Not sure if you ever watched the Steve Martin comedy movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles where two men battle the elements and a series of unfortunate events. The goal is to get from New York City to Chicago. What results is anything but the simplicity of that sentence.
Well, our quest to find a simple elbow hose that split open in route on our cruise to Blind Channel in Desolation Sounds BC. remained me of that movie. Frightfully glad we survived the ordeal of taking on water. Once the Beach House was tied up to the dock in Refuge Cove and Wally removed the offending hose, the quest to find a new one began in earnest. Little did we know how much the kindness of strangers would get us to our goal.
We carry a lot of spare parts on the Beach House but that one simple hose was not one of them – Damn It! All of our fellow boaters on dock at Refuge Cove and the Marina owners scoured their spare parts to see if they had anything that might work. Alas, they had nothing – Damn It again but thanks everyone for trying and for all the kind words of support.
We started making calls locally to the one boat repair shop that we knew of …no answer and no return call… ever – Thanks Lee.
Next idea was to start calling places in Nanimo, Powell River and Campbell River B.C. as they are major boating stopovers. We connected with a great guy, Cody at Marine Parts Supply who worked with Wally over the phone for at least an hour to try to find the correct hose. Yes, they had them in stock, so we discussed how to get it to Refuge Cove…mail it to Campbell River and fly it over on the next seaplane charter? Might get it by Tuesday and the cost would be way more than the part or put it on a parts run boat going across the Straits of Georgia to Lund, then take our dingy (a 13 ft Boston Whaler with a 50 HP outboard) 10 nautical miles to Lund on Tuesday and pick it up. That’s sounded great but in the end Wally wasn’t confident it was the correct hose as inside diameter was not the same at both ends.
Frustrated and knowing that places were closing for the weekend, we thought we would be stuck until Monday and the we would have to start calling places again. I had a last minute idea, why not call an auto parts store…they have hoses for trucks that might work??
Score… we found Lordco ( I am not at all religious but kinda thought it might be a good omen) Auto Parts Store in Campbell River was open for 10 more minutes so Wally gave them a call. Yes, they had flexible 1.5 inch diameter industrial water hose that he could use to make a temporary fix and YES…they were open on Sunday. Double Score, break out the wine, we are celebrating!!
Well, once we were done be excited about that…the real challenge was how to get over to Campbell River. It is 21.3 nautical miles and would be doable in the Whaler…except it meant crossing the Straits of Georgia to get over to Vancouver Island. NO GO…far too dangerous in our dingy. I don’t care if the company mantra for the boat is “the unsinkable whaler”.
Well, hells bells, this was getting harder by the moment and knowing the damn hose was there in Campbell River made the tenacious “I can figure this out” side of me really bristle.
As I was looking at google maps, I noticed there was a ferry from Cortes Island to Quadra Island and Quadra Island to Campbell River. Woo-Hoo, now we are getting somewhere. Refuge Cove is on West Redonda Island and I could see Cortes from the end of our dock. Woo-Hoo, again, Wally could easily get to Squirrel Cove on Cortes Island in ten minutes. Well, the biggest problem was that the ferry dock was on the other side of the island. I called the store at Squirrel Cove and the nice dude there said no problem leaving the whaler there but no public transportation was available to the Whaletown Ferry Dock. WAHHH, so close but then he said “everybody just hitchhikes, never a problem getting a ride”. Well alrighty then, but if Wally didn’t score a ride on a Sunday morning that would mean a 9.1 mile walk to the Ferry Dock.
The other option, was to take the dinghy around Cortes Island to Whaletown Ferry Terminal which meant navigation around Sutil Point where the shoals and strong flood currents can make for a wild ride.
After looking at the Ferry schedules for Cortes Island to Quadra Island, Quadra Island to Campbell River we were confident that if Wally could just get to the first ferry dock on Cortes Island in the early morning he would have plenty of time to get to Campbell River and back that day. It would be a challenging day but….CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!
We went to bed relieved that we might actually get this train back on the tracks!!! Up early the next day, Wally was in the dinghy and off to Cortes Island. He made an attempt to get to Whaletown in the dinghy but standing waves at Sutil Point turned him back. Off to Squirrel Cove!
Thanks to the kindness of strangers, this whole adventure came together. It started just outside Squirrel Cove General Store where Wally docked the Whaler and began the 9 mile walk to the Whaletown Ferry Dock. An elderly man stopped just a quarter of a mile out from the store and Wally asked where he was headed. Turned out he wasn’t going far to pick up his Daughter and wouldn’t be anywhere near Whalertown – no worries, Wally told him but thanks for stopping. About 5 minutes later the same gentleman and his daughter stopped and offered him a ride to Whaletown. Turns out they’re decided that it just wasn’t right to leave him out there without a ride and they needed to take a scenic drive that just happened to go to Whaletown.
Whaletown Ferry Dock on Cortes Island…glad Wally brought his rain gear! He missed the 9:40 am ferry but was able to wait in that little tan building for the next one.
While waiting for the ferry in Whaletown, Wally struck up a conversation with a nice couple with two young children. They were headed to Campbell River and offer to drive him across Quadra Island from the Heriot Bay Ferry Dock to catch the second ferry at Quathiaski Bay. Again, the kindness of strangers…how did they know Wally wasn’t an axe murder?
Wally said they chatted about this, that and the other thing on the drive across from Heriot Bay on Quadra Island to the second ferry dock at Quathiaski Bay, including why he was hell bent to get to Campbell River and back. When they cued up at Quathiaski Bay, it didn’t look like their car would make it on the ferry so they advised Wally to get out and run, he could make it as a walk on. Run he did and the next ferry ride was just a short ten minutes to the Campbell River Ferry Dock.
On the short ferry ride from Quadra Island to Campbell River it poured buckets of rain and by the time Wally met up with the Lord, okay arrived at Lordco Auto Parts he looked like a drowned rat. The staff inside chatted him up and they were totally amazed that he had come all the way from Refuge Cove in West Redonda Island. After some discussion, the nice man who was helping him apologized and said he was sorry that someone told us that the flexible hose would work for what we wanted, WTF!!! But, he thought he had a 1.5 inch diameter elbow hose that was rated up to 275 degrees for water and coolant.
After some time, the amazingly nice man with a halo, whose name Wally doesn’t remember came back with an elbow hose, that with some modification would work just fine. What a relief when he texted me that he had the part!!!
After a quick espresso and sandwich at a nearby Starbucks, Wally got to the Campbell River Ferry Dock with his sack of booty just in time to board the ferry to Quadra Isand. So the entire trip would begin in reverse. Time to look for a ride back across the Quadra Island and hopefully on to Cortes. As he was knocking on car windows, looking for someone who was doing both ferry’s and going all the way to Cortes Island, a gal approach him and said she would take him there. He though she meant to the next ferry on Quadra Island and was thrilled for that.
Turns out this lovely woman drove him all the way to the Squirrel Cove Government Dock, which was actually the long way around from where she lives on Smelt Bay. She recently finished her last chemo treatment for breast cancer and was going home to rest and recuperate. She told Wally she need to take a nap in her car on the 45 minute ferry ride from Quadra to Cortes and so he went up to the salon on the ferry until close to Whaletown. On the ride to Squirrel Cove, they chatted about her treatment, life on Cortes, her work as a part-time care giver for a man who was paralyzed and how she looked forward to going back to that work. Our trials and tribulations seemed small in comparison.
The kindness of strangers…these simple acts of kindness are what can make this crazy world right again. We will certainly pay it forward in honor of Wally’s new friends and all the other Canadian strangers who helped us. I hope you will too if you have a chance!!!