Cruising Vancouver Island’s Wild West Coast… Kyuquot Sound

It’s always a bit of a struggle going back to a period of time, and writing about it with the enthusiasm and detail with which I experienced it. The woes of a traveling adventure-blogger I guess. This post takes me back to July 22nd. More than a month ago. At writing we are off the boat and transitioning back into the motorhome, preparing to cross back into Canada, and through British Columbia with a bead on Jasper and Banff National Parks in Alberta… two of my absolute favorite places during my three years of solo travel. John has never been there, and I’m excited to show him!

For now though, I have a very full month’s worth of images and stories to share! My last post concluded in the Bunsby Islands, which is where we departed from on July 22nd. We’d heard there was severe weather heading our way and we chose to get ahead of it, and into the safety of Kyuquot Sound before the worst of it hit.

Our route took us back out into open water, and between several islands and islets… so far, so good with the weather, but we could see it coming!

Vancouver Island’s West Coast


We made just one little beach-combing stop at Barter Cove, right before entering Kyuquot Sound. As we came into the cove we woke one young Sea Otter from his nap, and found a good spot for dropping the anchor.

By the time we got the dinghy in the water the wind had kicked up, and when we got ashore… the rain set in. (Kudos to Sony, btw. I do my best to protect my photography gear, but admittedly, it gets a bit of abuse just by going where I go. So far it’s holding up great!)

Sea Otter, Barter Cove

Here comes the rain! Barter Cove

Interesting sky as the weather heads our way

Barely visible is Summer Breeze at anchor in Barter Cove


When we were thoroughly soaked and had enough shells and rocks to call it quits on shore, we rowed back to Summer Breeze and set out once again. Thankfully our destination was only a short distance away.

Our otter friend was still snoozing as we left Barter Cove for Kyuquot Community, another remote fishing village (a bit like Winter Harbour, described a few posts back). There was no room to dock, so we were invited to “raft” up to another boat by a family we met in the Bunsby Islands. They were from Alaska if I recall, a family of five who had just begun a multi year, round-the-world trip.

Still snoozing…

Rock islet near Barter Cove


Once settled, we stocked up on limited grocery options. No fuel or water available at dock. John has decided we must rig up some “rain catching” device with a hose to fill our fresh water tanks before we set out next year. I concur. Maybe if we do, we’ll have a dry summer!

While out walking in the rain, I met Susan! This adorable otter has made this little cove her home, and can be found floating, sleeping, preening and eating around the clock near the docks at Walter’s Cove, a fishing resort very near the community dock we were at. She’s so used to people that she didn’t mind me photographing her, and if anything, seemed to rather enjoy it!

If you’re as curious about these adorable creatures as I am, here’s a bit of reading material…

Sea Otters-US Department of Interior

Sea Otters-Wikipedia 

Susan, the Sea Otter, Kyuquot Cove

If otters could laugh…

…making quite a silly production of grooming


Dining on clams


Oh, and as it turned out, Susan had a suitor from across the bay…  In the information I shared above I discovered why so many of these otters have wounds on their noses. Apparently the males bite the noses of the females while courting. 🤔

Male comes a courting…


As we prepared to leave the following morning a local tribal woman came out on the dock to sell freshly smoked salmon. It was a bit pricey, but I couldn’t resist. I bought two! Before we got out of the little bay, she came alongside in a boat and tossed us a sizable chunk of fresh caught AND filleted Chinook. It was the only fresh meat we’d had on board since we started down Vancouver Island’s west coast, and we dined on it for three nights in a row!

Our next stop was farther up Kyuquot Sound, in Hankin Cove. We had enough of a break in the rain to peddle/paddle around for a bit. I found a black bear scouring the low tide line for a meal in a nearby inlet. He didn’t stick around for much of a photo shoot.

Black Bear, Hankin Cove

Black Bear


Back on the mother ship I noticed a hummingbird buzzing around anything with red or orange in color… gas can, lettering on our outboard motor, emergency noise maker… looking for nourishment. Then there were two! And then a third!! This occurs from time to time, but these three were coming quite a distance out from the nearest shoreline and getting nothing for their trouble. So… I mixed up some sugar water and poured it into the indentation on top of a red Rubbermaid lid. It took no time at all before they found it… and had a feast!

Rufous Hummingbird, Hankin Cove

Thirsty Hummer!

Rufous Hummingbird, checking me out

Two Rufous Hummingbirds, vying for their break


As much as I hated to leave my hummingbirds, we weighed anchor and headed out the following morning… destination Rugged Cove. This would only be a day stop for us. We anchored a safe distance out, and John rowed us ashore in Zephyr. From there we hiked across to the west-facing shore for a little beach-combing. There was little to find in the first (and popular) cove we came to… with the exception of wolf tracks. From there we climbed over the headlands to the next cove (using secured rope to get up and down the steep areas).

It was worth the effort, as we found more Sand Dollars (of every size) than we could carry!

Summer Breeze at anchor off rugged point


It was getting late in the day by the time we left, so we found the closest protected cove and dropped anchor for the night.

In the morning we headed back to the Kyuquot Community dock for a little restocking. We needed water, which John carried out the dock in our 5 gallon jug… three trips before I found a wheelbarrow.

The owners of the only little grocery store had just gotten back from a “restocking” run all the way across the island to Campbell River. Score! I was the first in line when they opened the next morning. All the locals were there immediately… in droves.

The marine forecast was downright depressing… 15-25 knot winds out of the southwest, and 3 meter swells. We holed up right where we were for the next two days. I had to get off the boat for a walk from time to time, and never failed to come back soaked and muddy. Susan and her boyfriend were always entertaining, although he was a bit more shy.

I got to observe these two frolicking, and who knows what-all! (Actually, I’m not at all convinced that these are male and female, although that’s what I was told, since the larger of the two has the biggest fresh cut on it’s nose.)

They also spent hours retrieving and opening numerous clams with rocks. Since then I’ve discovered that they have a loose pouch under their arms where they can store not only their favorite rock, but also several clams at a time while foraging along the bottom. Susan is using a sharp, rugged stone, and the other… well, the other seems a bit confused. As I listened to the banging sound I noticed he/she has a large flat rock on his belly, and is smacking it with a sizable smooth stone. Maybe just for fun, or maybe a little dingy? Regardless, I want that smooth stone. It’s colorful and shiny!

Opening shells with rocks

Otter’s best tool… a rock! Oh wait… someone seems a bit confused!


Susan and her rock

Playful Sea Otters


While in the quiet little community we met some very nice folks… some local, some kayakers who’d been out exploring and camping around nearby islands, and some cruisers like ourselves. New friends Rusty and Barb (and their adorable dog Maggie) came aboard Summer Breeze a few times for card games. (We saw them several times along our southbound coarse, and discovered they live very close to our route to Jasper and Banff! We’ll be camping in their yard one night.)

The morning we were finally able to depart, we woke to a sizable chunk of salmon left in the cockpit, gifted to us by a local fisherman. While John was busy chatting with folks on the dock I grabbed my camera for one last visit to Susan. She was fast asleep in her safe little cove.

Slumbering Susan


That seems like a good stopping point. More incredible vistas, shore excursions, and of course… adorable otters ahead!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *