Trip Report    

Sea Kayak - Broughton Archipelago Marine Park

The fog began to lift predictably as soon as we were across Johnstone Strait and the scenery was as beautiful as I remembered from 15 years ago.

  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • See daily route conditions below




I left for Terry’s at 7 pm on 07/18/23.  I got to Terry’s with no traffic hassle and began untying my boat.  Jerry and Lori pulled in a few minutes later and then Terry came out.  Jeannie showed up a bit later and we transferred our boats and gear to her Mitsubishi SUV type.  She had a regular spare tire in the back end. It was dark by the time we were done.  Lori and Jerry were already in bed by the time the rest of us got done talking.  Terry put Jeannie and I on our pads in the living room downstairs.  It took a long time to fall asleep even though the Big Agnes was comfortable.  I had my bag open on top of me.  I’d set the alarm for 5 a.m. but didn’t hear it go off.  I was woken up by Jeannie shifting her stuff; it was 5:09.  I love Aggie—I pull the plug and can almost instantly fold her up, put her in the sack, done. I was soon upstairs and after some more shifting around we were off with me in the back seat.  We stopped at the usual Safeway for a breakfast meal.  There were no cars at the border!  The officer informed me that the enhanced driver’s license alone is good enough to come back and forth.  We didn’t have to answer or show anything about COVID, just firearms, purpose, duration, goodbye.

 We arrived at around 8:30 at the Tsawassen ferry dock. We went inside the quiet terminal; it hasn’t changed much.  I got $40 Canadian money from the ATM to add to my stashed $40.  The exchange is about 75% now in our favor. I didn’t need anything to eat or drink.  Terry and I sat by the coffee place on the SE end and watched Jerry and Lori boil water on their stoves to make tea. We were back in our cars and moved on time to be able to shove off at 10:15.  We were one of the first ones to get upstairs and grabbed a couple of tables by the windows at the rear end of the boat by the cafeteria. We were joined on deck by Teresa Wittman—I haven’t seen her in years!  She has a crew that is going to be in—where else—the Broughton Archipelago for two weeks. They are also camping in the same campground, in fact, their space is next to Lori and Jerry!

 We got off the ferry on time after a smooth and sparkling ride during which I enjoyed my usual ice cream treat.  No swirl this time though.  We stopped at the Thrifty Mart by the outdoor store in Nanaimo (exit Auld Rd, 2 lights and turn right, mile or so on the left, find on Google.)  that Terry amazingly remembers where to find.  I got two sandwiches--one is for dinner--, chips and a Pepsi.  I ate in the car with Jeannie and her sushi.  We stopped at Campbell River for gas and a much needed bio break.  The drive up in the hot sunshine was uneventful.  I saw a lot of clear cut on the hills.  We got to the campground around 5:30.  It took some doing to find space #70 (corner of the field) and a spot over in the trees.  Terry, Jeannie and I set up our tents in the corner of the field.  They walked up to the “town” to go for a beer.  Lori and Jerry had stopped somewhere to eat lunch on their own and arrived about an hour later.  I said hi and then walked up to the boardwalk to find Terry and Jeannie.

 Telegraph Cove is located in Beaver Cove  and is a former fishing and cannery village.  There aren’t that many houses and most of them are probably secondary summer homes for rich Canadians.  The “resort” part is the dock surrounding the cove by the marina and is actually the renovated remains of a sawmill operation.  The bunkhouses, admin buildings and storage sheds are now a couple of restaurants, a whale museum, stores, a couple of pubs and tourist stuff with the rest of the small places rented out for tourists.  I think tourism is about all they have these days and there are three whale watching and kayaking outfitters. I walked down there to find Terry and Jeannie and we all eventually walked back. 

 I got into my tent before dark.  The campground has family groups and they make spurts of noise but I think things will settle down quickly.   It’s now 9:30 and I’m turning out the light; tomorrow will be an early and busy start.


 I didn’t hear my alarm again and when Terry called me at 7:00 that was the time that we were supposed to be leaving!  I threw my stuff together, took down the tent and went to the bathroom.  Teresa came in and we said goodbye and have a good trip.  I never did meet her paddlers.

 Lori and Jerry pulled out right before we did and had already unloaded their boats by the time we got to the boat launch.  A Canadian couple showed up shortly afterwards.  The staging was at the top of the extremely slick boat ramp so we used the gravel beside it.  We took off in the fog at 0930 after a short discussion and a radio check.  You have to monitor and use Channel 16 here and just announce when you are coming and going across the Strait.  We took a 70-80 degree heading with the correction factor for the 2 knot current to put us on a route to Wynton Island on the west side of Hanson Island. The water was smooth and the only waves were from boat wakes.  We could see through the fog a couple in a double, the two people leaving just after us and an SOT heading for Kaikash Creek.

 After I handed off a water bag to Terry I began getting an unpleasant sensation that my back end was sinking.  Jerry said my seam tape was in the water and my uneasiness increased.  We had only made it across about 2/3 of the channel by my estimation but could only see shadows as the sun tried to come out.  There were no large boats, just a few power boats coming and going.  We finally made it to tiny Weynton Island and by then the ebb was apparent in the bull kelp as I found a rocky spot to get out and check my back hatch.  Other than a strong smell of white gas there was only the usual little bit of water and nothing amiss so I replaced my lid and loaded back in.  It was a great opportunity to see some of the biggest and brightest sea urchin I have ever seen since Bella Bella all over the rocks. 

 Jeannie had been tracking us on her GPS and we figured where we were without much problem.  The fog began to lift predictably as soon as we were across the Strait and the scenery was as beautiful as I remembered from 15 years ago.  We couldn’t see much of the campsites on Hanson Island to our right but we noted the coves for future possible campsites.

 We hauled out at the bottom of Double Bay for lunch at 11:30.  We scattered along the rocky and slick beach of the shallow bay; the flood had already started. The fog moved in again when we launched about an hour later and headed across Blackfish Sound after again alerting Channel 16 of our intention. It took about half an hour to get over to Flower Island.  It looks like there is some development on the opposite shore; turns out it is an outfitters base camp. There are also a few houses in the trees.

 There was a family group at the campsite and it looked full so we didn’t stop.  We headed east and I could see Farewell Harbour Marine Resort on Berry Island as we rounded the corner and headed up the passage between Crease and Swanson Islands.  We had at least a one knot current against us as we cleared the passage and headed for Twist and (not Shout) Whirl Islands.  Just as we were coming out we saw a huge group of double kayaks….I counted 14.  Terry went to go talk to them.  They had left Owl but he didn’t know which campsite it was.

 We took a 0 heading once clear of the pretty islands could hardly see a thing as the fog had come back.  Eventually we could make out the top of Midsummer Island and soon Owl sprang out.  I used my monocular to scan the beach; no kayaks.  We decided to forego going around to the other side and cruised into the shallow cove. Terry got out first and said nobody was there and the campsites looked good.  It was just after 1430 and we up to the tiny canoe ladder that was just wide enough for two boats. We used the slings to get all the boats out before unloading them.  The sun came out and things got warm in a hurry.  I opted for a tiny spot just off the kitchen area.  Terry and I made our dinner there behind a huge log.  The others set up their Jet Boils on the rocky beach.  

 Eventually Terry and I set up our chairs in the shade while the others opted the sun before fixing their dinners around 5:30 or so.  There wasn’t much clean up for mine.  The rest of the time was pleasantly spent.  I eventually set up my tent and Terry hung my food with his one bag.  He brought a bear can too.  After I’d cleared up and got ready for bed I sat out with the others for a bit.  It would have been nice to have a fire but there is a burn ban on for the entire Vancouver Island.  I got into my tent at 9:00 and I don’t have to be up for 12 hours.  We are going north to the Fox Group 6 miles away and need to wait for the flood.


 I’d slept ok and everybody else said they did too.  Just after I had turned out my light at 10:00 I heard a soft whirring and repeated squeals in the wooded area right behind my tent.  I think a bird got one of the squirrels that we had seen darting around.  There are a surprising number of them.

 This time I heard my alarm and got up to see the sun shining through clouds and mud.  Lots of mud.  The tide was continuing to drop, no worries about a canoe ladder here. We decided to head to the Fox Group and likely have lunch there and continue on to Echo Bay.  This will set us up better to go up Tribune Channel. I was waiting for the tide to come up and got some pics of a doe and her fawn going up the rocks on the other side of the cove.  Jeannie played the probe to find the glassy mud wasn’t that bad to walk on so we hauled out the boats and gear, loaded up and left about 1000.  I wasn’t sorry to leave our spot; those rocks and logs were difficult to deal with.

 The fog didn’t make it feasible to go west so we opted to go east along the bottom of Midsummer Island, swing through Spring Passage and then head up Retreat Passage between Bonwick and Gilford Islands. The current had us moving right along as we entered the south end of Spring but by the time we were hitting the mid point it had changed.  We started eddy hopping along the west side of it.  The fog was lifting as we came out and past Morning Lts and headed for Seabreeze island and from there into Retreat Passage. As the day wore on I could see wrong kinds of clouds beginning to roll in and too many shore birds on the rocks.

 We stopped for an hour for lunch around 11:30 somewhere on Gilford Island below Bear Hill on a north facing beach across from Henrietta Island.  After lunch we headed on up Retreat Passage.  We could see the Fox Island Group but was having a hard time figuring out which one had the campsite on it.  We wound up swinging to the right and heading towards Cramer Pass.  We had to stop for a bio break outside False Cove.  It took a while; we landing on a narrow shelf of rocks along the inhospitable rocky shore. I had an energy bar while I waited for Terry; the others had gone to different sites or waited in their boats.  Once we were together again we got spread out a bit crossing towards the point.  At the higher tide the entrance on the south side of Cramer turns into a series of tiny islands.  We could see power boats coming in and out of the channel.  We opted at different points to squeeze in and start heading up the narrow pass.  The slight wind was now behind us and picking up a bit but never became troublesome.  The clouds increased and Jeannie and Lori pulled farther ahead.  I could see where there were houses and docks along the right side but nothing that looked like a marina.  I got out my monocular and watched as Lori and Jeannie crossed along the few houses next to the water.  I tried hailing them on my radio but there was no reply.  There was a rather dilapidated building with a dock that might have been the museum that people talked about visiting. But I still couldn’t see anything that looked like a campground. Terry decided to go check out where a sailboat was next to a dock in front of a house as I paddled closer.  By the time he came back out saying that the marina park was around the headland I had already concluded that all of this was private property.  By this time we had caught up to the others so we all continued on together around the point.  There were houses with decks and porches with plenty of people in them, some waving and saying hello.  I asked one of them how they got their power and he said they all had generators.  That explained the racket.  Frankly I couldn’t see the appeal of it although the view was ok. 

 We got on around what looked a glorified dock with a huge boat and a couple smaller ones that passed for the marina.  We had been told that the campground was by an old grounded lighthouse.  We saw the lighthouse on the left side of the cove and were still puzzled about where we were supposed to camp.  Some continued to the very back where there was a muddy patch but my gut was telling me that where a sloping middenshell beach stretched in front of a falling down old house, with trash and rusting debris in the sparse grass in between was it. It turned out I was wrong.  If you make a left and continue up the embankment you come to a grove of trees with some flat cleared tent sites under them.  There was also a toilet that was in surprisingly good condition.  I don’t think it’s used very much and for good reason.

 We hauled out and pitched our tents, me on the beach, Terry and Jeannie in the trees and Lori and Jerry in their tent on the sort of flat grass.  There was a bench up there where we gathered to eat our meals with a flat board kitchen area off to the side above the beach where Terry cooked his and mine pasta.  We skipped the salad.  Clean up was quick as the water was easily accessed.  We didn’t have a whole lot of time though as it was growing dark fast in that cove. 

 I knew that if we went up to Bond Sound to see the only old growth forest left on the BC coast it would take three days.  One day to go to the campground south of Irvine Pt, the next day to explore Bond Sound and walk the trail to the forest and the next day to paddle out with another night likely in Echo Bay again. The Burdwood Group with its midden shell beaches had been closed to camping at the request of the First Nations people.  There are no other campsites for a more than one or two tents on either side of Tribune Channel on the north side of Gilford. In spite of its size, Gilford offers few camping opportunities.  I had really been looking forward to the numerous waterfalls, including Lacey Falls, on the north side.  But I was concerned that my present paddling condition was going to turn this adventure into a long slog that might end up not being very rewarding. Returning to this ugly little campsite for another night was depressing.  After a brief discussion we regretfully decided to bail the side trip and head to the Fox Group and see what we could find out.  I got into my tent before the bugs came out and fell asleep.


 The rain began during the night and was raining lightly by the time we shoved off.  A clap of thunder sounded just as we pulled our boats off the beach around 0900. The sun had came out briefly as I waited by my boat, admiring the beautiful rock faces across from the marina.  It wasn’t hard to see why there were all these midden shells here.  But it was a strange little cove with the lop sided former lighthouse and buildings that looked semi abandoned.  The whole place felt like it was a dump with stuff dragged to it to be forgotten.  I’ve camped in worse places but still I wasn’t sorry to say goodbye.

 The south island of the Fox Group has a fine view down Arrow Passage and is in a good place to be if weather hauls in.  It and probably Owl Island north is going head and head as the most used campsites by the guides and private groups alike. Both of these sites were full the last time I was here and I knew if anything the competition would be even stiffer now. We shoved off in the increasing rain but no more thunder sounded as we headed back the way we had come.  We were approached by an incoming horde of doubles being lead by a Canadian who was more cheerful than anybody but a Canadian has a right to be.  He told us there were two large campsites on Fox Island with brand new tent platforms and covered kitchens with picnic tables and they had the one on the right facing the beach.  Best of all the one on the left was open as of when they had left.   They were on a day trip to check out the museum before having lunch and heading back.  

 We made pretty quick time to the end of the channel to find that the islands were now a connected group and we had to go around the farthest point before swinging south again.  While the visability was good we still were not sure which island was actually the campground; we could only go by the notes on our charts. But when we got there we found the left side was still empty.  The tide was out, and there was plenty of space to pull our boats up.  The problem was how we were supposed to actually get to the campsites.  It was finally determined that there were two ways but both involved using a rope to get up the embankment to the actual sites.

 This was a beautiful campsite and we quickly claimed our tent platforms.  Everything looked and smelled brand new; I believe they were built in May 2023. There is more wood and building materials stacked close to where Lori and Jerry camped and one was marked “Bathroom No 2.”  It’s needed because Bathroom No 1 is all the way at the top of the hill.  It was a clean (though no TP) cedar sun toilet and on the edge of the clearing where there was another 3-4 tent sites available.  There was a couple more tent platforms on the trail from the bathroom back to the outfitter’s camp.  While the trip from our camp was not very long or arduous I stumbled on some roots coming and going and don’t think I would want to mess with it at night.

 The sun couldn’t make up its mind but I did to hang a tarp over my tent and set up my stuff.  The kitchen was a real treat with a west view of the water and a nice long wide shelf on two sides.  A grand large picnic table took up quite a bit of the remaining space.  We found it had a resident squirrel I promptly named Skippy.  This squirrel appeared as soon as anybody entered the shelter; she must be watching the place from a tree or something.  It was nice to set up our lunch in such a clean, dry and pretty place after the last campsite.  And I was delighted to see clearly marked Culturally Modified Trees along the beach and in front of our kitchen!!

 Terry and I opted to stay in camp while the others went out for an afternoon paddle.  It was nice to sit in the kitchen, drinking hot chocolate and listen to the pattering rain on the roof.  Skippy and Terry immediately squared off in each corner.  The squirrel was well used to people, even approaching us on the table top until Terry chased her away.  She ran up on the beams of the roof and they glared at each other.  I agree with Terry; squirrels are vermin and merely rats with fluffy tails but still I think they are really cute.  We didn’t feed her of course but she must really clean up off the floor and anything that falls through the cracks. 

 Eventually the others came back from their travels; it sounded like they had gone up to at least Insect and Fly Islands before returning. The Canadian group also returned rather late in the afternoon.  In the meantime Terry and I had gone out on the rocks after going through the empty camp kitchen next door.  You can tell it was an outfitter’s….they even had a Dutch Oven!  Enormous carrying bags of water.  I don’t know where their food was but I imagine it is in cans somewhere.

 The sun came out for a short time and warmed the rocks up a bit before disappearing again.  I wished the tide would drop down enough to go to the rocky tombolo on the west side of the island but the timing never worked out either.  I also never got to visit our Canadian neighbors.  The forecast was for the front to continue until Monday and I believed it…the birds were all over the rock in the bay in front of our kitchen and showed no signs they were going to leave.

 It was my turn to cook for Terry and me and we had a salad with the shepherds pie made with the sausage and loaded baked potatoes with green beans and I shared chocolate cookies that were gleefully accepted by the entire group to my surprise. It was nice to have both a tarp to sit in my chair under by my tent and also picnic table at the group kitchen. I tried hanging my food in there and Skippy was immediately up the rope.  She was just reaching for my lunch box when Jerry whacked the whole mess and she went off like Rocky the Flying Squirrel to the ground.  She didn’t take it lying down and was soon back but I think she gave Jerry a wide berth and a few dirty looks. I hauled my stuff down and hung it from a tree a distance away from our tents.  It was tough finding one; most of the trees didn’t have well placed limbs to hang food.

 It was nice going into my tent knowing that it was a flat and level surface and that we would be paddling the next day with empty boats.  And this pleasant place to come back to.  The only problem is getting up and down that bank….


 It was easy to get up to have an empty boat launch to go explore the islands to the west.  I could observe the birds on the rocks more closely—they still showed no interest in leaving—and at least the front and sides of the mysterious tombolo.  Our Canadian neighbors left to go to Eden Island to see a sea lion colony that is supposed to be there somewhere on the north side; we never made it that far.

 I was headed in completely the wrong direction before a yell from the others following Jeannie’s GPS had me turn and go down Arrow instead of (I guess) Retreat Passage. We followed along the south side of Mars in the iffy sunshine to get to Hudson and Crib Islands and the rest of the little Sunday group.  We paused often to look at the wildlife, particularly whales.  We had our regular hour long lunch on Crib Island.  The landing was somewhat soggy as the tide was out and there was a group of two very nice Canadians couples slowly packing up their kayaks to leave.  They kindly shared some of their water with us which was even more nice when I learned that they were continuing on.  After lunch we headed over to check out the campsites on Tracey.  The farthest east one was, as promised, a soggy looking bog to camp on only if you had to on a neap tide but the western one was a pleasant surprise.  There was a gentle current pushing us past a nice easily accessed beach a short distance from numerous good looking flat places in the trees with at least one (now tarped) kitchen in the woods.  We agreed that if we hadn’t left our stuff at Fox we would be up there unpacking. 

 I had timed it so that we could go through the very narrow channel between Tracey and Mars.  It’s also short but there was still enough time to get pictures and to measure the 4’ of water on my stick before getting to the deeper east end. 

 The concern was growing about water at this point and we decided to duck into Waddington Bay where it was rumored there was a place to find some.  I couldn’t see anything promising except at the far southern side of the very back and Jerry went back there to go see.  I was dismayed to see that just like the birds there were too many power boats in that bay. I paddled up to one and asked a lady about the weather report.  She kept asking somebody who didn’t bother to show himself but really couldn’t tell me anything except it was going to keep raining.  Some kayakers paddling around said the same thing.  When the others joined up with me we began trick or treating for some water to the boats.  Terry got a big bag filled and then I had to be directed by him on how to get his front hatch cover off so that we could store it in there.  There were both American and Canadian boats.  Almost every Canadian I have met so far has said they are from Vancouver.  I guess this place is really getting sold in Vancouver.   The forecast was finally confirmed that this system was not going to move until at least Tuesday. Sigh. 

 After getting our water we headed on back quickly to our pretty camp.  Terry and I cooked our own dinners; I had soup.  The rain continues to fall steadily on the tarp although there was some opportunity for my stuff to get aired out under the tarp.

 MON 07/24/23 FOX ISLAND TO FLOWER ISLAND.  11 NM.  WW 0-1’ SE 0-15,  RAIN THEN SHOWERS,  VISABILITY GOOD. ALERT BAY: 11.8 @ 0545, 5.2 @  1159, 13.1 @ 1840.

 It rained a lot during the night; I was glad I had my tarp.  I packed everything up and it was easier to toss my bags down the embankment rather than the other way around.  The nice Canadian couple we had launched before with had showed up and taken one of the tent pads between the two campsites.  Their bright smiles made up for the sunshine that was missing; they really seemed to be enjoying themselves.  I wished them a safe and happy journey and swung down the ropes to the beach.  The water was about where we had arrived in.  The Canadians had abandoned their paddling plans to stay in their campsite and we left. Just as we were heading out a water taxi came in with some boats on top but didn’t stay.  Given the choice I would have headed to Tracey.  As it was we were going to head for Flower but there was no guarantee we’d get to stay.

 The drops were steady except when they weren’t but we made steady progress down Retreat Passage.  I squinted over at Grebe Cove but couldn’t see much of what, if anything there was in the way of boats in it.  Once past Salt Island the channel widened to twice its size but we held our course heading for the archipelago off of Gilford Island. I heard a rattle and a chuff and saw at least two orcas going along the Bonwick Island shore.  Terry mentioned that the current was picking up in the middle and then a humpback appeared smack in it.  We didn’t pause very long, we were in the back eddy so kept moving at a nice speed.  But the back eddy was getting narrower as we approached Bear Hill.  The water was moving west at least 3 knots in Spring Passage out of Knight Inlet right where we wanted to go.

 We rafted up for a bio break and quick discussion inside a tiny cove at the point.  Being the weakest paddler I went first around the rocks where the wind then hit us it in the face.  It wasn’t too bad though and we made steady progress to the next little cove a short distance away.  A quick breather there and then out again where I promptly got into a wrestling match with the kelp.  It kept wrapping around my stick to my increasing fury as the wind continued to push me backwards.  The others had already left the cove by the time I got straightened out and moving in the right direction, this time in the rear.  We decided to pull out at the closest and smaller of the upcoming coves to take another breather.  It was about 11:30 and we decided to eat lunch on the rocky beach out of the wind and wait for the current to die down.  The sun came out weakly—or tried to a couple of times during the hour that we were there.  But the water definitely slowed down by the time we shoved off.  I figured a heading to get us in the middle of Ridge Islets and the wind wasn’t an issue as it was now coming from the side. It took about 30 minutes to get to the closest islands.  I noticed the birds weren’t leaving either.  It was a bit of a respite and a pretty place to float along in the increasingly pleasant conditions. We threaded our way between the shores before taking another almost direct line to Rocky Point.  It was easy to see how it got its name with large smooth pale boulders extending out into the water. We hugged the Crease Island side and ducked into a small cove as there was supposed to be a campsite there.  I didn’t see anything to write home about and the carry across the mud flat at low tide would not have been something I wanted to face first thing in the morning.  We didn’t see any evidence of goats on Goat Island and continued on west in the somewhat brightening skies.  The rain was switching to light showers as we turned into Village Channel and headed to Leone Island.  There are two campsites on it and while we could see where that would be possible in the clumps of trees in the middle it wasn’t real obvious where you would have to leave your kayak. We headed along the Berry Island north side where I was looking for the pictographs from my last trip.  What we saw was not exactly what I remembered but these were smaller and not terribly distinctive.  It would be easy to miss them completely.

 We swung back over to go check out the campsites at Maggy Point on Crease Island as the showers alternated with sunshine.  The first one was inside the cove and we didn’t even bother to get out of our boats. It would have been a mud hole when the tide went out.  We went on around the small headland to the second one to land on a pebbly beach with plants growing around the top like a fringe on a bald man’s head.  A thicket of salal bushes almost obscured the roof of a kitchen shelter.  We got out at this one but I didn’t get past the kitchen shelter.  It was a bit of a mess although Jerry said the toilet was in good shape.  However, given the time we spend in a kitchen vs a toilet we decided to try our luck at Flower with this as the unenthusiastic Plan B.

 I could see Terry was getting itchy to paddle faster so I asked him to go on ahead and check out the campsite situation and he was off like a shot.  There were a few houses and boats at Freshwater Bay as you approach the large rock.  Flower was just beyond it and as I got closer I was cheered to see there were only a couple of kayaks on the beach; another group had left this morning.  Terry was up in the trees talking to a couple of guys when I landed around 1530 or so; he said they were camping another night but were willing to consolidate their tents closer together and give us the other spaces.  They had a nice tarp set up over the middle kitchen area; we wound up taking the one on the left.  I chose a small spot on the beach for my tent but struggled to get a tarp over it before I just gave up. Meantime the others set up a kitchen tarp of Jeannie’s. The rain had decreased for now but not enough to dry anything out and there wasn’t much of a breeze to do it either. 

 We found out pretty quick that if you want to watch whales Blackfish Sound is a good place to do it.  There was plenty of chuffing, rearing backs and the occasional fluke appearing.  Flower Island has no toilet and is in danger of being shut down as a campsite and it’s not hard to see why.  I was dismayed to see confirmation of an earlier paddler’s notes about the mess. There was a lot of toilet paper on the rocks and the foliage along the shore. The salal is so thick that the trail ends pretty quick although you can still reach the other side if you are determined enough.  

 We made our dinners and had some pleasant conversations under the tarp.  Brad and Steven were going to be out a few more days and heading up to Owl in the a.m.  They knew each other years ago in Vancouver but now Brad lives in AZ with his wife and seems pretty happy there. They were very kind to accommodate us and we all appreciated it.

 I had decided that I was going to take the next day off from paddling and try to take advantage of any sun that might show up to dry out my wet sleeping bag.  I had already been to the Indian and Carey Group years ago so Terry agreed to be the trip leader.

 I watched some whales and rainbows in the gathering gloom after cleaning myself up I then got into my tent and went to sleep.


 As reported by Terry Jaret:

 It had rained pretty steadily for most of the night.  Launched at 1030.  Paddled to Mound Island to see abandoned village at the north end, east side of a tiny passage.  Beautiful large midden shell beach with 2-3 terraced levels along the bottom that was mixed with more shells.  Two culturally modified trees, could have been more.  Met another group that had been on Flower Island who actually asked permission to come to shore to stop for lunch.  Continued on through Indian Channel on the south side of the Carey Group to Village Island.  There were several houses at the Indian Reservation on the right.  The currents in Elliot Passage and the outflow from Knight Inlet merge on the ebb.  The water level was too low to approach Mamalilaculla on the right side so they continued on to the cove north of it where there was a dock.  There is also an empty floating building with a narrow path leading from the beach to the old village site.

 The group had lunch for about ½ an hour before spending another hour exploring the village.  They continued on in their boats through Village Channel, cutting over from Maud Island to Alder Island in the Carey Group.  At some point they saw two whales and one came very close to Jeannie’s boat.  They continued along the south side of Berry Island and returned to Flower Island about 1730. 


Mamalilikulla is the historic main winter village of descendants of the Mimkwamlis First Nation tribe.  They believe this island is where their tribe began when the Creator gave a blind man his sight back and the tribe and village are named after him. It is the site of the final secret potlatch that was raided by the Canadian officials in 1921 that sent 22 people to jail and all regalia, instruments and goods were confiscated according to the anti-potlatch proclamation of 1885.   Most of the tribal children here and all over Canada were forcibly separated from their families and sent to government schools such as St. Michaels Indian Residential School in Alert Bay on nearby Cormorant Island.  (https://roadstories.ca/st-michaels-residential-school/) The ban was lifted in 1951 but took a long time before the potlatches were resumed. St. Michaels was demolished in Feb 2015. The tribe is working hard to restore the customs, songs, dances and language of their people.

 Today there is not much left of the village and the tribes prefer it that way.  There are the remains of the posts that were part of the entrance to one of the longhouses with a remaining piece of a rotting totem close by. The site was covered with thimble berries that had paths cleared to some modern looking buildings and the dock.  It also has a port-a-potty.

 More info on the tribe and the village can be found at https://coastfunds.ca/stories/mamalilikulla-guardian-watchmen-fulfilling-ancestral-responsibilities-for-the-benefit-of-future-generations/.

 I slept in and when I got up Brad and Steven were packing up to leave; they had a lot of stuff and it took a long time.  I moved my tent after they had left to a nice spot under the trees. I spent the day reading, taking pictures, watching and listening to the whales.  A lot of whales. And way too many boats.  From about 9 am to 5 pm every time a whale came up there was between one and three whale watching boats right on it.  They stayed the required distance away but continued to holler through megaphones to their passengers and never cut their engines.  Once the whale dove deep they’d gun their motors and roar off to another sighting.  Same for the fishing boats. There were numerous kayaks coming back and forth to the outfitters camp to the north of the island but nobody stopped at Flower.  I didn’t bother to try to go up the trail.  I made my way carefully around the rocks and perched on the fallen logs and my chair in camp to read.

 There is an eagle family up in the trees right above the campsite.  They have at least one junior member who is in the awkward stage.  I saw two adults later but don’t know if they were squabbling or trying to mate as they ducked around each other over the water before settling back in the trees.  It was pleasant to hear their eeking and trilling when the boats weren’t blasting.

 Soon after the group came back we started fixing our dinners.  I made the shepherds pie for Terry and I again, this time with chicken and corn.  I think I like the sausage better.  I’m going to quit bringing cabbage and bring zucchini instead.  It packs and keeps better and can be eaten cooked or raw. 

 Nobody seemed to be able to come up with a consensus of what the game plan was for the next day.  It was getting close to dark and I was heading for my tent when Terry came up to me and said nothing had really been decided.  I told him to grab his chart and went back to the kitchen area. I checked the tide tables—currents wouldn’t be too much of a factor—and did the route.  Terry and I both wanted to see White Cliff Island group and we all wanted to check out the north campsite on Owl Island.  After a short discussion I said we would launch around 1000, be back around 1500 and went to bed.




I slept a lot better on my more level tent surface and of course since I had put up a tarp there was little or no rain.  I lay in my bag listening to the chuffing of whales and the squeaking of eagles.  Sometimes it sounded like a whale was just outside my tent.


I got up and it was nice to shove off in an empty boat under promising skies with no fog or rain.  We paddled along the south side of Swanson noting potential campsites and a few houses along the way.  I can’t remember now if it was at Flower or more likely the west end of Swanson Island that we saw a video camera set up and we wondered what it was for.


The sea was calm as we rounded Bold Head and Queen Charlotte Strait opened out in front of us.  Very soon a whale appeared fairly nearby and we spent some time watching it and getting some pictures before continuing on. The currents shifted around a bit as we headed through the past Wedge Island with the little Surge Islands on the right, then Whale Rock (no whales or seals either), aptly named Round Island and on to White Cliff Islets.  We saw a few power boats going back and forth, most with kayaks.  We didn’t hurry and got up to the Islets around 11:30.   It was worth taking the extra time as we circled around the islands, looking for landing and camping areas.  There was supposed to be one but we didn’t find it although there might have been something more accessible at a higher tide.  I wouldn’t want to be there with the wind and waves acting up; it’s pretty exposed.  You can see where it takes it on the chin for Fire Island and the area between Owl and Swanson. 


After a bio break and some more floating around we moved on towards Fire Island. The current was becoming evident as we headed down Providence Passage, mostly against us as we were getting close to the end of the ebb.  I was looking at the rocks along the way and was startled to see a series of patterns on just a small section on the north side.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  The pale brown and regular colored rocks were spattered with all different shapes and sizes of a darker rock. I wondered at first if it was some kind of pictographs but the patterns extended down under the water surface and were covered with barnacles as far down as I could see.  I found out later that this is caused when two different kinds of rock are superheated and one melts onto the other. Give it enough shakes by tectonic plates and the speckled part can rise to the surface.  This can also be seen on parts of the North Cascades Highway.


We paused at the campground on Cedar to find Brad and Steve there along with a few others.  A couple of people got out to check it out; I stayed in my boat. The opinion was the same as I remembered it: dark except on the beach.  But not too bad.  We continued on to Owl and were stunned to see the campground was empty!  There were a few boats on the beach but they were leaving.  It’s easy to see why Owl North is in great demand.  Lots of tent spaces, easy access to the beach and a good landing/launching zone.  The toilet was in good shape too.  We had a pleasant lunch hour in the warm sunshine down on the beach rather than at a shady picnic table.  I would say that this and Tracey are the best campsites we had seen so far.


We packed up and headed out down the narrow passage.  I stayed in the shade as it was getting increasingly warm. We cleared the end to head past Jumble Island towards the now familiar Swanson Passage.  I counted three large fish pens off in the distance along the north side of Swanson; I remembered them from last time.  I was grateful that this was the closest to any fish pens that we had throughout the entire trip.


This time the current was with us as we went south down Swanson and it didn’t take long to turn the corner at Stoke Pt and head back to Flower.  We arrived pretty much on time at 1500.  We found another couple had arrived and taking the last campsite available. 


I didn’t waste much time getting changed and we all began spreading out our gear and selves on the rocks on the south side to dry and air out in the sunshine.  My miserable chart had fallen apart in pieces and it took quite a while to carefully duct tape the parts I would need for the trip back to Telegraph Cove.  When done I triumphantly waved it at Jeannie who had laughed when she saw what I was doing. 


We dismantled the tarp after dinner and I put a few things in my boat.  The discussion began over what we would do the next day.  I firmly vetoed being on Johnstone Strait in the afternoon, regardless of the direction.  One of the things I had noticed was that the enormous cruise ships seemed to be coming through Blackney Passage in the late afternoons and I wasn’t going to deal with that if we didn’t have to. We needed to cross in the morning regardless of the bailed plan to go to Alert Bay.   I had seen tankers in the a.m. in Johnstone Strait on my last trip and hoped we wouldn’t have any fog like last time.   I decided that we would go back the way we came; going through Blackney Passage would have restricted our timing and would have just added miles. After some more pleasant conversations I turned in after getting cleaned up.




We said goodbye to the eagles and launched around 0930.  After a brief radio call we headed more or less straight across Blackfish Sound to the easily visible shore of Hanson Island.  Today we took our time to meander through the bays and coves of Hanson’s ragged shoreline after I confirmed we had cleared on the radio. One thing that I saw that I had somehow completely missed our first time in Double Bay was the screaming red roofs on what is obviously a resort with an extended dock of some kind.  It is marked “Double Bay Resort” on my chart.  Only now it isn’t.  It became Pacific Outback Resort and then was purchased in 2018 by a private party who is converting the whole thing to be a whale sanctuary for one Northern Orca, Corky II.  She was born a member of the A5 Pod that often passes through Blackfish Sound.  Corky was captured at Pender Harbor in the Gulf Islands in 1969 when she was about four years old and eventually wound up in Sea World in San Diego in 1987.  None of her offspring survived although she did  act as a surrogate mother once.  At approx 58 years old, she is the oldest captive orca. SeaWorld San Diego refuses to release her, saying she will not survive.  The Canadians have been lobbying for her return and this area is planned to be her new home.  Basically she is trading a tank for a big net that will still keep her isolated but the hope is that she will able to communicate with her family pod. She would continue to be hand fed and medically attended to.  Unless her family manages to spring her! https://doublebaysanctuary.org/the-sanctuary/ 


We continued on through the pretty shoreline and stopped to check out the campsites along the west side of Hanson.  We agreed that it was worth the extra miles in the a.m. to stay at Flower; Leg Cove felt kind of dark although that was not likely the case in the afternoon.  After a bio/snack break we loaded back in and made for Weynton Island.  This time we went along the north side of it to check out the sea life along the way.  No urchins that we could see on this side.  We paused on the other side and I made the radio call that we were getting ready to cross.  There were no ships in sight other than a few power boats.  Suddenly a whale came up right next to the rocks to our left behind us. I didn’t know they got THAT close to the rocks!  A fishing boat joined us as we waited until it disappeared.  I never got a picture of course.


As notated on the chart we had some rips to cross in front of the island.  The chattering water was fun to paddle through although I can see where the usual 30 knot afternoon winds could be a different story.  It was pretty much at slack so no need for corrections so we basically headed straight for Ella Point.  The entrance to Beaver Cove is easy to spot with a tall pointed mountain to the right of it.  The sky was brightening as we made our easy way towards the new construction.  Once across I made my radio call to confirm our crossing, took some parting pics of and said goodbye to Johnstone Strait.  Now a short hop around the headland to glide into Telegraph Cove.  Being about noon it was a lot more busy than when we had left it. There were a few rec boats and kayaks coming and going so we took as little room as possible to land and unload.  I preferred to unload at the water edge while the others used slings to get their loaded boats up to a staging area at the top of the ramp.  It was getting pretty warm by the time the cars were brought down and we could change before finishing getting our boats tied on and gear stored.


Jerry and Lori opted to stay at the boardwalk and check out the shops while Terry, Jeannie and I went to the campsite.  We had a different one than before and didn’t really like it and the kind and obliging campground manager gave us some other choices.  We chose one that was next to the entrance to a trail on the opposite side of the common.  It was nice to have a big secured area for the dumpsters where we could throw our trash out. The free hot shower was very welcome and the bathroom well kept in spite of being in a campground.  The whole facility here was nice with a big covered patio area with tables to eat outside if wanted.  Lots of shade or sunny places to sit as preferred. 


Once we were cleaned up and our tents settled we walked to the “town”. It was a lot less busy in between the lunch and dinner hours and I could pause and read some of the history posted on the various buildings. Eventually we wound up at the whale museum for a small entrance fee.  It reminded me of the one at Friday Harbor with the skeleton of a whale hanging from the ceiling.  (I wonder how much that weighs?)  After a while I went outside sit at a table that I shared with a talkative Canadian and his sweet dog.  I thought she was going to climb into my lap!  They were waiting for the rest of the family to come back from a whale watching trip.   Eventually I went back inside to find Lori and Jerry had joined us and were talking with one of the docents.  I brought up my dismay with the noise level and general harassment by the whale watching boats.  She pointed out several times that they stay a required distance but unfortunately the noise is something they can’t do much about right now.  Telegraph Cove’s only economy comes from tourists and most of them appear to be doing those boat tours.  But all boats are required by law to come to a stop when a whale is sighted and to remain until it submerges which explains the fishing boat this morning.  We also found out that the camera that we had observed yesterday is the museum’s.  They are monitoring the area and likely have shots of us!


We had reservations for one of the two restaurants but had to wait a while longer.  The sunshine was warm but I had already discovered that sitting above the water on that dock in shorts and a t shirt was not enough.  Terry very kindly offered to go back to the campground and get my bag of clothes.  I went down and waited at one of the little empty tables and in spite of the busy foot traffic was almost nodding off in the sunshine.  Jeannie came and got me; somehow Terry had walked right past me!  We were seated on the outside deck on the shady side so I was glad to have my jacket. The menu was not surprisingly limited; it must be a lot of work to get food up here and unloaded.   We shared a yummy dessert.  Good thing…there was a lot of it.  After we had eaten we watched the clever crows picking through the emptied tables. I wonder if they are on the payroll….talk about working for food, haha.


Jerry and Lori drove back to set up their campsite;  I didn’t see them again.  The rest of us walked back.  I tried rearranging some stuff in the back of the car but there wasn’t much I could do. Jerry and Lori wanted to catch the earliest ferry but the rest of us didn’t want to be up before dawn to do that.  We figured to leave around 8:00. 




I’d set my alarm for 7:30 or so and we were on the road pretty quick.  We decided to stop at the Thrifty Mart again to save some time.  I figured I would wait for the ferry and went back out to the car. Jeannie had to stop for gas at Woss and then a full tank someplace else before we got to the ferry.  We made it with plenty of time.  There were a few people walking around; it was a beautiful day.  I think a reservation had been made the day before but am not sure. As soon as boarded  we went upstairs and I had a regular meal. I can’t remember what it was but it included a salad that was surprisingly good.  And of course, ice cream.  The meals have gotten pricier but the food is still good.  The sailing was pretty quiet and we arrived on time.  Jeannie didn’t want to wait the half an hour or whatever it was at the Peace Arch so we wound up driving way east to another crossing.  It wasn’t Sumac.  We didn’t have much in the way of traffic and arrived at Terry’s without any hassles.  It didn’t take long to get my stuff loaded on and in my hot little car. Hugs goodbye and I got home in the early evening without much traffic.

All paddler performed very well with excellent group dynamics.