Friday, May 25, 2018

Discoveries at Port Renfrew

Thursday was our weather window for departing Barkley Sound to continue back south along the west coast of Vancouver Island.  Quartering seas were 7-8 feet at an acceptable 11 seconds, the upper limit for us to be “comfortable.”  As we neared Port San Juan near the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca, seas diminished slightly. 
The new Bridgemans Grill at Pacific Gateway Marina is scheduled to open June 1, 2018
On this return trip south, we once again chose Pacific Gateway Marina in Port Renfrew for moorage.  We were pleased to see that repairs to their docks had been completed, and that the new Bridgemans Grill is scheduled to open June 1st. 
120 Steps lead up the hill from Pacific Gateway Marina
Having arrived in the afternoon, we used the time to hike the stairs (120 steps with switchbacks) that lead to the road above. 
The Coastal Kitchen Cafe has indoor and outdoor seating
Left at the top of the stairs is Tomi’s Home Cooking Café; and a short walk to the right brings you to the Coastal Kitchen Café, which serves breakfast all day from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Further down the road from the Coastal Kitchen Café’ are the Port Renfrew Community Docks, scheduled to be placed in the water on June 1st for the summer season. 
Adorable vacation cottages on the pier at Port Renfrew's seasonal community docks
This area is very inviting with adorable cottages along the pier (Wild Renfrew Seaside Cottages), a gift shop, and the historic Renfrew Hotel which has an attractive Pub serving local craft beer. 
The Historic Port Renfrew Hotel & Pub

We were amazed at the development that is taking place in Port Renfrew.  New condominiums overlooking the harbour are currently for sale, and we saw a new housing development under construction. 
New housing developments are taking place in Port Renfrew
Port Renfrew has a small grocery store northeast of Pacific Gateway Marina near the original town site.  We could tell that the season had picked up with visitors coming from Ladysmith, Duncan, and Victoria to enjoy a summer's vacation. 
Pacific Gateway Marina seen from the top of the stairs
Boaters should be aware that walking along the road to access the grocery store and restaurants above the marina can be disconcerting; the road has no shoulders to speak of and traffic moves swiftly, caution is advised.  
The original village site of Port Renfrew
The nearby West Coast Trail is for serious hikers and runs between Port Renfrew and Bamfield; most hikers complete the trail in 6-7 days.  Hundreds of people hike the trail each season, permits are required as well as a Parks Canada Pass.  Permit applications usually open sometime in early January, and spaces fill quickly for the upcoming summer season.  The rugged West Coast Trail is a combination of forested trails, beach crossings, swing bridges, steep ladder accesses, and cable-cart crossings over creeks and ravines; it's not for the timid or inexperienced.  Designated camping sites and pit toilets are shown on the trail map.  The trail was originally built to facilitate rescuing survivors of shipwrecks; survivors could find shelter in huts along the trail.  We counted 28 ship wreck sites depicted on the trail map.  
Hikers at the West Coast Trail Access in Port San Juan along Gordon River
Entrance and exit points are located at Pachena Bay (Bamfield), Gordon River (Port San Juan), and Nitinaht Lake.  A skiff in Port San Juan takes hikers to the trail head. 
The Parks Office for the West Coast Trail in Port San Juan
On our second day in Port Renfrew, we took the dinghy up Gordon River located at the northeast corner of Port San Juan to visit the West Coast Trail Parks Office.  A dock for dinghies and small boats is located along the bank and is within walking distance of the Parks Office. 
Entering the Gordon River Bar (Pacific Gateway Marina in distance)
Getting across the river bar in the dinghy turned out to be a thrilling ride; we were prepared to take the waves at the appropriate angle, wore rain gear and life jackets.  The trip back was equally exciting, with stronger winds and higher waves.  Waves came crashing over the sides of the dinghy and we had to run the bilge pump.  Back on board Got d' Fever, we hung up our rain gear and had a hot cup of tea. 

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