Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Where has the summer gone?

It seems like summer just got here and now fall fast approaches! While we have had a few hot summer days, for the most part this summer has been cool and rainy. I have only had to water my garden twice this year. Of course that means no worries about water from the creek. Usually we have to move our inlet pipe further into the stream to gather water for household use. Not this year. We get our water from a stream just past our property that has a beautiful waterfall. People boating up the inlet often stop to view the waterfall and take pictures. Me too! (see pic). It is one of many, many waterfalls in Jervis Inlet.
Another famous place for waterfalls is Princess Louisa Inlet at the northern end of Jervis. The following is a story I wrote about a trip to Princess Louisa.

Our group left Egmont with the High Tide Tours & Water Taxi shortly after noon. The day was slightly overcast but the water was calm making for an easy trip up Jervis Inlet. After stopping to watch the seals on Miller Island, we continued making our way up the inlet. Colors of gold, yellow and red fall leaves reflected in the water. Our captain, Mark, pointed out a fish farm on our way to Soda Pop falls. The falls drop about 25 feet from the bottom of four pools at a sharp angle into the inlet. The water is deep right up to the rock walls in most of the inlet so our boat was able to nudge itself right up to the falls.
As we continued up the inlet, our guide pointed out the remaining dead trees from a large forest fire in 1949. They still stand among the now regrown cedar and fir trees. As we cruised past walls of striated dark and light granite we noticed a white area at the tide’s edge. This is known as the “dead zone” where nothing grows because it is too acidic.
As we turned up Princess Royal Reach we stopped to view some Native painted pictures on the rock wall. Mark pointed out that experts have dated these paintings between 300-700 years old. The red colors are still very vivid.
Our next stop was at the Pargon Logging Camp in Deserted Bay. The water taxi was delivering a rotor head for their helicopter along with an inspection engineer, Dave, from Columbia Helicopters of Oregon. The company leases helicopters and there were two of their Chinook helicopters at the camp. Dave explained that Chinook means “big wind” and as we stood on the dock watching the helicopter rev up we understood why they were given that name. The force of the wind churned up by the blades almost knocked us over!
After leaving the camp we continued up to the entrance of Princess Louisa Inlet. At the entrance to the inlet is the Christian youth camp, Malibu. The colorful totem poles placed among the camp buildings seemed to watch us as we passed through the narrow rapids into the inlet. The camp was quiet after a summer of attendance of hundreds of teenagers and their counselors. The only activity we saw was the smoke curling from the chimney of the caretaker’s cabin.
As we approached the Princess Louisa Park dock, a lovely, brown mink greeted us. He stood on his hind legs and watched us before scampering off to shore. In celebration of the birthday of Mike, a member of our tour group, his wife had brought wine, crackers and antipasto. At the dock, among the famous Chatterbox Falls and the green and gold of the inlet, we raised our glasses in a toast and sang “Happy Birthday”.
Passing through old growth forest along a well-traveled path, it was a short hike to view the falls up close. A prominent sign warns hikers to stay away from the slippery rocks as 22 hikers have met their death here.
The Princess Louisa Society and The Nature Conservancy of Canada have recently given a gift of approximately 2200 acres surrounding the current marine park to the BC government. This will become an addition to the existing Princess Louisa Marine Park. The Society plans to raise funds to purchase additional lots from Weyerhaeuser to add to the Park. Their mission is to protect and preserve the inlet “just like it is” for the benefit of all.
The sun came out as we were leaving Princess Louisa and we made one more stop below a waterfall area where ice had built up at the water’s edge. The captain nosed the boat right up to the ice and as we looked high overhead, we noticed small chunks of ice falling with the water.
As the sun began to set, we made our way back down Jervis Inlet. Watching the surrounding mountains turn pink and purple in the evening light, we all decided this was a perfect ending to our adventure.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Summer's On!

With the advent of warm weather here on the Coast, summer is on! Time for swimming in the inlet, watching the wildlife and barbeques on the deck. Also time for our summer visitors. We have had friends and family from Texas and Oregon so far this summer. The prawning has been good and oysters from the beach delicious.

The eagles have taken up residence along the shoreline. When we were boating home the other day we counted five eagles in the trees. When we got to the dock, there were two eagles sitting side-by-side in the fir tree above the deck. They really didn't pay us too much attention as we tied up to the dock and unloaded the boat. The eagles and ravens usually wake us in the mornings with their calls and hunting screeches.

Yesterday the mother merganser duck was by with her seven duckings. The hummingbirds are here demanding their sugar water each day. I have decided that two feeders is all they will get from me this year. I had someone tell me the other day that one cup of sugar water feeds 60 hummingbirds. If so, then my two feeders a day are feeding over 100 birds! Can that be so? The butterflies are also abundant this year.

We always have some seals popping up their heads in the water around the house. But last week I witnessed an unusual sight. As I looked out over the water I noticed a couple of seals peering out of the water and looking toward shore. Nothing unusual. Then I noticed another and another. There were around 20 seals peering at me from the water. Now this is the first time I have ever seen that many seals at once. Figured that they were finding a lot of fish for dinner off our point. They stayed around for a couple of hours, so the fishing must have been good.

It has really been hot here. Around 90 degrees, but today there is a cooling breeze and it is much more bearable to be outside. Of course, only a couple of months ago we were all complaining about the rain and cold weather. I guess we complain because we can.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Greenpeace visits Jervis Inlet

The Greenpeace ship the Esperanza was in Jervis Inlet last week training their crew in one-man mini subs. They will be heading to the Bering Sea to explore some of the deepest underwater canyons in the world over the next two months. I was lucky to get to meet some of their crew members, take pictures and write a story for the local paper the Coast Reporter. Here is my report:

The famous rainbow insignia across her bow is a little worn, but considering the Greenpeace ship, the Esperanza (Spanish for hope), recently finished a 15 month journey following the Japanese whaling fleet around the world, that can be expected.
The ship and crew have come to the deep and protected waters of Jervis Inlet on BC’s Sunshine Coast to train in their new single person submarines. The two subs were designed and built by Nuytco Research Ltd. of North Vancouver and are capable of diving up to 2000 feet.
The Greenpeace crew will be using them to search two of the largest underwater canyons in the world, the Zhemchug and the Pribilof canyons in the Bering Sea. No one has ever been in these canyons. They have only been researched by one remote submersible.
The Esperanza’s crew of 16 will be in the waters off Alaska for two months searching the canyons for sea life with their cameras that also have fixed laser beams to measure distance. These are remote, deep, and highly productive areas. Sea lions, seals and whales make these areas their nursery grounds and foraging areas.
Crew members Clive Strauss, the ship’s doctor, from Victoria and John Hocevar, an ocean specialist, from Austin, Texas, spend some time discussing the goals and plans for this trip. The Greenpeace members are hoping to work with coastal communities to establish marine-cultural heritage zones. Last summer Greenpeace workers completed a listening tour where they met with Native communities to identify their problems and find solutions.
While the ship’s crew explores the underwater canyons, other Greenpeace members will be meeting with fishing dependent communities from Bristol Bay, St. Lawrence, the Aleutians and the Alaska peninsula. Many of the local people of these communities lose out as the large bottom trawlers literally scrape the ocean floor to harvest everything. Most of these vessels are American flagged vessels, but the owners may be based in Tokyo, Norway or Seattle says Hocevar.
“Since so much of the Bering Sea is trawled,” he says, “the deeper areas become refuges for the larger species.”
Alaska has been seen as a model for marine fisheries management. However, they have been unable to prevent decline. That is why Greenpeace sees the need to set aside important areas such as the Zhemchug and Pribilof canyons for protection.
There is a long way to go before people have enough voice over the big money interests says Strauss. They are taking a small step by working with the local people.
The Greenpeace team chose the Jervis Inlet for training because it is quiet, deep and protected. The subs dove to around 900 feet says Hocevar. When diving that deep it is pitch black and you must learn to have confidence in your crew and equipment he says.
During their dives they saw sponges, corals, tiny bright red crabs and a lot of juvenile rock fish. He says he saw some other fish he has never seen before and couldn’t identify.
As they look out over the inlet both men comment on the visible clear cuts and wonder why such logging would be done in this beautiful area. There is a discussion about clear cutting and watersheds when the men are informed of the latest logging controversy in Egmont. Everyone wonders why some sort of sustainable logging cannot be used to manage the forests.
Both Hocevar and Strauss wanted to work with Greenpeace for a long time. Hocevar says he wanted to work with Greenpeace since he was very young. “I sent them my CV when I graduated and again when I got my Masters,“ he laughs. “Finally they called me.”
Strauss has been a member of Greenpeace for many years. He let them know that he would like to be a physician for them and waited for a call. In 1998 he got a call from Amsterdam to join the team at the Great Bear Rainforest, but with only two days notice he couldn’t make it. Another call came for him as an alternate physician in Central America, but the main physician showed and again he didn’t go. After a trip to Somalia with Doctors without Borders he was contacted to join the Greenpeace crew.
They encourage anyone who would like to work with Greenpeace to contact their local office and begin as a volunteer. If you would like to follow the Esperanza and her crew you can view the Greenpeace website at oceans.greenpeace.org/en/ where there is a web cam link.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Development, logging, decisions

Good intentions, but not much action. Actually I have been busy and writing and all those other things since I first posted to this blog. Now I am going to try to make this a regular thing. I hope to spend most of the summer here on the inlet.
Lots of things have been going on in this remote area of the Sunshine Coast. Our little town has been puzzling with the decisions facing many small villages in BC. Development and logging and mining are trying to expand on the coast and it is causing a great many problems for residents. There are those who don't want any change at all. There are those who want to expand and make the big money that can be made. And there is, I suspect, the majority, who can accept some change and adapt, but not at the expense of the environment and the reason we all came to live here. Unfortunately, it is starting to divide our community and one would hope that it could bring everyone together to solve problems. There have been a series of meetings over the last month with logging companies and development companies bringing their plans for our forests and surrounding lands to the community. It is starting to be overwhelming. Everyone is just wanting to make their daily living, enjoy some time to fish, garden or watch the sunset. But these outside interests are pulling at us. Now we can just go on with our lives, but at some point it would catch up with us. This might be driving down the main highway into town and realizing all the trees along one section are gone. Or having our water become turpid for the summer while trees are being logged in our watershed. Or not having in parking space in town because so many new summer residents and tourists are here for the season. So you eventually become forced to take a stance. Besides who wants to feel powerless and not have some say in their future? There are the developers and loggers to address, but I feel that the Provincial government is who must be called to task. They are giving away our collective natural resources to make money, plain and simple. The fact that anyone would consider giving out cutblocks in a watershed is unbelieveable! But it is happening all over BC. So time to write letters and emails.