Boats docked at Zeballos, Nootka Sound

Kyuquot, Nootka and Clayoquot Sounds

July 30, 2014 | We spent about a week exploring Kyuquot Sound. The consistently blue skies showed off its intensely turquoise but slightly opaque water — every inch of it is robin’s egg blue. In the first anchorage, Dixie Cove, the water was 70 degrees, so we jumped in. Michael promptly jumped back out and put on a wetsuit. Hiked the ocean beaches at Rugged Point the next day, starting out in the fog, but that just made it more beautiful. The waves had left awesome patterns in the sand, littered with sand dollars. Some stretches of the trail had ropes or ladders in place to get over the steep headlands. Back to Petroglyph Cove for the night, and had visitors from Latitudes, a sailboat that we had encountered in a couple of our other anchorages. Warm enough to spend the evening on the fly bridge.

We explored most of the inlets in Kyuqout Sound and had Hankin Cove to ourselves. Quite windy this day, and a good place to hole up. Hot and sunny, and you would think we we were playing tennis on the boat, but we were swatting horseflies with the tennis racket shaped bug zappers. Michael washed some clothes and we hung everything out in the wind to dry.

No radio reception in the inlet, so we had no weather report, but decided it looked good enough to head out into the open water to reach Mary Basin, near the entrance to Esperanza inlet. This was rather more sporting that we had expected — 2 to 3 meter swells, with substantial wind waves on top of that. Quite a ride. As we crossed the entrance bar to Mary Basin, that turquoise color appeared again, a little greener now and with white waves breaking on the many rocks we had to avoid. Had the huge expanse of anchorage to ourselves, and kayaked over to the entrance to the Inner Basin, but the current was way to strong to be able to paddle back out, so we didn’t go in. Spent two nights here to give the weather time to settle down, then made the shorter open crossing to Nuchatlitz Provincal Park, a group of islands that provide some protection from the ocean swells, until the tide comes in. That long mud flat we wanted to walk on disappeared and we rolled for a while. Rain finally caught up with us, and we hunkered down. The mist in the evening was beautiful.

The next move was into Esperansa Inlet, and we were glad to be back in protected waters. Easy going up long channels, two of which had small towns at the heads. The first was Zeballos, an old mining town. We spent the night with the fishing boats in the harbor there, and had some lovely walks through the estuary and along the Zeballos River. Hot showers.

Another day, another inlet, first through the narrows and then to the Tahsis government dock for a short walk up to the marina outside of town in search if wifi. Fishing is great around here, and everywhere people are gutting their enormous catches. Heading back down the inlet, we saw large rafts of sea otters clinging together, drifting in the current. Another quiet night all alone in a Bodega Cove.

Ready to stretch our legs, we made our way nearly back out to the coast to Friendly Cove, site of the Coast Guard weather station, lighthouse, and search and rescue base. It’s also an ancient native settlement, where Cook first landed, and has great ocean beaches buried in pebbles that make walking hard work. Spent a breezy night at the squeaky public dock.

Nootka Sound had more to explore, so we toured around a bit, and ended that day all alone in Bligh Cove (yes, named after that Captain Bligh). It’s a Provincal marine park and very secluded. That was our jumping off point for an early start around Estevan Point, another major hurdle. We picked the right day, and had calm, but rainy, weather. The reward for the exposure to the open ocean was ending the day at Hot Springs Cove — most enjoyable. Busy during the day with tourists, but after dinner, we hiked the elaborate boardwalk out to the hot springs and had it almost to ourselves. What a great place!

Now on to explore Clayoquot Sound, covering almost every one of the many fjord like inlets, and overnighting all by ourselves for five  nights in a row, in Baccante Bay, Matilda Inlet, Quait Bay, and Tranquilito Cove. Still plenty of seclusion to be found. Matilda Inlet bordered on a native settlement, responsible for the Wildside Trail that provided boardwalks over the headlands between the White Sands Beaches. But to get to the beaches, we had to take another “primitive trail” which we now know means swamp with obstacle course. This string of beaches was protected from big waves by some outer islands, which disappeared in the fog. Sunshine finally looks like it will stick around for a while.

Getting close to Tofino, and there is much more activity, but found a place to hide out in Lemmen NW Cove, sharing it with some floating houses and an oyster farm. We’ll pass by Tofino today, and stop briefly if we can find a spot at the busy dock. Then head out to sea to make the passage to Uclelet and the beginning of Barkley Sound, if it’s not too foggy!

  1. Paula Gill
    Paula Gill08-01-2014

    Hi Karen-It all sounds so enchanting! Thanks for the wonderful descriptions of your trip.

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