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OCC RoRC report from beautiful British Columbia

by Sue & Andy Warman 28 Jul 2019 16:40 UTC
Sue meets famous Billy Proctor- long term resident of the Broughtons © Sue & Andy Warman

In broad terms, the Gulf Islands, closer to urban populations in the south, are fashionable not only due to proximity but also sandy beaches, recreational trails and some tourist facilities. However, if you are looking for secluded anchorages you will be disappointed come the summer months.

At the northern end of the Strait of Georgia lies the entrance to Desolation Sound. Deep waterways, high mountains, many waterfalls tumble from peaks capped with snow in early spring. Fewer shallow anchorages can be found and there are less walks ashore, but the scenery is stupendous.

Through the network of channels and rapids between the Johnstone Strait and the mainland lies the Broughtons. Colourful local characters, such as Billy Proctor, describe a fascinating but almost disappeared history of logging, fishing, fur trapping, and families living in isolation or tiny communities aboard float homes. Basically, log rafts supporting a house and tethered to the shore or stone anchors.

From Victoria in the south of Vancouver Island to Cape Scott at the northern end is 300 miles. A cruise around Vancouver Island is a hurried affair if time is limited. To fully enjoy the delights the area offers a longer vacation is necessary.

Our journey south into Mexico will wait until the Northern Hemisphere hurricane season ends in the autumn. In the meantime, we have explored our way through the Canadian Gulf Islands and into the Broughtons. Our early season start has seen periods of cold, wet, and windy weather but also many sunny days. The late winter run of SE winds helped our passage north. The normal pattern of summer NW breezes appears delayed with unseasonal southerlies continuing well into June. Regular forecasts of late gales on the west coast caused us to dally before rounding Cape Scott this year.

The West coast of Vancouver Island also offers a wonderful cruising ground. Once around the northern cape, there are several large estuaries along the coast that can be explored or used for shelter. Wildlife is plentiful, particularly sea otters which were re-introduced from elsewhere after fur hunting had driven them to local extinction. Bears forage on beaches. Wolves do exist, but we have seen only their scat and footprints thus far. Villages are few and far between, mainly located towards the heads of the fjords. Supplies and fuel can be found only sporadically, this is not an issue for those used to provisioning for longer ocean passages.

A small number (only five) of cruising boats have been encountered, some only seen at a distance. Most craft spotted are recreational launches from remote fishing lodges. We are told the tourism industry here is heavily dependent upon salmon and halibut to attract high-value fishing tourists.

We thoroughly recommend this part of the world as a fine cruising destination and well worth a loop detour as part of a Pacific crossing.

This article has been provided by the courtesy of Ocean Cruising Club.

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