Friday, 8 July 2016

A Boat Trip to Friendly Cove aboard the Uchuck III makes for a Great Day

By Keith and Heather Nicol
The back deck is a fine place to view the scenery
    On Wednesday July 6 we took a trip to see Nootka Island on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. Nootka Island is steeped in history and when we found out that Captain Cook had visited here in 1778 we knew we had to check it out. You see between 1762 and 1767 Cap’t Cook had refined his map making skills in Newfoundland and produced the first accurate maps of the Corner Brook-Bay of Islands area in Western Newfoundland where we had lived for 33 years. Access to Nootka Island and more specifically Friendly Cove is provided by the Uckuck III which makes a twice weekly trip seasonally from June 29 to August 31. The Uchuck III is a working vessel that doubles as a “cruise ship” in the summer and is based out of Gold River on Vancouver Island’s west coast. We drove from the Comox area in the morning to board the Uchuck III for its 10:00 am departure. 

The Uchuck III in Friendly Cove with the lighthouse on the right
    On our trip there were roughly 50 passengers aboard (the Uchuck can carry double that) and we also  took on some fuel drums to drop off enroute. We steamed down Muchalat Inlet, a deep ice carved fjord, which provides access to the open Pacific Ocean roughly 40 km to the west. We passed by a variety of islands, rugged mountains, several salmon farms and part way along dropped off fuel to Nootka Island Lodge which is a remote fishing lodge along the way. At 12:45 we docked at Friendly Cove on Nootka Island and our Captain Spencer Larsen told us he would sound the horn at 2:05pm for a 2:15 departure. It turns out that Friendly Cove has a photogenic lighthouse and it has been the home of first nation’s people for over 4000 years.  Margaret James, a first nation’s welcomer, asked us to go to the church where she would talk briefly about the church and native life on the island. “Friendly Cove was centre of our nation for many years and despite the fact that much is made of this area being the first European contact in B.C.’s in the 1770’s, our people have lived here continuously for 4300 years according to archeological data.” she told us. 

Be sure to see the church with its elaborate carvings and poles
       While at Friendly Cove we had time to visit the graveyard, walk on the beach, take photographs of the lighthouse and we even tracked down a fallen totem pole that was toppled in a wind storm in 1994. Then all too soon the ship’s whistle sounded and we headed back for the 2 hour trip back to Gold River. On the way back we stopped briefly at Resolution Cove where Captain Cook first landed and made repairs to his vessels.  We recommend a trip to Friendly Cove but next time may bring our kayaks since the Uchuck III offers a unique wet launch procedure which means they can drop and pick up kayakers at many places along the coast. The Uckuck III also offers other adventure tours which are certainly on our list of trips to check out. For instance, the trip to Kyuquot certainly looks interesting and is a popular location for kayaking. For more information see:
A fallen totem can be found just off a main trail

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