We left Madrone behind to explore the islands. It felt good to be underway again. It also felt good to be drawing only a few inches rather than 5 feet. Low lying rocks became our friends once more. We landed at the site of a native village and paddled around a captive tidal pool that used to be the site of aquaculture. There didn’t seem to be an ideal campsite for our hammock tents on the islands, so we backtracked to Keith Island. Here was an ideal beach, with rocks cleared aside to make for a sort of kayak landing strip. The campsite was improved, it even had an outhouse. An overturned rootball from an old spruce revealed an ancient midden pile. The campsite had once been a settlement.
It was a magic night, the fog rolled in and there was no one around for miles. Total silence, broken only by the loud snuffling of sea lions tearing their prey apart. I had hoped to have Kristin in Ucluelet for her birthday, but with our engine troubles that was not to be. We had only shopped for a trip lasting a few days, so for dinner it was peanuts, ramen, and crackers. I forgot matches back at the boat so we crunched the ramen raw. The Hilton it was not.
The next day we set out in thick fog to return to the boat for matches (not to mention my shoes and wallet -had we met other kayakers I would have been a funny site, shoeless in a wilderness). It is much easier to head off into blind fog with just a compass when your boat can safely take to the rocks. In the still morning we paddled amongst curious seals and craggy rocks topped with natural bonsai. The fog never lifted so the vista was limited to rocks and islands within a few hunderd yards of the boat.
Our campsite the next night was on Turret Island and is marked on nautical charts as a campsite. There we met flocks of other kayakers. There we also learned why we were all alone the night before - camping in the Broken Group is limited to a handful of sites. We were on a private island, a reservation at that. Oops! Well, there was no sign :) Although these islands are incredible, I don’t know how I would feel having taken trains, planes, water taxis, only to find myself in a crowd of other REI types. My advice to the adventurous is to consider Kyuquot Sound and perhaps the Bunsby Islands instead. Those areas are as amazing, and truly isolated.
But it was luxury that night on Turret Island. I had matches, shoes, even my wallet though that wasn’t very useful. We had a fire! We ate hot ramen! We even popped popcorn over the fire. The tiny waves on the little beach all glowed phosphorescent. We splashed and kicked to create the world’s most spectacular light show. And then in the morning we began the long paddle to Ucluelet to pick up our new starter motor.