7,000 Years of History on Triquet Island
Wednesday, May 31, 2017
I awoke to the sound of heavy rain pounding on the deck of Outer Shores Expeditions’ Passing Cloud. It’s an oddly relaxing, cozy sound – one that made me curl up against the wooden bulkhead of my cabin and nestle in for another 30 minutes of sleep.
Mornings aboard Passing Cloud tend to follow a similar routine. Most guests wake around 6:30 to 7:00 and wander into the Lounge, or out on deck with a cup of coffee to take in the scenery.
Out on deck, Captain Matt and First Mate Kyle had strung up Passing Cloud’s aft tarp to give guests a dry place to sit on this rainy morning. New this season, however, is a smartly-designed tarp that can be draped over the midship section of the vessel as well, providing even more additional dry space out on deck during inclement weather.
After a hearty breakfast consisting of poached eggs with hollandaise sauce served upon a bed of hashbrowns, cabbage and onions, we started motoring along at 8:30 and ran immediately into a raft of sea otters.
Unbothered by the rain, there were well over 100 sea otters basking in the inlet, swimming towards us before peeling off into two separate groups. Passing Cloud sailed along with them for a while, at a respectful distance, before resuming our course around 9:30.
Outer Shores does a great job of preparing you for their expeditions by providing an excellent packing list and itinerary PDF document to booked customers. A waterproof jacket and waterproof pants are essential items to bring along with you, along with a pair of binoculars and plenty of memory cards for your cameras; you’ll be taking more photos than you might think.
Speaking of cameras, I nearly didn’t take mine ashore on this morning’s adventure. With the rain coming down sideways, I thought it might be best to leave it, nice and dry, on the ship. At the last second, however, I took it from my cabin and hopped into the zodiac. As it turned out, taking my camera along was the best decision I made this morning, considering the inspiring adventure that awaited us.
Coming ashore on Triquet Island, we stumbled upon an archaeological dig being conducted by the Hakai Institute and the University of Victoria (UVic). This same group recently discovered evidence of life dating back 10,000 years on nearby islands here, and today (and for the past few days), they’ve been working on Triquet.
UVic Professor Quentin Mackie greeted us as we came ashore. He recognized Passing Cloud, anchored offshore; his brother had served aboard her last year for a few voyages up in Haida Gwaii as an Expedition Specialist. Captain Matt made it clear that we didn’t want to interfere with the work of Mackie and his group, but Mackie graciously introduced us to the team of researchers and PhD students who had assembled on the beachfront dig. One was sat in a folding lawnchair under an oversized umbrella, studiously recording every bucket that came up from a 1.7-metre deep pit dug into the shoreline. A diesel generator was running in the background, pumping water out of the pit at a furious rate. Mackie explained that, as the tide rose, they would reverse the pump to allow the pit to fill more slowly and avoid swamping it with a sudden rush of incoming water.
The two men in the pit said a brief, “Hello”, then went work to their back-breaking work, hauling buckets of debris out. A man with a straw hat would disappear beneath the wooden barrier for a few moments. When he reappeared, he’d thrust a bucket filled with watery earth onto the shore line, accompanied by grunts of exhaustion.
To the right of the pit, two men sifted through shoreline sediment in search of artifacts. They looked like Gold Rush-era prospectors, standing out in the pouring rain with their drenched jackets and pants. But what these men are looking for isn’t gold; it’s far more valuable than that.
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