The 42-meter-long Uchuck III is a working coastal freighter serving Nootka Sound from Gold River, British Columbia, Canada. Built as a minesweeper in Oregon in 1942, the Uchuck III was refitted to carry 100 passengers and up to 100 tons of cargo in the 1950s. For some years the Uchuck III worked out of Ucluelet, BC, but since 1960 it has provided sea access to Friendly Cove, Tahsis, Zeballos, and Kyuquot. This historic ship features a wood-finished lounge, a coffee shop, and a spacious seating on the open-air upper deck. For more information call 1-250-283-2515.
A popular daytrip destination for the Uchuck III is Friendly Cove, one of the most scenic spots on the West Coast of North America. Rich in Native and European history, Friendly Cove was visited by Captain James Cook aboard HMS Resolution in 1778. There Cook traded with Chief Maquinna for otter furs. Captain William Bligh of HMS Bounty fame was Cook’s navigating officer on this trip and Bligh Island is passed between Gold River and Friendly Cove. Spanish explorers had sailed through this area several years before Captain Cook arrived.
Friendly Cove or Yuquot is the ancestral home of the Mowachaht/Muchalaht people and Captain Cook found 1,500 of them in their summer village here. Today most of the Mowachaht/Muchalaht live in a new village just north of Gold River and only one family still inhabits the old site. Every August the Mowachaht/Muchalaht return toYuquot for a salmon barbecue and festival.
The Uchuck III ties up to a long wharf beside the Nootka Lighthouse, which was erected in 1911. A large Catholic church built in 1954 is to one side of the original village site. The stained glass windows in this church were donated by the Spanish government to commemorate a Spanish fort which existed here from 1789 to 1795. Also in the church are replicas of colourful totem poles. A fallen totem pole dating from 1929 is almost covered in vegetation just beyond the one large house at Yuquot. (In 1904 92 carved wooden figures and 16 skulls from Yuquot were sold to the American Museum of Natural History in New York and removed.) A long sandy beach with good coastal views is just behind the church, a few minutes walk across the narrow isthmus from the wharf.