living the coastal life

West Coast Living in Ahousaht, BC


Lennie and I are a water-loving couple in Ahousaht BC. Ahousaht is on Flores Island – a 35 min boat ride north of Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island. We have a very unique living experience here. No grocery stores, no gas stations, wolves roaming our streets and a water taxi ride to get in and out of the village.

I’d like to share some of my experiences here – Both the every day and the extraordinary and showcase a little bit of what life is like for us on the coast. Please shoot me questions and comments! I would love to feature topics you are interested in!

Featured post

The Importance of Quality Time with your Partner

Lennie and I lead very busy lives. Lennie runs his own water taxi/eco tour company and I work at a bookshop. My days may be scheduled with known days off, but Lennie can get bookings and charters at any time, often at the last minute! This makes planning things difficult, as we rarely get to take a whole day off together. Even sitting down for dinner together at a reasonable hour is a challenge most nights. We have learned to value what little bits of time we get – a dog walk together in the evening, breakfast before my shift at work.

We have come to learn though, that planning time together in advance is even more important in some ways. Knowing that you have a date planned in advance, whether it is a hike, dinner, or even (haha, Lennie won’t feel the same about this one) getting through “chores” like chopping firewood, together, can help you get through a busy week when you barely get the chance to kiss each other before you fall asleep at night. This weekend I looked at our dayplanner and noticed Monday was free for both of us – So I drew a nice thick line through it and wrote “NO BOOKINGS” for our boat schedule. It’s going to be a day for just the two of us.

Lennie and I face our challenges just like any other couple. We have learned to better recognize when we are stressed and take the time to just BE with one another and listen to each others worries. If the dogs are all there too, even better! Over the next month, we are hoping to take some time off to spend a night in the city – Courtney or Qualicum would be nice. Somewhere far away where we can ignore the world for a little while!

What’s your favourite way to spend quality time with your partner and how do you schedule it?

I Guess Exasperated is the Word I’ve been Struggling to Find.

Ahousaht is a community that is amazing at pulling together. But sometimes that strength betrays others who need help. Who are left alone, foundering in the waves, while the whole community cancels everything to focus on solving one problem.

The issue arises when other community supports, like counseling are cancelled without notice, leaving those who were looking forward to their apppointment today as their last hope. And now it’s gone. And when you ask for help you are told it’s not there.

Our campassion for others cannot be taken away due to our own pain. Everyone is deserving of help in their time of need.

I Just Did the *Thing* That as a Bookshop Employee, I am Always Complaining About

I just bought a Kindle.

Go ahead. Yell at me.

I did the thing that is causing the death of my very industry. Bookshops are closing left and right due to the rise of the e-reader and it’s “convenience”.

BUT. I didn’t do it to buy books on. I promise!

So what, pray tell, am I planning on using an e-reader for? I mean, they are meant for reading!

Recently I signed up for an account on NetGalley. It’s a book review site where booksellers, and reviewers are known as “reading professionals”. You can request books from publishers who are on the site and they vet applications to approve who will have access to advance digital copies of their books. As a professional reader, you are promising to provide a review of the books you’re given access to if you think it was good (It’s suggested that you review 80% of the books you are given access to). Sometimes publishers are looking to get reviews they can use in their own promotions. Sometimes they are wanting booksellers to take a look at books in the hopes they will order them into their store.

So far I have been given access to 10 books and read and reviewed 4. I am reading a 5th novel now and am greatly enjoying it…


So far I have only been able to access the books on a computer, which is a wee bit awkard and certainly not very portable. NetGalley is set up with the intention that the e-book advanced reading copies (ARC) will be sent to a Kindle or similar device so you can read them on the go. I spend over an hour commuting by boat 3-4 days a week – Time that could be spent reading the ARC’s.

I will NEVER give up reading hard copy books. They are by far my preferred method of reading. I have shelves and shelves of books that I love and cherish and I am always adding more to them. But for the sake of ARC’s, an e-reader makes the most sense. And as my mom said when I told her all this: “That sounds right up your alley!”. Reading ARC’s is a ton of fun and even allows me to connect with the authors through my promotion of their books afterwards.

I’ve reflected a lot lately on how lucky I am to have a job that is such a part of my self and my identity. Reading has always been a part of my life and I cherish that my job allows me to be so connected to the world of Literature again. Something I feel I lost when I left University.

Here’s to reading! However you do it!

Update on Book Reviews

Yesterday I became a member of the Netgalley website – a place where you can share your credentials on your profile and apply to publishers to read advanced digital copies of books in exchange for online reviews and feedback through the Netgalley site.

Already yesterday I received approval to read 10 books, 2 of them exciting new childrens books that we will definitely be bringing in to Mermaid Tales Bookshop in Tofino! I take a lot of pride in being able to choose some of the books we order in. We are very selective when choosing books as we have a relatively small shop!

So far I have been able to download the digital book copies to a computer but it’s a tad awkward to read a whole novel on a laptop so I am hoping to source a used Kindle or buy one new if I need to. Though Christmas is just around the corner…

I have also started a twitter account for book reviews of advanced copies from Netgalley and neat books we have in store at Mermaid Tales. My twitter account is @mermaid_books. So give me a follow as I will be sharing all my favourite reads theres (so I dont clog up my feed here!).

There is something special coming for this blog too though. Every book I read during the month will be shared at the end of the month in a “Monthly Reads” blog post. So you can see what books I finished or couldn’t quite get into every month and that way there isn’t a new post for every single book.

Thanks for reading! I hope you have a great day… and just for the fun of it because my reading list is *never* long enough, what book should I read next?

Acupuncture Update #3

Today I went for me second acupuncture treatment. It was a community session, which means it wasn’t private and I was with another patient. The rates are reduced though and in some ways I found it more relaxing to be partially dressed and in a lounge chair than naked under a blanket!

I had 13 needles put in and then I rested for around 40 to 50 min with the needles in. I didn’t think to count the needles other times. One went in the top of my head!

I had a really bad muscle tension headache all yesterday and last night. I could still feel it a bit and the needles in my neck definitely eased the ache as the treatment happened but I can still feel the headache and trigger point ache afterwards.

I had one in each hand again. Right in the squishy spot between your thumb and pointer finger. This time I felt a really intense pressure in this spot, which is normal and is related to your chi. I don’t pretend to understand how it all works. But I’m trusting this treatment and hoping it helps. The squishy spot in your hand is a good spot to treat for headaches and is also an acupressure point that I learned back in high school to help with my migraines. The ache in my hands intensified when the needles were removed but it eased with some massage and time.

I am taking some time for myself next Wednesday but I have booked another Appt for 2 weeks from now. Repeated visits will provide the best results so I am hoping my headaches and tremors begin to ease further!

Autumn in Clayoquot Sound

Autumn is here with abundance. The surf scoters are back, darting across the surface of the ocean with a flick of their wings and a glistening smatter of droplets.

The mist hovers over the sandy beaches while the sun crests over the mountaintops and warms the land from a frosty night where the stars twinkled and wolves howled.

The chum salmon are running for the rivers. Racing to spawn in the gravel beds in the valleys where the cedar trees tower overhead, far from the ocean they have called home for so long.

Clayoquot Sound is alive more than ever in the fall, while the rest of us continue our lives, often oblivious to all the miracles around us, yet we too are a part of the changing seasons.

Our freezers begin to fill with venison and duck and smokehouses smother the villages in wafting smoke. Perfume to many. Cupboards are filled with jarred sockeye. Hours of hard work go into preparing for winter. The wood piles grow taller to ward off those frigid winter nights ahead.

Autumn in Clayoquot Sound is bustling with life. Alive and eager for the seasons to come.

Thanksgiving in Our Corner of the World

Lennie and I perfectly choreographed a two person thanksgiving dinner, with enough food for 10. Therefore, we have leftovers to last for days! Lennie did most of the cooking, Turkey (even though our calculations were off and it was definitely still frozen as it went in the oven!), stuffing and gravy. I did jelly-carrot-salad (Sunrise Salad?), brussel sprouts with cheese sauce and the mashed potatoes. It was quite lovely and we slipped into a food-coma quickly afterwards!

We did manage to go on a lovely late afternoon walk. We went a different way through the village this time. Along the dirt road behind the school, across to the cranberry field and down to the community garden and greenhouse. The gardens aren’t getting much attention nowadays. The grass is long and overgrown, but the fruit trees are still producing and I even found a spindly grape vine staked to a pole.

Leia had a blast bouncing all over from one spot to another. I think she likes to pretend to be a fox and pounce through the long grass. She was quite ecstatic to find a drainage ditch to play in and her and Bruce both took turns going for a swim. We kept Yoda on leash as I didn’t feel like going swimming if he fell in accidentally.

The nice thing about this spot is that no other dogs live nearby, yet it’s nice and open so we can let the big dogs run around. There’s also a small beach 2 minutes away where no one really goes either. Another bonus for us!I have half a mind to start tending the gardens while the dogs run about. I bet there are all kinds of surprises in the grass.

I also practiced Leia’s recall. She tries to run and dodge away from me, but if I just keep up a steady pace and firm pressure, she bows down and lets me grab her collar. No treats this time either! It’s definitely progress to be proud of!

This Thanksgiving, I am especially thankful for my family, near and far – human, furry and feathered!

Moving to the Coast

Many people ask me how I ended up here. I ask myself that too. Growing up on Vancouver Island, I only visited Tofino twice. I was in love with a place I could rarely go. Living in the Tofino area was a pipe dream. I had no inkling that it could ever be reality for me.


In 2014, during my last year of the B.Ed. program at UVic, I started looking for teaching jobs. The job market was difficult to get into at that point. Now, 4 years later, there is a massive province wide teacher shortage. But back then, it was difficult to even get on Teacher on Call lists, let alone find a full time job. Broadening my horizons, I began to look for postings at First Nations Schools on Reserves. These jobs have a high turnover rate for various reasons. For me, the location was the main draw. I wanted to be surrounded by Nature, and the chance to live in an Indigenous Community and experience the Culture first hand was not an opportunity to be passed up lightly!

I ended up applying and interviewing for two different schools – One in Kingcome Inlet and Ahousaht. My interview for Kingcome Inlet was on a conference call with several people on the other line. I completely bombed that one. It was really hard to read anyone’s responses without being able to see their facial expressions and body language. It was really good practice though because when I had my interview in person in Ahousaht, most of the questions were the same!

Obviously I was successful in my second interview. I received an email the next day asking if I would accept the grade 6 position! I was on a whale watching boat at the time in the Salish Sea where I worked as a photographer. Excitedly I turned and told our group of passengers my good news and elicited a round of cheers and applause. When we docked in Victoria after that trip, one lady passed me a note with books and resources she had found useful in her teaching career! Wow!

Moving day to Ahousaht was a big one. It was sunny, thankfully, but quite foggy when we had arrived in Tofino to load the boat. I had chartered the water taxi  Rocky Pass for myself, my mom, aunt and then-boyfriend. The back deck was loaded and anything not waterproof was inside with us.

I remember my first time cutting through Catface Rocks – Wide eyed I watched in amazement as we flew past the rocky shoals with just feet to spare. No boat I had been on had ever driven like that! I soon came to relax when boats cut through this shortcut and now I can even drive our boat through it myself (However, I do slow down to about 15 knots when I am cutting through there. I have yet to do it at cruising speed of 23 knots).

Getting into Ahousaht, the skipper called a vehicle to meet us at the dock and help bring my stuff up to my teacherage apartment. In true Ahousaht fashion, despite the wedding being prepared for that particular weekend, a friend of the truck driver came down to help us bring everything up from the dock and deliver it to my door. They tried to refuse payment, but I insisted. I would soon learn this is just Ahousaht culture. Help where it is needed.

10584056_10154693500830727_6460516425016833953_nMy favourite memory that night was picking blackberries and my mom making a fresh blackberry pie for our dessert. Or as I now call it – Chumas!

Little did I know how my life would change just a few months down the road when I fell in love with my neighbour up the road long after my then-boyfriend and I had realized that long distance just wasn’t working out for us and gone our separate ways.

New Home. New Beginnings. And so much to learn about life on the coast. Looking back now, I can’t believe how far I have come.

How Can I not Make a Post Celebrating Last Night’s Sunset

Since my work hours have shifted and I am working until 6pm every day, I have been treated to some amazing sunsets over the waters of Clayoquot sound. I commute by boat – a 35+ minute ride between the Village of Ahousaht on Flores Island and the town of Tofino.

By the time I close up the shop, buy any odds and ends we need, and head down to the dock, the sun is just starting to cast a golden glow over the landscape and play with the mountain’s shadows.

On the ride home I often sit on the port (left) side of the boat so I can take photos along the way. My favourite shots are when the sun is just behind a cloud or island, as it adds a whole other dimension to the photo!

Macintosh Island on the north corner of Vargas Island is my favourite spot to snap a pic as there is a certain angle where the islands are all silhouetted separately against the coloured sky!

The first three shots are from last night and the rest are an assortment from recent weeks! Which is your favourite? And more importantly, where’s your favourite spot to photograph a sunset?

Catface Rocks
Flores Island
MacIntosh at Vargas Island
Vargas Island
Ahousaht Harbour
Catface Rocks
Catface Rocks looking towards Flores Island
Flores Island
My Favourite angle of the MacIntosh Islands

Shelter Inlet

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