Cruising the Broughton Archipelago - By Instalments

Albin Sightings! Where did you go, who did you meet?

Moderator: jcollins

Post Reply
dkirsop
Gold Member
Gold Member
Posts: 516
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2013 10:15 pm
Home Port: Pender Island, BC, Canada

In June 2016 we took our first trailer adventure to cruise the Broughton Islands. I was not familiar with posting to this site at the time. Since then I have replied to several postings from members inquiring about cruising the area and so feel this topic may be of interest to some members. I will be posting the cruise in several instalments as it takes time to organize events and pictures.

The Broughton Acrchipelago includes many islands and a large area of water. My wife has mobility issues and we have found that it is necessary to tie up to a wharf for the evenings in order to get on and off the boat. We set up our itinerary with this in mind. The illustration below shows our route and the islands we stopped at. Our voyage began and ended at Port McNeill, BC.
0 Broughton Islands Map.jpg


Episode 1 - Pender Island to Alert Bay

Pender Island is situated in the Straight of Georgia near the southern tip of Vancouver Island about 600km south of the Broughton Archipelago. To avoid a long cruise north we decided to trailer to Port McNeill near the northern end of Vancouver Island and launch there. This was to be our first attempt at a trailer cruise using our recently acquired trailer.
1 Leaving Pender.jpg
Waiting for the ferry June 15 to depart Pender island. The trailer was about 1 year old at this time and modified with roller bunks to facilitate loading and unloading. When taking these small inter-island ferries one has to avoid low tides to avoid steep ramp to deck angles which could result in damaging the rudder keg when driving on and off. We made a noon departure on a favourable tide.

Arriving in Duncan I noticed one of the turn signals not functioning properly. Upon investigation I determined the problem was more serious than just the turn signal - there appeared to be a ground fault in the system and it could potentially result in the trailer brakes not working. It had to be fixed before we travelled further. It took a few phone calls but a company called PJ Automotive took me on short notice and had the problem sorted by noon. Great service from knowledgable folks!
2 Trailer Repairs.jpg
We arrived Campbell River in the evening to discover another problem! Wind had gotten under the pilot house hatch, lifted it and torn the screws out that attached the cover hinges to the pilot house. Thankfully, damage was minor and the support arms had prevented the hatch from fully lifting and detaching. Next day I sourced some hold-down clamps from a marine store and made repairs in the Home Depot parking lot with a rented drill. Another noon departure and arrival at Port McNeill around 16:00 hours.
3 Port McNeill.jpg
4 PMcN Boat Boat Ramp.jpg
The Town of Port McNeill has an excellent ramp and marina which I recommend for anyone thinking of travelling up that way. The marina is to the right of ramp in the above photo. I had called the marina staff in advance of our travel who referred me to a nearby secure parking facility where I could leave my car and trailer. It was a short walk away. The launch was a breeze and we tied up to our berth for the night.

In the morning we departed for Sointula on Malcolm Island. Sointula started life a a commune by Finnish settlers seeking a better life than working in the coal mines of Nanaimo. There is only limited wharfage available and it was quite a distance from the village with no services. We elected to view the village initially from the water and return at the end of our trip as foot passengers on the ferry from Port McNeill.
5 Sointula from the water.jpg
6 Old boathouse, Sointula.jpg
Next we set course for Cormorant Island and the indigenous community of Alert Bay. The natives run a full service marina that is very welcoming. At the time of our arrival the fishery was in full swing and there were more bald eagles than crows in the neighbourhood feasting on the left overs from the gutting tables. By the end of the day our fascination with the eagles and their cries was trending towards annoyance - it all goes away by sunset and starts again in the morning.
7 Alert Bay welcome.jpg
8 Alert Bay harbour.jpg
9 Jam packed.jpg
10 Eating fish heads.jpg
11 MV Deerleap 1929.jpg
Alert Bay is an indigenous community that has evolved to embrace its heritage and overcome a legacy of colonial oppression. Everywhere you look artwork and native culture is on display. There is an excellent museum within walking distance of the marina. The U’mista Cultural Centre is well worth visiting with a comprehensive display of repatriated artifacts, native coppers, ceremonial regalia and masks. There is a boardwalk along the waterfront that has viewing platforms decorated in native carvings.
12 Indian dugout in garage.jpg
13 Netloft.jpg
14 Anglican church, Alert Bay.jpg
15 Golden eagle.jpg
16 Burial totems.jpg
17 part of Alert Bay boardwalk.jpg
On June 19 we departed Alert Bay for Port Harvey - more to follow.
18 leaving Alert Bay.jpg
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
Hull No. 1013, 1971
WillieC
Gold Member
Gold Member
Posts: 1833
Joined: Wed Nov 13, 2013 10:48 am
Home Port: Hood Canal, WA

This is great, Dave. Keep them coming! Tell us more about the water and weather conditions.
dkirsop
Gold Member
Gold Member
Posts: 516
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2013 10:15 pm
Home Port: Pender Island, BC, Canada

Episode 2

Leaving Alert Bay we turned east and proceeded along Johnstone Strait. If you are going to encounter rough water conditions this is it as winds often blow strong along the strait and in either direction the is a long fetch. Wind against tide can result in very challenging conditions. Fortunately for us all was calm and it was smooth motoring all the way to Port Harvey.

As we progressed I couldn’t help but notice that we were coming up fast on a large commercial tug. It is a rare and photo worthy event when Sea Quill gets to speed past another motorized vessel.
19 We passed a tug.jpg
Of course it helped that the Chieftan II was pulling an 400m long log boom! This is what they call a bundle boom where each bundle in the boom consists of 12 to 15 logs.
20 pulling a log boom.jpg
It was an uneventful but scenic trip all the way to Port Harvey where we were introduced to the traditional practice of the Pot Luck ‘Appy Hour. Many of the docks we called into on our trip partake in this tradition. Every one gathers at a designated place and brings with them an appetizer to share and their own drink. The dock owner also contributes a dish too. Usually there is too much food and it ends up being dinner too. There is lots of socializing and everyone has a good time. So if you come up this way make sure you have provisions for sharing appetizers.
21 Port Harvey.jpg
22 Port Harvey, E Cracroft Is..jpg
As we departed the following morning we passed by the incoming propane barge. Most docks were just opening up and provisioning for the season so the barge became a familiar site in our cruise. This reminds me that the company also has a larger, passenger carrying landing craft that books tours of the Broughton and Discovery Islands as it goes about its routine business. This would be an alternative to cruising in your own boat. Google Aurora Explorer if you think it would be something to consider.
23 propane delivery.jpg
Leaving Port Harvey we proceeded north along Chatham Channel. It was a clear day with magnificent views. The entry to Chatham Channel is quite narrow and subject to strong tidal currents. Boaters must carefully align with the range markers to avoid running aground on the shoaling banks along both sides of the channel. Once through the channel opens up to spectacular views both ahead and behin.
24 Towards Chatham Channel.jpg
25 Chatham Channel.jpg
Our next landmark was the public dock at Minstrel Island near entry to the Blow Hole and Lagoon Cove further along. Study your chart and keep an eye out for the shoaling rock as you traverse this narrow passage. Interestingly Minstrel Island got its name from a traveling minstrel group that would call in to entertain the community of loggers that existed here towards the end of the 19th century. Place names such as Sambo Point, Negro Rock and Bones Bay in Clio Channel are a reminder of politically incorrect times. There is no longer a village there now.
26 Government Dock, Minstrel Island.jpg
Lagoon Cove is a full service marina with fuel and water. It probably has the best pot luck gathering point on the deck of what was once the boat house slipway. Each evening the owner contributes a bucket of freshly caught and cooked prawns to the gathering. It is a very scenic spot and the gardens are worth wandering through.
27 At Lagoon Cove.jpg
28 The Deck at Lagoon Cove.jpg
June 21 departing Lagoon Cove and about to turn to starboard when the Chief Navigator shouts – go to port, go to port! I immediately turn hard port, thinking to avoid a rock that I clearly had not noticed, when I realized she had spotted a family of grizzly bears on the shore of Minstrel Island. Mom and two cubs were searching the shoreline for sushi. Turning over large rocks as if they were made of styrofoam. The shore fell off sharply and we were able to get quite close. The bears showed only mild curiosity and went about their business. A great beginning to another day!
29 Mom and twins.jpg
Returning to Chatham Channel we turned north to cross Knight Inlet and enter Tribune Channel. Knight Inlet is the longest inlet in BC and can sometimes generate strong outflow winds. This day all was calm and the crossing uneventful.
30 Knight Inlet.jpg
We proceeded up Tribune channel heading to Kwatsi Bay, our destination for the night. Along the way we passed the entrance to Thompson Sound where charter boats often take tourists to view grizzly bears near the top of the sound. A possible anchorage for those so inclined.
31 Thompson Sound.jpg
I have no picture of Kwatsi Bay. It is a single long dock with water but very few services and again, the ritual potluck dinner/appetizer.

To be continued…..
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
Hull No. 1013, 1971
Nancy
Gold Member
Gold Member
Posts: 1329
Joined: Thu Apr 23, 2009 8:41 pm
Home Port: Lake Champlain

Really enjoying this. Thanks for posting.
Nancy
1995 Albin 28TE
Cummins 6BTA5.9 250
Nancy Lee
WillieC
Gold Member
Gold Member
Posts: 1833
Joined: Wed Nov 13, 2013 10:48 am
Home Port: Hood Canal, WA

I am salivating just thinking about fresh prawns. That potluck ritual is quite the draw! Surely that doesn't go on the whole season?
dkirsop
Gold Member
Gold Member
Posts: 516
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2013 10:15 pm
Home Port: Pender Island, BC, Canada

It was raining as we left Kwatsi Bay and proceeded west along Tribune Channel. The rain was to be a constant companion for the next few days and is to be expected in these parts. We encountered our first mega school of dolphins as we entered Tribune Channel. There were at least 50 travelling at high speed and tightly grouped. You could only see the first 4 or 5 distinctly, the rest were obscured by the wash of their bow wave as they sped by. We had two more encounters as the day progressed and each school seemed larger than the last. Of course a camera is never at hand when you need it and the rain on the windows would have obscured the shot.

Rounding a point we came upon Lacey Falls, an equally spectacular view. As it wasn’t going anywhere we had time to set up the perfect shot.
32 Lacy Falls, Tribune Channel.jpg
Our destination for the day was Pierre’s Marina in Echo Bay. Turning in to Echo Bay the first thing you notice are the float homes. These are reminiscent of the many float homes that populated the coast in the early days of logging when loggers brought their families with them to remote coastal postings.
33 Echo Bay Float Homes 1.jpg
33 Echo Bay Float Homes 2.jpg
Pierre’s is a full service marina with guest accommodation should you be fed up with life aboard. The picture below shows a floating guest lodge, there is also land-based accommodation. As with the other ports of call they were just opening up for the season and had not yet fully stocked the shelves. They officially open for the season July 1. The distinguishing feature for Pierre’s is the Pig Roast which was slated for July 1 and already fully booked. The pig roast is a weekly event throughout the summer.
34 Rainy day in Echo Bay.jpg
We had our own deluxe dinner of barbecued salmon that evening aboard the boat of some friends who had just arrived that same day after sailing (ie. motoring) up from Victoria the previous week.
38 Echo Bay Rendezvous.jpg
We stayed on a day to do laundry. The rain continued on and off but there we a few picture opportunities. This eagle decided to grace the flagpole with his regal presence.
35 Favourite perch.jpg
There were other birds too.
36Favourite perch, too!.jpg
It is always a good idea to check under the floats.
37 Sea Water Flora.jpg
Something I advise folks to do when considering the purchase of a boat in these waters is to sit in the cabin and imagine how it would be if it rained continuously for 3 days. If it is not going to provide comfort then don’t buy it. For me, this means it has to be dry and have hot water and heat. Fortunately we score on all three points.
39 Cozy cabin.jpg
We departed Echo Bay June 24, overcast skies, low cloud and intermittent showers, setting course in a south-westerly direction towards Health Bay, a remote Indigenous community, passing many islets along the way.
40 Colours.jpg
41 Health Bay longhouse.jpg
42 New Vancouver.jpg
We initially planned to tie up at the community of New Vancouver but as we were making good progress pushed on to Telegraph Cove instead.

As we transited Blackfish Sound towards Johnstone Strait, we saw our first and only whale during this trip. A humpback breached once and disappeared from view. We learned later that the whales appear around mid-July; we were too early.

Telegraph cove is a snug harbour entered through a narrow 60m wide channel off Johnstone Strait. Keep a sharp lookout as it is easily missed when approaching by water. It is a resort marina with historical ties to logging dating from 1894 and the creation of a telegraph station in 1911. It retains many of the historic buildings and the original boardwalk that provided access from the water. Today it offers moorage for vessels up to 10m in length, a restaurant, a resort motel, supplies and fuel. Its primary attraction is the Whale Interpretation Centre (well worth visiting) and the charter excursions for whale and bear watching. It was here we learned that we were two to three weeks early when it came to whale watching.
43 Old truck, Telegraph Cove.jpg
An old truck beside the boardwalk with the historic logger’s bunkhouse behind.

We spent a night at the cove and enjoyed an excellent dinner in the restaurant.

To be continued…..
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
Hull No. 1013, 1971
dkirsop
Gold Member
Gold Member
Posts: 516
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2013 10:15 pm
Home Port: Pender Island, BC, Canada

Final Episode

We departed Telegraph Cove June 25 in cloudy but good sea conditions with the occasional patch of fog and limited visibility. This is the first boat we have had with radar and it was interesting to note what did and did not appear on the screen. If, like me, you rely on one of those skinny cylindrical radar reflectors consider yourself invisible in fog. We set our course to Port McNeill and arrived after an uneventful journey.

The gutting table at the marina was a hive of activity. Lots of anglers were landing halibut and it was common for sizes to weigh in at around 60 to 70 pounds. At that time the price of halibut was about $25 per pound so the value of the catch was quite significant. However, free hand outs were only going to the eagles.
44 Feeding at the fish cleaning station.jpg
We decided to take the ferry as foot passengers for a walkabout of Sointula as it lands right at the centre of the village. The ferry is easily accessible and can be used as a convenient passage to either Sointula or Alert Bay if you are in the area.
45 Ferry Route.jpg
46 Sointula Arrival.jpg
Finnish settlers originally built Sointula as a commune at the beginning of the 20th century and it still has a strong Finnish background populated by many of the descendents of the original settlers. They are proud of their heritage and there are still vestiges of the communal ethic to be seen.
47 Sointula market stand.jpg
48 FO Hall.jpg
50 1st Co-op in BC 1909.jpg
Out behind the FO Hall I came across a new engine for the Willie C!
49 shed behind the hall.jpg
Old boat sheds were to be found at intervals along the shore line and one very intriguing work shed.
51 Old boatshed, Sointula.jpg
52 optical illusion - there's no door here!.jpg
After finishing our tour we returned on the ferry and departed Port McNeill the following day. The trip home was uneventful with no trailering issues.

If you go…

Be aware that the highway north of Campbell River is winding and hilly. Your trailer brakes must be in good operating condition. It is a two-lane road with only limited passing opportunities so keep an eye on your rear view mirrors and pull over to let faster traffic pass.

Theoretically, you could launch at Telegraph Cove but the road is narrow and winding. There is a good ramp at Telegraph Cove but the channel out is crowded with floats and not much room for maneuvering, it would require backing out in tight conditions. Google earth gives a good overview.

Another option would be to launch in Campbell River and tour the Discovery islands while motoring up.

Time your arrival for mid-July. Most marinas were just opening and still in the preparation stage during our visit. From mid-July whale sighting opportunities become better.

We only toured a small portion of the Broughton Islands, there is lots to see and do. A 3 to 4 week venture would not be out of the question.

Thanks for reading and happy boating!
You do not have the required permissions to view the files attached to this post.
Hull No. 1013, 1971
WillieC
Gold Member
Gold Member
Posts: 1833
Joined: Wed Nov 13, 2013 10:48 am
Home Port: Hood Canal, WA

"New Motor for Willie C" AAAHH!!! TOO CRUEL!

What we and the Willster have been through...and then this....

(Great account of your voyage! We may be headed back to Jervis this summer. Maybe Broughtons next year!)
User avatar
amber jj
Supporting Member
Supporting Member
Posts: 282
Joined: Tue Sep 13, 2011 5:03 pm
Home Port: Turkey Point ont. canada
Location: Dundas Ont.Can.

Thankyou for sharing. Bob & Val
Esmite
Swabby
Swabby
Posts: 1
Joined: Sun Aug 01, 2021 6:43 pm
Home Port: San Luis Obispo, CA

I joined this group specifically to see the pics of your trip, and to say thank you for the write up. Very cool!
dkirsop
Gold Member
Gold Member
Posts: 516
Joined: Fri Nov 08, 2013 10:15 pm
Home Port: Pender Island, BC, Canada

Thank you for your supportive comments. You might like this one too

viewtopic.php?f=12&t=10285&p=66046&hili ... nna#p66046
Hull No. 1013, 1971
Post Reply

Return to “Cruising”