Dusky Cove to Goat Island

This morning was only half fog with the sun working hard to break through. I awoke early so we could launch the kayaks at low tide.  This is a great cove to explore when the water is low and the drying mud flats attract the gulls and other foraging birds for breakfast.


Exploring the mud flats with the gulls

It’s always amazing to see dry land at low tide at the same place you came through at high tide in the dinghy. We paddled around the various islets that guard Dusky Cove exploring the drying shoreline. Crabs, a few sea stars, clams and a few small fish were the highlights of the shallow water. Our friends the seals never made an appearance, much to the disappointment of Karen.


Lots of islets to explore in and around Dusky Cove


Heading back to Arctic Star

Once all were secure again on Arctic Star, we listened to the whaleboats in order to find out what the Orcas were up to at Cracroft Point. Our plan is to go sightseeing for Orcas and Humpbacks and then determine where our anchorage is going to be for the night.

Our quest was realized as we found Humpback whales in Blackfish Sound first and then found ourselves surrounded by Orcas in Broughton Strait. The area in Blackfish was almost exactly the same location we had seen humpbacks the last two days. Same for the Orcas, they are mostly local pods, so they frequent the same areas every day, making the whale watching business a success in this area. All and all, we spent a couple of hours watching both species of whales.






Where you find whales, you'll find gulls...Lots of gulls


Modern whale watching boat


Classic whale watching boat

After all the communing with the marine life we pointed the bow of Arctic Star to Goat Island to enjoy a quite night in one of our favorite anchorages. Maybe we’ll spot the same bear we saw a few days ago!

Goat Island to Double Bay (Hanson Island)

The alarm was set for 8am because our plan was to Kayak early, at low tide, before we departed. However, the cold and the low ceiling got the better of us and we huddled in the boat until noon. We spent the morning listening to the VHF radio on the “Whale channel” to get insight into whale activity from the whale watching boats.The reports indicated that the Orcas were resting at Robson Bight, but as the morning wore on the activity increased in the Strait. Therefore, we formed a plan that included lunch at a very small day anchorage and then down to Cracroft Point to see the Orcas.

Our lunch spot at Cedar Island had only 4 feet of water at mean low water and our boat draws 4 and half feet, so the only way we were able to anchor was the fact that we had a high spring tide. We worked our way through the kelp-lined entrance and set anchor in the muddy and sea grass laden bottom.

After lunch we took off for Cracroft Point, but as we rounded Bold Head, I called out to Karen “Whales!”


Whales spout at Cracroft Point

I had seen the spouts of Humpback Whales off in the distance, so we changed course and headed their way. We spent about forty-five minutes with the engines at idle watching these amazing creatures.


Whale Tail


We never tire of watching these magnificent mammals

There was a large male and a female with a calf in tow. Other Humpbacks fed off in the distance, but these three managed to stay near our boat. In fact, once the mother and calf surfaced just 50 feet from our boat. They were so close, I could only include about one square foot of mom with my long telephoto lens…but the sound and sight of them so close was unforgettable.


That's a close-up

We continued on with our tour’s original plan and headed to Cracroft Point, where we had watched the Orcas yesterday. By this time it was after 4pm and all but three had left the area. We sat and watched for a while before heading to our overnight anchorage in Double Bay.Today’s forecast was for the fog to lift by noon and to reform in the afternoon. It took the sun until about 2:30 to clear the skies so we could enjoy a beautiful afternoon where the temperature finally broke 60F.


Blackney Passage enjoys a calm day

As we made our way to Double Bay, we could see a very large fog bank approaching. It was wild to see one island after another be consumed by the white. There was a cruise ship coming down Blackney Passage and all we could see was the lower half of the boat. The poor captain must have thought he was stuck in a permanent fog. This was one time it was good to be in the cheap cabins in the lower decks.

The holding in Double Bay was good in mud and no sooner than we set anchor, the fog blanketed the bay. We saw one very large sea lion as we motored into the bay, and heard him snorting and noise-making a few times later that evening.

All in all another great day with lots of sightings of wildlife: Orcas, Humpback Whales and even a couple of Sea Lions.

Potts Lagoon to Goat Island

The alarm sounded its message at 6am, one hour before sunrise and a half hour before we wanted to weigh anchor. Our passage today would take us through Beware Passage. The information on this passage recommends low slack water as the ideal time to transition through this area. While it looks open, there are many islets and hidden rocks you must weave your way through.

Low tide affords the best possible look at the obstructions, although some never dry. We followed our plan and arrived at the start of Beware Passage right at seven. With an eye on the GPS plotter and another on the water, we had an uneventful passage. By taking it slow and following the recommended “low water” course to the north, it’s a fairly easy pass. The channel is deep, so all your attention can be directed to making good your course.

Shortly after transiting Beware Passage, we tucked into Native Anchorage on Village Island, a spot recommended by Max from Kwatsi Bay. Breakfast was on the agenda, followed by showers and a morning of doing nothing as we hoped for the skies to clear.

Except for a few dolphins that passed though the anchorage, we were alone. As has been the pattern for the last two days, the sun started to part the clouds about noon and we began to think about “where to next?”.

Our first stop was to look at the abandoned Indian settlement at Mamaliliculla. There was not much to see and we were not in the mood to make a dinghy assault on the beach and climb up to see the abandoned structures. We saw some from the boat, so we’ll save the on-shoring for another time.

Next we stopped (in the water) and looked at the Indian settlement at New Vancouver. The native Indians returned to this area in 2003 and built a very nice looking settlement with an outstanding dock and an impressive “big house”. We’ll add this to the “visit again” list to see if we can get a tour of the big house – it looks grand.

We continued a little further and dropped anchor in Mound Bay for a lunch stop. Mound was on our list as a possible overnight anchorage, but the locals gave it only an OK rating, so we decided to make this a brief layover. While having lunch, we heard on the radio that there were both Orca and Humpback whales in Blackfish Sound off Cracroft Point. As we were only 2.5 miles from there, we changed plans again and quickly made our way down Blackney Passage into Johnstone Strait. There were a few boats drifting in the area and sure enough, we saw whale spouts as we approached.

Once there, we took the engines into idle and drifted, watching and waiting. We were not disappointed. We saw numerous Orca whales. They were trying to feed on the white-sided dolphins that were there to feed on the smaller fish that congregate the confluence of Blackfish Sound and Johnstone Strait.


A medium sized female Orca swims by


Coming right at us


It's fun to see the different markings and to try to track specific individuals


Every fin is unique

When these two waters meet, large whirlpools and eddies form and the water churns and spins. As we watched the whales, our boat would spin gently in the whirlpool and bob in the turbulent waters. But that was a small price to pay for a good look at these mammals in action. We would see the dolphins moving along slowly and then suddenly they would accelerate, jump out of the water and swim for their lives with an Orca right on their tails.

After about an hour they moved on and so did we. Max from Kwatsi Bay had great things to say about the anchorage at Goat Island (off Crease Island), so we set course for his recommendation.

Max from Kwatsi Bay was correct. A beautiful panorama surrounds this special spot. As we settled in and after enjoying a beer on the flybridge, I went to the swim step to answer the call of Mother Nature. I was looking over at a nearby island and noticed a black rock. I was talking to myself about how we always hope that these black rocks are black bears, but we are always disappointed. Just then, the black rock moved.

“Bear!”, I called out to Karen, “come quick!” As it turned out, there was no need to hurry. The bear cooperated for the next hour as he went about his business. The funniest part of this experience is that there were a pair of very large ravens that were tormenting this bear.


Surround by noisy ravens

They would cry at him, fly mock attacks, even pick up a large piece of straw and threaten him. The two large black birds would surround him, one in the front and one behind.


What do you think the Raven on the right is going to do with that "stick"?


Air attack!

I’m not certain what the conflagration was all about, but after about 15 minutes, the bear got tired of these two, and moved on. He ate his way along the side of the island, enjoying a series of berry bushes and some hors d’oeuvres found by turning over rocks at the water’s edge.


The berry banquet

When he arrived at the end of the island, he proceeded to walk into the water and swim over to the next larger island.


Who you looking at?


Time for a change of venue

Once there, he continued his feasting on the berry buffet, until he disappeared in the thick forest. Watching him shake off the water like a large dog was really funny!


Shake it off

Needless to say, we had a great day – from now own, September 13th is officially known as “Critter Day.”