PUFFIN COVE, British Columbia — Like a couple of Robinson Crusoes, American expatriates Neil and Betty Carey live in a cabin they built on a lagoon overlooking one of North America's stormiest and most remote shores.
They call the place Puffin Cove, and it lies on the western edge of Canada's Queen Charlotte Islands in the Pacific Ocean, facing Japan.
"I guess we were looking for something a little more remote," the retired U.S. Navy officer said, explaining how the sea-loving couple ended up as beachcombers in the lonely outpost.
He was a farm boy from Michigan, and she grew up on an island in Puget Sound, Wash. After visiting the Queen Charlottes in 1955 and seeing black bear roaming the beaches and hearing the cries of bald eagles, they decided to leave their home in Ventura County and move north permanently in 1965.
Fishing and Writing
Now landed immigrants in Canada, as well as U.S. citizens, the Careys explore, fish, write books and articles and act as general promoters of the Queen Charlottes.
Their timber cabin lies among spruce trees at the edge of the impenetrable San Christoval Mountains and is entered by a trapdoor that's never locked, even in winter when they take refuge in the east coast town of Sandspit.
"Locks only keep out honest people," Carey said in the 1982 book he wrote about the couple's adventures, "Puffin Cove, Escape to the Wilderness of the Queen Charlotte Islands."
They cook by wood stove, read by gas lantern and get their water from a nearby stream. A sign on the wall reads, "All creatures here are family."
They travel by small boat, although visitors occasionally drop in by helicopter--tide permitting.
While searching for traditional glass floats used by Japanese fishermen to hold their nets, and looking for bottles containing messages in answer to those Betty dispatches on the waves, the couple have opposed a plan to turn the lower portion of the islands into South Moresby National Park Reserve.
Puffin Cove would be part of it and they could lose their renewable one-year lease to occupy it.
The Careys support the logging industry, which has provided jobs for many generations of settlers.