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Our Journey on Scolamanzi II
Our Journey on Scolamanzi II

Inlets, rapids and beautiful islands north of Campbell River:

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We started our second last leg of this seasons cruising, in Canadian waters, from Campbell River. We aimed to cruise the islands, rapids and inlets north of Campbell River and east of the Broughton’s.

The calm, smooth waters keep you on your toes with rapids and massive tides often part of the journey – it all makes for interesting cruising with breathtakingly beautiful scenery. This is an area where adventurers roam (not Cruise ships). Here you have to be self-sufficient with food, fuel, water and services that are patchy or unavailable. The remoteness of the area is the attraction and this late in the season we hardly see other cruising boats.

 

It is sad to see the amount of logging, fishing and fish farms that has developed over time in this sensitive eco system. Although they do rehabilitate the logged areas and have tight control over the fishing industry, we still felt sad to see a significant disturbance to this pristine environment.

At 0700, we unceremoniously dumped Phil and Karen on the dock to make their way to Comox Airport for their journeys home. We had to arrive at Seymour Narrows spot on 0812 to transit the narrows at full slack water (lesson learnt at Hole in the Wall – transit a rapid during full slack!). In the early morning calm and mist we continued up Discovery Passage and into Johnson Straight. We entered Mayne Pass and headed up to Blind Bay Resort to wait for slack the next morning at Green Point rapids. For the next week at every dock or anchorage, we were the only boat there. After checking in, we headed out to explore the forest. They have 3 great trails from the resort, including one to an 800 yr old cedar tree. The guy at the resort told us they were visited by a grizzly bear the previous day which ignited “bear fever” in us. Now our mission was to see bears! At dusk a trawler pulled in for an overnight stop. They were waiting for the Chum salmon season starting the next day. They have a massive CASH sign on the boat. Johann’s meet and greet revealed that they buy salmon directly from the fishing boats for cash and when full, they return to Vancouver to sell it. The fishing boats love it because they can sell their catch without the need to return back to harbours.

 

After passing thru Green Point rapids the next morning we headed up Loughborough Inlet, hoping to sight bears. That night we anchored at the head of the inlet in McBride Bay. Henriette and I had a great time exploring up the Apple river with the tender. We felt small and isolated in this untouched wilderness area. It reminded Henriette of scenes in the Narnia movie. No bears sighted today.

 

The next morning we had a leisurely cruise down the inlet, to again time our transit of the rapids. We slowly progressed along the Cordero Channel enjoying the scenery. Bickley Bay did not tickle our fancy but Shoal Bay did. The public dock was empty so we tied up and proceeded up the long dock to the pub to pay our docking fees. What a lovely spot to wait for a suitable time to cross the next set of rapids. The lawns and especially the vegetable garden was impressive. You are allowed to pick your own and pay after (whatever you think it is worth). About 0200 Henriette awoke from a thud on the deck. Getting up to investigate, she was startled by a black “cat” sitting on the galley counter eating our chocolate. The animal bolted out the door and after closing the bottom half of the saloon door, a satisfied H returned to bed. By now we were both awake and alert. Short time later the same muffled sounds in the galley. We jumped up to find a black ferret again eating chocolate. After a fair bit of coaxing it eventually exited the saloon and out the cockpit door onto the dock. This time we left the chocolate on the dock and closed all the doors. This is one smart ferret as land is about 200 meters down various docks to get to our boat.

From Shoal Bay we turned south into Nodales Channel to explore. We looked into Hemming Bay and Cameleon Harbour before anchoring for lunch and a snooze in north Thurston Bay. Later we returned to Cordero Passage to transit Dent Rapids and Gillard Passage at slack, where a pod of Dall’s porpoises entertained us for almost 20  min!

After all the excitement took a berth in beautiful Big Bay on Stuart Island. This island features in the local First Nations history and is now home to exclusive resorts for the rich and famous. All based of sport fishing and wilderness experiences – very upmarket. If interested Google – Sonora Resort. This is part of the London Enterprises Group.

Again our departure was dictated by slack water at Arran Rapids. This was the big one. We had a favourable weather forecast for the next 2 days and thus planned to go up Bute Inlet and overnight there for the night. Waddington Harbour at the head of the inlet is 70 km into the mountains of BC and under a very large glacier field. The location is very remote and wild with unpredictable weather and winds. As it turned out we had perfect conditions for 2 days which allowed us to appreciate nature at its absolute best. The glacier capped 7000’ towering peaks all round us kept us spellbound in the still conditions. We anchored east of the mouth of the Homathko River in 8 meters. This was high anxiety type cruising as the area is poorly surveyed and with the inflow of fresh water from the glaciers our echo sounder works only intermittently. Luckily conditions were very benign and we had a peaceful night at anchor. We did have time to explore both rivers that feed into the top of Bute inlet. Silting due to the melting glaciers plus a low tide limited the distance up the eastern river but we did manage to get a fair way up Homathko River. The photos and a short video only partly do justice to this awesome spot. We all agreed this was the most awe inspiring vistas we have ever experienced ANYWHERE and very much a highlight of our cruise on Scolamanzi up to now.

After this highlight we had a long day back to civilization. After 8 hours and 64Nm we finally docked at Discovery Marina, G dock in Campbell River just after sunset.

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This was very fortunate as the weather was set to turn for the worse. The forecast predicted rain from tomorrow and gale force winds the day after. The answer was to book a bear watching tour with Go Wild Tours the next morning to go find our bears before the weather turns really foul.

 

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