June 30, 2008 Cathedral Point Cove to Bella Coola

We were rudely awakened at 2:30am by the wind and waves. Fierce outflow winds from the interior snowfields screamed down the Burke Channel. The wind held Silent Partner in one direction while the refracting waves curled into the cove, broadsiding the boat with an uncomfortable rolling motion. We rocked around all night and didn’t get any more sleep. A few times I went up on deck to check our position and lengthen the scope of our anchor line. By 5am we’d had enough. The boat was getting dangerously close to shore with our scope out, necessary to keep a lot of scope in such high winds to reduce the risk of dragging. We had no choice bu to get out there and buck the waves. This was the Burke showing us her true face after putting on such a peaceful disguise last night. It was quite a stark contrast from the serenity of last night. Despite being pounded by the waves, the scenery was from another planet. We passed by a huge white mountain that jutted into the channel at a place called “Gibraltar Point.” I’m sure that this rock of Gibraltar is way more impressive than the real one, too. 9,000 foot peaks came into view, and some of the snow chutes came all the way down to saltwater. Gradually the wind eased until there was none at all again. We turned into the North Bentnick Arm and made our way up to Bella Coola. The water turned milky from the glacier water at the entrance of the arm. Finally, after a hard-won battle with the Burke, we came into Bella Coola harbor, one of the only sailboats among a sea of idle fishing boats. We quickly made many friends in the harbor, and then walked the mile into town.  Bella Coola can be reached by road, however it’s a 350 mile drive off the main highway from nowhere, and mostly gravel roads.  Most people come by boat.  We stopped back in with Tom, the harbor-master.  It was his third day on the job and he was very chatty.  Once he got going telling bear and cougar attack stories, there was no stopping him.  “Oh, there was this guy a few years back, and hiking up that mountain there.  The bear decided to teach him a lesson, didn’t want to kill him.  Just “schwacked” him around a bit, took off his scalp and such.  I guess that part comes off pretty easy once you get it started.”  “Tomorrow you could schwack your way up that mountain there, flies’ll be real bad, but that’s the price of the bush.  Just be real respectful of the bears, but don’t ever run from ’em.”  After awhile we paid Tom’s discounted mooring fee and returned to the boat.  I was very tired out from last nights rolling anchorage, and passed out at 7.

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