Between rapids 3 and 4 we tied up at the small public dock at Shoal Bay, which was founded in 1887. There was a gold mine nearby and the usual fishing and logging industry so the town grew quickly to 5,000 souls, at the time bigger than Vancouver. Then it faded away.
The area recently purchased by latter day homesteader and year-rounder, Mark MacDonald. Mark is completely gung ho. There was a modern lodge on the property when he bought it but it burned down. So he simply started over again. He and his summer helpers are building innovative small buildings: at the moment they have a cottage, a washhouse with laundry and showers, the A frame pub to the left of the picture, a green house, a workshop and a splendid new outhouse! There’s also a pit for smoking salmon and roasting meat. The pub has no food and only four kinds of drink: lager, ale; red wine and white wine.
But the fish jump out of the Bay so that people get dinner without leaving their boats. The garden is simply beautiful: everyone is invited to do a bit of work and harvest the crop. We returned leafy lettuce, three potatoes, a badly needed onion and bunches of herbs richer. There’s a small can in the garden if one wishes to leave a donation. In the middle of the garden is the chicken coop. New hens and a rooster arrived the day we left; a marten who had slaughtered their predecessors had been captured. In the morning at low tide I joined the crew on the beach and helped in the inch by inch moving of old ironwood sinker logs under the dock. These will be a way, one of these slop structures upon which ships are launched or hauled out and repaired. Just the week before the community had repaired a hole in the hull of a malfunctioning swing keel sailboat by pulling it all the way up on the beach. These folks cruise through life, solving problems as they come.
They also have fun. Some folks from Gibbons who stayed for the Saturday night pig roast said it was a blast. Do it yourself entertainment included everything from magic and belly dancing to male stripping. On the 16, Shoal Bay hosts its annual music festival where folks camp and make the music themselves.
Then there was Port Neville. After our harrowing trip up the Johnstone Strait in a modest 25 knots but 25 knots right in out faces and against the current we sought refuse in Port Neville, which sounds like a settlement but is actually a fjord explored and named i 1792 by Captain George Vancouver. It has excellent anchorage both at its further reaches and near the windswept mouth that looks out on the Strait. It’s near the mouth that a public wharf leads to a tiny settlement of three families, which is also named Port Neville. Lorna Hansen Chesluk, the postmistress who sold us a cruising guide we were missing, is the granddaughter of the fist homesteader who came from Norway to settle there in 1891.