Day 15 | Alaska Flotilla Leg 4 | Skull Cove to Alert Bay

We departed Skull Cove (in fog, again) and headed for Alert Bay via Ripple Passage. We soon spotted a small pod of orcas in the distance, and slowed to take a few photos.

While we were focused on the distant pod, a few more surfaced much closer to our boat (almost too close to capture them with the long lens we were using!)

Queen Charlotte Strait was shrouded in fog for most of the day. At least it was calm!

Most of the cruise from Skull Cove to Alert Bay looked like this

The fog finally cleared as we approached Malcolm Island, just at the lighthouse on Pulteney Point.

Pulteney Point on Malcolm Island

We all found space (barely) on the dock at the Alert Bay Boat Harbour. We had called ahead yesterday to let them know we were coming and the harbourmaster said they’d work to make space for us, but when we called in on VHF 66A there was no response, so we made space for ourselves, which worked just fine.

After we were settled, we connected with friends Julie and David on S/V Dog Star (also visiting Alert Bay today) who will be joining us in a week or so for our Slowboat Vancouver Island flotilla. 

Time to go ashore and stretch the legs! We took a nice walk along the waterfront for a visit to the U’Mista Cultural Centre.

This is the “Anglo-British Columbia (ABC) Netloft” building, where fishermen once made, fixed, and dried their nets. It is still used today by the ‘Namgis First Nation for storing and fixing nets.

Christ Church, Alert Bay
U’Mista Cultural Centre, Alert Bay

The U’Mista Cultural Centre opened in 1980, and the permanent collection currently on display is “The Potlatch Collection”. 

The potlatch was banned in Canada between 1885 and 1951, and the masks and other items in the “Potlatch Collection” exhibit were items that had all been confiscated after an illegal potlatch in 1921. The confiscated (stolen) items ended up in museums and in private collections around the world. After the ban was lifted, the Kwakwaka’wakw people fought long and hard for the return of their regalia. Most of the items have now been returned and are on exhibit at both the U’mista Cultural Centre and at the Nuyumbalees Museum on Quadra Island at Cape Mudge. (An additional exhibit focused on the origin stories of the Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw villages, and included historical and contemporary Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw objects.)

The exhibits were great — educational, historically interesting, and visually very well done. Unfortunately, photos were not allowed so we can’t show you much from inside, but if you’re in the area sometime, U’Mista is definitely worth a visit. (Update: found that the U’Mista website has a VERY nice virtual tour of the exhibit, here.)


After our visit to U’Mista, we walked to the other end of town and stopped for a few grocery items on our way back.

We all met for dinner a local restaurant, Pass’n Thyme, which we found had the highest Yelp reviews in Alert Bay (of the places that were open), and the food and service were both…good. Not amazing, but good, and it’s always nice not to have to cook or do dishes for a night! 

Pass’n Thyme