I'm Matt, a software engineer and boating enthusiast based in Washington State (but on the move). I started Hermit Cove Boats, offering cool skin and frame boat plans and kits. Check it out!
Ok, so these islands are pretty much kayak heaven. No not pretty much. These islands are literally Kayak Heaven. Kayak St. Peter probably greets you in Port McNeill and takes you out in a water taxi. Like the River Styx but you end up in Kayak Heaven not the usual Hell. Now the same thing that makes a kayaker smile may make a sailor frown. Numerous submerged rocks in the channel. Confusing navigation (“Wait, what island is that again?”). But we have a folding double kayak on board, to enjoy the best of both worlds.
We entered the Broughtons via the Knight Inlet and anchored for the night in Lagoon Cove. The anchorage was lovely, but the local services available at Lagoon Cove Marina were not targeted at outsiders. And as people who prefer anchoring I guess we were outsiders. Its the first time in this lovely country we’ve been made to feel unwelcome, but the marina is run by a Portlander, so I suppose its a taste of our own medicine. The anchorage had no crabs, but we did catch one hell of a starfish. As a consolation prize we ate sole, and watched the salmon jump and the eagles swoop.
The next day we headed out in rain and light fog to anchor near an old First Peoples village (Mamalilliculla). The anchorage was perfect. The village was mysterious in the mist. We landed on a shell beach created by thousands of years of cast off clam shells, though most of the more recent debris included glass and crockery. Scrambling up a hillside we came upon the ruins of a totem pole. Further on through bramble 8 feet high we found the remains of semi-modern homes and a giant log archway. I’ve not been able to find more information about the site, but the only signs of recent activity come from other boaters.
The rain passed and the next day we were sunning ourselves again. We kayaked around the small islands in the area. Kristin got in some quality yoga time out on a rock. I caught some rockfish and a nice big Kelp Greenling. And then we did laundry.
Laundry out there means one of two things: 10$ a load to use a marina’s machines, or a bucket and plunger. We’ve done both. The sun dried the clothes well, but I think the evening mist came on fast and they were still a little wet at 9pm. So we strung them up in the cabin on spectra line. No chance of it breaking under the strain, and I hate it when laundry lines stretch. I am sure spectra is the future of line drying your clothes.
But our weather luck didn’t hold and the next day it was pouring again. I fixed the bilge pump. Kristin read. Finally we decided to head out into the rain. We carefully navigated between the thousands of islands up to Echo Bay. On the way we passed the Fox Group of islands. Another kayaking wonderland. It would take years. The mind boggles.
Echo Bay is now Pierre’s Echo Bay and though we didn’t know it, we pulled in just 15 minutes before the big pot luck pig roast. Well it was Saturday night after all, and what else would you do? We were excused from bringing a dish by our lateness which is good because we are down to nuts and dried beans. I think we have a tin of herring somewhere… The pig roast scene was a bit like summer camp but for old rich boaters. The crowd has thinned in the Broughtons and the boaters are older and their boats bigger. Perhaps you need a lot of time off to make it up here? Pierre and Tove kept us all entertained with pig slaughtering, toasts, chants and party prizes.
At the roast we met Mike and Jeanne, who cruised up here January to October. In the morning Mike took me out fishing in the marina’s boat. We caught a billion rockfish, keeping the limit (2), and Mike caught a Ling Cod. Incredibly generous, Mike gave us the Ling, showing me how to fillet one half and helping me through the other. We had half of of the fish for lunch today. Delicious. I guess we’ll have to decided if its Ling, Rockfish, or leftover pig for dinner. As my parents like to say during an excellent meal: “I wonder what the rich folk are eating tonight?”. Tonight we can just peak into our neighbor’s boats to see.