James Bay to Culpepper Lagoon

We were up early again, so that we could catch low slack at Culpepper Lagoon (10ish). We decided to have breakfast enroute. As Bob was cooking and I was helming, I suddenly saw the Mother Goose fleet on AIS, about 5 miles ahead of us. We had suspected we would run into them as they departed Culpepper, but they were already out of Kynoch Inlet and headed up to Mathieson Narrows.

Bob hailed Brian on Deception and we got the skinny on good anchor spots and were also told that the Lagoon was devoid of boats at the time. That sounded good to us. As we headed up Kynoch Inlet, we saw lots of waterfalls and high mountains with snowy peaks along the way. It was really breathtaking. When we reached the head of the Inlet, we took a look at the Narrows and could easily tell from the white water flowing out that we were early.

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Culpepper Lagoon rapids still running strong

We kind of figured that, because we were about an hour ahead of our calculated slack. So we enjoyed the scenery at the very attractive valley (with mudflats) at the head of Kynoch and patiently waited for slack. Bob maneuvered the boat in all directions, watching the birdlife on the flats and the seals, while I read a while. About 10:45 the narrows looked pretty good, and that was after when the guidebooks said slack would occur, so we decided to go for it.

Entering Culpepper Lagoon from Robert Minkus on Vimeo.

That entrance sure looks rocky and narrow at low water. As we got into the approach, we found 4kts of adverse current in the narrowest part, and Bob had to add power to the engines to keep good forward speed.We saw 12.7’ of water on a 2 foot low tide at Bella Bella. That was plenty of water for us, but definitely had our attention.

Once through, we toured the lagoon, passing a rock full of seals basking in the sun. We then got to the head, and were thankful we had arrived at low tide. You could see the mudflats, which was helpful, but it was still time consuming to find the right spot to anchor. We made a very careful set of anchor circles, marking the depth along the way, to make sure we could anchor safely and let out enough scope to ride any winds without swinging onto the flats. The anchor dance took about an hour. Once we set the anchor…the peaceful lagoon became a wind tunnel. Bob took a nap, and I sat glued to the computer image of the anchor “circle”, making sure we were really holding and not dragging toward those flats. Despite the wind, we held firm, and we had a relaxing afternoon. A hummingbird decided to come aboard, and Bob had to put on the oven mitts and gently capture it in his hands, then toss it out the window to free it from confinement in the boat.

The visual picture of the anchorage was totally different by high tide. All the mud flats were completely covered over and it seemed like we were anchored so far out from the grassy shore! We were again so glad we had come at low tide our first time into the lagoon. We remained all alone, though we did see a small boat come in, set a few prawn pots, and then leave again.

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The view at high tide

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The same view at low tide with the mud flats revealed (when we anchored)

Dinner was excellent grilled salmon with orange marmalade glaze, jasmine rice with craisins and pine nuts, and Bob’s homemade drop biscuits. YUM! About 9pm, the winds finally died down. We watched the movie “The Fighter” (we both didn’t like it) and hit the sack about 11pm.

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The wild salmon you find out here is nothing like what you get anywhere else, even if you purchase it in a grocery store as I did.