Chart showing location of Seymour and Belize Inlets, just south of Cape Caution
"Where are you going this summer? North again?" People asked me as summer approached.
"Yes," I'd say. "But not to Alaska. We're just going to Belize and Seymour Inlets."
"Just south of Cape Caution."
"On the mainland, across from the northern tip of Vancouver Island."
These exchanges were good reminders of how remote a location we'd chosen for our summer trip. Many of the northwest's most seasoned sailors have never been there -- although many have been by on their way to SE Alaska.
Descriptions of these inlets explain why we picked them as our destination. We've read or heard tell of pictographs on the rocks, cliffs with gardens that overhang the water, rock walls where voices echoes back eerily, and beautiful anchorages that we can expect to have all to ourselves.
The two inlets cut deep into the mainland mountains: 42 miles for Seymour Inlet and 25 miles for Belize Inlet, with sounds and bays branching off both. Logging is the only industry within them and not so much of that.
So why do so few people go there? Not just because the inlets are a long way from civilization, but also because to get there you have to navigate the Nakwakto Rapids, where currents move so fast Turrett Rock, in the middle, has earned the local name of Tremble Island. At 14.5 knots, Nakwakto Rapids aren't the fastest in the northwest (that's Seymour Narrows at 16 knots) but with their well known turbulence, they're certainly one of the scariest.
We decided to go there after approaching the entrance last summer on our way south from Alaska. At slack water the passage looked like any other harbor entrance; so calm we almost wondered what the big deal was. What had seemed so scary earlier, now seemed achievable. We just had to aim for slack water: all seven minutes of it.
Photo: Nakwakto Rapids at slack water.
Of course to get there we pass through many of the northwest's more famous cruising grounds: the San Juan and Gulf Islands, the Sunshine Coast, Desolation Sound and the Broughtons. Stay tuned.