Barkley Sound – Icing On A Beautiful Cake

We left Quait Bay on a gray and cold morning, with rain squalls still rolling through from the night before. We had not noticed any of the wind in our little hideout, but the rain finds you no matter how good you hide. We hoped the last of the systems had moved through but failed to avoid the last two patches as they moved inland overhead while we drove out towards the coast.

We’ve been to Tofino by boat before and I remember it being a bit of a cluster, so we decided to just skip it and head quickly down to Ucluelet. Unfortunately it was another rounding of no wind and big seas and the boat rolling in the oncoming swell for four long hours. But then we were on the dock at Ucluelet (Ukee to the locals) and ready for some long needed down time after six plus weeks. We had some boat chores and laundry and reprovisioning to do, and from the inner harbor all those things plus some delicious restaurants were easy to get to.

One day I was feeling like I really needed some hardcore exercise, so we decided to rent some bikes. The trails on the Ukee side of the peninsula don’t allow bikes, but there’s a bike path from the intersection with the highway all the way into Tofino that’s off road. I wasn’t really thinking about the distance when we started since it was in kilometers and I hadn’t done the math, but off we went to the Tofino Brewery for lunch, a mere 30 kilometers away. Yes we made it to lunch and back, but we were wiped out completely when we got home. One of the bikes had a bad battery and we took turns nursing it back to the barn. But it was a beautiful day and my funk was all gone at the end.

With the boat all topped up and ready to go, we headed out to one of our favorite spots, the anchorage right smack in the middle of the Broken Group, nestled between four islands and completely surrounded by quiet and beauty. It was definitely hammock time.

We brought with us Rob’s new to him Feathercraft K1 Expedition kayak, that we had bought used a handful of years before but not really had time to play with. Our old folding boats that we had brought cruising are also Feathercraft, but much smaller and more lightweight. I was excited to get out and paddle this boat and see how a big full size kayak handles, and it was really exciting. I’m now in the market to try and find an upgrade and move into this bigger boat, but the company went out of business 4 years ago and we have to shop the used market. Good news is they’re very robust and have a long lifespan and are worth reselling when someone is done with it.

We also wanted on this trip to Barkley Sound to go explore Lucky Creek. We had tried on a previous trip but the tides weren’t right. It’s another river where you have to go up at high tide, and this year the afternoon high would give us that chance. We motored up to the base of Pipestem inlet and dropped a hook and got the Merc on the dink, ready for an afternoon high. It was the most gorgeous set of small waterfalls and swimming pools. If you tried to paint the picture in your head of what the perfect mountain stream flowing into pools and around rocks would look like, you still couldn’t imagine it as pretty as it actually was. There was a bit of climbing up hillsides using ropes to get up to the pools, but worth it. Next time I’m for sure going earlier and bringing swim gear.

The next day we had a spectacular sail out of that anchorage and back down to the Broken Group. It was time to get ready for the passage back into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. When we got to the anchorage we found some folks we had met earlier in the summer and there was a cruiser happy hour in the works and we had a great time catching up. The hardest thing about this summer has been the lack of companionship and not having other folks to talk to.

We set an early alarm and headed out into the Pacific one last time and into the Strait. We planned to stay on the Canadian side, since we need to go back into the San Juans and see friends at Orcas. There is an anchorage most of the way to Victoria where we had stayed before and our plan was to stop there. We were lucky with the fog, wind and current. The morning fog kept the wind down while the tide was ebbing, then when it cleared in the afternoon and the tide started flooding hard, the westerly winds weren’t creating huge seas since the tide and wind were together. We were flying in at 8-10 knots in very calm seas. As we passed our intended anchorage we saw we were making nearly 10 knots and at that speed it was only another hour into Victoria. I called the harbor authority and they said our slip reserved for the next day was empty so come on it.

And there we were, 94 miles in 14.5 hours. Of course the cats didn’t know that 14.5 was the end, so at about 14 they were done. Both came out of their hidey hole and started objecting for the first time on the entire trip. Luckily we kept them settled until the boat was on the dock.

We’ve been in Victoria for three days. Rob and I are definitely better at watching the tourists than being the tourists. We’re on a dock next to the seaplanes, and it’s amazing how many flights come in and out all day long. We’re also near a kayak rental and that has been both scary and fascinating to watch the couples in the double kayaks heading out into the bay with planes and ferries and water taxis and whale watching boats of all sizes. So often we think they should just turn around and give the kayaks back, but then a few hours later we see them paddling back in totally in synch and big smiles on their faces. I’m not sure why people who clearly are not used to water based activities think they should get into a kayak, but we have seen them from all races and nationalities paddling out and in this holiday weekend. We also found some dim sum today and satisfied that craving for now.

Tomorrow we had back to the US and check in with our Nexus cards by phone hopefully. We have reservations at Deer Harbor on Orcas on Wednesday and Thursday and will catch up with old friends we haven’t seen in way too long.