From Calm to Chaos

Mary Kalbert photo

Mary Kalbert photo

John and I have returned from a cruising trip to the Broughton Islands, located between the Canadian mainland and the northern end of Vancouver Island. We explored the myriad islands on Just Right, our cool 28 foot pocket cruiser.

We were out of touch with civilization for a part of that time. More importantly, we were  in touch with nature in ways we would never have imagined.

We varied our schedule. There were days at anchor without seeing another human being. There were days in marinas savoring the delicate flavor of Pierre at Echo Bay’s  world renown pig roast, the throaty roar of a  float plane bringing mail, goods and weather news, and walks on floating docks among floating houses.

On our exit one morning from Waddington Bay, two bald eagles sat on rocks on opposite sides of the small entry channel. An eagle had fished from the water’s edge the evening before as we ate our supper.

During the last evening in Greenway Sound, twenty or so Pacific white sided dolphins  corralled bait fish in the cove where we had anchored. The ferocity of the feeding frenzy  left us wordless. We watched and listened to the food chain as it unfolded around us.

Five transient Orca whales arrived. In a matter of moments the dolphins went from being the hunters to being the hunted. We witnessed the savagery of  transient killer whales feasting on dolphins so near our boat we could see the bloodied water. The wounded creatures tried to escape. Some did not. John and I  didn’t speak for quite some time, searching for words to articulate what  we had witnessed.

At the end of the episode we sat down to our simple supper. A kingfisher sat on a branch of the stream that emptied into the cove. It dove quickly and came up with a small fish.

“Look how calm the water is now, how quiet this place is.” John watched the kingfisher.

I nodded. “You would never know half an hour ago we couldn’t hear each other for all the chaos happening around us.”

Our last evening at anchor was not the one we had looked forward to or expected. We hope to never see one like it again. The power of hunger and the need to survive we have now seen in one of its rawest forms.

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