D'Arcy Island, June 24th to 26th 1999.


After lunch the fog completely lifted and we had no trouble making crossings to several bare rocky islands, Mandrate and Halibut Islands. From there we crossed over to Sidney Island, around the south tip of that island until we could see D'Arcy Island was one more short crossing away. We realized that we didn't know which side of the island to meet everyone on. Mary Ann recalled Rachel describing the campground on the east side as being small but having a good view, while the west side had more room but looked back at the city of Sidney on Vancouver Island. Since there would be 15 of us all told, we headed towards the west side. On the way there we were met by a Canadian Coast Guard man in a Zodiac boat. He was looking for the source of a red flare that had been sighted and wondered if one of us had set it off. He also told us that he had seen the rest of our group on the west side of the island.

When we got to the campground on the west side of D'Arcy Island it was small and deserted. The Coast Guard guy came by again and said that he had seen our group. He pointed south and said they were just around the next point in a campsite facing Little D'Arcy Island. We kept going south around point after point after point, then went back up the east side of the island until we finally found them. We were a little peeved at the Coast Guard guy because if we had turned around and gone back across the north end of the island we would have traveled a much shorter distance to find our friends!

On Friday morning June 24th we were supposed to pack up and return to Popeye's Campground. However, the weather had finally cleared up and it looked like it would be a nice day and evening. Those of us who could spare the time started canvassing to get more people to stay. But many people had appointments to keep. Rachel and Barbara left early in the morning. Then Jack, Susan, Don, Rob and Nora left a few hours later. Maryly and I were supposed to meet someone the next day and were considering leaving with Evelyn and Martin in the early afternoon. But then Rob and Nora suddenly showed up on the beach again! They had been driven back by strong winds.

On our east side of D'Arcy Island the water looked rough but the wind was blowing out of the southeast. It looked like the wind would help us paddle back to our cars. But the southeasterly direction of the wind was apparently just an eddy and the wind was actually coming from the northwest and opposing any kayak crossing back to the main island. Rachel and Barbara had left early enough to miss the wind. Don, Jack and Susan fought their way into the wind and made it across. Rob and Nora decided to turn back and leave early the next morning. When we heard their story it clinched the decision for the rest of us and we stayed in campanother night on D'Arcy Island.

I spent the afternoon tossing the crab net, hiking and lazing about the island. I only caught two rock crabs again, despite the fact that I switched to bacon for bait. That evening Mary Ann and Maryly picked most of the meat out of the two steamed crabs so they could be added to an omelet. Earlier in the day Maryly and I hiked across the middle of the island and found a few other BASKers BASKing in the sun on a beach. We found the spine of an old wooden shipwreck and tried (unsuccessfully) to extract square nails from it.

On the walk back around the north end of the island we spied a bright patch of color in the forest. It was a tent, not one of ours, bundled up in a small clearing. It was wrapped up in a way that almost made us think there was a body rolled up in it. Fortunately we found it empty when we unfolded it. It had broken tent poles that had been fixed with sticks and ductape, making us hypothesize that someone had camped illegally here, then just abandoned the tent when they got tired of fixing it.

Saturday morning June 26th we got up early and packed to leave. The water was calm with no wind and we had a nice easy paddle across to the south end of James Island then across the channel to Cordova Spit and back to the put-in spot at Popeye's Campground where we had launched from. In all our plans about leaving in the morning calm and avoiding the currents, we had neglected to consider the low tide and we found ourselves having to drag our boats across a wide expanse of mud to get to shore. Once we were back in our cars, we found that a hot shower at the campground was $5.00 (Canadian) per person. Everyone agreed afterwards that it was well worth it after a week camping on the Gulf Islands.

Maryly and I found a note on my car telling us that the second half of our trip was canceled. We were supposed to go to Neuchatlitz Island and stay at a lodge. Final arrangements were supposed to be made while we were on the Gulf Islands and they had fallen through. So on the spur of the moment we decided to join Don Fleming, Rob, and Nora on the ferry to San Juan Island and to spend a few days looking for whales.

As we started down the road, I rejoiced out loud that my VW Bus had not broken down on the whole trip so far. Within seconds the engine suddenly cut out as if the ignition had been turned off. I pulled over, wiggled all the wires on the coil and distributor. When we tried the car a few seconds later, it started up but ran a little rough. Over the next few days it did this two more times. I suspected ignition problems but we never had time to deal with it. Since it always recovered (so far) we kept going.


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All text and images Copyright © 1999 by Mike Higgins / contact