Although I could have stayed in the cove near Port Neville for several more days, enjoying the Grizzlies and the tranquility of the place, we continued north after only one night and headed toward The Broughton’s. Normally we would stay two nights, or even three if we really liked a place, but we’d locked ourselves into a schedule when we got permits to visit Gwaii Haanas, a special part of the islands of Haida Gwaii. Much more about that later, but we were on a mission to get there on time so we’d have all of the 14 days allowed to enjoy the place.
We’d heard great things about the Broughton’s from some other cruisers we’d met along the way, and read about the area in the cruising guides we’d brought along. So… we left Port Neville Inlet the morning of May 27th, turned starboard up Johnstone Strait, starboard up Havannah Channel, port up Chatham Channel, starboard up Knight Inlet, port up Sareaunt Passage, port up Tribune Channel, and finally starboard into Kwatsi Bay! (For you landlubbers… starboard=right, port=left 😁)
We docked in Kwatsi Bay just in time to join the owner of this small, private and very remote property/dock and two other couples for a potluck happy hour on the float adjacent to where we tied up. We had met one of the boaters on shore in Grace Harbor. Small world.
The following morning, while John rowed around the inlet, I pretty much bushwhacked my way to a nearby waterfall. I was a little underwhelmed considering the effort and the bug bites I suffered to get there, but I hate to miss a potential opportunity.
There were several tall waterfalls visible from the boat as we departed Kwatsi Bay. I believe one of these actually led to the lower part of the fall I hiked to, which… as best I know… doesn’t even have a name.
One very unique waterfall we’d read about in the guides is Lacie Falls. Rather than “falling” and cascading like most fall, this one simply runs down the colorful rock face. It wasn’t running as hard as pictures we’d seen, but it was still really amazing to see.
Our next stop was Echo Cove, a somewhat quaint marina/floating village. We were greeted by Echo… the adorable “doodle” dock dog. He pretty much adopted us where we were there. Although quiet during our stay, my impression is that the place is quite popular during the summer months. Only a few other cruisers came and went during our 24-hr stay.
While there we hiked overland to Proctor Bay to visit Billy Proctor, a well known character in the area. He has a small museum full of all sorts of artifacts he’s collected in the 40+ years he’s lived here, and has written several books about his life amongst these islands and his fishing years on the west coast of Vancouver Island. I bought one of his books [Heart of the Rain Forest], but haven’t dug into it yet. I loved his dog, Buster.
Meanwhile, back on the dock… Sadie is showing some jealousy as Echo makes himself at home with us. Shortly before I got up to take this picture, Echo made himself quite at home in my lap, the big lug. 😜
The next morning, we left dock and swung around to Proctor Bay just to get a shot of “Bill’s Place” before continuing on towards Goat Islands. We had only about 14 miles to go, so we meandered our way through Cramer Passage, Fox Islands, and Waddington Bay, and picked up a passenger along the way! When I loaded the day’s images on my computer, I was tickled to see our reflection in the eye of this Raven.
We anchored at Crease Island (behind Goat Islands) that afternoon, and spent some time peddling/rowing through the waterways and around the islands surrounding us. The evening brought along some gusty winds, keeping the anchor line stretched taut for the night. (It’s always good to find ourselves where we left us come morning! 🤣)
The following morning, we raised anchor early and headed out to Port McNeill. Both John and I have been to Port McNeill. Not together, but both experiences had some significance to us at that time in our lives. John, while doing that crazy R2AK (Race to Alaska) in 2016, ended up there when Team Golden Oldies/Ghost Rider broke a fitting on their mast. Fortunately, they were near enough to Port McNeill to duck in long enough to make their repair before getting underway. While there, they were able to restock on some groceries and grab burgers and beer at a local pub.
In my case, it was near the end of my solo journey… after seven weeks in Alberta and crossing northern BC to Prince Rupert, I hopped on a ferry (motorhome, tow car and all!) and traveled (now familiar) waterways to Port Hardy on the north end of Vancouver Island. The ferry got in at about 1am, and there was really no place to camp my big rig for the night. Luckily my prior research of the area hinted to that, so I kept right on going to Port McNeill, parked in a strip center parking lot, and crawled into bed for a few hours. I was up at the crack of dawn, and the first thing I saw when I looked out the window was a sign… right next to me… that said,”No overnight parking”. Needless to say I didn’t stick around and play tourist. 😜
We arrived in Port McNeill early, but were able to get a slip well before check-in time. While there we took time to restock, refuel (including 5-5 gallon jerry cans for our crossing and time in Gwaii Haanas, where we knew there was none to be had), and take care of a few projects and communications, before getting under way again the following morning.
We set out early the following morning for yet another crossing of Queen Charlotte Strait. We had a long way to go in a few days time to set ourselves up for the crossing to Haida Gwaii. John chose Skull Cove as our destination for the day. Soon after leaving Port McNeill we passed an small island where a large bird caught my attention from afar. “Bald Eagle!”, I thought. Although we see them frequently around these waters, the thrill of spotting them has not escaped me. I grabbed the binoculars to get a closer look, and discovered not one, but no fewer than 14 Bald Eagles, adult and juvenile, spread out across the top of the island. THAT was something new. We typically see only one or two in any given area.
Although getting there meant crossing some fairly open and rough waters, Skull Cove was not so ominous as its name suggests. It was in fact a very protected, pleasant and peaceful place to anchor for the night. We set out the following morning bound for Fury Cove, with the notorious “Cape Caution” in between. We are now traveling through open and unprotected waters, north of Vancouver Island. Caution is the key word here. Following the “go-no go” list before attempting to round this cape is a prudent thing to do, and takes into account tides, currents, weather and sea forecasts, as well as current assessment of the conditions. We were a go, and we went… immediately hit by large swells and rough seas, we erred on the side of caution and ducked back in to an inlet. We motored between some islands until we found a place to anchor for another, just for enough into a small cove to be out of a strong current. As it turned out we’d only made it to the opposite side of the island from Skull Cove!
We set out again the following morning to somewhat calmer seas and made our way around Cape Caution to Fury Cove. Whew!
Next we were off the Hakai Marine Preserve at Hunter Island, and then Bella Bella in preparation for our 16 hour crossing to Gwaii Haanas/Haida Gwaii. I hope to get to those soon because at writing we have just reached Queen Charlotte City after ten days completely off-grid and fully immersed in Gwaii Haanas. Sooo many images and stories to share!!! Please come back soon and take it all in!