Port Hardy-Prince Rupert
The 4:30 start was difficult! I slept well on the top bunk of a dormitory with 2 others. Cup of coffee and a quick wash before we,about 10 hostelers, passembled outside the hostel under the orange glow of street lamps in a fine drizzle waiting for the classic yellow school bus to pick us up (CAD$7.5). The bus toured round the small hotels and hostels before heading to the ferry terminal. Bags and passengers were checked in, to be collected in PR, and we were let on board at 6:15. I had paid CAD$ 35 to reserve a seat in the Aurora lounge. My seat is a very comfortable reclining leather(?), front row seat with a great panoramic view over the bows.
Heading out past Scarlett point and pine island to cross Queen Charlotte sound with a slight swell coming in from the NW.
Took advantage of the all you can eat breakfast buffet in the restaurant. Staffordshire pottery, fresh linen, flowers on the table and polite efficient service. Spotted a couple of porpoises and saw a whale blowing and its fin and then tail curving above the water in classic 'as seen on TV' way whilst drinking Lipton's tea! The clouds are beginning to open up and patches of blue sky and rays of sunshine are appearing. Egg island is just visible on the horizon.
Just passing a lighthouse settlement on the starboard side. Red roofed and white walls. Rafts of gulls and a few guilimot looking things amongst them.
Spent the sat hour up on deck in the sunshine and a few light showers. As we entered the channel a humming bird flew around me at the stern of the boat before disappearing off in a flash. No chance to see what kind it was as it was so fast and silhouetted against the sky. Looking up the channel there are dark clouds looming but they have so far parted as we approach!
Rain... Visibility reducing to about 2.5 miles... Hopefully just passing through this and emerging into bright sunshine the other side!!!
Back into sunshine as we left Bella Bella and headed down the Seaforth channel. Very few people got on or off at the stop but it provided a reason for passengers to hang over the rail and observe. A barbecue on the aft level 5 deck served hotdogs and smokies for CAN$5-8 but I resisted !! As we left there was a wonderful series of views made all the more dramatic because of the contrast between the sunshine and the cloud covered hills behind. We are now heading up the Milbanke Sound towards Swindle Island and then on to what is described as 'the most scenic of the lighthouses along the inside passage' at Boat Bluff on the southern end of Sarah Island.
Passed a waterfall on which bears are sometimes seen fishing for salmon during the spawning season.... but not today! Shortly after this we took the left fork in the fjiord and passed Butedale, a derelict fish canning and reduction plant that last operated in the 1960s and is one of the last remaining cannery villages on the coast.
Complete cloud cover again at about 3000 ft and it's getting chilly again.
A humpback on the starboard side rolled and waved at us with it's flipper... Then we spotted a school of porpoises chasing a shoal of fish. The channel is about a mile wide for this stretch with the sides of the fjord a fairly consistent 40-45 degrees and completely forested. It is easy to see the extent of the previous felling by the different heights of the regrowing stands.
Passed through the narrowest part of the Grenville channel as I was sitting down to the buffet supper... It seemed like about 100 ft either side but is 1400 ft at its narrowest.
The pork medallions inThai green curry sauce Was excellent so I had two servings along with vegetables, salad, a beer, followed by a bit of every pudding ;-) of course! And cheese washed down with Lipton's Red Rose tea (Yellow Label I reckon!). phew.. Should keep me fed for quite a while. spoke to the steward complimenting him on the standard of service provided by the boat and asking how the AMHS ferries compare.... It will be hard to match this and it seems that I should not expect the same level of comfort... Mmmmm 29 hrs...
On the final leg now, sun has set, not that we saw it set, but it has and it is getting gloomier as the cloud has dropped and it is drizzling again. Finishing as we started. We were scheduled to arrive at 23:30 but should get there around 22:45.
Another day draws to a close. Five down, 25 to go till I get back to Vancouver.
Met at the ferry terminal by a large spluttering van to take the six of us checking into the Pioneer Backpackers Inn. Drove throughout e dark streets to the blue painted clapboard building and to bed!
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