstalk Bistro and Beds in Skidegate.


There are 4 rooms on the second floor of the coffee shop.


Nice view. The sunshine is supposed to head our way tomorrow.


I took a picture of the great looking room but I had just come in from outside and the lens was covered in droplets. Right now Jennie is asleep so I will get a picture tomorrow.

By now our stomachs had settled and since Jennie no longer had had any lunch we were hungry. After we dumped our stuff we headed over to the town of Queen Charlotte to find a recommended open restaurant. The Ocean View was pretty crowded but we got a table and the food came fast enough.

I have been working on this post throughout this odyssey so I just put the last touches on it before heading to bed myself.

1 comment:

  1. Man, I remember that ferry ride to Haida Gwaii. Fortunately, for us the ferry ride to Prince Rupert was amazing. Clear sky all the way. Same with the ferry ride to Haida Gwaii. The way back was far different. The ferry departure from Skidegate was delayed a couple of hours until the storm had "peaked" so they could leave. Apparently, it was unusual to have such a severe storm in August!! And it was SUPER rough once we cleared the headland. Too rough for the cafeteria to open. Jane sat outside at the stern in a sheltered spot and had no seasickness - amazing for her. The kids and I sat inside and enjoyed the view of the ship plowing through the rollers. Hope you get better weather for the return!!!! Enjoy Haida Gwaii!!!