Sunday, August 14, 2016

Alaska 2016 | Day 93 | Bishop Bay to Butedale

The trip down to Butedale was short and uneventful.

Butedale is one of the collapsing canneries along the coast, a victim of refrigeration on fish boats. It’s a collection of collapsed and collapsing buildings, yet it’s oddly charming. Wandering through the grounds and peaking into the old buildings is a look back in time. And the setting, nestled off Princess Royal Channel just past a huge and particularly scenic waterfall, is beautiful.
Drone shot of Butedale
Another angle, with Butedale Lake
A peak inside one of the buildings
Back in 2012 I had the good fortune to raft up to Shawn Kennedy and his family in Hartley Bay. I was southbound from Alaska in the C-Dory, and Shawn had recently sold his company and purchased a boat. He’d recently visited Butedale and fallen in love.

I had yet to visit, but I’d heard stories. Ownership group after ownership group had purchased the cannery, which was abandoned in the 1980s, with grand plans to rehabilitate the place. Nature had won, though, and Butedale continued collapsing into the sea.

That day in August 2012, Shawn talked about buying the place. Sure enough, he did. Progress on improving Butedale has been slow, but it’s happening. The most toxic waste was cleaned up. The rickety old docks were resurfaced and stabilized. A new, sturdy ramp between shore and the floats replaced the previous rusty heap. Internet was added. Rumor has it that major changes are in the pipeline.
The WiFi doesn't reach the boat, so this is where I blog from...
Officially Butedale is closed. Calling it primitive is an understatement—parts of it are downright dangerous. But Cory, the caretaker, doesn’t turn boats away. Anchorages on this section of the coast are few and far between, and Butedale is an important point of refuge.

We arrived in Butedale early in the afternoon and hiked up to the lake. It’s about three-quarters of a mile each way over sometimes-rugged and often muddy terrain. Wear boots. The lake is beautiful, with hundreds of massive logs jammed in one end like someone dropped a box of matches. We checked out the powerhouse, where two hydropower generators once produced a combined 600 kW of electricity. Today, one of the turbines is connected to a single 130 amp, 12 volt alternator which powers a 2000 watt inverter.
The trail to the lake, boots preferred
Butedale Lake
Oh, the black flies. These small, harmless looking insects have plagued us so far in B.C. They’re prolific, and their bite is like a mosquito’s, only much worse. The welts easily eclipse the size of a quarter and the itching lasts for days. Unlike the giant horse flies, which are big, slow moving, make a buzzing sound, and draw blood, black flies are small and stealthy. There’s not enough deet in the world to deal with these nasty critters.

22.22 nm today
2687.63 nm total

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