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living the coastal life

West Coast Living in Ahousaht, BC

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boat

The Dangers of the Fog

Those of us on the coast are no strangers to mystical foggy mornings. They are beautiful and ethereal and dangerous.

Working in Tofino while living on an offshore island in Clayoquot Sound has its challenges. Our commute is anywhere from 35 minutes to over an hour depending on the weather. August is commonly known as “Fogust” to those in the know, as the air and water temperatures are just right to make foggy mornings a regular occurrence.

On one morning this year I was riding a water taxi into town. It was one of the larger boats and we had a full load of workers heading to Tofino. The fog was split-pea-soup thick. You could barely see a few meters in front of the boat. GPS is a god-send on days like that. I don’t know how navigators did it before electronic technology (Compasses of course, but few still have those skills now!).

As we were coming into Tofino “harbour” the fog was still thick and soupy. All of a sudden we felt and heard the dreaded *THUNK* of a large chunk of wood hitting our engines. Both stalled out and we shuddered into a slow drift. That same instant, in the space where we would have been if we hadn’t stopped so expectantly, a zodiac sped by, directly off our bow. Tourists looked at us wide-eyed and surely with a new stench filling their Mustang suits. A thrill of another kind for the office staff to deal with when their tour group returned!

Things happen in mysterious ways on the water. I don’t believe in a god per se, but we were all being watched over that morning.

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The Final Hurdle

The boat soared upwards, plowing through the mountain of water surging in front of it. Lennie, the skipper, pulled back on the throttle as the reached the crest of the wave. There was a pause. Then the 20 ft long boat, began sliding down the back side of the swell into the looming maw of the trough in front of them. Over and over Lennie guided the boat through the everchanging roller coaster of water below them. Finally came the wait. Lennie had to time the waves before cutting across the point of rocks jutting out in the the sea.

This is the final hurdle to get into Hotsprings Cove – Home to about 70 full time residents, the tiny community is home to the Hesquiaht First Nations band on the remote western coast of Vancouver Island.

Most tourists don’t see Sharp Point at it’s worst. They experience scenic boat cruises on calm seas or fly into the inlet on a sea plane. The locals have to brave these rough winter seas near daily in order to carry on their everyday life. Doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping, basketball tournaments all happen outside of the community and residents must take a boat around the Point to get there.

On the third wave Lennie made his move. Turning broadside to the waves he charged along the backside of the swell. He repeatedly checked over his shoulder to see what was coming up alongside and behind the boat. A simple miscount could send them hurdling over in a whitewash of breaking water. When he was clear of the rocks, he turned the boat and rode into the inlet on the back of the swell. The timing had to be perfect. Both the wave in front or behind them could break. He had to match the speed of the swell and stay balanced on the back of the swell in front of him.

Eventually the waves lost their force as they travelled deeper into the narrow cove. Lennie could relax – for now. He had made it safely to the dock. But now he had to load up with passengers, and do it all over again.

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Sharp Point on a calm December day, 2016

A Doggy Day on the Town

… Well, a day in Tofino with Yoda!

I scored an awesome toolbox off the Tofino Trading Post ( A locals only FB based buy, sell and trade) and had to make a run down to Ty-Histanis (Another reserve about 20 min. south of Tofino) to pick it up. I decided to bring our smallest dog, Yoda, with me for company. He had a blast riding around and meeting new people. I must have tired him out because he is passed out beside me right now!

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Yoda happy and smiling in the back seat! He just hops right in and really enjoys car rides. Most stores are great in Tofino about dogs and if they are worried about things getting peed on (A valid concern) they simply ask for your pooch to be carried, which I certainly didn’t mind! There was only one store that asked for him to remain outside, which Yoda would NOT have put up with, so I simply left. That kind of sucked because I was looking for a piece of clothing that I was pretty sure I would have found at their shop…. their loss!

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Enjoying the patio (and the fresh stream water from Meares Island) at Tofino Sea Kayaking. We love stopping here for a drink or dessert. Lennie compares every single caffeinated drink he ever has to the Americanos here. Apparently they make them just right and no one else even comes close!

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I got an iced latte and was pleased to see that Tofino Sea Kayaking is supporting the Surfrider Foundation’s Straws Suck campaign and is using paper straws in their drinks! These don’t create needless plastic waste or endanger wildlife if they are littered into the ecosystem.

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Lennie had some fun with Yoda on our way home and let him pretend to drive the boat! He was actually much happier being cuddled and I held him on my lap most of the way home.

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Our view as we entered the Ahousaht Harbour. The closest point of land on the right is known as the “Switchback” and that’s where you make the tight left turn to enter the sheltered waters of the harbour. The other boat following us is the Ahous Hakoom, another water taxi based in Ahousaht.

It was a great day – Next time I might take Leia because she needs to be car trained before we go visit my parents in Duncan!

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