Go West Old Man - Fall 2005 travel blog

sailing the inland passage

Hartley Bay

Indian dancers

dancing robes


We sailed south into Canadian waters today which meant we lost an hour, returning to Pacific Daylight Time. It also meant we had to get up at 5:30am and go through Canadian immigration in Prince Rupert. The whole process was far more tedious than I had remembered - perhaps a vestige of the caution created by 9/11. Ken was questioned at length about the appearance of the photograph on his passport, which was one of his earliest digital efforts eight years ago. I hovered near the pamphlet stand nearby, hoping that they would let him into the country. Although the sun was out, thick fog settled on the water, which gave me a chance to catch up on some of those missing sleep hours without missing any great scenery and I awoke to a beautiful, blue sky day.

Our naturalists gave a lecture about the life of salmon. This animal is essential to the success of many other animals including man in Alaska. The nutrition they provide every fall as they spawn and die, provide many others with the calories they need to make it through the long Alaskan winter. The long journey these fish make from the fresh water streams they were born in to the ocean water back to the rivers to spawn and die is one of nature's miracles. Some of them swim as much as 1500 miles up stream in Canada, no longer eating the entire trip. To keep the population stable, commercial fishing is strictly limited and many men can no longer make a living in this traditional way. They are also threatened by the farming of Atlantic salmon, which are the affordable ones you probably buy at Costco. Our naturalists felt that because they are farmed and are fed dead fish, this increases the quantity of mercury that is found in their bodies and they hinted at something like mad cow disease being a possibility. They are also fed antibiotics to keep them healthy in confinement, as is the case with many other food animals. However, it must also be said that Pacific salmon is four times the price...

After a great afternoon of sailing south in the Inland Passage with blue sky framing green forested islands, we pulled in to the town of Hartley Bay, a Tsimshian village of 200. This town has no streets at all so the only powered vehicles we saw there were one golf cart and one ATV. It was a challenge for our captain to pull in to the tiny little dock that is normally used by their much smaller fishing boats. We were there to see their young people perform some native dances. The whole town turned out and gave our captain a framed photo of a whale to bring back to our ship. After the dancing they also provided samples of the food they prepare from the land and sea around them. The smoked salmon was great, but the seaweed could use some garlic or salt to kill the taste. It was hard for me to imagine myself living there, but the pride this town had and the opportunity to see a spot so off the beaten track was very rewarding.

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