After receiving our radar from Sea Com Marine in Campbell River, we left Pender Harbour in the afternoon of August 18th and travelled north through Agamemnon Channel to Egmont, the last place to get fuel, water, laundry and showers for boaters before heading to Princess Louisa Inlet and Chatterbox Falls.
Agamemnon Channel is a 16 km (9.95 mile) narrow channel separating Nelson Island from the mainland and as soon as we left the harbour and entered the channel, we could almost immediately see a change in the landscape, from low-lying mountains to steep facing mountains with a very deep channel, some points over 300 metres deep.
In our readings, Agamemnon Channel is usually a busy ‘highway’ in the summer with many recreational boats travelling to and from Princess Louisa Inlet however we were one of very few boats travelling the channel that day including a few tugboats going south. We attempted to sail to Egmont but there was so little wind that after only having the foresail up for half an hour, we decided to call it quits and motored the rest of the way. Rob also attempted to fish but no success either.
We arrived late in the afternoon at Backeddy Resort and Marina west of Egmont (49°45.453’N/123°56.348’W), timing our arrival to be as close as possible to slack water (when the tide turns direction) for the Sechelt Rapids. This was to avoid any potential strong cross-current from back eddies that might form due to a large tide. Even though we timed our arrival to within 10 minutes of slack, we still felt the current pulling us in. We had the boat in reverse and were still going forward at 4 knots and had to approach the dock twice before being able to maneuver the boat close enough to dock. After docking and meeting the friendliest staff to date (all Kiwi except one Aussie), we walked up to the Backeddy pub to enjoy some wonderfully local made beer and the “Skookum Burger”; a 16 oz beef burger with all the toppings. Rob had the burger while I tried something more on the normal size but we both have to say that the “Skookum Burger” was delicious though very big!
The following morning we worked on installing the radar and testing it to see if the system worked. We found out that the problem with our system was not the unit itself but the wire connecting the interface with the radar outside. Apparently, this was a common problem with the type of radar model we have. Most of the morning was spent crawling inside our engine compartment, tracing and pulling the old wire and installing the new wire in properly. We are happy to report that our radar works; we can see blips on the screen but are not sure what they mean…yet! The afternoon was spent cleaning up and walking into town (about 20 minutes from the marina) to see what was ‘happening’ in Egmont. Egmont Village is an extremely small place and appears to centers itself around the Bathgate General Store and Marina.
We spent some time at the museum that covers the history of the area and discovered a wonderful bakery called The Green Rosette Bake Shop 10 minutes into the trail towards Skookumchuck Narrows Provincial Park. We decided to leave the hike to the narrows for the next day as the tide was not at its peak; instead we shared a mouth-watering cinnamon bun (the best one every)! On the way back to the marina, we also filled up on blackberries that were growing wild along the road.
We decided to have dinner again at the pub and this time tried their nachos with some more local beer. We both agreed that the portions served were quite hearty and we almost …almost did not finish the nachos.
Our last morning, we packed our backpacks and hiked over to the Sechelt Rapids (we were one of a few people who had hiking shoes, water and backpacks; many people stop at the entrance and then hiked into the place with their sandals). The rapids, also known as Skookumchuck, are rated one of the largest salt-water rapids in the world (skookum is a Chinook word for strong or powerful and chuck means “salt water”). The trail to the rapids is mostly on private property and ambled through a forest of moss-covered trees and ground. It was amazing to be walking under such large trees and not being able to see around the corner through the trees. After about an hour and thirty minutes walking we took the path that led closest to the rapids and hoped that we would be able to see some surf kayakers riding the huge standing waves created by the flooding tide. Unfortunately, there was no one kayaking but we did get to see and experience the rapids with the current predicted to be just over 11 knots. We also got to see a black bear but he/she was on the other side of the rapids and too far away to get any good pictures. After spending a few hours watching the rapids, Rob and I both agree that we find it hard to believe that sailboats and motorboats travel through the rapids to explore the waters of the Sechelt Inlet but it is done and can be safely done when crossed at slack water. We are hoping that one day we would be able to do this crossing as well with Blue Tale.
On our way back, we of course had to stop at the bakery and shared another cinnamon bun before heading back home to our boat to prepare for our trip to Princess Louisa Inlet and our own crossing of rapids, the Malibu Rapids, located approximately 4 NM southwest of the waterfalls. ~Sophia & Rob