The wind forecast was favorable for Saturday, so after a week of short hops from one cove to the next, we decided to put some miles under the hull. We planned an 8am departure from Walter’s Cove for the 65 mile run to Hot Springs Cove. Somewhat miraculously, we left at 8am (getting out of bed on time was hard when I had a job. Now? Nearly impossible). We motored in the sunshine for a few hours while we waited for the wind to fill in and were soon rewarded for our patience. By noon, we had 15 knots of breeze behind us.
These are, for those non-sailors of you, basically perfect conditions: 15 knots from the northwest when we want to go south, sunny skies, organized sea conditions, whales breaching in the distance.
We hoisted the spinnaker dubbed The Whomper and felt the boat accelerate when the wind filled it with a sudden and appropriate whomp. We flew down the coast. The 15 knots of breeze built to 18 knots. Then 20.
We repeatedly saw 9 and 10-knot speeds as we surfed down the swells peacefully rolling along with us. It was an exciting and exhausting day of sailing. As we pulled into Hot Springs Cove just as the sun set, I could think of nothing more enticing than soaking my bruised body in 103 degree water. If only every day of sailing ended in luxury like that!
I hesitate to tell you about the hot springs in detail, as I am concerned you will quit your job, uproot your family and attempt to move there within minutes. And I’m afraid after looking into it I’ve learned that this is really not a sustainable life strategy. Just promise me you’ll give it an hour or two before making any rash decisions?
The hot springs lie just off the point of Openit peninsula. They are a 20-minute walk from the cove on a beautiful boardwalk that winds through old growth forest, offering stunning peak-a-boo views of crashing waves, sunsets and moonrises.
The boardwalk is dotted with planks carved by boats passing through, offering a glimpse into the stories of past visits. This tradition started as a way to contribute to the park. Visiting boats would hand-split a board or two to add to the lengthening boardwalk while waiting out storms, carving their boat name to pass the time. At some point, the hand-split boardwalk was replaced with treated planks and just like that the written history of the place was washed away. The story goes that within days of the plank replacement, however, cruisers came to the springs with carving tools in hand, crouching on the boardwalk to add their fingerprint to the story.
At the end of the boardwalk, a single spring sprouts from the ground and flows over a waterfall, pooling between rocks at a perfect 103 degrees before streaming into the ocean, mingled with the rumbling waves of the sea. As we melted into the pool of crystal clear water, we were accompanied only by the reverberating sound of waves and uninterrupted view of the moon and stars.
Our plan for Sunday was a second soak in the hot springs, plank-carving on the way back and a midday departure for Tofino. But plans are made to be changed. That story is for another day.