Log #61i Gwaii Haanas Part 3 Hot Springs

August 26, 2016 in Logs by Series, Series 61, The Logs

 Log #61i Gwaii Haanas Part 3 Hot Springs

CFSA, Esquimalt, B.C.

Aug. 26, 2016


Hi Folks,

We are back down here in Esquimalt, just outside of Voctoria, getting ready to head across the Strait of Juan De Fuca to Port Angeles to do our formal entry into the U.S. Ha!

Murphy’s Law created a major complication. We had Marcia and her husband Mike down for lunch and a short sail into Esquimalt Harbour. Marcia is my niece who lives in Victoria. As we cast off the lines and tried backing out of our slip, THUNK, an errant log jammed between our propellor and the hull stopping the engine. I started it a couple of time to have it thunk again, intil a chewed log surfaced on our starboard quarter. However as I motored out into the harbour, I felt a sizeable vibration at any speed other than a slow idle. Oh boy! We slowly motored over to an adjacent bay and dropped the anchor. So as not to ruin their visit, I dropped the dinghy in the water and we dingied up the harbour around Cole Island a late 1800,s munitions depot with some interesting buildings remaining. Back on board we had a delightful lunch, then slowly motored back to the CFSA dock.

In talking with a local boater I decided not to hire a diver to look at it,as it was evident that the prop or shaft was damaged, and would need a boat yard. There is no boatyard in Victoria or Esquimalt, and so we have made arrangement to tow Veleda up to a boat yard in Sidney, 26 miles on the flood tide tomorrow. We will use our dinghy to tow Veleda as to use its engine at even low speeds would badly shake to shaft and transmission. They won’t be able to look at it until Monday, thus delaying even more our departure.

Ironical after four seasons on this coast dodging logs and icebergs, we have a calamity like this the day before we were to leave.

Anyways, I hope you enjoy this log about our visit to Hot Springs Island. There is only one more major site we visited that will b described in my next log, Anthony Island (Sgang Gwaay) a World Heritage Site.

All the best,


Log #61i Gwaii Haanas Part 3 Hot Springs
CFSA, Esquimalt, B.C.
Aug. 26, 2016

We were anchored in Ramsey Passage Cove and dinghied across the passage to Hot Spring Island. (Gandll K’in Gwaay.yaay), needing to putter around the convoluted bays to identify at which one we should land. We finally found a heavily indented bay with a mooring ball and a pulley system to ferry people from one rocky shoreline to an off lying shoal. No one was around to signal where we should land, and so we motored in to a rocky outcrop and tied the dinghy off with a long line and small anchor wedged between some rocks. We scrambled up the treacherous barnacle encrusted rocks to a pebble beach and went to the wathman’s cabin.

The cabins for the watchmen are built on the same plan as the six pole longhouses. They have three poles either side of the ridgeline, allowing the ridge line to be used for an opening for light or smoke. I am impressed by the size of the timbers used in their construction.

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Diagram of six pole longhouse                                                                Watchman’s six pole cabin

The watchman showed us over to the hot springs. Unfortunately in October 2012 there was a strong 7.7 magnitude earthquake off the west coast of Gwaii Haanas which juggled the  earth’s crust that the springs had stopped flowing. There is no water in the former hot pools, but there is hot spring activity below the surface of the island and the water levels are rising once again, but not high enough to fill the pools used formerly. However there is a hose that was opened for us to fill a couple of half cut plastic barrels with very hot water, too hot to get in.

We were shown to the trails around the island and left to explore them ourselves for a half hour or so while the water in the barrels cooled a bit. Apparently there is a better landing spot on the far side of the island from the Watchman’s cabin, but such was not explained to us at the orientation session, nor was such useful information contained in our orientation booklet. Landing at each of the sites was tricky, arduous and sometimes dangerous, as there is no obvious place to land dinghies, and kayakers have to lift their vessels 100 feet or more to get above the tide line, above the rocky shore. This landing place in the picture below might have been a bit more convenient if we had known about it in advance.

Landing spot on the opposite side of the island

Although this location also has a rocky landing area, it was a nice hike through the old growth temperate rainforest of this island, the immense trees towering hundreds of feet above the undergrowth.

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   Tall old growth trees                                Aubrey beside one

Many of the trees were moss drapped, adding to the ethereal beauty of the forest. I spotted a spider’s web, iridescent in the morning sunlight, stretched almost horizontally to trap its prey and shimmer in the rays filtered through the forest canopy, illuminating the moss bedecked branches.
Spider’s web in the mossy branches

It was a tranquil wander through the trails immersed in this verdant beauty of old growth forest.

Back at the hotsprings the water was just hot enough to ease slowly into the barrels for a good hot soak. Mmmm!

However the barrels were rather short and we had to sit with our knees up to our chests. It was not the most comfortable hot springs we have been in. Perhaps when the water rises enough to fill the upper pools in the uphill cabins, it would be a more convenient experience.
Now came the problem of returning to the dinghy! The tide had risen several feet since we came ashore, and now the dinghy was floating out, held by the anchor we had wedged up on the rocks well above the waterline a few hours earlier. So, Judy headed out after it, having to be very careful of her footing, as she wadded up to her hips before she reached the anchot to pull the dinghy in. Brrrr! But she volunteered saying that subcutaneous fat must be good for something.

Upon our return to Veleda we motored 15 miles in to Moresby Island to anchor in  sheltered Island Bay (52 21. 315N, 131 23.945W) just before the turbulent Bunaby Narrows. We actually sailed (for 15 minutes with the engine off) before the winds turned against us again. We motor or motor sail 95% of the time. We have had our mainsail up only once so far this season when we were coming across from the mainland to Haida Gwaii. I can see the logic of a trawler for sailing the B.C. coast. We have to time the tide and currents right for our passage through Burnaby Narrows next day.