June 29 to July 11, 2013
This was a trip originally planned to end at Kyuquot after passing the Brooks Peninsula. Ian Heath, Barbara Brooks and myself had this trip on our schedule for the last year. We had enough food for 21 days each and were excited about all the paddling challenges and another chance to be in the wilderness.
We left Courtenay on Vancouver Island at 10:30 in two vehicles to drive to Artlish River for the shuttle drop off (turn on the road to Zeballos 22km past Woss, at 9.6km go right on the Atluck Main instead of going to Zeballos, 48km total to the Artlish River launch). The road to Fair Harbour, the other launch site, is 74km and parking is charged. The road was moderately rough, logging trucks are scary, and the launch area was a campground for a bunch of very friendly loggers. We transferred my kayak and stuff to their van, and we drove to the Wildwood Campground in Hardy Bay off the ferry terminal road. Apparently it is illegal to park vehicles on the streets of Port Hardy, so they are parking their van here.
The best and only recent information on kayaking the west coast of Vancouver Island was the “BC Coast Explorer and Marine Trail Guide, Vol. 1: West Coast Vancouver Island North, Port Hardy to Bamfield” by John Kimantas. Unfortunately the only marine charts available from Cape Sutil, around the Cape, and past Quatsino Sound are at 1:90,000 scale, almost too small to navigate. As a result, I also photocopied the charts out of “BC Coastal Recreation Kayaking and Small Boat Atlas, Volume Two: British Columbia’s West Vancouver Island” also by Mr Kimantas. Things were less than perfect. Rocks closer to shore are not well-marked. I also had a Garmin 62s GPS with Blue Chart mounted on my deck with a Ram windshield suction mount, but paper charts are much better for navigating with normal visibility.
Day 1, June 29. Up at 5:30, we didn’t launch until 9:30 as Ian and Barb took a long time to pack their boats. They use no dry bags and everything was packed in small plastic bags so that they can cram 21 days worth of stuff into their small volume boats. With everything down at my boat, I had no problem getting ready in 10 minutes. This was now my third big trip in 6 weeks and I was surprised that I have room for everything. We paddled past all the log booms and the town and then 5km to Duval Pt. and Goletas Channel. The 22 km between Songhees Creek and Shushartie Bay on the Vancouver Island side is straight with few eddies or lee protection, and no beaches or landings. If it is necessary to abort because of wind, it would be necessary to return as crossing Goletas with heavy wind would be daunting. There are many other reasons to paddle on the north shore of the channel – great camping, Gods Pocket Marine Park, and impressive cliffs and channels. The distance is actually about the same. It is 6kms straight across to the Gordon Islands with their craggy, impressive cliffs on the south shore. We hoped to explore Gods Pocket, world-renowned for its cold water diving. At low tide the rock shelf below water line on the shore of Bell Island was covered with large blooms of plumose anemone. This white anemone has a long 50-60 cm stalk with expanded feathery white tentacles.
We had lunch at the lovely white shell beach/midden on the south shore of Bell Island. There were many tent sites on good mossy ground. Paddling between Bell and Hurst, huge beds of California blue mussels lined the shores. These heavily ribbed blue grey mussels are huge, often up to 25 cm (10”) long. They are edible but the tiny pearls sometimes inside have no value. We cruised into Harlequin Bay on Hurst into a light NW wind and then along the north shore with its many orange lichen covered cliffs. Rounding the NW corner of Hurst we were moving into strong flood current coming down Queen Charlotte Strait.
Christie Passage had a significant current and a humpback blowing in huge throaty blasts across the Passage. Seabirds were cruising everywhere and three bald eagles were fishing. Gods Pocket Marine Resort is cute with its rainbow range of building colors. Rounding Nolan Pt. on the south end of Balaklava Island, we got confused as it was not clear which beach was the fourth one, but the campsite is obvious from the water. It was spacious, and the point was in sunshine till late. Across the creek is another point with many camping options. Distance paddled: 27km.
Day 2 – Canada Day. Things were much faster this morning and we launched just after 7 to cross Browning Passage with its famous Browning Wall, a world-renowned dive site. A parade of fishing boats had been coming out of Port Hardy and cruising up Goletas Channel all morning. Nigel Island’s entire east end has great cliffs and some big trees growing out of the cliff faces. We obtained water from a tiny trickle stream in Stream Cove. Two mink (ermine?) were in a sexual frenzy on the beach. Logging scarred the west end of Nigel. We made a tangential crossing of Goletas Channel with no evidence of current three hours after high. Whales were feeding in Shushartie Bay, the start of the North Coast Trail whose popularity is increasing exponentially. Jepther Pt. has a huge pebble beach that is not as steep as suggested in the guide. The best camping is at the point on a bench on the beach. There were two young Americans going our way sitting on the point. They were unaware of the wind warning for tomorrow and that the best place to paddle was on the north side of Goletas with good camping and interesting shore. We wondered if they had a weather radio. Surprisingly, we never saw them again. Our first sea otter appeared but we only saw 6 more all the way to Cape Scott.
Fog appeared in Bull Harbor on Hope Island and soon enveloped us on the other side of Goletas Channel. We could only see the surf line on shore despite being only 100m away. With about 2.5km to the Tatnal Reefs and Nahwitti Bar, we wanted to arrive at slack at 1:20PM. Nahwitti Bar is notorious for standing waves especially created when wind opposes the westerly ebb current which can run up to 5 knots. The safest place for kayakers is next to the shore in the reefs, but there can be big surf here. There was thinly scattered bull kelp as far as we could see in the shallow water. Calm and serene, the paddling was surreal. The coast was very rocky and rugged in the reef area with big boulders and sculpted cliffs. Arriving at Cape Sutil, the kayaker camping is at the south end of the north beach on the sand. Some backpackers on the trail came by on the way to the end of the cape. They had been hiking in knee-deep mud on the challenging trail. When camping at Nahwitti River, they saw many wolves. Distance paddled: 33km.
Day 3. We were tired and with 15-20 knot winds forecast and decided to take a day off. We woke up to thick fog at 6 and the fog and cloud waxed and waned all day. Hope island disappeared intermittently. The next beach south, part of the North Coast Trail was accessed by a trail on the rocky headlands between the two beaches. The best access is obscure above some logs in the trees in the first surge channel. We walked down the beach to the Ranger station and the swanky yurt. It was locked and I doubt manned regularly with the cost cutting in provincial parks. A bear cache, toilet and beach camping rounded out the facilities. We walked about a kilometre down the trail, but as the mud deepened and it appeared to be a long way to the other side of the cape for views, we retreated back to our spectacular beach. Several fishing boats wedre anchored in the bay and they came to shore regularly to walk their dogs.
The native presence was strong in the area prior to contact. Most of the beaches near major waterways served as Kwakwaka’wakw (Koskimo) village sites in the past. Mythology states that a hero’s childhood footprint is a flat boulder on the beach at Experiment Bight. The Koskimo originally resided at Shuttleworth Bight before heading to Quatsino Sound. Here they killed and took the territory of a band called Ho-ya. The Nahwitti, an amalgam of the Tla-tli-si-kwila and Ne-kum-ke-las-la, settled at Cape Sutil. It was deserted in 1851 after being shelled for the second time by the British. The shelling was in retaliation for the killing of three British navy deserters. Unable to find the culprits, HMS Daedalus shelled the whole community in 1850, then, when the community was rebuilt, HMS Daphne returned to level it again. They moved to Bull Harbour on Hope Island and a community of six houses still exists there. The entire 36 square km island is a reservation.
Day 4. Our destination today was Experiment Bight, the best staging area for rounding Cape Scott and the best protection of any beach between there and Cape Sutil. The shoreline is complex with reefs and headlands so we were forced well off shore. Big beaches appear at Shuttleworth Bight (a long line of rocks extend from the west end of Shuttleworth, meaning a significant diversion), Nissen Bight (the first reliable beach for a break with the best landing on the west end), Nels Bight (exposed to northwesterlies, it lacks a protected landing for kayakers), and finally Experiment with its big sandy neck behind. The best landing is on the west end where the campsites on the beach are.
We walked over the sand neck to Guise Bay. Covered with grass, this was obviously good pasture for the original Danish settlers. Much of the stave fence still exists enclosing the grass. Unfortunately it was late in the day and we didn’t continue on to the lighthouse at Cape Scott. Barbara and I have hiked the Cape Scott trail before but Ian hadn’t. We returned to the bight on a very narrow game trail through the tall grass.
With another forecast for 15-25 NW winds tomorrow, we were concerned about going around the cape especially as slack is at 9:20 making for a late start. We have another 20+km to our next campsite after Cape Scott. However slack advances every day and the forecast is no better in the next 5 days, so tomorrow will be our best chance.
Day 5 – July 3. There’s no rush as we were not leaving till well after 8. Off at 8:45, it was calm with bright sunshine. There was moderate swell and we practiced launching into it. Ian is the most experienced kayaker (although he seems to overestimate my experience) and he went last after helping us attach our skirts and give a push. Right next to the cape were lines of breakers left and right and we exited between the two into a light chop with a light NW swell. Turning south, we were soon out of the chop. After 5 minutes, everything was so benign, Barbara asked where the cape is “Is that it ahead?” We reassured her. After all the hype, the rounding was anticlimactic in low wind and slack tide. Expecting to see the lighthouse or buildings, nothing was visible until well down the coast near Strange Rock. With a light NW swell, wind and current with us, we quickly crossed Hanson Bay and had Lowrie Bay in view. The wind built and Cape Russell was gone in a flash. I checked my GPS to reassure me that we were already at San Josef Bay as we have paddled the 26 km in less than 3 hours.
The best campsite in the area was apparently above the isthmus between the two Helen Islands. The isthmus is covered in dense weeds, the right beach is very rocky, and the best camping seems to be to the east on the NE corner of the east Helen Island. We were not enamoured especially with the poor wind protection and the long forecast of northwesterlies. Sea Otter Cove has poor camping so we decide to look at the second beach around Hannah Pt. marked with a picnic icon in the BC Coast Explorer. Sea Otters froliced in the water outside Sea Otter Cove. We saw surprisingly few.
Rounding Hannah Pt., the first beach was grey cobble, and the second was huge with reefs protecting most of the shore. The only good landing, around the first small line of rocks, was on a nice pebble beach. It looked like nobody had camped here recently and I laboured to produce a nice level site in the grainy sand. Little did I know that this would be home for the next 5 days.
The weld between the cup and jet on my MSR Dragonfly stove broke. This had happened before and is lethal but this time it was only partial and the stove still worked in a dysfunctional way. It primed poorly and huge shooting flames blackened all my pots. There was flame on only one side of the burning cup. I have never lit a campfire in my life but Barbara gets one going every day.
The forecast was for 15-25 knot winds and the plan was to wake up at 4, listen to all the reports especially the lighthouses on either side of us, Cape Scott and Quatsino, and then decide on the day’s destination. We realized that the reports from both are from relatively protected lighthouses. However the estimated winds from Quatsino have seemed to represent what is happening on the outside.
Day 6. We all had our internal alarm clocks on (usually my bladder) and I heard them chatting at 4. It was already 15 knots at Cape Scott, so we went back to sleep. After 11 glorious hours on my luxurious down mat, the hot sun finally forced me up. Scattered cloud, warm sun, pancakes for breakfast – everything was perfect. We headed back to Sea Otter Cove in empty boats with plans on hiking over to Lowrie Bay. Landing well short of the big drying beach, we walked to the NW corner of the bay and followed the good trail. A bog in the middle was full of mud. As predicted, there was big surf in the NW facing bay but not a bad landing on the south end of the larger bay and a great landing at higher tides behind a headland onto the sandy spit marked with poles. We might have come in here if we had known that there were such good landings. A great little cabin is in the trees behind the spit. It is clean, completely outfitted, dry and smells good as it is well vented. The guest book was fascinating as it spread across every available space of wall. We all needed water but can’t find any on our way back to Hannah Pt.
Ian went fishing in the kelp beds just off the beach and yelled when he caught something. Barb was an eagle scout of a fire starter, and as we sat chatting around the fire, a big gorgeous black bear started turning over logs 50 meters away on the beach. He looked relaxed but we wondered how he will react to the fish. As Ian paddled in, we warned him about the bear, and Barbara was unwilling to take the fish when he landed. She knew she can’t outrun a bear. He eventually cleaned them in the rocky bay to the west. The bear meandered down the beach, went into the edge of the trees and laid down for a nap where he could keep an eye on us. Barbara and I went down to see if there was a creek anywhere and passed twice very close to the bear, but he didn’t seem too bothered. We found the most amazing creek hidden behind a high gravel berm – almost tannin free water and a great little waterfall to fill everything fast. The creek was half way along our long beach just east of a large grey rock in the middle of the beach. Our campsite is turning out to be perfect with great flat beach tent sites, ready water, lots of firewood, pebbles not sand, easy landing at all tide levels, and total protection from NW winds. We hunkered down for the long haul.
Day 7. After another 11 hour sleep, I was up and at ‘em for a French toast breakfast. We wandered over to the grey cobble bay to the west and then explored our beach. It was protected by a big reef and ends at a headland with tiny rocky coves, a small waterfall, a “trail” behind a big rock and a surge channel that prevents us from reaching beach #3. At 4PM, the wind was gusting to 25 at Cape Scott and Quatsino, and to 30 at Sartine.
Day 8. With the same forecast of winds blowing 20-30 everywhere (and the same for 4 more days), we sat around with all our clothes on (I have 4 layers on top and long johns bottoms) 10 feet from a fire in the overcast. And this was supposedly to be a high weather system. There was a big quasi-stationary high in the off shore waters creating all this. Someday I will learn more about weather patterns.
Barbara put on her wet suit and practiced rolls in the bay. She also tried her solo rescues; one can never practice enough. We coached from the beach. She tried my Greenland paddle with foam for flotation, but things didn’t go as well as with her Werner paddle.
We walked across the narrow part of Hannah Pt. over to the nice bay in Sea Otter Cove. The trail starts near our camp at a pink ribbon. Bear scat was everywhere but our gorgeous bear has unfortunately not returned. Having lived in the West Kootenay for 35 years, I was used to having black bears in the backyard especially in the late summer when unpicked fruit is targeted. Black bear attacks are rare in healthy animals but not uncommon in lean years. This fellow was so healthy that I found him minimal risk. Few people camp here and he was not threatened. Ian and Barb are meticulously hanging their food every night. I put mine in my hatches and often just left it around. There were no critters hassling us here.
Day 9. This was Barb’s birthday. Forecasts were the same. Winds at Sartine were 20 at 4:40AM. We had plans on climbing Mt St Patrick (422m) and went back to sleep. We were off at 8 initially to talk to the fisherman who has been coming into San Josef Bay every night. Alone, he was from Sidney, and he has one of the few live lingcod boats still left. Water was pouring off the back of his boat as he circulated cold water. He fished with 11 hooks and hoped to fill his quota for this trip today. He’d been fishing south off Top Knot Point and we discussed the weather and reliability of reports. He thinks the present tough fishing regulations are good as only 2% by-catch is allowed (usually rockfish) and they must be kept as they would die if released.
The head of San Josef Bay is a huge drying sand beach. We found the trail easily marked with a “Caution! Unsafe Trail” sign. It turned out to be a great trail recently cleared of all deadfall and salal, and relatively dry with all the hot weather. We passed a huge spruce at least 12’ across the butt. Near the top all the trees were stunted as if in a high alpine environment and stark grey skeletons were reminders of the difficult environment. The top was clear of trees and views were commanding, from the south end of San Josef Bay to Strange Rock. Five hours after leaving our boats, we had a nice paddle back to our lovely beach.
Day 10. Monday, July 8. Unfortunately the lighthouse and weather station reports were from 22:40 last night and we waited until 4:40 to hear the wind was 15 at Sartine, 10 at Cape Scott, and 4 at Quatsino. We launched at 6:50 with a following sea and light wind. We quickly crossed San Josef Bay, sped down the exposed coast past Cape Palmerson, and Raft Cove, with the prominent treed knob signifying Top Knot Pt. our target. Fog started to roll in at 8, Top Knot was gone by 8:10 and we all followed a compass bearing. There was no need to turn on the GPS yet – the batteries always seem to run out when you need it most. Only 100m off the shore, we could see nothing of Top Knot. I was having difficulty seeing my GPS with the diffused but bright sun just above the fog. Two rocks appeared on the screen just ahead and I zoomed in. We had not seen any breaking waves and I yelled back asking which way to go. We must have been cruising along at 9 or so kilometres per hour and the rocks were approaching fast. I decided to go on the inside and avoid both. I was about 50m from shore and saw that the drying shoreline was rugged rocks with big breaking surf. A bigger drying reef was directly ahead and when I thought I was past the rock, I turned slightly away from the shore. All of a sudden a huge 10 foot wave broke about 20 feet to my right and hit me full force. My bracing skills are poor, and I actually managed a good paddle brace for a few seconds, don’t finish with a hip flick and over I went. Ian was close, was soon along side, and I righted my boat. Barbara paddled over and was almost swamped by a second big breaking wave. The shore was not far and they decided a tow was necessary. Barbara started to tow me past the rock, Ian attached another tow and they both rapidly paddled out to open water. It was now 20 minutes and I started to get a little cold and had difficulty holding on with the fast tow. Ian detached and I got into a boat full of water. Luckily Barbara was still towing in a NW direction into the swell so I was able to have my spray skirt off for much more efficient pumping, but it was sill slow work. My huge cockpit is 25” wide, and has at least 15” in front of my feet. A one gallon bucket would work best. Finally with a sponge, the boat was empty, I was relatively warm and fine to paddle.
We headed well to the outside but Barbara couldn’t paddle over 2km per hour. She couldn’t believe she was that tired, but after 20 minutes realized that all 50 feet of tow rope that she thought was put away was dragging in the water. Finally under way, it was fast around Lippy Pt. and into Grant Bay, 36 km from Hannah Point. Even with the capsize, it had only taken us 5 ½ hours to here. There were big waves breaking in this south-facing bay. We started to talk to some campers and a huge wave swamped my kayak that I hadn’t moved up the beach. It was full of water and sand. It took me an hour to completely empty the kayak, move it up to a brackish pond on the beach and completely clean out all the sand. As a logging road leaves a short 15 minute walk to Grant Bay, there were many families and campers on the beach. Distance paddled: 36km.
A single paddler arrived shortly after us. He had been with some friends of ours who had left Port Hardy the day after us. They had been camping at Helen Islands just around the corner from Hannah Pt. Our friends had decided to stay and he continued on alone. He told us of the excitement they had getting off the beach at Experiment Bight to round Cape Scott in the late morning (they ignored the calm winds early in the morning to cross at slack). The beach was covered in debris from the huge surf. He successfully helped the other two launch but he was unable to get out on his own. As a result he carried his kayak and all his stuff in three carries across the sand neck over to Guise Bay. On the way down the coast, he had stopped on the beach at Top Knot to wait out the fog. The north end of the beach had no surf. In the fog, with no GPS, he was paddling next to the shore. He was leaving early in the morning to go out Quatsino Sound and Coal Harbor.
Ian was very angry that evening. He said he will never go on a trip with anyone in a big cockpitted kayak again. He was very pissed over my deck bag and believes that it was completely in the way of the rescue. He thinks that it is necessary in a fish form kayak to hold the boat at it’s widest section, but the front of my bag is a good foot ahead of the cockpit where it is narrower. Behind that is a mast holder for a Spirit Sail and my GPS still on my deck after the capsize. There is a lot of stuff there. Ian is known to not mince his words. I had no problem discussing everything but wasn’t thrilled about his tone. I gave my version of what I thought were the real issues 1. dense fog 2. we had poor paper charts (the only marine chart of this area, 3624, is 1:90,000 and actually smaller than the “chart” I had on my deck out of the John Kimantas’ Atlas, less than ideal) 3. I had a good GPS but the light made seeing the screen difficult 4. my GPS experience was minimal, I had zoomed in and judging distance with the new scale was hard 5. I made the wrong decision to go on the inside of the rock and then turned to avoid the rocky shore and basically paddled into the nondrying rock that hadn’t had a breaker on it that anyone had seen 6. I failed to execute a good brace and freely admit that my brace is lousy, 7. I have no roll, and 8. my cockpit is large and takes a long time to empty but because of Barbara’s great tow, we were able to pump with the skirt off, our raft was into the swell and easy to maintain, and it went as fast as possible.
I thought his ideas about holding a boat were wrong. I’ve had the chance to review rescues many times. The best was in an assistant guides course and in New Zealand where a 10 day guided trip around the Cavellis and Bay Islands was accompanied by several college students in an Outdoor Recreation Program. We all came to the same conclusion that the best position for the rescuer was with both paddles across the front of both cockpits, the shafts of the paddles under the edge of the rescuers PFD, leaning over the boat at the top of the cockpit with one arm on the paddles holding onto the top of the cockpit and the other hand lower on the near side of the cockpit. Minor adjustments of position may be necessary when the swimmer gets into the boat, but in this position the rescuer is not in the way and provides a very stable platform. I think a toe hook works best for the swimmer.
I like a deck bag. It holds all sorts of stuff that I might need on the water (paddling jacket, spare batteries for GPS and radio, gloves, toilet paper, fish tackle box, often food rehydrating for dinner). I have no roll so it doesn’t get in the way of that. The emotionalism that accompanies some of the kayaking issues – skeg vs rudder, deck bags etc., is sometimes astonishing. I don’t care if it doesn’t look cool. Ian now freely tells me that he has a lot more kayaking experience than me. I wonder where he was in the fog, in open ocean, on a rocky coast. His boat is considerably faster than mine but he had no problem with me being in the front.
He has objected to my kayak many times. Their experience in ruddered Feathercraft Quatsinos with big following seas was apparently quite difficult. The boat felt very unstable when the rudder was out of the water and they had to stop the trip and courier strap-on-skegs to Baja, Mexico. My rudder has a tendency to angle up as the bungies are a little slack, worsening the situation. I have a rudder lock and that holds the rudder vertical. We have now had two big days and 70kms of significant following seas and I have had no issues. My boat is a much different kayak than the Quatsinos that have a lot of rocker.
Day 12. At 4:40, the wind was 20 at Sartine, 10 at Cape Scott, and 15 at Quatsino, just 6km away. We had been debating the chances of paddling around the Brooks Peninsula with another 5 days of 20+knot wind in the forecast. The wind had not been below 25knots at Solander Island off Brooks for 8 days. We decided to take the day off and sleep in. We walked around the big beach. Surf was crashing all day. Near where the trail enters was a great log frame for tarps, a kitchen and benches. The closest water is about 5km down the logging road.
If we got around Brooks Peninsula with no weather days, from here it would be about 5 days of good paddling to our take out. That would be 17 days total with little ability to handle very long weather delays. So we abandoned that plan and would now go out Quatsino Sound and camp before Quatsino Narrows at Drake Island, an easy 34km paddle with the anticipated current and wind. Low tide was at 9, who knows when the current will turn, but I thoought I could make slack at the Narrows at 4:15PM (high is at 3:30PM) and camp on the other side. Coal Harbor is 50kms.
Day 13. July 10. Up at 4, we did’t get off the beach until 7 as Ian went as slow as possible. He was very concerned about the current in Quatsino Sound. With big following swell and a 5-10knot wind, it was a fast hour south to Perkins Pt, Kains Island and the Quatsino Lighthouse. It is wise to stay well outside because of all the rocks. The lighthouse sits in a dramatic location. We went inside the island and headed up to the Keans Beach Campsite. The entrance is unique through a narrow channel between rocks just south of the large sea stack.
We finally reach Cliffe Pt., the true start of the narrow part of Quatsino Sound, at 9:45 and it was at slack as would be predicted by the turn at Quatsino Narrows 45 minutes after high tide. I had no charts of my own from here on as I foolishly didn’t think about the possibility of having to finish the trip here. Barbara had a spare black and white photocopy of the end and that was all I needed. With 6+hours to paddle 28kms, I was calculating how long I would have on a beach eating lunch.
Ian had to paddle into Koskimo Bay to get something out of his boat and we continued down the middle of the channel. He saw two small whales and many sea otters. We waited a long time for him and decided to stop on Koskimo Island for a break. I made a quick sandwich (day 14 for the unrefrigerated ham, mayonnaise, mustard and lettuce), stuff it in my under deck bag and launched on my own. I wanted to have time to spare for the Narrows crossing. With a 10knot west wind and good flood current, there should be no problem.
Quatsino Sound is a logging minescape. Not pretty. Big wind waves came from the SW whenever there was some fetch. I passed Pamphlet Cove on Drake Island where Ian and Barb were camping. Quatsino (the town) is a series of houses on the north side of the sound. I had lots of time and sat behind Quattische Island at the entrance to the Narrows to eat and relax. With the turn at 4:15, I entered at 3:40, and was soon going 9km/hr with light paddling. It was calm. There were several small tidal rips. I exited at 4:05 and the tide rip at the east side of the north end finally turned calm at 4:10. It was then an hour paddle into a quartering west wind to Coal Harbour past the unusual heavily eroded limestone cliffs.
I landed at the seaplane dock, unloaded by boat and parked myself on the tiny patch of grass in front of the military memorials. This appeared to be the only camping and I set up my tent. I was looking forward to my ritual post trip meal, a burger, fries and milkshake, but there was no restaurant. The parking lot was busy, and planes were constantly moving up and down the launch on a front end loader 15 feet away – nice introduction back to the real world. It rained for the first time in 10 days.
Day 14. I expected Ian and Barb to be through the narrows at 10:30 and here by 11:30. They arrived as advertised, Barb hitchhiked to Port Hardy and we packed up all our stuff. I got my burger fix in Port Hardy, we drove all the way to Artlish River to pick up my truck, and I drove home arriving just before midnight. I still got my boat unloaded and my truck completely unloaded before getting to sleep at two.