Disappointment turned into an amazing trip recently when the MV Uchuck III west coast adventure went from a cancelation to a go in less than 36 hours.
First came the calls that the ship had mechanical problems and the long-waited for trip was cancelled. For those anxiously anticipating an experience into the fjords of the Nootka Sound area, and being able to stand where Captain Cook did back in 1778 in Friendly Cove, it was a tough pill to swallow.
GetWest and In Flight Tours indicated that an engine problem and replacement of bearings and realignment of the drive-shaft needed to be done and likely wouldn’t be completed in time. So a full cancelation and refund was offered to everyone.
For a couple of hardy Probus members though, the trip was still going to be a go. “We’ve never been to Gold River and thought we’d just make our own experience,” said Terry Kelly and so, for the Kellys and Dempsons it was full speed ahead.
Next morning just before heading out a call came through from GetWest to say they worked all day and into the evening on the ship and that the Uchuck III was well on its way home. Expectations were that the trip was going to be a go!
Early, Thursday morning (June 13) the Uchuck III left Gold River. Only half of those registered decided to make the trip so it was more like a river cruise than an ocean voyage; and it was fabulous.
Over the next three days 18 guests became part of a working cruise that stopped into numerous spots throughout the Nookta Sound area, dropping off food, equipment, furniture, propane tanks – necessities, for these remote establishments. And the people we met, the stories that were shared really gave us an insight into the history and workings of communities, resorts and businesses that depend on the marine highways along the west coast.
Powering through narrow and broad channels at 8 – 11 knots we were surrounded by endless forests of towering trees. On-board guests were treated to superb homemade breakfasts and lunches while also having full access to the wheelhouse and being able to sit out under canopied rear deck. Guests became friends and stories were shared and down below we could relax, read or follow the ship’s progress on monitors that detailed not only the water as well as the surrounding landscapes.
Accommodations proved adequate and comfortable but it was the evening dinners where things all came together. In the different ports we became part of the small communities and people made us all feel welcome. Characters, whether serving, playing music or simply mingling with guests, were everywhere and everyone was willing to tell us something about the history of the place or why they had settled there.
The highlight of course was sailing into Friendly Cove. We arrived in a rising fog and the rocky shore gave way to the sight of the red and white lighthouse guarding the inner harbour. For visitors, there was an ‘awe moment’ as we read or listened to commentary about this fabled place and how, 241 years ago, Captain James Cook and his two ships Endeavour and Discovery arrived on these shores.
Exploring the beaches, visiting the historic church, traversing the sandy shores and meeting up with the resident lighthouse keeper could last a full day. In some cases it’s like stepping back hundreds of years as you imagine what it would have looked like, but it’s listening to Doug Kerr, the lighthouse keeper and the stories about Friendly Cove, the finds and the significance of this spot that really galvanizes the magic of this trip.
Oh and if you wondered about how being on the water really was – it was great – but for two periods, we did have the experience of being on ‘big water’. Our captain told us in advance that we could expect one to three foot swells, but in reality, we were into five to seven foot swells. He explained it as ‘normal’ but worse than anticipated. For most of us it was just another experience and we survived!
If you get the chance, put this trip on your bucket list. You see, you learn and you experience the west coast. It’s impressive!