Kasaan Carvers

View of Kina Cove on a pleasant morning

Wednesday proved to be a busy, challenging, tiring, edifying, and overall wonderful day! We motored out of Kina Cove after a peaceful night and soon encountered rising winds (to speeds of 25 knots, or about 29 mph) and choppy seas whose whitecaps sent great fountains of spray splashing over Braesail’s decks and front windows, much as was the case on Tuesday. The boat pitched and slapped into the waves, and after riding the “bucking bronco boat” for an hour, we reached the small harbor at the Haida village of Kasaan, and decided to try to tie up on the outer side of the dock despite the wind. We accomplished this task with difficulty, since the wind kept driving Braesail away from the dock, and hauling the boat to the dock and tying it securely to the wooden rail at the edge proved to be very strenuous (and even frightening) for me. After this exercise, we were hungry, tired, and wet, but we were very glad that we and Braesail had emerged unscathed from the battle with the wind!

We spent a fantastic afternoon on shore, walking to and touring Kasaan’s beautiful Totem Park, featuring nine poles, some restored and some replicated, moved there in 1938 from the old village of Kasaan that was abandoned some seventy years ago, and now set among the meadows, streams, ferns, cedars, and hemlocks of a second-growth forest. Our wonderful guide, Mike Jones, a carver and Tribal President, showed us his carving shed and the canoe on which he is working, and as we walked through the Totem Park, he described life in Kasaan (population of about 50 people) and its history, told us about the totem poles and their symbolism and stories, and invited us into the restored Tribal House, made of cedar and sitting in its original location at the edge of the “totem forest”.

Mike Jones sits in the Tribal House and relates the stories of the decorative poles

We next met Stormy Hamar, Haida artist and carver of poles and canoes, and his family. He drove us in his pick-up truck to his home, where his daughter, also an artist, gave us a tour of Kasaan Arts, Museum, and Canoes (https://kasaan-arts-museum-canoes.business.site/), which Stormy and his wife established and operate. The museum is small but delightful, and the carving tent contains canoes under construction and photos of original Haida craft. We shared a great conversation about canoe-carving and sailing, and then Stormy gave us some heads of the garlic they grow and dry before driving us around some parts of the village where the poles he’s carved can be seen and finally depositing us at the docks. Later in the evening, Mike stopped by to bring us several pounds of freshly-caught shrimp–what a generous and welcome gift.

After supper, Walt and I sat in the cockpit until dark, writing and reading and listening to whale huffings–none surfaced, but only rippled the water. What a lovely ending to an amazing day!

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