Kayaking Over A Midden

Working our way back

JULY 23, 2016  |  We’re back home safe and sound. Internet was unreliable so I’m way behind in posting.

We left Ucluelet in the morning on Thursday July 14, and since the forecast was for strong winds, we headed back up into the calmer waters of upper Barkley Sound to a lesser-known anchorage on the east end of Nettle Island. As soon as we finished anchoring, a hummingbird flew into the wheelhouse, struggling against the glass. To help it get out, Michael put his hand under it and it perched on him. To contain it long enough to get outside, he clasped his other hand around it, and actually got to hold a hummingbird! What a thrill. After that, we launched out in the kayak to try to explore the sea caves on a completely different island, but it was too rough on the exposed side. On the way back we spotted a beautiful shell beach and were quite happy with that as a destination instead. Karen got to wade in the glimmering shell-lined pool formed by the rocky entrance while getting in and out of the kayak. We had to paddle hard to make it back to the boat across a channel.

Friday July 15 | We finally got to anchor in the Alma Russell Islands, with the sunshine showing off the beautiful shallow waters. Kayaked out to the reefs for superb shell collecting, and went back again with the clear bottom bucket. We were endlessly fascinated by looking underwater, til we realized that was making us seasick, since we were just inside the rocks from some big waves.

Saturday July 16 | Explored Effingham Inlet, another one of the fiords that has snow covered peaks at the head. Watched helicopter logging in action. Each time they dropped the load of logs into the water there was a dramatic splash. Conditions were right for sneaking into Jarvis Lagoon, which is surrounded by moss-covered trees and super-shallow, 13 ft at the deepest spot at high tide. Kayaked back out the entrance to explore the reefs with the clear-bottom bucket and could see plumrose anemones where the current was strong.

Sunday July 17 | Anchored in Joe Bay so we could kayak to Trickett Island again for more shells. Great tide pools on flat rock shelves with anemones in the crevasses, but the next little island (just labeled 32 on the chart) is the one with the fabulous shells. The wind had picked up by the time we left, regrettably. Although the wind was behind us, it was almost more than we could handle — pretty big waves for being in the inflatable. Struggling to keep the paddle in the water, we rode the surf in thru a narrow entrance to the anchorage, much relieved and worn out. That night, there was a spectacular thunderstorm with well over 100 strikes, mostly lighting up the whole bay like daylight, but some earsplitting strikes on the land behind us. Heavy rain got heavier and heavier til we crawled in bed for the second thunderstorm.

Monday July 18 | From Joe Bay thru Dodger Channel, where we dropped anchor for lunch. Too exposed to swells for the night, we opted for a good night’s sleep in Grappler Inlet. Rowed to end of the inlet and tied the dingy to the abandoned dock. Houses and boats all abandoned too — spooky place. Made our way past the houses and old fish hatchery and numerous piles of fresh bear poop to a logging road so we could hike up to Sugsaw Lake. The trail ended at a locked gate on the only dock, because it’s the water source for Bamfield. No one goes there, but the overgrown road was freshly weed whacked. On the way back, we encountered the bear, blocking the log bridge we had to cross! Managed to scarce him off by “looking big.” Rowed ashore to East Bamfield for ice cream on the way back.

Tuesday July 19 | Leaving Barkley Sound. Early start, 6am, from Grappler Inlet in mist but calm the whole way, so we stopped in Port San Juan, and anchored in a tiny bite on the east shore called Woods Nose. It’s just barely out of the wind and waves, with just mild swells. From the beach, we hiked less than 2 miles each way to a great park on the outer coast, called Botanical Beach. Light rain. Fascinating geology there — layered shale, then granite and then sandstone, with bathtub sized potholes in the stone, filled with intertidal life. Each section of beach was completely different. Back at the boat, a group of eight otters swam around our boat looking for fish.

Wednesday July 20 | Left Woods Nose by 7am to transit the central strait to Becher Bay. With the wind from astern, we sat out on the flybridge most of the way. Anchored behind Creyke Point, a pretty spot with access to the trail right from the beach. Impromptu hike along the  Coast Trail thru East Sooke Regional Park. What a great trail — rugged, scrambling required in places, very cushy in others. Spectacular views of the strait while we went around several gorgeous heads. Saw a pod of about eight orcas splashing in the current out in the strait. Did a 7 mile loop out to Cabin Point, then back to the boat for a late dinner.

Thursday July 21 |  With the forecast calling for gales in the afternoon, we needed another early start for the last section of the strait. We crossed from Becher Bay (just east of Sooke) and headed directly for Mystery Bay near Port Townsend. We knew it would be at least six hours across, but when saw that we had four knots of current against us trying to get past Race Rocks and the fog was closing in on us, we were getting concerned. Michael pushed the throttle up to 1900 rpms, and we burned a lot more fuel that normal but were able to keep our speed up to a reasonable six knots. A bit rough due to tide rips, but not windy, and we had great fun watching big ships (love having AIS) and whales — orcas, humpbacks spouting and possibly greys too. Had to navigate the convoluted, shallow entrance to Mystery Bay at a near zero tide. We had a nice walk to the store in Nordland for Whidbey Island ice cream bars, and filled up a gallon ziplock bag each with blackberries that we picked on the way back. It never got windy, but we had another spectacular lightning storm, this time with continuous sharp spikes of lightning, running vertically and then horizontally under the cloud.

Friday July 22 | Grey and rainy day. After a delicious blackberry waffle breakfast, it was time to head home. Through the Post Townsend Canal near slack water, and down Puget Sound to Shilshole, our home port. Not used to so many boats around, the entrance to Shilshole seemed chaotic. The wind had picked up, the locks had just let out, and everyone wanted to get around the same buoy all at once. Whew, good to be home, incident-free. Mischief is one tough boat, and Michael did a great job keeping it going.

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