Good Friday, April 6, 2012.
It seemed as though the City of Totems, otherwise known as Duncan, and situated on Vancouver Island B.C., was about to be ‘socked in’ again. The clouds hung heavy on Mount Tzouhalem when I awoke and I had itchy feet. Coffee and cigarette in hand, I renamed the day; B.C. Ferry – Gulf Islands Day. I would leave this island for another; Thetis Island via Chemainus. The Island it is said, that has a Mediterranean Climate.
The closest ferry from Duncan to Thetis Island is in Chemainus, B.C. – The City of Murals. If you are looking at this mural, the ferry is to your left.
I found this “Bloomin’ Rock” at the public beach. The art culture is big in this part of the world.
B.C. Ferry Terminal to Thetis Island.
You only pay to go; leaving Thetis and other Gulf Islands is free. A car with one person is $35.00. Walk-on ranges from $10.00 – $14.00. Penelakut Island, formerly Kuper Island, and once attached to Thetis, is home to the Penelakut First Nations. Requesting an invite from the Chief is highly recommended before visiting Penelakut. Thetis Island, although privately owned, welcomes visitors freely.
Be diligent and check the ferry schedule. I missed it by five minutes so I decided to explore. As I peered over the edge of the dock, these star fish caught my eye. There is no public access to this area but with a little sweet talking, Harmen Bootsma, the North Cowichan Harbour Manager escorted me down the yellow ladder and gave me free range of the under-pier world; home to many species of star fish and an otter that startled me, and avoided capture… with my lens.
Crow pondering how to eat this star … I don’t know, that star was certainly larger than that black bandit!
These stars are somewhat slimy…
I was thrilled to see the variety of stars, normally this is the only type I find. These were hiding in a dark stump, I had to use the flash to bring them out.
This was the one the otter wanted for lunch. Oops! Time to head back to the car, the ferry would arrive soon.
Deep in thought, reviewing photos taken in poor light, I heard large drops of liquid splatter my car and thought I had just missed the rain. I looked up to see it was not rain, but a little treat left by a passing gull. Oh, I hoped this wouldn’t set precedence for this trip. Don’t they say a bird pooping on you is good luck?! I sure hoped so.
View from the ferry – Thetis in the distance. Excitement is mounting! Other than Salt Spring Island, the rest of the Gulf Islands are somewhat elusive and mysterious. Thetis for example, has about 350 residents. It is privately owned, has no malls or any of the normal conveniences such as gas stations. In fact, the ferry terminal only has a port-a-potty.
As the ferry approaches you will be pleased by the stately presence of the Capernwray Bible School and Conference Center.
As you leave the ferry these signs are the first to greet you. I turned left. Turn right and you get to the marina, the only little convenience store on Thetis and a makeshift post office, all within a ten minute walk.
Having just turned left, I was stopped short by this amazing Noah's Ark view! How difficult it is to drive, sight-see and take pictures. These are the Bible School grounds overlooking Capernwray Harbour. They are open to the public providing you check in and respect the property. Cows, wild geese and an alpaca live in harmony here. The weather is warm, it is sunny and peaceful.
Two seconds further down the road is the infamous fork. Left or right again, only two main roads on Thetis. I turned right for variation and again stopped short by the following sign!
Absolutely priceless! The mysteries were beginning to unfold on this 2 by 3 mile long island. As I made my way down roads enveloped in a canopy of trees, I came across Clam Bay.
Relaxation is key on Thetis. Hand made chairs are hiding all over Thetis for you to rest, relax and enjoy the beauty. This man-made waterway is the ‘cut’ that divides Thetis and Penelakut seen on the right.
This one is at Clam Bay, a very peaceful place. When the tide is out, as it was this day, the little channel of crystal clear water is teaming with large purple star fish!
One can find Chiton (pronounced kite-on) attached to barnacle encrusted rocks. A tasty treat if you are a seafood fan such as myself and, if you can pry them off the rock. Customarily they were consumed by Coastal Native Tribes, however I can’t say for a fact they still are. The ones I found are no longer there... I ate them! Raw and sweet! A little less salty and a bit different flavor from the ones in the warmer seas of the Caribbean. I attribute the slightly more enjoyable flavor to our cold British Columbia waters.
Next stop – Sunrise Point, where, if they aren’t off sailing, you may have the pleasure to meet Maureen and Wayne as they sit on their front deck to enjoy a slightly different variation of this view of Sunrise Landing (as they call it). Through this gateway, Tricomali Channel, other islands are visible and easily accessible by kayak such as, Leach, Penelakut, Jackscrew, Salt Spring, Norway, Mayne, Saturna, Reid, Wallace, and Valdez. Pirate history here I am told!
As a note: This couple does rent their home for the summer. Visit www.sunrisegrail.com for more information.
This gentleman owns a water taxi on Reid Island. The one and only I am told by Maureen and Wayne, (who by this point had offered me tea). In this image, the taxi driver is taking some residents from a different island, home after a shopping trip.
Saying farewell to Sunrise Point, I set off for Pilkey Point, the end of the road; but not before stopping at Cufra Cliffs. Looking out over the aquamarine channel, I thought of Pirates of the Caribbean….Pilkey Point was teaming with Bald Eagles. It was so fascinating I never lifted my camera for fear of missing the rawest form of interactions between the birds. I didn’t want to think, but merely be a part of the moment.
Along the way, tucked in some trees, I discovered another chair to enjoy this view.
Imagine my surprise, a beautiful Blue Heron enjoying a snack. Time for my lunch. Off I headed, back toward the ferry to the Pub at Thetis Island Marina which dates back to the 40′s when an old chicken coop was floated down the bay to become the first building. Had this been May 12th, I would have had the pleasure of being witness to the annual boat Regatta.
The doors were open, but in all honesty the Pub was closed. They were preparing for reservations of 85 people to celebrate Easter.
Friendly and accommodating, they brought me in and fed me a delicious bowl of vegetarian chili. It was a cute little place, windows overlooking the marina. The manager explained to me how they harvest the sea and make their own potable water through a desalination process.
Having spent too much time at the pub, the day was drawing to a close. I quickly ran back up to the fork and turned left toward North Cove to snap this pic of the school. There is an old cemetery near here I wished to see, that will be another visit, more pressing was a beach in front of the Bible School with my name on it! On Bible Beach (I renamed Capernway) I had spotted sandstone and wanted to explore before the sun set.
Arbutus tree. The only tree I know of that loses its paper-thin bark and is bright yellow underneath. They are often found with names and pictures carved on them.
Sparkly clean water….
On my way up the beach I noticed nets floating close to shore. On the way back this is what I discovered…
It was an oyster farm…
As I waited for the ferry I smiled at the sounds. Toads croaking in the distance, birds chirping, someone playing guitar and singing, “I’ve Been Everywhere Man”. A fitting end to a great day.
It is always exciting to see how creative people are when marking their driveways…
You may wonder where the images of people are. Well there really weren’t any. All the homes are tucked away among the trees. I could hear them, but hardly ever saw them.
Thetis Island, for those who love nature. Peaceful roads, peaceful waters and a truly peaceful atmosphere. I highly recommend you pop over for a coffee, make a day of it, you won’t be disappointed…