Week Four

Monday September Nineteenth, Two Thousand and Sixteen.

It’s not as if the shine is wearing off the Outpost for me but things are starting to become a little more mundane around here.  I can still look out the patio doors at the ocean in front of us and still enjoy the waves crashing onto to the shore of Solide Island or look to the sky for its varying display of gray, white and blue but there doesn’t seem as much that I want to share because the excitement of being here has definitely warn off a little.  That’s not to say that I’m no longer enjoying the time here, I most definitely am but I am starting to wonder how I will keep myself entertained come January or so.

Well no sooner had I got done writing that than Wendi came along and asked me to go for a walk with her down to the dock.  We went down and checked the crab trap.  I asked her why she is still setting it every day because we only ever catch small Red Rock Crabs.  Neither of us like Red Rocks and none of the ones we’ve caught here have been large enough to keep anyway.  There have been no Dungeness Crabs so what’s the point?

She agreed and we pulled it and did not reset it. On the way back up to the lodge, something caught my eye and I went up and got the camera.  Next thing I knew we were wandering around the woods on the southeast side of the lodge, taking more pictures.  This place is amazing.

The barge should be here about a week from now, give or take a couple of days.  With it will come about a dozen people and a boat load of lumber and building supplies, food and (hopefully) the last of our belongings that we couldn’t bring on the flight up, including our beer.

So because we’re expecting this work crew, we are spending a few hours each day getting ready for them.  Mostly cleaning rooms and making beds but I’m also trying to get things organized as much as I can outside too.  There was a hell of a mess of garbage left around.  I’m hoping that the barge will haul it away.

As far as I know, if the plan hasn’t changed, after unloading the barge, the crew will be tearing down the old guide shack.  It’ll be interesting to see how this happens.  We have been given almost zero information or even told what the company’s expectations of us are during these periods that the work crews will be here.

Wednesday, September the Twenty-First, Two Thousand and Sixteen 07:00 Hours

Although the Autumnal Equinox will not actually happen until 14:21 UTC (07:21 PDT) on the twenty-second, fall began on the eighteenth here.  At least it felt that way, and that is the most important criterion for me.

It was the eighteenth, the day that the wind direction changed from the southerlies to directly out of the north.  A noticeable temperature change came with.  It’s cold in here this morning.  I don’t feel like lighting a fire so I set up a space heater instead.

As the saying goes, “Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning”!  It’s not extreme but there are only a couple of wispy clouds in the sky so there isn’t much to turn red. There is a storm warning in the forecast.  The winds will be back to southerly directions but increasing to as much as 50 knots by Thursday morning.

Barometric pressure is 1033 mb @ 07:30

To hell with it, I’m lighting a fire, it’s still cold in here.

Wendi finally came downstairs at 08:00.  When we went to bed last night she asked me to set an alarm.  Silly girl, don’t you remember?  No alarms!

She finally admitted that she doesn’t need her phone anymore and turned it off.  There’s no cell coverage here and we both discontinued our services before we left the lower mainland.  My iPhone now serves as a flashlight that I can play solitaire and sudoku on — One that costs Seven Hundred Dollars.

It was 01:45 when we finally went to bed last night.  I woke up at 08:45 when Wendi started the generator.  The smoke alarm beeps really loud when it powers up.

It’s 11:25 and raining heavy.  The barometer is down to 1013 mb.  The weather report is calling for Southeast winds up to 55 knots with rain — heavy at times.

I can see the wind coming straight down onto the surface of the water out in front of the dock, like a helicopter landing or taking off but the trees are completely still.  The waves crashing on the shore of Solide Island don’t seem to be any larger than normal.  They’re almost always crashing over there.  It has to be completely flat and calm for there not to be white water crashing on those rocks.

I got an email this morning from the previous caretakers of the Outpost.  We have actually met these people before, in fact, we were actually neighbours a few years ago.

If I may…


After acquiring our boat in January of 2012, we moved her up to Pender Harbour on the Sunshine Coast, here in BC.  I was working about an hour’s drive away down in Howe Sound and Wendi was working at a nearby marina in the Harbour.  While we were moored there, we met a fellow who goes by the name of Peter and he became a good friend.  At the end of that Summer I got a lay-off notice from my employer and Wendi’s job was seasonal anyway, so we knew that would end at the end of September.  My lay-off was to happen on November 29th.  Exactly one year, less a day, from my start date.

When our new friend Peter heard of our impending unemployment, he asked if we would be interested in care-taking a fishing lodge for a friend of his.  Of course that sounded interesting, so he put me in touch with his friend.  After trading a few emails, it became apparent that we couldn’t do it.  His dock was too small and exposed to accommodate our boat and besides, he just wasn’t offering enough money.

I found the idea of care-taking a fishing resort to be very intriguing though and thus began the search for a job in that capacity.

We found another opportunity right away and even went so far as to travel to Vancouver to meet the owners.  This lodge was up in River’s Inlet, further up the coast, a trip a little bit daunting for such inexperienced sailors.  Alas, it was not to be either.  As soon as we started talking about money, they seemed to get a little squirmy in their seats and in a subsequent email, informed us that they had decided to not hire a care-taker for that season.

My search continued and in the course of the search, I stumbled across a blog by the care-takers of a fishing resort on Haida Gwaii.  A fishing resort called… The Outpost!. 

I did find work soon enough but it was not in a resort and it was not in a care-taker capacity.  It was up in Port Hardy about two hundred miles away on the North end of Vancouver Island and I would be hauling fuel for a local bulk fuel supplier.  I gave my notice to the employer who was about to lay me off anyway and in the first week of October, under the cover of darkness, we slipped out of Pender Harbour and headed North for Port Hardy.

The marina in Port Hardy where we moored was right beside the Government dock and at that dock, in very close proximity to our boat was a big blue sailboat.  We often looked across at that boat and had noticed that throughout the winter, there was never anyone on or around it.  

One sunny day the following Spring, we happened to meet the couple who, out of nowhere, showed up at the boat.  We got talking to them, mentioned our appreciation for their boat and were invited on a tour of her.  In the course of the ensuing conversation, it came out that they were care-takers of a fishing resort on Haida Gwaii.  A fishing resort called… The Outpost.

Shortly after that, I quit working for the lunatic at the bulk fuel plant and started working for a different lunatic down in Port McNeill, just a half hour drive from Port Hardy.  By November I had had enough of his antics and under the cover of darkness, slipped out of Hardy Bay destined for Campbell River.

During October, Wendi and her Mother had left for a month-long vacation to New Zealand and I, obviously, was left alone for too long.  I had decided that I needed to make more money, due to the size of refit that was necessary for Cosmic Debris.  I started looking North again, looking back to the oil patch in Northern BC, (gas fields, actually).  I was offered a job in pretty short order but decided to call an old friend who I had worked with up there in the past and ended up going to work with him again.

So off I went, sailing down Johnstone Strait, chasing the tail end of one early winter storm with another hot on my heels.  I managed Port Hardy to Port Neville on the first day and the following day I was in Campbell River.  It was mid-November and there I waited for Wendi to return from New Zealand.  She was back by the end of the month and by that time I was ready to head North.

Evening at Port Neville, BC

She didn’t have much time to re-acclimate to Canada.  She had just flown back from early Summer into early (Coastal BC) winter and was now on her way into the already frozen northern Canadian winter.

The morning we left the dock at Campbell River, located at 50.03°N, it was -3°C and breezy.  It felt pretty chilly.

Late the next afternoon, when we arrived in Fort St John, (in total darkness), located at 56.24°N, it was -40°C with a howling wind!  In a matter of less than a week, Wendi had gone from 37.6°S to 56.24°N, or a distance of 11,974 Kilometres.  Literally, half way around the world!

At this point I will fast forward to 2016 and back to where I began, living on the hook in Bedwell Harbour with me working a temporary, seasonal job at a Pender Island resort.  Knowing that my job would cease to exist at the end of September, I decided to revisit the idea of care-taking a resort and sent out a few emails to a few resorts.  The rest, as they say, albeit recent as it may be, is history!   And here we are, care-takers at a fishing resort on Haida Gwaii.  A fishing resort called… The Outpost.

Well here it is, Friday once again.  I was up at 9:00 am to blue sky with big puffy cumulus clouds mixed with the left overs from last night’s storm.   The rain has past.  It was definitely the most wind we’ve seen so far and the biggest surf too but was not too bad here in the shelter of the bay.  Assuming a good holding bottom in the bay, I wouldn’t have been concerned about our boat if it were anchored out in front of the dock.

It’s noon now and the sky is still varied and the barometer is rising.  The wind and seas seem calm.

We seem to have a problem with one of the boilers.  I have read through the manual and this afternoon I will go down to investigate.

Well the week ended with last minute preparations for the barge and work crew’s arrival early next week.  We were as ready as could be for them by Saturday so wait was all there was to do.

© 2016 Ron Morrison

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