Day 15 - Tuesday - June 10 - Gribbell Island to Hartley Bay

I normally do not remember my dreams but I had one overnight that was terrifying. Sleeping in a sleeping bag inside of a bivy sack is very confining so sometimes it can be hard to move your arms around. Last night the bag must have had my arms restricted and I dreamt that a bear was standing right on top of me and holding my arms down. I woke up petrified barely able to call out or draw a breath. Luckily it was just a dream and after I realized what had happened I was able to fall right back to sleep.

Looking across Wright Sound with Promise Island straight ahead, the entrance to Grenville Channel to the left, and the edge of Gribbell Island to the right.

I woke up today to the clearest skies in the past two weeks. Mountains off in the distance that I had not seen until now came into clear view. Where before only gray clouds were visible, now jagged snow capped peaks spanned the horizon.

Looking up Douglas Channel during my crossing from Gribbell Island to Promise Island.

After the strong winds I encountered yesterday starting around 10am, I wanted to get off to an early start while the air was still calm. I woke up at 5am and was launching by 6:30. Today’s ten mile long route included a four mile open water crossing of Douglas Channel and I did not want to be caught out in the middle by strong winds. I hugged the coast of Gribbell Island for the first two miles and then set off on a northwest course across Douglas Channel to Promise Island. The crossing went smoothly and by 8:30am, I was cruising safely along the eastern shore of Promise Island. After clearing Dawson Point on the northern tip, today’s destination, Hartley Bay came into view. By 10:30am, around the same time the winds had picked up yesterday, I was tying up to the dock in Hartley Bay.

Hartley Bay comes into view with the harbor entrance straight ahead.

After getting my boat out of the water, and onto a vacant spot on the dock, I changed into some dry clothes, stowed all my gear back in the boat, and went off to explore Hartley Bay. The dock here is first class with low edges that make it easy to get in and out of a kayak. A stone breakwater shields the harbor from wind and the wakes of passing ships.

The harbor at Hartley Bay.

One of the food packages that I had shipped from Port Hardy was waiting for me here so I headed over to the post office to pick it up. After asking around the local government building, I found out who handled the post office duties and got my package. This food drop had not been necessary as it turned out because I still had plenty of food from the box I sent to Shearwater. This was also the most expensive postage for a food drop box costing more than double what the other boxes had. The reason for this was it had to be shipped by airfreight and could not go as cargo on one of the ferries.

Some of the homes in Hartley Bay.

One of the women working in the government building who seemed to be knowledgeable of the town answered some questions for me. She informed me that there was no grocery store, restaurant, laundermat, public shower, public toilet, public water source, or lodging of any kind available in Hartley Bay. I was amazed.

Boardwalks are a clever alternative to streets in Hartley Bay.

I headed back to the dock with this new information and started thinking about what to do next. When I arrived back by my kayak, a big beautiful yacht had tied up right next to me. The couple on board struck up a conversation with me and we soon found out we lived only a few hundred miles apart. They were from Birmingham, Alabama and I am from New Orleans, Louisiana. We also discovered we shared a common interest in Zydeco dancing, which is a style of dance popular in south Louisiana. Before long it was like we were old friends and they had invited me to have dinner with them, and spend the night in the guest bedroom on their yacht. Well it would have been rude of me to decline, so I graciously accepted their invitation. The dinner and accommodations were the best on the whole trip and I was very grateful for their hospitality.
For the kayaker who was not as lucky as I was, camping on the dock would be the only option. Since there is no public toilet, I can‘t even recommend doing that. All I can say is if I was doing it again, I would not send food to Hartley Bay, and I would leave it off the itinerary altogether. This would save you a few miles of paddling off route, and you would not miss anything, as there is nothing really to see there.