Lacey Falls, Tribune Channel
July 30th - August 14th Cruising The Broughtons
Our route up Havannah Channel led into Chatham Channel. I had forgotten how strong the currents in the channel could be, and we entered facing a 4 knot flooding current. It seems strange to me that Chatham Channel floods S-E, but it does. So it was a slow trip through the narrows keeping the range markers aligned in the narrow channel. Out into Knight Inlet, we turned north-east and motored up into Tsakonu Cove. With only a few crab pots to keep us company, we edged up to the head of the bay. Although it is reported to shoal rapidly at the head, we were anchor in 25' at low with lots of swinging room if the wind pushed us further in. Jeannie set off on her paddleboard while I annoyed the Pink Salmon feeding on the profusion of bait fish. But I did no harm to the salmon stocks. We landed in the dinghy on the shore, but the dense woods were too much to try to work our way through, so we just stumbled over the rocks for a while. There is one old log dump that might provide better walking, but its landing looked too rough.
Next morning we motored down Knight Inlet to explore the profusion of islands at its mouth. This area is the designated Broughton Archipelago Marine Park. Past Village Island, we turned into Eliot Passage, passing the Village Island anchorage. This is the location of the landing to visit the abandoned Mamalliculla village. Although we later learned that landing was permitted, we weren't certain, so carried on past. Down into the Mound anchorage where we met our first fellow cruisers. In a large anchorage capable of holding a dozen boats, we anchored, sheltered from the rising north-west wind. Although Mound Island is reported to have trails, we couldn't find any. But with the open forest, we had excellent walking. The small campsite for kayaks was empty, as was the small shell beach.
Next morning we had another unsuccessful search for the elusive trail, and hoisted anchor just after lunch.
Up past Village Island, across Knight Inlet and through Spring Passage, we slowly edged our way into the "Seabreeze Anchorage". The anchorage is not actually in Seabreeze, but inside two unnamed islands to the east of Seabreeze. With room for only one or two boats, we dropped anchor in 20' and excellent holding in mud.
This was our first time in the area, so we launched the dinghy and set out exploring. Health Bay seemed a bit open for our liking, but in Health Lagoon we found significantly more water than the charts indicate, an excellent anchorage. Back at the boat, Jeannie got the paddle board out while I attended a few jobs. One was to replace the controller on the refrigeration as it had stopped again. Job done, no luck. So the search for ice would require serious planning. Obviously the compressor had failed.
Next morning we headed out towards Lagoon Cove Marina where we had a reservation for two nights. One reason was ice! Also, its a nice stop, although their famous happy hour of prawns on the deck was a Covid casualty. Retracing our route from yesterday, we crossed Knight Inlet and ran down through the well-named Beware Passage. Although open for most of its four miles, the southern end requires some very sharp "visual piloting". Safely through, we anchored for lunch in Potts Lagoon where we found three other cruisers. Then an afternoon sail up Clio Channel to Lagoon Cove. Although not empty, it was far from full. Speaking with the owners, they said that business was well down, but they had only been "shut out" a couple of nights.
After two nights and ice replenished, we were off again after another walk ashore. Across Knight Inlet, we entered the spectacular scenery of Tribune Channel. With its towering cliffs plunging straight down 1000' into the water, we just admired the beauty as we motored north. In late afternoon we motored in to Wahkana Bay, a well protected circular bay about a half mile in diameter. Although just over 100' deep in most parts, we found a 45 foot spot in the south east corner with good holding. We shared this anchorage with one other boat and three kayaks, just setting up as we took the dinghy over to the mouth of a stream with a short trail to stretch our legs.
Next morning we headed across the inlet and tied up at the floats of the Kwatsi Bay Marina. With the help of Anca Fraser, owner, we were tied up, the only boat on the dock. Settled in, we took the dinghy across the bay and hiked up to a nearby waterfall.
Kwatsi Bay Falls
Then a tour of the bay and it was Happy Hour. We spent a very pleasant evening sitting talking with Anca and her husband, Max Knierim. This summer their business was down by 80% due to the Covid restrictions. They started the marina 25 years ago, spending every summer there. It is now for sale. We can only hope that the new owners will maintain it in its pristine wilderness.
Max and Anca
Although our ice would last a few more days, there wasn't much else in the refrigerator, so it was time to head to Port McNeill to re-supply. So we cast off heading down Tribune Channel, Hornet Passage and into Cramer Pass. Passing empty docks at Pierre's Echo Bay Resort, normally full and busy, we were reminded again what a different summer it is.
We were headed back to the Mound Island anchorage, arriving to an empty anchorage just as the heavens open up on us. But after a soggy anchoring, we settled in as the sun returned. Next morning we headed out Whitebeach Passage into Blackfish Sound. We had checked the current tables and planned to enjoy a nice lift from the ebbing current. But as we headed into Cormorant Channel at the eastern tip of Malcomb Island, we found ourselves in some excellent tide rips, pushing us in every direction. But in light airs, we slogged through, safely tying up at North Island Marina at noon.
Port McNeill is an excellent place to re-supply. Grocery store and BC Liquor Store are just 10 minutes from the marina, and the grocery store allows you to use their carts to carry your supplies back to the marina. And the marina can re-fuel you from any slip... very convenient!
From Port McNeill we enjoyed a beautiful sail back across Queen Charlotte Sound into Fyfe Sound, Raleigh Passage and into Laura Cove for the night. This is a small anchorage, one of the most popular anchorages in the Broughtons. But we found just two other boats moored, and settled in out of the freshening breeze.
Next morning we were off to Turnbull Cove, a favorite anchorage in the north-west corner of the Broughtons. Just outside the entrance we dropped our prawn trap again. Although we had no luck to that point, we decided to try one last time. Inside the cove there were two other boats anchored. In a normal season we would expect to see twenty or more boats here. But its a half mile in diameter with excellent anchoring depths and holding, so it is rarely a problem to find room to anchor.
Today, no problem! We dropped the anchor for a three night stay. Ashore, we took the short but steep hike up to Huaskin Lake for some warm fresh water swimming. We met the family off one of the anchored boats and began chatting. We soon learned we had friends in common. They had met Cabot and Heidi Lyman (who live in Maine) in French Polynesia while they were cruising. We met them in Roatan when cruising the Caribbean!
Next morning we checked our prawn traps...Success! That evening Kevin and Joanne joined us again, with another fresh Chinook, so we feasted on fresh seafood that night.
Kevin has the appies ready for Happy Hour
Fresh Chinook Salmon for dinner!
The following day, we ran through Kenneth Passage into MacKenzie Sound and down to check out the very elegant Nimmo Bay Resort. Luckily they weren't serving dinner to cruisers this year. Lucky because the prices are as spectacular as the setting.
After another dinner of prawns in a garlic cream sauce, we were ready to begin our trip back south. We retraced our steps past Laura Cove and into Simoon Sound for the night. In the morning as we left, we met a bear swimming across the entrance, a good mile of open water.
We have no idea what possessed him to do it, but he was just calmly swimming.
We were headed for Kwatsi Bay where we were surprised to find a full dock, just room for us, but no Max and Anca. It turned out that Max had fallen the day before and injured his wrist, requiring a trip to Port McNeill. We sent Anca a photo of their full dock, their best night of the season.
We left Kwatsi Bay next morning, not before pulling up another full prawn trap. A short run up Bond Sound where we anchored just yards from shore, and explored the Ahta River. It is reported to be one of the few remaining watersheds of old growth timber and an important salmon breeding ground.
Because of our tenuous anchorage, we only spent a few hours here. Then back through Chatham Havannah Channel to Port Harvey where we anchored for the night, our Broughtons cruise over.