Monday, August 11, 2014

First Nation at New Vancouver -- 8/8/2014

It is 52 degrees f and seems reasonable to me that we should turn south and inland for more protection from the ocean breezes.  In a phone call last night I had given Lynn the gate code to our marina and we expect a visit from her this morning.  We are delighted to see her smiling face as she appears at the cockpit -- and look what she brings!  Crab!  I know where she got it, as we saw the photos in their newsletter earlier in the week -- huge buckets of crab from the anchorage at Patrician Cove.  What a treat! 

Speaking of treats, she brings Dr. Jake a treat and tells him to sit for it.  She has another one behind her back, but he can smell it. She says it is for later, so I put it on the cockpit table. 

However, while we visit and forget about the second treat, he does not forget and before I know it, his nose is peering onto the table and his tongue grabs it.  Gone!  Just a few crumbs left on the floor.

Neal soon joins us and we discuss where our next destination will be.  We say goodbye for now and so glad we had a short time together on our cruises.

Chris and I have marveled about our small boats being tucked in between the larger ones here, so I must have photos of it.  Below OdySea is seen on the far dock  and the next photo shows Willie's Tug dwarfed behind Vanishing act.  We laugh.

We cast off from Port McNeill at 9:47A just in time to meet the early fishing boats returning from their morning work.  The sun is bright; the water is calm.  One after the other we see the fishermen.... 

Fishers of Men

Queen Quadra II
I enjoy the landscape along the shore of Vancouver Island, south of Port McNeill all the way to Broad Point and just before Cormorant Island and Alert Bay.  

At Alert Bay there is a First Nation museum, and many, many fishing boats anchored out in the bay.  

I am surprised it is such a highly populated area, but seems a delightful place to visit.  

Now at Pearse Passage we see Queen Charlotte Strait on our port.  Rolls we experience are nothing more than rebounding waves from all the traffic.  However, we do have some rips ahead.

I take advantage of cell the phone signal while we are still near Vancouver Island and call my friend Inez.  

While we talk, I see a rounded gray sea animal three feet off my port side but don't see the head or tail. Lynn and Neal had told us to watch for whales in Blackney Passage.  Could this be one? A humpback?  We are still in Johnstone Strait, south of Hanson Island.

I see a blow at the confluence of Blackney Passage and grab my camera.  They are coming pretty fast.  We circle around to see where one might surface next.  I shoot many photos, but none of them show well, so I delete, delete.

Then far ahead I see a large wider blow and get excited.  Can't wait to see what will happen.  A whale (Minke? Humpback?) surfaces.  Got a couple of photos and cropped the best one to show here.

I am pleased and relax to enjoy the ride.

When to my non-believing eyes does appear --

All I can say is, "Oh, oh!"  I grab the camera but am too late.  Nothing is on film, but is firmly burned into my brain.  So I research photos of whales and find the following....  Here is what I saw:

This photo by  Oscar S. Frey at  is similar to what we saw, although our whale was more vertical.  This has to be our thrill for the day!

Click here

Other wildlife swim slowly by.

White Beach Passage
We continue our cruise between Compton Island and Harbledown Island, through a narrow waterway, passing Mound Island and into Indian Channel.  The names suggest history was made here.

Our destination today is New Vancouver, where Willie's Tug and OdySea are the only two boats on the dock.  Molly and her sister, Gloria, come down to catch our line and show us around a bit.

She lets us know about a 45 minute tour of the Big House, so we follow her there.  We were there more than 45 minutes and there is no way I can remember all she told us.  Nor can I spell or remember names.  I will put down a few points, then probably edit and add more information later.  Below are some of the things Molly tells me.

The Big House houses the families' museum pieces, which are stored until used at a Potlatch, or brought out and displayed for Summer tourists. The Totem pole has the family crest on top; theirs is the Thunderbird.  Under is the whale, then the grizzly bear with carved claws. Most Totem poles grizzlies do not have the claws.

The memorial pole on the right represents those who have died and can't be made until two years after the death.   This one is for Molly's brother and aunt.

In 1957 the one room school house was built, (now the office) but over time the Dept. of Indian Affairs quit sending a school teacher and discontinued the practice of sending a doctor and dentist once a month. Children then went to a resident school at Royston or Nanimo (or Alert Bay) and came home periodically, seeming very depressed at having to go away.    In 1968 the First Nation people were forced from this place to assimilate into the mainstream for education of the children and availability of health care.  Molly was eight years old when her parents moved the family of ten children to Courtenay, just north of Comox.   

The parents were very afraid of a new, strange place, but were accepted by the white people.  Other families were not so fortunate and were discriminated against because of their skin color.

Not long ago the families decided to come back and reclaim their village and their ways.  There are a few of Molly's brothers and sisters and their families living here now, and they home school the children.  Provisions are from Port McNeill or Campbell River, which has better selections.

At one time the population was over 400, but declined to 69, due to an avalanche in Knight Channel and smallpox.

Every girl has a blanket and does her own design for the Potlatch ceremony.  She starts two years early to prepare the blanket, which she is taught is never finished, so for each Potlatch attended, she must add something, maybe a button, to the blanket.  I liked the whale hanging on the right side of the big house. 

The middle figure of two headed serpent represents one's self, and the two heads mean you have choices -- good choice or bad choice...

This is a very heavy mask which has handles underneath, and is worn to dance around the fire.

The speaker stick (light blue in the center) is used to signify that someone can speak at the ceremony.  If it is not there, no one can speak.

They have ceremonies for the coming of age of boys or girls.  A boy must go into the woods for four days to live off the land and become wild.  Then he comes to the ceremony where the wild is taken out of him through a copper.  A fire is built in the fire pit, dancers don heavy masks that have handles under the inside and dance around the fire.  The boy must go through the cedar bark streamers, which are cedar bark beaten flat. (Streamers are shown hanging in the red circle of the mouth on the pole on the right of the photo.)  Then he appears in the next one up and so on.  Copper takes the wild out of him.  Herb asked how the copper was rid of the wild, and she said it is put around the fire and the fire takes it.

Cedar Streamers in the Red Mouth Circles

Fire Pit

When we first arrive to meet Molly, we also meet Wolf, who is a wolf.  She has had him since he was a puppy, so he is very tame.  However, when I saw his eyes, I knew he was not a regular dog.  He is very sweet and wants to play with Charlie.

Willie of Willie's Tug,
  and of Walldog, Willie and Jake
   Friday, August 8, 2014


  1. See? Herb is not a "whale repellant" - very nice post!

    1. Thanks, Jim and Joan, but I am not so sure about Herb. I think I would have been able to catch the fluke if he had not jinxed it. :)