July 23, 2017: A day with dolphins

It’s 9 pm and I’m sitting in Braesail’s cockpit on a sea of glassy green water, surrounded on almost all sides by soaring, heavily-forested cliffs thousands of feet high and by the susurrations of the waterfalls tumbling down their sides and the streams that spill into the sea at their feet. Kwatsi Bay is a magical  bowl of water held in the cliffs’ cupped granite hands that is home to dolphins, porpoises, and seals of several varieties, and intermittently, from the time we arrived and anchored in deep water close to shore at about 2 pm, until early evening, some 20 Pacific white-sided dolphins put on a spectacular water ballet, to the accompaniment of the cascades’ “water music,” that entertained and delighted all the boaters in the bay!

Our day began at about 8:30 with Walt, having read his finally-finished conference presentation to me late Saturday night (it’s excellent and highly thought-provoking, as his scholarly work always is!), printing and proof-reading the paper and trying to get enough connectivity to send it out for publication on the Web. He showered in the aft cabin, and I walked to the Lagoon Cove Marina office, under gradually clearing skies, to get a little coffee and take a few photos. I crossed the small stream that wandered out of the forest and sought the shore, walked up the path, perfumed by the recent rains and lined by white morning glories, daisies, and thimble berry bushes, to the owners’ house on the hilltop from which I could see Port Harvey in one direction and Lagoon Cove in the other.

Port Harvey from Lagoon Cove
Port Harvey as seen from the hill in Lagoon Cove
Lagoon Cove from the hilltop
View over Lagoon Cove from the top of the hill

After taking several pictures, I found my way to the beginning of the trail that leads to other trails and to a clearing in which a knotted rope swing and a board swing hang from the muscular branches of a gigantic cedar tree. I spent a few minutes swinging, enjoying the solitude of the solemn forest and the glimpses through the trees of the cove below and giving thanks for the beauty of the cool, misty morning. Soon I was back at the top of the dock, where a fellow boater, a Swiss woman who is now a Washingtonian, and I had a very pleasant chat about our travels.

Lagoon Cover Marina
View from the top of the dock in Lagoon Cove

By 11 am check-out time, Walt had taken care of his presentation submission and we were ready to leave for Kwatsi Bay, recommended highly by everyone as a breathtaking, must-experience anchorage tucked among the toes of the towering BC Coastal Mountains. I took the helm, and, as usual, we had light, variable winds blowing in the wrong direction over a sea ruffled and riffled by currents, so we motored, at one point with our yankee (large foresail) hoisted to catch some wind and boost our speed. I’ve attempted to describe the country through which we traveled on our scenic watery “highway” in previous posts, and, as the sprightly sunbeams and clumpy cumulus clouds played hide-and-go-seek across a sapphire sky, it was lovely to spot more and more snowy cataract streamers decorating the higher mountains and to follow their paths down the slopes.

A somewhat noisy encounter between Braesail’s keel and an invisible “dead-head” (tree stump floating vertically) was the only noteworthy incident that occurred during our journey to Kwatsi Bay, which we reached at about 1:30 pm after devouring our usual during-travel sandwich lunch. The jaw-dropping grandeur of the bay’s setting as we entered reminded us of that of Princess Louisa Inlet, which we visited a year ago. We passed a small sun-gilded island and then the little marina, and as we slowed to search for a suitable anchoring spot toward the end of the bay, I noticed a line of splashing water near the shore and thought that it was waves trying to climb some rocks. I soon saw, however, that the row of splashes was moving away from the shore, and then realized that dolphins were playing near the boats and swimming mostly as a group, forming a capricious chorus line of huffing, blowing, surface-slapping, spray-swirled acrobats that arched, leaped, somersaulted, belly-flopped, and back-flipped, sometimes forming large circles, and sometimes a long line–astonishing to hear and to watch!!

As the dolphin floor show ended and the creatures moved away, Walt and I were able to anchor not far from the rocky shore near the base of a waterfall whose splashy footsteps we could hear but not see through the forest, though we COULD trace its ribbony white body as it curved over the cliff above. We launched Coracle and motored over to the marina, which has a small store and gift shop and many comfy chairs and tables under a canopy. As we were docking the dinghy, I noticed two whiskery seal snouts poking out of the green water nearby–“Greetings, guys!” We enjoyed talking with the marina’s manager about the waterfalls, the wildlife, the heating and drying of the general climate in the area, and his experiences, and Walt bought a beautiful hand-crafted ceramic mug and a large folding map of the Broughton Islands area. Back on the boat, Walt settled down for his customary nap, but as I climbed into the cockpit from the cabin, I noticed a sparkling line of splashes and little fountains moving toward our boat and those anchored nearby, and I spent most of the next two hours observing, with undiminished fascination, the frolicking dolphins’ displays as they cavorted here and there about the bay and tried to see which of them could leap higher out of the water or perform the more complex aerial acrobatics! How astounding to be anchored near the base of a waterfall at one end of a dolphin playground/exercise yard! I shot a short video and managed to capture a tiny fraction of the frivolities, but the video is too large a file to post at this point, unfortunately; let me know if you want to see it and I might be able to find a way to get it to you.

After his nap, Walt joined me in the cockpit to share chips and dip and to watch the water games in the bay, and then we enjoyed Dolphin Dinner Theater from those great seats as well. At last, I climbed down to the galley to do KP duties, and then returned to the cockpit to begin this narrative. My work was interrupted briefly by the need to move our anchor out farther from the shore, and after accomplishing this task and completing the planning of Monday’s journey, we let the songs of the streams and falls send us off to dreamland.

Kwatsi Bay Sunset
Sun setting behind the cliffs surrounding Kwatsi Bay at about 10 pm; the white patches on the cliffs on the right are portions of waerfalls

One thought on “July 23, 2017: A day with dolphins

  1. Would love to see the video, sounds like such fun watching them. Again, thanks for your wonderful blog, almost feel like I am there. Watching the Mariner’s game, is now tied 5 – 5 with New York Mets.


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