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Canada: British Columbia 14.8. - 28.9.2004

14.8.   24.8.  1.9.   6.9.  15.9.  22.9.  28.9.  

14.8.2004 Prince Rupert, Canada
We are in Canada! Goodbye Alaska! Exactly a year and ten days ago we arrived to the south tip of Kodiak. The time in Alaska has been best on our trip so far. Nowhere else have we seen so gorgeous scenery, so much wild animals, tranquility and friendly people. Especially Prince William Sound, Kodiak and the islands, Alaska Peninsula and Shumagin Islands will be remembered as very special places. Let's to back to Alaska for a while, to Craig, where we were last time.
We spent an afternoon in Craig, taking care of "business" (update, crocerie's, fuelling, shower). We stayed overnight in the dock (10 dollars). The weather remained sunny and warm, you could wear shorts from morning to late evening. Weather forecast promised calm seas so we decided to continue an outside route. But before we had rounded to the west side of Dall Island, it started to blow and the sky was covered with clouds. Because we didn't know if it was just a temporary front or a more permanent change in the weather,
we choose the inside passage instead. It was a bit annoying, especially after the Craig harbourmaster had showed us some neat places on the outer shore of Dall Island. The inside passages are pretty as well, but for us, being spoiled by magnificient archipelago of Finland, the dense scenery of bush and forest doesn't make big impact. In most of the anchorages you couldn't go on land, at least not without a heavy bush cutting machine. We haven't found the south part of SE Alaska very temptating after Prince William Sound and Alaska Peninsula, but probably the north part with Glacier Bay is more beautiful. The scenery there is presumably similar to PWS, mountains and glaciers. Forest is different down here, it has more verierty. Some places have more cedar trees than spruce.

Cedar was the tree indians used - and still use - for carving totems. Close to Craig is Klawock, a 700 inhabitants native village with some 20 Tlingit totems. The reasons to make a totem pole or totem carving were several, but the most common was to remember an event or period of time. Totems told the history of a clan or family, sometimes about the life of a dead person. The shamans had their own special totems, very often showing sacred animals such as a raven or an eagle.

Although the scenery hasn't been that amazing, we never get tired of watching animals. We saw blackbears beachcombing on two mornings. Every anchor bay has a shy seal. Motionless and quiet herons and quick and noisy kingfishers are common. Kingfisher is rather small bird, a size of a jay, with a tuft. It sits in a tree near the water or flies back and forth making fast dives down to water for a fish. First time I saw near when kingfisher got a catch. The fish in its mouth it flew back to a tree starting to slam the fish a branch. The the catch, almost length of the bird, was swallowed as whole. A couple of ruffles and it went back for fishing.
During the daytime we have seen a lot of humback whales. And the salmons jump as they never get tired. Auli got one salmon and the next day two rock fish, but the crab pot has been emty. We met two Australian sailors and their theory was, that if there is seaotters, there is no crabs. They told us that the BC inside passage has a lot of crabs. They has a similar pot than us, so that gave us hope.

On Friday, the 13th of August we motored 70 miles over the Dixon Entrance to Prince Rupert. No sailing, the weather was still calm. And hot. After 12 hours, at 5 pm, we moored to the very full town harbour of Prince Rupert. Here the harbourmaster doesn't help with the berths, you have to find one yourself. It's so crowded that boats have to raft, which we did as well. Then to the phone to call the customs. I though I was making an appointment with the customs to come to the boat, but the clearance was made over the phone. Welcome to Canada, said the officer.

* * *

Two Finnish around-the-world sailings have come to their end this summer and the boats have returned home safely. Riitta and Pekka on sv Iiris arrived to Kotka, Finland in June after four years circumnavigation. Manna and Jari on sv Aida should be back in Helsinki in these days. Aida has very interesting and elegant homepages in address  Greetings to both crews!

Tlingit totems in Klawock

24.8.2004 Sointula, Canada
We stayed in Prince Rupert, the border town of about 20.000 inhabitants, only the necessary couple of days it took us to do the laundry and shopping, and visit the interesting museum. They didn't want any payments in the harbour during the weekend, so we left on Sunday before the cashier arrived on Moday morning.

Prince Rupert is a busy base for fishing charters. 
Here is the catch of the day: salmon, halibut and most likely some lingcods. 

Prince Rupert public floats. 
It isn't quite as idyllic as it looks in this photo. 
In reality, the harbour was noisy and dirty.

We anchored 15 miles out of Prince Rupert, in a quiet bay, and set the crabpot out. Curiosity and impatience made us to check it already after an hour: two crabs! In the morning there were SIX angry creatures snapping their scissors. Three females were let free, you are not allowed to take females so that the stock remains. But the three sizeable males made a big pile of meat. Crab in saffron sauce - yammy! We had bought the Canadian fishing license in Prince Rupert (114 CAD, about 55 euros). Next day we got more value on our license when Hannu got a big, handsome sockey salmon. We almost prefer sockeye for king, especially if you make the salt cured (gravlax) salmon. The big sockeye was enough for gravlax and three meals.
The weather was still sunny, calm and warm. Or almost hot for us (20-25 C / 70-78 F). In two nights we had thunderstorms - the first was really a show. Sky was full of lightnings going in every direction, and it was bright as during a day. It was cracking and banging. Poor Auli was very afraid. An irrational fear, which is only helped by getting under the covers in bed! In the morning the sky was blue again and we started to motor along the Grenville Channel.

Motoring along the long narrow channels became soon boring. Photo: Grenville Channel.

Lowe Inlet - an anchorage along the Grenville Channel. Salmons are jumping up the waterfall.

We got bored of the inside passages and took a swing outside. We spent two marvellous days in Campania Island (53º 06' N 129º 31' W). The route into the anchorage was very narrow and full of shoals and rocks. GPS and chart didn't match, on the chart we were going over the shoals and anchored almost on land. The error was half cables. This anchorage was the last (so far) solitude place. Boats - and the chatter in VHF - increased as we got south. It has it's fun, however, it's always fun to listen to various boat names. Near Bella Bella, in St. John Harbour (52º 11' N 128º 29'W) were two big, floatable lodges. Instead of parking place and cars in front of the house there were a row of open boats. Outside the bay 24 of these small boats were hanging around, customers fishing.
We couldn't stay in the native village of Bella Bella longer than a quick visit to the croceries. The dock was full and anchorage too open. There is a marina nearby (Shearwater) but we preferred to continue rather than pay for a slip in a marina. It started to rain in Bella Bella and has done so since that. After two more anchorages and (only) one crab we arrived to Sointula. Totalling 324 miles from Prince Rupert. We will tell about Sointula, an utopia society established by Finns in 1901, in our next update.


1.9.2004 Comox, Kanada
Sointula, located on small Malcolm Island, was founded by Finns in early 1900. First we thought that there wasn't much more left of the Finnish influence than the name, but that was not quite the case. Island has still descendants of the first Finns that arrived, as well as others with Finnish ancestors. The store sells Turun sinappi (mustard), Fazerin Sininen (chocholate), Juhlamokka (coffee), näkkileipä (rye crackers), piparkakku (ginger biscuits) and pulla (baking). The local newsletter is called Sisu, although written in English. The library has a collection of Finnish language books. The local band, Hilltoppers, plays Finnish folk music. Nowdays only a few residents speak Finnish. We met three of them: Liisa (80 v.), Pentti (76 v.) and Leo (74 v.), and heard three different life stories. Sointula has very relaxed and pleasant atmosphere. Houses are pretty and gardens well kept. Naturally we found a sauna. We hiked the six kilometres long Mateoja-trail cross the island. In the last evening we enjoyed of delicious food and good conversation in the beautiful house of Shane and Stephanie, who have been living 30 years on the island.

The history of Sointula began of a dream to establish a community where people are happy and things run well. Conditions in the mines and on the railroad construction sites, where most of the Finns worked like other immigrants, were poor. Strikes didn't bring any improvement, because there was plenty of workforce from different countries. Finns established temperance societies. Gradually an idea of establishing own community arose. It wasn't particularly distinctive that time, also other nationalities were establishing ideological communities. The Finns had read Matti Kurikka's (1863-1915) thougths about socialistic utopia. He was an enthusiastic visioner, unpractical but appealing. Kurikka supported temperance, body exercise and the arts, and was against churches. Later he spoke for free sex, which didn't gain as unreserved approval. Kurikka had tried to establish an ideal community in Australia, but it failed, so when the Canadian Finns asked him to take the lead in their project, he willingly agreed. He had no money, so the Finns did a collection and Kurikka arrived to Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, in August 1900. A search for a suitable place began, concluding to Malcolm Island. While they waited for the official matters to clear, Kurikka established a magazine named Aika (Time) in Nanaimo. In Finland Kurikka had acted as the editor-in-chief for Työmies (a socialist newspaper) in 1897-99. He had worked with A.B. Mäkelä, and now he suggested that his colleague and friend would be invited to Canada. The Finns rised the money again, and A.B. Mäkelä and his wife arrived to Nanaimo. Mäkelä took over the Aika magazine and Kurikka started to travel around Canada and US, all the way to east coast and New York. He tried to talk more Finns to move to Malcolm Island's settlement.
In November 1901, papers were signed by His Majesty the King of England and the Kalevan Kansa Colonization Cooperation. The first members arrived to Malcolm Island in December 1901. It wasn't the first time an ideal community was established on the island, a former attempt by English ended to fights and poverty.
Same happened to the Finnish project. Kurikka left Sointula in September 1904, the cooperation was officially suppressed in May 1905. What went wrong? The main reasons were perhaps lack of practicality and luck. The cooperation was to gain money from logging, but the price of wood was so low, that transportation costs ate all the surplus. Neither was fishing profitable enough. Before they had houses on the island, more and more people moved in, ending to live in poor conditions. Horses and cattle were brought on island, but there were no animal shelters. Vessels, tools and gear were bought on credit.
However, the end of utopia didn't mean the end of community. People stayed and continued on living. They were farming, logging and fishing. In the 1960's and 70's, the community got a fresh shoot of blood when a bunch of hippies move on the island. The most of its hundred year history Sointula has lived on fishing. The last five years have brought changes: fishing is not enough for a livelihood, young people are moving out, retired and summer residents are moving in. The comunity will change, but not dissapear. Sointula seems to be very strongly alive. The cooperative, founded in 1909 is still active, being the eldest cooperative in British Columbia. There is no local government in Sointula, instead things are taken care by voluntary boards. The centennial celebrations in 2001 brought publicity and tourists - some think too many. Despite the utopia never succeeded, the present day Sointula seems very healthy and good environment to live. Utopia lost - paradise found?

After Sointula we had Johnstone Strait, a narrow canal running along the eastern shore of Vancouver Island, ahead of us. It's infamous of its currents, which especially now, during the spring tides, run fast. The strongest currents are found in Seymor Narrows, the prediction for yesterday (29.8) was 14 knots. Naturally, the best time to enter the Narrows is near or during the slack. We were two hours before the slack and for the best our speed was 13.8 knots! The water was boiling and foaming around. Strong eddies opened suddenly - like pulling the plug in a huge tube - next minute there was a big swelling, like a giant tab open. Exciting! We have seen several currents from Faroe Island to Cook Strait in New Zealand not to mention the rivers, but Johnstone Strait is something. You get nice travel speed along the way when running with the current.
Seymor Narrows was astonishingly also a gate to sivilisation. A whole new scenery opened up after the narrows: a big factory and block houses. The shores were full of houses, boats were running everywhere. It's funny how suddenly it changed, the north side of Seymor Narrows is all bush and forest.
Coming to sivilisation made us to try the cell phone - and it worked! Several text messaged was immediately sent, and when friends started to wake up in Finland, our phone started to peep for incoming messages. Fun! A real sign of sivilisation. (The cell didn't work in Alaska.) But the satellite phone has had troubles finding the satellite, probably because we are on the edge of one area and even the mizzen mast is enough to hinder the contact.
After Seymor Narrows we anchored in Gowlland Harbour nearby.

The Next day, just when we were leaving, a woman rowed towards us shouting Hei Suomi (Hello Finland)! She was Ulrika, who had left Helsinki 30 years ago. We ended up staying another night in that bay, as Ulrika's and Baden's guests on their dock. We did leave, however, that first morning, but outside in the channel it was blowing hard from the nose and we were going to have the current against us for 16 miles further away. It was only two knots, but combined with the strong headwind it was not temptating. We turned around. And just in the last minute, because even now, right after the slack, the current was so strong that we made only 2-3 knots with full power. The delay didn't matter, we had a very pleasant evening with Ulrika and Baden. They live in a wooden fishing boat, built in 1947, which Baden has restored and remodelled gorgeously. The boat is full of beautiful details and practical solutions. The former fish storage is now a spacious shower and store room.


6.9.2004 Nanaimo, Canada
The previous update was made in Comox, where we stopped to visit Ossi and Sisko, who have been living in Canada for 30 years. The invitation was made over three years ago, when we were sailing on the Great Lakes. Ossi found our email address in Suomen Kuvalehti (magazine).
Although our friends Timo and Leena from SV Tinja stayed the whole winter in Comox nine years ago, we wouldn't - the attitude in the harbour was odd, almost unpolite. And for the top, we were charged for 46 feet (0.60 CAD per feet) although the overall length of Kristiina is 42 feet (measured in Panama). Well, that's a way to collect harbour fees as well, but the staff could have told us, for instance when they were measuring the boat (that was done without our knowledge). In terms of money it's not a big deal, we had to pay about two dollars more per day what we were told in arrival, but they way it was done was annoying. And even more irritating was the reaction of the harbour staff when I complained. Other boaters must have had same problems, so fast was the change of her mood to a very arrogant and defending, not listening what I tried to say. She was just repeating feet and overall lengths, while I was trying to say that to hell with the feet, do your measuring openly and tell the price to your customers beforehand. Not a nice visit to the harbour of Comox.

Comox was our first town on the Island of Vancouver. The City of Vancouver is located on mainland. Both are named after George Vancouver, the English explorer, who sailed with Kaptain Cook on his second and third trip. Vancouver commanded an journey made in 1791-94 during when the cost of North America was surveyd all the way from Alaska to California. The island of Vancouver is about 500 km long and has 700.000 inhabitants. Half of them live in Victoria, the capital of British Columbia. The greater Vancouver has about 2 million inhabitants. British Columbia is one of the ten provinces in Canada.

Next we stopped in Nanaimo, which is a lovely town with a population of  70.000. No arguments about the harbour fees, because we anchored among tens of boats between Nanaimo and Newcastle Island. Immediately we picked up one Swiss, one German and one English sailing boat among the many American and Canadian vessels. The anchorage is really pleasant and handy, on the other side you have the town with all the facilities (croceries, laundry, internet and post office close to harbour) and on the other side a big recreational area. And crab pot catch a crab in few hours.

Nanaimo seen from the Newcastle Island

15.9.2004 Vancouver, Canada
In Nanaimo we met a wooden German sailboat, Miss Sophie, and her crew Harald and Verena. They have been away for five years, sailed via Japan to Alaska and overwintered in Kodiak. Harald, electrician, got our weatherfax programme work better. Instead of Pactor it receives now via soundcard. Three years we have been miserable with the programme, now it's working great. However, handling the cables broke something and later the SSB went silent. After a fright, three fuses, and Harald's aid everything was working again.

Hannu and Harald testing SSB cables

Fixing the radio cables happened in Sidney, a small town 40 miles south of Nanaimo. Sidney became a maintenace stop for us:
mainsail was repaired (the rope along the mast boltrope was broken), engine injectors were cleaned and one replaced, sideberth and the space under the v-bert were cleaned (yack, mold again). In addition, we bought two guide books and copied about a hundred charts (US west coast, Mexico, Central-America; thanks to Harald and Verena). In five days much was done. Sindney was a good place for work, because there wasn't too much to see or do in the town, except the bookstores (where Auli could have spent a week). We were anchored in Tsehum Bay, where several boat chandlers and boatyards are located. Dowtown was 1,5 km away.

On Monday we started to sail towards Vancouver (65 miles from Sidney). After an overnight stop we arrived to tight False Creek anchorage. Just in time to watch Finland-Canada icehockey match in nearby pub. We were the only Finland supporters and our hoorays sounded rather modest compared to the roaring of the crowd. But after the game a gentleman bought us beers and commented that it was brave to shout. What we would've been offered if Canada had lost...Yes, so Canada won Finland 3-2 in this final game of World Cup.
Now we are waiting for Auli's parents, who arrive on Saturday for ten days' visit.

Approaching two million inhabitant's Vancouver. 
It has been a while since we saw skyscrapers.

22.9.2004 Nanaimo, Canada
Although it really is possible to stay in anchor in the citycentre of Vancouver, we found inexpensive moorage in the Fishermen's Wharf ( The price was a happy surprise: 20 dollars including tax and power. The comparable price is 40 cents per foot. In one of the most expensive marinas in Vancouver, in the Coal Harbour, it's 1.80 $ per foot, and even in Nanaimo and Sidney the price was higher. In addition, Fishermen's Wharf was clean and centrally located, next to Granville Island, which has great food market, small shops, restaurants, theatres and other interesting stuff. In our mind, the place was absolutely the best deal in Vancouver.

The Fishermen's Wharf in False Creek, next to Burrard bridge

On Friday our friend from Ontario, Mike, visited us with his friend Elaine. Mike was our crew during the passage through the Welland Canal three years ago. After that we met in Key West. Mike is preparing his sailing over to Europe, start next summer. It was cool to meet him thrid time on our journey. Mike and Elaine drove us to fill the propane tanks. Here we were able to fill also our Finnish 11 kilo tank, which nobody wanted to fill in US after the new regulations. 

We met our friend Mike thrid time on our trip

On Saturday, Auli's parents, Bibi and Olli arrived, and we started the real tourist life. Maritime Museum, Aquarium, Stanley Park and downtown were visited. Vancouver is a pleasant town and lot remained unseen. On Tuesday we sailed 30 miles over to Nanaimo in a nice, sunny tailwind.

Olli and Bibi on the Granville Bridge. On the background downtown Vancouver.

28.9.2004 Victoria, Canada
The visit of Auli's parents was too soon over, time flied. In Nanaimo we catch crabs, and walked in the dense forest of Newcastle Island. The nightly visit of racoons was funny. We met Mikko Viren, who has been living in Canada for 30 years, the last ten in the anchorage in Nanaimo. Mikko has built his SV Heija himself. We swapped books, magazines and sweet gifts: Mikko gave us maplesyrup, we gave him Finnish chocholate.

Mikko Viren is one of the ten permanet live-aboards in Nanaimo. 

It was meaning that we visit several of the Gulf Islands on our way to Victoria, but - as so often - time run out. We stopped on Prevost Island, and next day we arrived to Victoria, the capital of British Columbia. The famous floats in front of the Empress hotel were reserved for a yacht club, and we were given moorage next to floatplane dock. Noise and kerosine fumes were disturbing, as well as the music from a nearby disco during the nights. The negative sides of a big city. But it was conveniet to be next to downtown.

The inner harbour of Victoria, which was unfortunately full. 
A government building from the late 1800's at the background.

When Auli explored the city with her parents, Hannu consentrated on maintenance. Bibi and Olli had brought spare parts for the anemometer and bowthruster, so Hannu was busy.
As in so many Canadian towns, Victoria has lot of parks with beautiful flowers and plants. The downtown of Victoria is European style with pedestrian streets and small shops. There is lot of tourists, and therefore also all kind of tourist attractions and souvenier shops. The weather was warm and sunny, showing Victoria as its best. We didn't dig museums, but walked in parks, along the streets and on the beach.

Canadian police on march. The Empress Hotell at the background.

On Monday it was time for goodbyes, and on Tuesday we left Canada to enter US again. It's only 16 miles over the Juan de Fuca Strait to Port Angeles, which is one of the many port-of-entries. Next we have 700 miles to San Fransisco along the US west coast.

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