Monday, April 27, 2015

Expect the Unexpected

Waterfall, Finlayson Channel
We awoke to another cloudy, rainy day and after a hot cup of coffee and some muffins, departed Bottleneck Inlet to continue north along Finlayson Channel then through Hiekish Narrows and into Graham Reach.  It seems the summer weather of a week ago has left us, at least temporarily; nevertheless, the channels and passage ways have been a delight – Mother Nature is still beautiful even when she’s not revealing her finest attire.  We have witnessed granite cliffs, domed mountains, and beautiful waterfalls; watched eagles sore, dolphins at play, and Orca transiting the waterways.  We have passed tugs with barges, tour boats heading north for the season, and pleasure boats making their way to Southeast Alaska and beyond.  
Historic Butedale, a Scenic Location at Graham Reach/Fraser Reach
Got d’ Fever and Uno spent the day traversing the calm, placid waterways and arrived at historic Butedale at the intersection of Graham Reach and Fraser Reach.  Butedale, a once famous fish packing camp and cannery of the early 1900’s, has deteriorated over the years; historic buildings are collapsing and the docks and wharfs are in disrepair but that should not stop boaters from visiting this fascinating place. 
Ruins at Butedale
Boaters may have read in guidebooks that this location is closed for business, but the young caretaker, Cory Lindsay, is more than happy to receive guests and help boaters with their lines.  Like others, we assumed Butedale was closed but had planned to motor by for a gander at this historic location, when we saw Cory standing on the dock anticipating our arrival we came in and tied-up.  Cory and his dog Buddy have lived alone at Butedale for four years and appreciate having guests. 
Warehouse Ruins at Butedale
Living off the grid, Cory uses running water from the natural streams brought down by a flume and uses a generator for electricity; food supplies are delivered by boat every two to three weeks.  Visitors are welcome to walk around the ruins at their own risk and tie-up at the dock; although the dock has missing planks and very few cleats for tying-off, it still seems to be sturdy. 
Pulley System
Since the stairs and ramps to the dock have also collapsed, Cory transports guests from the dock to shore, and back again with a pulley system attached to a skiff - pull the line one way or the other, and you across over the water to the other side.  The good news is that this property was purchased by a private party in 2013 and Cory tells us that the owner has some big plans, including installing substantial docks and refurbishing some of the old buildings.  We were told that demolition on the buildings that are not being restored will take place this summer and that new construction will begin the following summer.  We hope it all comes to pass and that the word spreads to “save and restore Butedale” back to its glory days.  You couldn’t ask for a better location, surrounded by mountains with a gorgeous waterfall and strategically located for boaters heading north and south along this major water route.  We decided to stay the night and were more than happy to pay the suggested donation fee.  
Friends Phil, Cory, and Uno
We had arrived at Butedale around noon and our friends Phil and Uno invited us over to their boat for an afternoon meal; Cory joined in as well, bringing a video he created using historic photos of Butedale.  Cory also shared his excellent photography of the area, again in video format with accompanying music, expertly done.  We so much appreciated the delicious dinner and conversation with Phil and Uno, our first real opportunity to get better acquainted.  Phil has a military background and flew helicopters in various capacities.  Oh great, Leonard meets another pilot.  Phil and his wife enjoy new adventures and have lived various walks of life, including owning a guest lodge, and at one time, a laboratory in the Aleutian Islands for testing water and other scientific research.  As we have said many times, you meet so many interesting people when you are out boating.

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