East Thurlow Island
by Caroline Brown, 29 Aug 2016.
Pictographs, a “brand new” petroglyph, exotic geology, whales, dolphins, stories of gin and tonic sailors, mistresses, tall and not-so-tall tales were some of the highlights for twelve of the Malaspina Naturalists as we headed to East Thurlow Island aboard the Misty Isles – for three whole days!
For most of us, this was a new area to be explored and although the weather was not totally cooperative, it was a great three days and two nights (Aug 27-29). Mike Moore and his crew, Jonah Weyler, welcomed us in Lund and we set sail – well, not actually. Although Misty is a gaff rigged schooner, Mike used its “functional seaworthiness of a west coast troller” for this trip.
Our first sighting was toward Little Mitlenatch Island, or as Mike calls it, an orca snack bar and also a hangout for glaucous-winged gulls and cormorants. As we passed through the waters of gorgeous Desolation Sound, known to have as many as 300 boats in Prideaux Haven, Mike reminded us of Captain Vancouver’s 1792 journal notes describing this area as “gloomy and dismal….dreary rocks.” Perhaps, but certainly not for us!
After travelling through the Gillard Pass and around the northern side of East Thurlow Island, our first night was on West Thurlow Island at Blind Channel Resort, originally the site of a thriving cannery. A delicious salmon dinner completed Day 1. Our accommodation was luxurious in the two, new, two-bedroom cabins, although one of our group opted to sleep on MI.
Before breakfast Sunday, several of the group explored the well-maintained trails behind the resort. Soon after cast-off, Mike scooted to Mayne Passage, finding us 002 Pod – four orcas, including Tumbo, a large male with a bend in his fin. And later in the day, in Nodales Channel, we were entertained by a school/pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins. The day had been chilly and wet and we all appreciated the warmth of the fireplace at Discovery Islands Lodge. Our third meal of the day (all meals were provided by Mike and Jonah, with thanks to the pre-preparation of Mike’s wife, Samantha) was equally enjoyable. The spacious, welcoming “great room” of the lodge allowed for good conversation.
Following a yummy breakfast prepared by our lodge hosts, we began our homeward journey. Only the wished-for humpbacks were missing. BUT the next day, our two Victoria participants saw a pair from the ferry.
Thanks to all our eclectic, delightful and well informed travelling companions for a memorable trip!