We left Tahsis and headed back to the west coast, to Friendly Cove on Nootka Island. This is where the Nootka Island Lighthouse is located. I love seeing the lighthouses on the west coast. They are a beacon of safety, which I have appreciated immensely as we make our way down the west coast. We were still buddy boating with SV Kyrie at this point and so we decided to raft up in Friendly Cove. The kids love going on each other’s boats and us parents enjoyed visiting in the cockpit. After our girls were asleep we spent the evening on SV Kyrie sharing salty tales and killing a bottle of wine.
We were watching the forecast as we planned to head south and round Estivan Point soon. The weather is so changeable and when we saw the forecast for the following day was ok, we along with SV Kyrie decided to go for it and head to Hot Springs Cove on the other side of Estivan Point. Estivan Point is crux number 3 because it juts out quite a few miles into the Pacific Ocean.
When we headed south for Estivan Point the next morning, the conditions did not seem that bad at first but they worsened throughout the day. It turned out to be a rough passage. We had one reef in the main, winds were SE 15-25 on the nose, seas had 4 foot chop on top of 2 m swell and heavy rain! It was awful but we got through it! Amelia is the only one who vomited. Maddie played happily below in the cabin, oblivious to the conditions.
We were so grateful to finally make it into Hot Springs Cove. We were exhausted and soaking wet. It had rained so hard that water was getting into our boat in various places. We spent the rest of the afternoon drying out with the heater on in the cabin and relaxing, while enjoying some homemade soup that Ellery made. SV Kyrie headed out to the hot springs that evening but we had to get the girls to bed and decided we would go first thing the next morning.
We left our boat at 0730 and stopped by SV Kyrie to say goodbye. We knew they were heading onto Ucluelet and we wanted to wish them well. We tied up the dinghy at the public dock and started the 2km trek along a boardwalk to the hot springs. I carried Amelia, hoping she would catch a quick nap and Maddie walked along with us asking about all of the carvings on the boardwalk. For many years boaters have been carving their boat names in the boards. Apparently this practice is no longer encouraged as many of the boards need replacing. It is cool to see and we found the name of a boat Ellery’s family used to have and a board Ellery and his friends carved when they kayaked to Hot Springs Cove years ago.
We arrived at the hot springs at 0820 and were the first ones there! In fact, we had it to ourselves until we left at 0930 when the first tour group was heading in! Having it to ourselves was great because the pools are pretty small! It was low tide, so all three pools were quite hot but the lowest one was less hot, more like a really warm bath. Ellery and I took turns taking care of the girls so we could lay in the water and have a good soak. We let Maddie go in up to her bum with frequent breaks and Amelia really just got her feet wet. We were lucky with the weather too because it was sunny and already felt warm. There is also a warm/hot waterfall which Ellery and I took advantage of. Like most adventures with kids, going to the hot springs was a lot of work but totally worth it.
The hot springs were a good start to a rest day and we enjoyed spending the rest of the day relaxing, cleaning up and drying out more of our stuff from our wet sail the day before.
Hot Springs Cove is quite a tourist destination and we watched as boats and float planes came and went all day. The girls saw so many float planes that they got tired of rushing out of the cabin to see them!
From Hot Springs Cove, we decided to head to Tofino via the inside route and check out an anchorage recommmended by SV Cariba. We call it Obstruction Anchorage because it is off Obstruction Island. We enjoyed a lovely, quiet sail and were thrilled with the calm, secure anchorage. We slept so well that night, it was one of those nights where I forgot I was even on a boat because it was so calm. The next morning, I took Maddie out for a paddle to explore the anchorage and chat with the other folks anchored on a power boat nearby.
Upon leaving obstruction anchorage, we were headed to Tofino but we saw a large fog bank and decided to stop by Ahousat at the store.
We were able to sail most of the way to Tofino, through calm inlets and passages. We saw a couple of sea lions along the way. SV Cariba had said they anchored just around the corner from Tofino in Browning Passage and we thought we would try it. We anchored, had dinner and took the dinghy into Tofino to take the girls to the park. We were stoked to see a brand new playground in Tofino and the girls were happy to run around.
We decided to spend the next day in Tofino because we needed another rest day. It is also interesting to explore a town from the water. We see things from the water that we never see when we arrive in a town by car. We also realized that we don’t often go into the town of Tofino, but rather just stay out at the beach and we found that it had grown immensely.
We spent the morning at the playground, while we did our laundry at the local laundromat. We met a lovely family at the park with 3 kids from Kelowna. They were camping in their campervan so we were swapping stories on living with children in small spaces.
It was also Ellery and I’s 8th wedding anniversary so we decided we should all go out for fish and chips for lunch. We have been so busy with this trip and had not found each other a present and or even written in our cards. Maddie must have heard us discussing this because she said “you didn’t write in your cards but they are still filled with love.” She knows it. We certainly couldn’t survive this trip without a lot of love.
We explored a bit more of Tofino and then headed back to Arctic Loon just in time for the rain to start. We were also a little surprised to find quite a strong current ripping by our boat. Needless to say, we didn’t get the best sleep that night and were happy to weigh anchor in the morning.
The next morning, we left Tofino early to sail to Ucluelet. We were rewarded with beautiful views of Tofino as we sailed by. It was interesting to see all the beaches we like to walk and surf when we drive out this way. The winds were light and the seas were calm. Off Long Beach, Ellery noticed a fin flapping in the water and upon closer inspection we realized it was a sunfish. We circled the boat around to get a closer look and then headed on our way, only to see another sunfish. The second one was a bit closer to our boat and were able to get some better photos. The girls were both napping but I did wake Maddie to ask her if she wanted to see a sunfish, but she said no! Oh well. Ellery and I thought it was super cool!
The rest of our passage to Ucluelet was pretty uneventful and I enjoyed seeing yet another lighthouse. Amphitrite Lighthouse is just before you round the point and head up the inlet into Ucluelet. I had been looking forward to going to Ucluelet for quite some time. I think for me, I knew that it meant that we were almost back home. I have really enjoyed sailing the west coast but it sure has been more challenging than the inside passage. I also knew that the aquarium in Ucluelet was awesome and I couldn’t wait to take the girls there. https://uclueletaquarium.org/
We tied up to the public dock in Ucluelet and paid for 2 nights. We knew there was a storm coming the next day and it seemed like a secure place to ride it out. Not long after we tied up, we headed into town to the aquarium. This is the best aquarium I have been to with the girls. The main reason is that they have lots of touch tanks full of creatures from the intertidal zone. The aquarium is the first catch and release aquarium in Canada.
The next day we headed out early to buy groceries and supplies so we could return to Arctic Loon before the deluge of rain came that was forecasted. We decided to buy a tarp to cover to put over the boom, covering the cockpit in an attempt to keep us dryer and allow less water to make its way in. We are sure glad we did because starting that afternoon, it rained so hard for at least 8 hours! We were glad we spend the morning out, at the aquarium again because we spent the whole afternoon cooped up in the boat, hiding from the rain.
Luckily we had dinner plans with some old friends, Angela and Matt who live in Ucluelet. They came by Arctic Loon first to check it out and then we all walked in the pouring rain to the Floathouse Restaurant right near the public dock. Dinner out with toddlers is always crazy but it was worth it once again!
Next post: Barkley Sound and home via the Juan de Fuca Strait