There are some weeks of your life that you will remember for ever, we seem to have had a few that would fit into that category lately but none more so than our time in Desolation Sound, about half way up British Columbia.
We have some wonderful cousins out here. I've been visiting on and off since childhood with my family and more regularly with Davey and our own family over the last 12 years. We just love it here. One of my first memories of BC was when I was about Polly's age and we went by boat to an island to visit an old lady we had met through friends. I remember the views of Howe Sound, the water splashing in my face, pulling up at the dock and the excitement of turning up on an island to play somewhere that felt untouched, as if no one else had ever visited.
This memory came back to me last week when we made our way to a similar dock, about 2 hours north of our last house swap in Powell River, where we were told to meet for a lift the rest of the way. My cousins pulled up, in Norman (the fishing boat) we loaded up and off we went. We knew we were going somewhere special but we had no idea just how special it was going to be.
Mikey (married to my cousin Becky) is a wonderful guy, and a passionate fisherman, who has been visiting Desolation Sound on a sail boat with his own family for years and they often docked in Galley Bay for the night to swim and explore. One day there was a 'For Sale' sign on the cabin in front of them with views over the Bay. They made it happen and now they have swapped the sail boat anchorage for an incredible rustic, off grid, cabin on the water. His parents Louise and Tony have welcomed us as family for many years and were there to greet us on the dock.
What followed was a week of pure heaven. The kids learnt about remote island life. No wifi, limited solar and generator electricity, having to use the outhouse long drop loo, picking berries in the woods, collecting veggies from the garden, digging for clams, picking oysters off the rocks and fishing for our dinner... They swam, they jumped, they kayaked, they played cards for hours and eventually fell into bed , for the big kids to be woken at 5am to go fishing. We put the filleted salmon carcasses out on the rocks and waited for the gulls, the ravens, the vultures and then the eagles to come and take their share, it was paradise.
Now Mikey lives to fish, and is just about as happy when he sets you up with a 'fish on' as when he gets one himself. He has spent many years taking Davey out and showing him the ropes and Jinks loved his time on the water and was up early to fish without any objections. The last morning was fast approaching and Jinks, up until this point, had only really been out on the more unsuccessful fishing trips. By that, I mean that you can only keep salmon of a certain size, there had been plenty of fish but always a bit small to keep. He then saw others going out at different times coming back with dinner and wanted to do the same. Maybe the instinct to provide had kicked in.
That last morning was his final opportunity to bring home the dinner... they left early for Echo Bay, there were plenty of bites and small ones. Rock cod, spring salmon, coho... then on the last cast there it was. The big one. Mikey could tell straight away... the fish pulled out a ton of line, this was it. Fish vs Mikey. Spectator fishing. No pressure. Then at the last moment... boom... it had got off. Fish 1. Mikey 0. Jinks gutted. Heartbroken.
They brought in the gear, headed home and a very sad Jinks came into the dock. Head hung and close to tears. We all knew the score. Mikey took one look at me (knowing that I was about to say something uncomforting and unhelpful like "Well, never mind, it's only fishing" or "there is always a next time") and said "Joey... that was heartbreak in Echo Bay right there... I am very proud. He cares.. he is a proper fisherman"