My heart sank this morning when I heard that a fuel barge with millions of litres of fuel on board was in danger of grounding itself on the shores of the Goose Group, a tiny, uninhabited group of islands that lie offshore of the remote stretch of the BC coast known as the Hakai. Most newscast viewers undoubtedly thought to themselves “where is that, anyway?” and they could be forgiven their ignorance, since the islands are tiny, showing only on a large-scale marine chart, and only a handful of people visit them each year, But I knew instantly, for I am one of those people.
To those who revere the freedom of wild remote places the Goose Group is a paradise, unlogged, untracked, uninhabited. Silent, but for the constant lullaby of the ocean. It’s beaches are pristine, it’s wildlife abundant, and our few days there were magical.
The islands are protected from casual visitors, by their isolated location off an empty stretch of coast, and by the open ocean crossing required to access them. That crossing defeated us the first year we attempted it, but the following year we paddled a glassy sea under a cloudless dome of blue, bobbing gently as the long rolling swells of the open Pacific passed beneath us and the land receded astern.
Far out into Queen’s Sound, still an hour from land we heard it- the unmistakable whoosh of a whale. Long minutes passed, while we bobbed motionless, cameras at the ready, gently tapping paddles to gunwales to signal our presence. Suddenly, with a huge exhalation of spume, the whale broke surface directly behind us, quickly gulping a lungful of air, and disappearing before a single camera could swivel into position.
The memory of such a glorious day, with its unexpected encounter is one of the things that sustains me during the gloom of November, and now that this evening news reports that disaster has been averted, the barge secured and the Goose Group is no longer in peril, my dismay has turned to anger.
Dammit, you city folk have your Disneyland, your Las Vegas, your Cancun, and your behemoth of a cruise ship, and you are welcome to them – but is it really too much to ask to leave me with a just a few tiny, untouched fragments of the coast. Its no good to you, but it is everything to me
Is it really too much to ask to keep your stinking fuel barges out of my paradise?