We have spent the last week and a half exploring the North Island. Our first visit to Port McNeill We arrived after a dense fog crossing from Hanson Island. At the worst, we had only 1-2 boat lengths visibility. I found it a bit nerve wracking but there was no wind, the seas were calm, it was early in the day so there was not much boat traffic and we sounded the sound signal every 2 minutes. Amelia actually slept through this which was amazing! The fog finally started to thin and lift as we came into Port McNeill harbour.
We tied up to the public dock for 2 nights so we could do all our reprovisioning and a few repairs. Port McNeill is an excellent place for provisioning as the grocery store is only a short walk and they let you roll the cart back to the dock. There is also a marine store and a cafe close by. We stocked up on dry goods for the next 4-6 weeks. Ellery repaired the hole in our dinghy for the third time and did an oil change on our engine. We also dealt with our garbage, recycling and filled our water tanks.
It was a busy couple days but we did find some time for fun with the girls. We walked up the hill to the pool one warm afternoon last week and enjoyed a swim in the outdoor pool.
We did take the ferry to Sointula on Malcom Island from Port McNeill as well. It’s a short 30 minute ferry ride and we were lucky enough to see a Humpback Whale breaching multiple time right in front of the ferry! Once in Sointula we asked at the visitor centre where the closest playground was and we headed straight there. It was a large fenced area with heaps of different play toys and climbers. The girls played for over an hour and we met a couple local families as well. I love talking to other parents and getting the scoop on the area. We had just enough time to find lunch before getting on the ferry back and we enjoyed delicious fish tacos at Coho Joe’s.
After our busy couple of days in Port McNeill we headed back out to our favourite anchorage on Hanson Island. Here we spent more time out in the dinghy looking for whales and saw Humpbacks, Transient Orca whales and more Dalls Porpoises. We also had another beach fire one afternoon. The girls are loving being on the beach. Amelia spends her time at the waters edge while Maddie is always off in search of treasure. There continued to be fog every morning so we enjoyed slower mornings.
Our second trip to Port McNeill we left after the fog had already started to lift and had better visibility. We headed to Alert Bay on Cormorant Island and tied up to the visitor dock for a couple of hours. We walked to the First Nations Burial Ground to introduce the girls to the history and culture of the area, including seeing the Totem poles. We found lunch and then headed back to Arctic Loon so we could make it to Port McNeill in the mid afternoon.
We anchored on the north side of the bay for three nights. It was a short dinghy ride across to Port McNeill so we went into town to do more errands and visit the local playground, pool and the library. The main reason we returned to Port McNeill was to get Amelia her 18 month immunizations at the health clinic. These few days in Port McNeill were cool, rainy and we used our diesel heater often to keep the cabin warm and dry.
Our last day in Port McNeill we ran into our cruising friend Victor and we invited him to come over to Arctic Loon later that evening. He did and brought us a bag of frozen prawns he had caught! It was great to catch up and the prawns were sure yummy when we cooked them up the next day!
Before heading to Port Hardy we anchored for one night in Beaver Harbour which was beautiful and calm. We had a view out to Queen Charlotte Strait and to a couple shell beaches nearby.
We spent the afternoon at the beach in Beaver Harbour and really enjoyed ourselves. The girls find things on the beach like shells or crabs and are entertained for quite a while. This gives us a break too!
Now we are in Port Hardy to get some final provisions before we head around Cape Scott and down the West Coast of Vancouver Island.
Ellery’s father Bob is meeting us in Port Hardy and will join us as far as Ucluelet. We are excited to have him onboard to help with all parts of cruising, including taking care of the girls.
When in Port Hardy, we walked from the public dock in Hardy Bay to the main street in Port Hardy. We passed the elementary school on the way and stopped so the girls could play. Afterwards we continued into town and found Cafe Guido, an eatery, gallery and bookstore. Best part was the bookstore had a kids area with a bin of duplo! Maddie was content but Amelia just wanted to play with all the books.
We have a few more errands to run but we are almost ready to round the cape!
I will update you with our progress down the coast as much as I can, as wifi and cell service allows.