…is the name of a book I found on the ferry home from our 2016 kayak camping trip. We were out for 8 nights / 9 days, covering about 250km in roughly 47.5hrs of paddling. We picked a place between Northern Vancouver Island and the Mainland this year rather than going for the open coast to switch things up – Broughton Archipelago. It is best known for the killer whales, Orcas, that make this place their home in the summer months. Hence, it is popular with sea kayakers, seasoned and beginners, and many tour operators frequent the area. To avoid the biggest crowds we do our trips in September. Even though we picked a route that would hopefully take us away from the most popular areas as it involved a lot more paddling. Our route plan was to circumnavigate Gilford as well as the Broughton Islands. Even when we did our research before the trip, campsites along this route were far and few and didn’t always sound that promising. But it would be all new to us so I was really excited to go.
Another thing new to us this trip, we had company. Our good friend and paddling buddy John came with us. We decided to both pack independently as we always do for kayak trips so Jeff and I had our usual dinner and breakfast stuff with us. Minute rice/soup one pot dinners with smoked ham, sausage or dried ground beef to spice it up a bit. A different flavour each night -pretty tasty on kayak camping trips🙂. Bread, salami, cheese, jam and hot cereals for breakfast. Not really the most bear friendly food but we have always been lucky so far (we got our secret to keep the bears away from the boats weapon :-)). So I was somewhat curious what John would eat on the trip. He brought NO fresh stuff. Lipton Noodle and/or spaghetti with canned salmon every night. Definitely more bear safe but also more garbage. I never ever considered taking cans with me but apparently that’s what the SKABC (Sea Kayak Association BC) does on their trips. Cans get burned in the camp fire and then dumped in the ocean. There was no more dumping of cans in the ocean when I found out – you pack in what you pack out. John was agreeable enough to that and hung up his garbage every night far, far away from the tents and boats. While we had all the ham and cheese and sausages sitting in our boats each night. Kinda funny come to think of it. And no, we had no bear troubles yet again this trip even though we did camp in bear country. But John made sure to always camp in a way that our tent was closer to the boats than his🙂.
We both brought our own tents. Jeff and I had just fixed our beloved kayak camping tunnel tent which collapsed on us in last year’s trip. Two of the three poles had cracked and were fixed with duct tape many times over to an extent that at least one of them was no longer repairable. There were no more replacement parts to be found for this tent. The original manufacturer had by now discontinued the tent and never even responded to my inquiries about spare poles. Probably because they do not sell their products here in Canada. The tent is imported from Germany. There is nobody in Canada that offers tunnel tents which is a shame. They are perfect for our wet conditions since you can set up the outer shell first. Oh well. We checked with MEC if they have spare poles that would kinda match the length of ours. And were they ever helpful. First they suggested we can get the bits and pieces to build our own pole. Then the woman who helped us found a pole that was close in length and easy to cut to the right length. For $20 we had our tent back!!! Rather than spending $1000 importing a tunnel tent from overseas. The tent performed well during the trip and no more broken poles!! John had a small tent for himself but many nights he spent just under a large tarp that he put up every night. Him putting up the tarp took at least 5 times as long than us pitching the tent. But we both found reasonable campsites even in the least likely of places.
We both packed our own boats. Jeff and I store EVERYTHING in dry bags before they go into the kayak hatches even though those hatches do stay fairly dry. But it does not take much to get stuff wet. John was using his new touring kayak for the first time which was supposed to have “watertight” hatches. Well, don’t always believe what the manufacturer claims. His Therm-a-Rest and sleeping bag went into the hatch without any dry bags. And off course they got a little wet – or maybe they got wet from sleeping outside just under a tarp along the coast where it is always damp at night even after a sunny day. And we had our share of liquid sunshine days and nights. Even our stuff didn’t stay bone dry but definitely drier. Lucky for us we had just about enough sun to get things dried out enough to finish the trip. Well, almost finish the trip. We skipped the last night after being rained on heavily even though the forecast called for dry conditions. 9 days is a long time on the water and we covered a lot of ground and we are not as kayak fit anymore as we were back when we did 10-16 day trips. So even the sun coming out paddling back to the launch site on day nine did not change our mind about going back home a day early. The only regret, we did not get to see any Orcas. But we did get to see a lot of cool things…..
So here we go with the actual trip report. Starting off with a map of the trip:
Day 1 (Sep 2): We were up before 5AM to make it to the 6:20AM ferry out of Horseshoe Bay. We had packed our car the evening before. It looked really tiny underneath 3 sea kayaks strapped to the roof which is quite a bit of weight. And as we were driving onto the ferry we heard this loud clonk!!! Once. Didn’t see anything hanging lower than it should, didn’t hear the noise again until we took the boats off the roof after the ~4hr drive to Alder Bay Resort (on the road to Telegraph Cove). Driving the now empty car to the long term parking lot it made a few clonking sounds. Oh well. Not to worry about for the next 8-10 days🙂. Turned out later, when we got back, that one of the back springs broke. Maybe it was a bit too much weight.
We launched from Alder Bay at around 2PM. Mix of sun and clouds and calm seas – a perfect start. In Weynton Passage between Pearse Island and Hanson Island we encountered some rip currents. But those were fun to play in in our stable sea kayaks. When we got to the Plummer Islands just off Hanson we saw the first wild life, about an hour into the trip – sea lions. They were in the water all around us but not hanging around for pictures. Soon after we saw our first whale, a humpback. Not very close but when he breeched and more than half the animal was out of the water one did not have to be close for that – so cool. We saw another whale as well as porpoises while paddling along the north side of Hanson but all far in the distance. And it became sunnier as the afternoon went on. Originally we had planned to camp on Hanson Island but the two campsite that were marked on our map didn’t really look that inviting (we did not know that it would get worse…guess we were too spoiled from all the nice beach camping along the west coast). So we decided to cross over to Flower Island just off Sampson. We were in for a big surprise. We expected the area to be busy but not to see two large groups of about 10 people each already camping in the area. But lucky for us we found another rocky beach somewhat away from the crowds with good camping in the forest in behind. We had dinner on the beach (Squash soup w minute rice , dried zucchini, carrots, pepper and ham) and were watching humpback whales in Blackfish Sound in the distance thanks to the new binoculars Jeff bought. Very cool!!!
Day 2 (Sep 3): We slept for more than 10hrs – every night🙂. Only woke up twice to the noise of a blow in the bay – whales, dolphins? Skies were overcast but the forecast promised some sun for later and winds out of the Northwest – the right direction for both – more reliable good weather and tailwind on the paddle. We took our sweet time to get going and didn’t hit the water till 10:30AM. We spent some time in Blackfish Sound to see if we can get a closer glimpse at some whales – no such luck – before we started going east towards Knight Inlet past Compton and Mound Island (good beach/campsite) and through the Carey and Indian Group of Islands. The old abandoned Indian village at Mamalilliculla on Village Island looked deserted. But the sun finally started to make an appearance. It was kind of cool without it and I almost put on a coat. We did not get out of our boats but continued on along the north shore of Village Island into Knight Inlet. Knight is I think the longest inlet on the coast although we were only going to paddle a fraction of it. We were lucky and the current was going the right way. We crossed the inlet towards Gilford Island once we reached the end of Village Island which took a lot longer than I had thought. We saw a few whales and porpoises in the distance. Later on the wind also kicked up a bit more – nothing close to the forecasted 20-25knots but good for a little push. We had hoped to make it up into Tribune Channel but I was getting tired and so were the boys hanging back somewhat. So when we saw Lord & Lady Islands getting closer we were ready to call it a day. We scarred a whole bunch of seals off a rock looking for one of the two marked campsites from our map. Both locations did not look like campsites. Due to the new moon, tides were really big and we hit Lord & Lady Island around high tide. No hint of a beach to land on. The boys finally landed along one of the rocks just of Lord which looked like having some potential flat areas while I checked out Lord Island itself on the opposite site of the rock to see if there was at least camping in the forest. Our map called it an established scenic site. It sure was scenic but I saw NOTHING that looked like a campsite on Lord. The boys did find some possible campsites on the little rock and there was sun. So we decided to pull out onto the rock as the next possible campsite would be at least a 2hr paddle away. We unloaded the boats while still in the water and then carried them up onto the rock. As the tide dropped we could see a beach area between the rock and Lord. At the end it turned out to be a pretty good spot to camp but I would not call it an established site. As I mentioned before, we were spoiled from West-coast camping. Hence, we were somewhat worried about the campsites marked as “undeveloped” that were coming up next along our planned route around Gilford and if we should rather turn around. We left the decision for the morning to see whichever way the wind would blow us. For now we were happy – we had sun for most of the afternoon and early evening and even found wood to have a fire. John found the most idyllic camp spot on top of the rock which was great once the wind calmed down a bit. We rounded out the evening with dinner (German split pea soup mix with mashed potatoes and home-dried peas and carrots and ham ) and sunset sky watching.
Day 3 (Sep 4): Woke up to fairly heavy fog and the tide being way out. We had to carry the boats all the way around the rock through sand and rocks to get to the water, an amazing change. Despite not having a wind to tell us which way to go we decided to continue on with our planned route to go around Gilford. May never try this again and the tide was going to continue to push us that direction. As the fog lifted, we saw a few more whales in the distance in Knight Inlet before we cut up north in behind Viscount Island paddling up Sargeaunt Passage. Neat little piece of water and good potential for camping on grassy shoal (but ~3hrs from Lady). Once we hit Tribune Channel we finally got a glimpse of what I wanted to see on this trip, snow-capped mountains rising out of the water at the end of Thompson Inlet. By now the sun had worked its way through the clouds. Another hour paddle and we found the first of the undeveloped sites on Gilford behind Kumlah Island. Tide was again very high and the beach was almost non-existent but the camping in the forest in behind looked quite good. It was still early in the day though and ideally I would have liked to cover more ground but who knows what the next camp looks like. So we decided we would stay the night but head out for another paddle to explore Thompson Sound and hopefully see some Minke whales who supposedly use the area as their summer feeding ground. We did not unload the boats though as we headed off to cross Tribune Channel. We made it to the entrance of Thompson Sound but could not see any signs of whales – guess September is no longer considered summer if you are a Minke whale or more likely they did not read our chart and didn’t know they have to be here:-). The weather was nice though, sunny and a light breeze and by now we were quite a bit further north already than the Kumlah Island campsite. So we decided to continue on to the next undeveloped site on Gilford rather than backtracking. It was a nice paddle up to Brown Point despite having a bit of a headwind. Nothing special to see, just enjoying the sun and the waves. As we neared the spot where the campsite should be the boys found some possible small beaches, nothing that made me feel like this could be it, hence I wanted to check around the corner. In hindsight, reading up on the site on the BC Marine Trail website, I think the guys might have been correct. Nevertheless, there was a big creek around the corner and a fairly flat but rocky area along it. Just enough room to kinda put up a tent – after clearing some/quite a lot of the rocks out of the way. Tides were getting lesser each day so we were sure the site would be staying dry – mostly sure that is. Not the best camp ever but at least it got some sun for another 30min or so. And it turned out we did a great job clearing the campsite of rocks. We had a good sleep right next to the creek. Having fresh water to rinse stuff off was also a nice bonus and we could fill up our water tanks. Water colouration was a bit on the brown side – John called it tea water, but definitely good enough for cooking. Since there was only limited room we had to store the boats right next to our tent. Usually we like to have a bit more separation between us and the smelly food. Gilford is a BIG island and would definitely have a healthy bear population. But then there was John just sleeping underneath a tarp with no tent. Not sure what would be more attractive to a bear🙂.
Day 4 (Sep 5): No visitors all night as far as I know. And nobody got during the late night high tide. All slept well and we woke up to heavy clouds but with the sun visibly trying to poke through. Hence, we did get to enjoy the odd sun ray during breakfast. I actually liked the view from our camp in the morning with the clouds hanging low around the peaks and the sun trying to show itself. Since we had put in the hard effort the day before we had an easy paddle up Tribune Channel to our next campsite today, other than that we were paddling against a light current. Shortly after we left our place for the night, we saw a bear looking for crabs in one of the small pocket beaches. He took off when he saw me. After we passed Irvine Point where the channel turns west, the shoreline got much less accessible. Huge cliffs marked the northern shores of Gilford Island. We were paddling really close and were able to study the tidal zone and underwater world as the day was really calm and overcast – very little reflection off the water. Barnacles, mussels, limpets, whelks and possibly hornmouth on the rocks exposed at low tide (inter tidal zone). Under water (sub tidal) we saw lots of green, purple and some giant red sea urchins, tons of Plumose Anemones, some leather star fish and what we think were Creeping Pedal Sea Cucumbers. Unfortunately, it was hard to take pictures of the sub tidal life but it was awesome to watch. I don’t think John saw any of this as he tends to paddle farther away from shore trying not to get his new boat scratched up. But he did have to stop at a big log floating in the channel to take a leak. There would have been some spots on shore to get out. In fact Jeff had just taken a leak 5min earlier. Anyhow, John climbed onto this big floating tree and for some unknown reason it did not roll on him. It did though change course and started crashing into the shoreline. Lots of loud splintering noises…but John got back into his boat safely, no problem. Now I would have never tried anything like that. Talking about noises. There was frequent blasting going on in the area – the only noise disturbing our mostly quiet paddles. At least 2 times a day – still don’t know what those were for. Only other hint of civilization were the odd cabin cruisers / sail boats (more than I would have expected) and a helicopter that greeted us at least once a day for 5 of the 9 days.We checked out one more possible campsite on the north side of Gilford. Definitely not a place I would want to camp, much worse than our spot the night before. Shortly after we left Tribune Channel and entered the Burdwood Group. This is when the rain started, lightly at first but it sure got heavier pretty quick and we all put on our rain gear. Got to be prepared for that! Lucky for us, we were close to our camp for the night and even luckier the site was AWESOME and there was nobody there. Nice shell beach, steep enough to not have to carry boats far. Very flat camping and plenty of room. There even was a small brand new hut we could have used and a heavy tarp already setup as a lean-to near the fire pit. This place sure deserved to be called “great established campsite” on our map. Pure luxury – except for the rain. But before we landed at the site we half-heartedly checked out the other islands in the group, but didn’t see anything better. The rain kept falling steadily and we decided to call it an early day (around 2:45PM) to not have someone else show up and claim the luxury campsite. It was great to have the tarp already setup and we quickly changed into our shore clothes – it sure was not warm! But once in dry clothes we were fine. The rained lessened for a bit and I found a little trail that led across the island which was pretty cool. Nice to stretch the legs a bit after sitting for days. Jeff even found a piece of relatively dry wood that we chopped up for later. But it did not stay dry long and we spent the majority of the afternoon and early evening under the tarp – eating (Leek soup w minute rice, dried mushrooms, peas and Ukrainian sausage). We could have used the little hut but somehow that felt wrong. It wasn’t really that bad. Just before it got dark the rain almost stopped and we were able to get the camp fire going, a good end to the day.
Day 5 (Sep 6): We woke up to another foggy day and I believe it started raining again just before we got up after a dry night. Obviously everything was still soaking wet from the day before anyways but I hate packing up when it is actually raining. Mind you packing goes much quicker🙂. The original plan for the day had been to explore Kingcome Inlet to see more snow capped mountains and then camp at a forest service site on Broughton Island. But with the fog and low clouds there wasn’t much to see. We could hardly see Broughton or the mainland from the Burdwood Group it was so foggy. Always made sure we had a compass bearing even for the shortest crossings. We paddled across to Broughton and worked our way up the shoreline north into Penphrase Passage hoping that maybe the fog would lift as we got closer to the start of Kingcome Inlet. But no such luck even though we stopped in Cypress Harbour for some shore time to stretch the legs. Have to come back! But at least the rain stopped and we were able to take off the rain gear before continuing on along Broughton into Sutlej Channel. Here we had to make a decision if we would still stay in Greenway Sound on Broughton or push on to Watson Point. The later sounded like the better campsite and we decided to push on. The weather actually improved and we even got a bit of sun break through the clouds. It was a LONG way though. Probably the longest paddle of the trip with well over 40kms, and we didn’t see much in regards of wild life either, not in the channel or Grappler Sound. Grappler Sound was supposed to be a wild life watching mecca! All we saw were seagulls and a few seals and a vulture and an eagle and ducks and motor boats. John wanted to stop in at Sullivan Bay Marina, a fully serviced marina, for beers and fries but I was going for the straightest line to Watson Point. The last bit along Watson seem to take forever even though we had made very good progress after leaving Cypress Harbour. I guess I was feeling the 6+hrs in the boat. At least the campsite was easy to spot marked by an old dock part of a long ago abandoned logging mill. Again there was nobody but us. The camping was up the banks in a clearing behind that old dock. Nice soft ground and plenty of room and almost level, easy to find a spot for the tent. But we had to walk past the bear poop to get from beach to camp🙂. At least here our kayaks were far away from the tents. We had dinner (Pasta with tomatoes sauce, sun-dried tomatoes mix, dried mushrooms, zucchini and home-dried Italian-spiced ground beef) on the rocks in the sun – yep, it almost cleared up completely – hoping to do some whale watching but we only saw one far, far away. On top of that, there was no dry fire wood to be found and we spent the evening without a fire. Luckily it was somewhat sunny. It got cool after the sun set but it also got much more interesting. We heard a pod of something, likely dolphins, chasing something near our camp. That was pretty cool to listen to in the dark. We called it an early night though. At some point in the middle of the night I woke up to hearing something walking past the tent. There is the bear I thought before going back to sleep as the noise moved away. Turned out the next morning that it was Johnny bear who got up and checked the boats! I told him NOT to do that again, walk by our tent in the pitch dark🙂
Day 6 (Sep 7): There was no more blue sky when we got up the next morning and it looked like rain. The forecast called for rain all day combined with some 15-20km/hr winds later in the day. We packed away the tent and set up a tarp before breakfast and that was a good thing. The rain started pretty much right away. But we stayed dry through our breakfast underneath the tarp. AND we saw a sea otter swim by our point – didn’t think we would see any in this area. John was hinting at maybe spending the rainy day in camp but there is nothing to do in camp when it rains. So why not hop into the boats and explore more of Grappler Sound and since we are in the boats why not move on. So we continued on traveling north and east towards Kenneth Passage before heading south to find a new campsite. It was sogged in and rainy – heavy at times – but still, the area north of Watson Point was very cool. We checked out Roaringhole Rapids. The water was really flowing – whitewater! Jeff and John played in it for a while ferrying the kayaks across. I stayed safe to the side taking water-stained pictures. Hard to keep the lens dry even though the camera is waterproof. We checked out Turnbull Cove as well as Overflow Basin – the latter actually was blocked by a real waterfall, very neat. We did not see much in regards of wild life though😦. The mood was somewhat subdued. As we left Grappler Sound behind and headed into Wells Passage the rain lessened a bit. We discussed where we would spend the night. The original plan was to stay on Polkinghorne Island but even on our map the site was marked as marginal and potentially exposed to the wind which was slowly starting to build. There was one more site along the way in Tracey Harbour on Broughton – Cane Point/ Mauve It – which was much closer but still would put us close enough to the next days goal of getting back into the Broughton Archipelago. We thought we’ll check it out. But along the way I spotted some seagulls that looked like they were targeting a bait ball. Usually those only last a few minutes so it never makes sense to chase them down to see what was hunting in the water underneath. But these seagulls seemed to continue hitting the water and move around quite a bit. So I diverted course to check it out. The boys reluctantly followed. And then I saw them, dolphins – Pacific White-sided Dolphins to be specific -lots of them chasing after something in the water. I stopped to get my good camera ready – despite the light drizzle – and the whole pod turned towards me and they actually went right through me. I could see a couple dolphins swim by right underneath my boat. It was awesome. We watched them move down the passage for a hundred meters and all sudden they started jumping out of water 3-5m high into the air for a while. I was in awe!! Then they turned around again and rushed past us for a second time. Not quite as close as the first time but still. Again, 100m down the passage they stopped and started jumping. They repeated that circle at least 4 times always around us. There must have been about 50 dolphins in the pod. It was INCREDIBLE! Even as I write this I have tears of joy in my eyes. A once in a lifetime experience and for sure the highlight of the trip. All the rain and wet and sore muscles were forgotten for about 45min as we watched these amazing animals around us. And they kept going even as we left them to check out Cane Point/Mauve It. The rain was back and the wind now started gusting quite a bit more and we were cold from sitting still watching the dolphins. There was no way any of us wanted to go much further. Well, I am not sure who marked this campsite but Cane Point is not recommended. Maybe it was worse because it was so wet. The beach is either mud at high tide or barnacle encrusted rocks at low tide. There is room for a couple tents, maybe more if you don’t have a large tunnel like us but a freestanding dome. The ground was covered in long grass and it was sloped a bit. And wherever we stepped the water started puddling around our feet. That’s not good for camping on! But we did not have a choice. Jeff by now was shivering violently and we needed to get into some dry clothes quickly. We left on the wet shoes though since we were walking “in water” most of the time anyways. With dry clothes on wet felt much better. Tarp went up next and we had a hot chocolate spiked with Southern Comfort that John brought along before we set up the tent. Since it was still raining, we set up the tent the outer shell first, then put the ground sheet inside followed by the inner tent last. We needed to make sure we would be sleeping over the ground sheet since the tent floor would soak through if we would put pressure on it without the ground sheet beneath. The spot wasn’t all that flat either but fairly soft with the grass. The wind and rain let up in the early evening and we were a bit less miserable. In the cold, dinner tasted twice as good as usual (Alfredo sauce with rice, home dried peas and mushrooms and Ukrainian sausage). We saw the dolphins still hunting in the far distance across Wells Passage. We watched a porpoise head up the harbour and a seal catch a salmon right in front of the camp. Not bad for entertainment but there was no dry firewood to be found again and we turned in really early that night.
Day 7 (Sep 8): We did not get wet inside the tent. It was sill overcast when we got up but at least the rain had stopped. The forecast called for sun but we saw none while eating breakfast. Everything was packed up soaking wet once more. But we did have visitors during the night though. We found deer prints, mama and calf, in the mud below our tent. Guess that’s who had been pooping all over the site. Launching the boats was a pain. The tide was way out again and the mud bay turned into rock with lots of sharp barnacles and slippery seaweed. We actually carried the empty boats all the way into the water and loaded the already floating boats. At least it was very protected and calm in the small bay. First up we headed deeper into Tracy Harbour to fill up on fresh water again before we would leave the big island and mainland behind. Much less chance of finding good accessible water on the smaller islands in the Broughton Archipelago. The chart showed a cove called Freshwater Cove and we figured there gotta be a decent stream. There sure was a good running little creek but the water was even darker than the last one. Oh well, it’s just tannin from the trees and won’t kill us. We had hoped to see the dolphins again in Wells Passage but they were gone. We saw a whale though which could have been a Minke whale. We paddled along the southwest end of North Broughton and checked out the narrow channel between North Broughton and Broughton Island. It was almost slack ebb tide and we were able to paddle up it a bit into the current. Some day we may explore this but one needs a high tide to get though all the way into Greenway Sound. The weather steadily improved and we the sun came out. Polkinghorne Island was still in the fog and we kinda missed our chance to at least check out the “marginal” campsite. Not sure it could be much worse from where we spent the last night. With the sun also came the wind. Lucky for us it was a tailwind pushing us east along the south side of Broughton Island. The boys were catching some of the runs but my boat felt too heavy today so I just enjoyed the sun. We explored Cullen Harbour to check out another site marked as “marginal” on Olden Island. There was NOTHING! Sure at low tide there was a beach on which we stretched out our legs but there was no place to pitch our tent anywhere. As we entered Fife Sound the wind was even stronger and here the waves were good size. Right off the bat I caught a nice wave! Yipeee! We we decided to slowly cross toward the end of Eden Island making good use of the tailwind and runners. I caught a few. Not as many as I was trying for and it was real hard work. But I also enjoyed this a lot. These were much better waves than earlier, good size, and awesome in a stable boat. It was also really sunny! Today’s camp destination was Insect Island which we knew as a good campsite from previous trips but it also can get busy. If we needed it, there were a couple close enough backup sites in the area. The first thing we saw as we closed in on the shell beach at Insect Island was another kayak. That did not bode well we thought. But it turned out there were only 3 people that were camped on the rock ledge to the right of the beach while we had the upper campsite and the actual beach all to ourselves. Jeff and I sat on the beach for a while enjoying the sun and eating snacks while John was busy spreading out his wet gear all over the beach – sleeping bag, Therm-a-Rest, tent, tarp etc. Well I guess we did set up our outer tent as well to dry and pulled out the tarps and inner tent. The rest was still fine though. It was bliss to soak in the sun for a bit doing nothing. I did not sit still for long though and went for a little walk through the forest to see if I could find any wood that would burn but it was either too wet or too rotten. So we had a third night without a fire but it was a much more pleasurable evening. And tonight dinner was one of my favourites (Home-dried fajita ground beef with brown minute rice in beef broth and home-dried zucchini, mushrooms, carrots and pepper). We had a bit of a scare when one of the water taxis pulled up in front of the island. Lucky for us they just looked at the beach and left and did not drop off 10 people and their gear. Puh!
Day 8 (Sep 9): This was the only night I did not sleep well as I had some root underneath my hip and could not get comfortable. The area looked perfectly flat when we set up the tent. It was overcast again in the morning and kinda cool. The forecast called for 20-25knot winds out of the southeast again – meaning more wet to come. But when we left Insect it was still calm and dry. We worked our way to the outer islands making use of the calm conditions. Some neat channels in there but we were also fighting the current for the most part. It was slow going. We checked out the campsite on the White Cliff Islands which looked like would be overlooking Queen Charlotte Straight. But the site was located in quite a deep bay and it was a long carry on a low tide. Not too impressive on a gloomy day like this. Well protected mind you. As we were heading back towards Bonwick Island the wind kicked up in earnest and it was hard work to get back. We worked our way south across Spring Passage along the east side of Midsummer Island. It was not fun to paddle into the strong headwind under rain-threatening skies. We crossed Knight Inlet toward Crease Island to travel along the north side of Crease and get a bit of a tailwind. Also, there was supposed to be a nice beach to camp on. The beach itself was pretty nice but the camping didn’t look the greatest. Jeff was in a foul mood as well – he was tired and ready to go home. Like all the way home but I was too tired myself to push back all the way to Alder Bay. We still had two days left but decided there and then that we would head back the next day. The original plan was to camp at Red Point on Harbledown Island – another unknown, marked as undeveloped small site – to watch whales in Blackfish Sound and then spend the last night at Little Kaikash in Johnstone Straight to maybe finally see some Orcas. But instead we went back to where we knew we would find reasonably good camping, Flower Island, hoping it would be less busy. Lucky for us, the site was deserted. Just before we beached our boats on the small island the rain kicked in. It could have waited just one more hour. The wind also was blowing onto the beach but luckily there was enough shelter to get out of it. Good campsites as well in behind. Overall a really nice site if not for the rain. We set up tarps which afforded just enough shelter from wind and rain to not get soaked. As the rain lessened a bit for a little while I went to the point to look for whales in Blackfish Sound. I spotted some across the sound – 2 or 3 animals. That sure improved my mood🙂. In the meantime, Jeff even found semi dry wood to get a fire going while cooking dinner (Potatoes soup with mashed potatoes, peas, mushrooms, Ukrainian sausage). The rain came back with a vengeance again as we had dinner and it was my turn to do dishes as I had a rain coat. Just before it got dark, the rain stopped and we saw a glow in the low clouds that promised a sunset somewhere to the west of us. We didn’t see any sun or blue sky just low clouds but we took the opportunity to watch for whales and porpoises some more. It was supposed to be a better day tomorrow – maybe there was hope.
Day 9 (Sep 10): The rain started back up again at 5:30AM. It was completely sogged in as we got up. The forecast said it was supposed to be dry!!! Now I was ready to head home too. Mind you rain turned in a a very light mist as we launched the boats. We had just paddled around Flower Island when a humpback whale surfaced right in front of us – no more than 10m away. Off course I did not have the camera ready for it. We sat and waited for a bit but when the whale surfaced the next time he was hundreds of meters away already. We paddled across Blackfish Sound and along Hanson. There is always a chance to see the Orcas go around Hanson. But all we saw where more humpbacks in the distance. We paddled through the Plummer Group to see if we can find the sea lion beach we missed on our first day. We could hear them bark for some time and finally found a rock where a small group of them was hanging out on. Finally I got some sea lion pictures. The sun also started to poke through the clouds. From here we paddled into Weynton Passage which was much less turbulent today than on day 1. And we got to see many more humpback whales. One of them surface a few times just ahead of us – maybe 50m away. Cool. Too bad we had to move on. We crossed Johnstone Straight and had a look at Telegraph Cove – John wanted to see it. Orca Whale Watching Tours leave from there but it is a tourist trap if you ever saw one. They charge through the nose for parking and launching your kayak. Alder Bay Resort is MUCH more reasonable and a much better location to launch from. But it is another 2hr or so paddle. A nice paddle mind you. The sun came out and melted all the clouds away. It was gorgeous – of course it was since we were heading back. As a good bye we saw a Minke whale surface 100m or so away from us. I am sure we will be back some day.
We were back at Alder Bay around 2PM and leisurely packed everything up in the sun. The drive home was uneventful. We stopped at the Old Cable Cookhouse in Sayward for an early dinner and made it in good time for the 9:20PM ferry. We even had time for a beer and Patchos at the Irish Pub in Nanaimo before leaving the island.