The Broughton Islands and Archipelago is an amazing wilderness area that includes numerous inlets, islands and waterways on the mainland side of Queen Charlotte Strait, north of Johnstone Strait and includes Knight Inlet, Kingcome Inlet, Tribune Channel, Drury Inlet and Mackenzie Sound. The ‘Broughtons’, as it is commonly referred to, is a large and interesting cruising ground and includes sheltered waters and anchorages ranging from raw and wind-swept to gentle waterfalls cascading down magnificent coastal mountains. It also includes one of British Columbia’s largest marine parks in British Columbia, the Broughton Archipelago Marine Park. Many of the islands are undeveloped but throughout the Broughtons there are small resorts/marinas where cruisers can stop at or stay overnight to restock their supplies, get fuel and enjoy the social side of marina life.
We left Blunden Harbour on September 16th and made our way to Napier Bay within Tracey Harbour, our first anchorage in the Broughtons. As we discovered in the last few weeks, there does not seem to be much wind in these areas and we had to motor the whole way to the anchorage covering over 21 nautical miles (NM) for the day. The anchorage (50°50.995’N, 126°51.351’W) would have been pretty if it were not for the log booms, buildings from an old logging operation and the crazy amount of jellyfish in the water. The saving grace was that loons were calling each other in the evening and the sky was clear with thousand upon thousand of stars.
We left the following day and headed to Sullivan Bay Marina. We sailed for about an hour with our maximum speed only reaching 2.4 knots when we decided to call it at day and motored the rest of the way to the marina. The boater guides we use (Dreamspeaker Guide and Waggoner Cruising Guide) indicated that the current can be very strong around the dock area and warned boaters to come to a full stop before reaching the dock and assess the current direction and strength before making the final approach. We had no problems coming into the dock with very little current (we most likely came during slack time). Sullivan Bay (50°53.101’N, 126°49.731’W) is an interesting marina that started out as a logging community at the turn of the century with all the buildings being on floats with the exception of the fuel tanks. Today, Sullivan Bay contains a unique floating village with cozy float houses, the docks named like streets, a grocery store, restaurant, laundry and shower facilities and a few more amenities. It was a peaceful and quiet evening on the dock with there being only two other motorboats on the dock.
On September 18th we continued on to Laura Bay approximately 19 NM from Sullivan Bay. The day ended being a typical west coast day with light rain starting in the morning and not ending until we arrived at the anchorage. We started the day with cleaning the sea strainer and the impeller of all the jelly fish that have been sucked in by the motor since leaving Port McNeill a few days ago. As we left the dock, the current was extremely strong and I was almost left behind on the dock as I was pulling the lines off. This time we were able to sail for over four hours as we headed to Laura Bay.
Laura Bay ended up being a pretty area with two separate sections as possible anchorage sites but one had a challenging entry and we headed to the outer anchorage instead avoiding the challenging and narrow entry. As we approached the outer entrance, we noticed that the surface water had a red tinge to it and parted like tomato soup as we motored through it. We quickly realized that the colour was caused by an algal bloom which is commonly referred to as “red tide”. It was eerie as we could see the algae ‘part’ as we motored through it. Once anchored (50°49.453’N, 126°34.195’W) we decided that we were not going to try our luck at crabbing as we weren’t sure if crabs are affected by red tide and eating any shellfish contaminated with red tide toxin can be poisonous for humans. We later found out that it is only bivalve shellfish that gets contaminated with red tide toxin (known as saxitoxin). That evening we had three orcas swim into and out of the entrance to Laura Bay, most likely following the seals but not being able to get to them through the narrow and shallow areas.
Since leaving Port McNeill, we have not been able to get rid of our garbage as none of the marinas would take it. We decided to separate anything burnable from non-burnable and took the burnable items to the shore and had a little bonfire late in the afternoon. The following day was a relaxing day for us and we spent the time exploring the area with the dinghy and we got to see an eagle, seal, kingfisher and several different species of ducks but no more orcas! Rob also got caught up on his reading and I got caught up on my writing. ~Sophia & Rob