Day 11 | Flotilla to Alaska | Codville Lagoon to Ocean Falls

We were on our way to Ocean Falls by 7am this morning. This is an early (and independent!) group.

The wind started to pick up as we approached Cousins Inlet, but the sun was shining and the scenery was beautiful as usual.

Cousins Inlet up ahead
Flotilla heading into Cousins Inlet 

We took advantage of the nice weather to hike up to the dam and the lake, then wandered around town in and out of some of the old buildings. It’s interesting as we visit each summer to note the changes from year to year. Mostly, the change is apparent in how much more organic matter has taken over the abandoned man-made structures, but this year there was a bit more of a “buzz” in Ocean Falls than in past years. We saw more people, and more evidence of human activity.

Boat house

Court house
Heading up to the dam

Kevin flew the drone from up near the dam for some overhead shots:

Ocean Falls is experiencing a bit of an economic boom, it seems. After decades of decline (click here for the Wikipedia history), two new industries are emerging: cryptocurrency mining and marijuana cultivation. Both of these industries require lots of electricity, and Ocean Falls has way more power than the current residents can use. Norm said there are three turbines in the dam, and the collective demand from Ocean Falls, Martin Valley, Shearwater, and Bella Bella only uses about half of the output from a single turbine. Mining cryptocurrency profitably depends on huge amounts of cheap electricity, and Ocean Falls Blockchain apparently struck an agreement with the dam operator to use most of the excess capacity. It’ll be interesting to see how this develops!

Other developments include a brand new BC Ferries dock and a new ferry to service Ocean Falls, both still under construction.

New ferry dock

Darke Waters, previously the only lodging option in town, was sold to new owners and continues operating. Another hotel, the Old Bank Inn has also opened. Both were full!

The Old Bank Inn used to be a privately owned fishing lodge. Now it’s an inn with 6 rooms and 5 bathrooms. (Wait, is the bar a bar, or is it a “bar”?)

Yes, there is much more going on in Ocean Falls this year than in past years, but from the looks of these overgrown streets and structures, you’d never know it.

Wildflours and ruins
Mossy roof

We took a little detour into the old hotel. Not much has changed since we were here last year.

Inside the old hotel
Inside the old hotel
Record player
Slowboat flotilla on the dock

We set out a couple of crab pots after getting a pro tip from a local that the getting was not as lucrative next to the dam as it had been in past years. We caught 5 big male Dungeness in a couple hours, and we owe that guy a beer!

Later in the afternoon we wandered up to see Norman (aka “nearly normal Norman”). He opened up his “museum” for us and we were able to wander around looking at all the ephemera he’s collected from Ocean Falls during his 30 years here.

Looking toward the marina from the boathouse
Lots of interesting old signage in here
A painting/map of the town done by school kids some years back. Norman built the structure and frame for the kids to paint. Below that on the floor is a relief map showing all the town structures (most no longer there).
Old photographs
Last year apparently there were three cougars on the dock eating a dead seal!
Part of the boathouse building that houses the museum has been turned into an apartment, where they’ve gathered furnishings from the abandoned houses in town. Kinda cool, kinda creepy.

The group gathered for dinner in “The Shack” up at the head of the marina. Fresh crab, pierogis, pork tenderloin, broccoli slaw, green beans, spinach, and Pepperidge Farm cookies were on tonight’s menu:

Today’s total: 21.7nm 2 hours 59 minutes
Flotilla total: 386.9 nautical miles, 53 hours 18 minutes underway