Discovery Cove to James Bay

We heard the “fishing camp” depart at 5:30am this morning. We arose at 6:45am to fog. The weather forecast was still icky through Thursday, although Bob was still having difficulty “seeing” the weather maker on the Garmin. I worried a bit that we needed to get through Millbank Sound and Ivory Island now, rather than waiting for winds to pick up. So we left without breakfast (or showers!) at 7:30. We move pretty fast when we make a decision!It was very foggy. I went up on the flybridge to set up the automatic fog horn, but could not seem to get it to deploy more than once. While I heard it on the flybridge, Bob heard nothing inside the boat. We figured it required further programming, so we decided to ignore it for now.

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Our neighbors in the next cove were still resting when we departed

The fog lifted after about an hour, and it turned into a pretty day sky-wise. Our ride was absolutely great in Seaforth Channel, though it got a bit more rolly as we approached Millbank Sound, with some “hobby horse” swells but nothing particularly problematic. We could see the Ivory Island Lighthouse Complex from a long distance away – those white buildings with red roofs really “stick out” against the sea and trees and sky. It was really pretty. During this entire ride, we saw no other pleasure boats.

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The fog lifts revealing a gorgeous day

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Ivory Island Lighthouse, a well equipped compound

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If you want to be a light keeper, this might be the place to pursue your dreams

As we neared Ivory Island, Bob took a lot of pictures while I kept at the helm, following the course plotted by Bob. I kept looking for the red buoy in Reid Passage and never saw it, but I figured we just hadn’t gotten there yet. Our ride was good, and all of a sudden I saw we were approaching Perceval Narrows. How could that happen? Where was Reid Passage? Was I asleep at the wheel?

No, Bob had simply plotted a different course than I had told him to, which went around Ivory Island. We had a great ride, and we didn’t need Reid Passage’s calm water route anyway, so it all was good.  Perceval Narrows we had timed for slack, and it was. Quite pretty in and around that area, and we saw a prawner, so we weren’t totally alone.

As we came out into Mathieson Channel, it was really sunny and the scenery was gorgeous.  As pilots, we called it CAVU (Clear above, visibility unlimited). Our destination was Rescue Bay, and as we neared it we saw a humpback whale. In fact, it surprised us, as we saw the blow just off the bow of the boat. We slowed immediately and it fluked right in front of us. Bob had his camera out, but it was on a bum setting, and so the great shots of the whale tail that filled the frame are out of focus. We hung around a while, trying to see if we’d get any more great shots, and grabbed a few that were OK but not as good as that first fluke. I was also able to confirm that whale breath is quite stinky.

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Here you see the reason they are called humpback whales

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A fluke and he's gone

We headed over to Rescue Bay and …wow…what a disappointment. It is large and apparently well protected, but scenic it was not. We looked at each other, looked at the tides and currents, and decided to make a run up-channel to Culpepper Lagoon in Kynoch Inlet.

After about 30 minutes, it became clear the adverse current was going to impede our ability to arrive at the narrows at the necessary slack current for entry. So we decided to give James Bay a shot. It’s not one of those anchorages that anyone really talks about, making it a well-kept secret!

It’s a long bay surrounded by mountains, some snow-capped. There was some logging that had recently occurred along with some log holding pens that were empty, but our anchor spot took that pretty much out of play. James Bay has extensive mud flats at the head, and it took us quite a while to find the right spot that wasn’t too deep (though it was nearly 90 feet) and yet allowed us to set enough scope to be safe yet stay off the flats.

It was a glorious day, and we decided to go kayaking. The charts showed a small river on the other side of the flats, and we’re always game to explore. We didn’t quite make the desired timing of entering on the last of the rising tide, but we did get out about high tide. We were met by a phalanx of seals, there were like 10-12 of them in the water, playing and spying on us as we glided by. It was lovely.

The best part was the river itself. Narrowish, green grass on both sides, and just fun to explore. We went as far as we could, until our paddles started hitting bottom with every stoke…and knowing the tide was already going out on the mudflats, we decided the better part of valor was to turn around. I could have paddled there all day and definitely want to go back!

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The James River proved to be a great paddle


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The river keeps going



Shortly we had to turn back. Next time we'll go for a higher tide so we can go farther upstream


The tannin color of the water shows clearly. However, it is safe to drink and tastes fine.

It was a long haul back to the boat due to wind in our faces. I thought, at one point in the trip, it would take me about 40 paddle strokes to get back to the boat. It took 175. These distances are really deceiving!

We had a nice evening, and we really liked this anchorage. The views were great in all directions, and the paddling was an unexpected bonus.