Cruising the Broughtons, British Columbia – Part 1

In July, we realized that we were being asked the same series of questions almost everywhere we went.

Where are you from?  Seattle.

Where do you keep your boat?  With us.  Umm. What?  Yep, today our home is _________ (insert name of current location).

How long are you out for?  The foreseeable future.  Like September?  No…a little longer than that.

Where are going?  Around.  Like around the world. 😊

What kind of dog is that? Mexican Street Dog.  Is that a new breed?  Absolutely.

This conversation went down a variety of paths, depending on who we were talking to.  Most people thought it was pretty cool (or perhaps a little crazy).  Others had a lot of additional questions.  Here are my favorites:  “Where do you keep your china?”  followed by… “what about your hutch? What did you do with that???”  This really lovely gentleman (he was super cool, just a bit incredulous) couldn’t imagine that 1) We don’t own china; 2) We don’t want to own china; 3) We don’t have and never have had a “hutch” to keep said china in; and 4) regardless of all of the china discussion, we do have real plates and glass barware on my boat (not plastic – shocker).

We spent the month of July cruising the Broughtons, a stunning area on the Inside Passage, at the northern end of Vancouver Island.  This post tells the story of the first half of our Broughtons experience.

When we last left off, we had arrived in Port Harvey.  Port Harvey used to be one of the small marina experiences of the Broughtons area.  Sadly, the husband of the family team that ran the marina, passed away quite suddenly last summer.  Unfortunately, the forest doesn’t understand sorrow and is actively working to reclaim the grounds around the marina.  A caretaker was on-site living in his trawler to accept guests in an effort to keep the marina open for the summer, so that the land lease would not be lost.  No power, water, pizza (which used to be a beloved custom at Port Harvey) or anything, but we feel we helped a bit by paying for a night’s moorage. When we arrived at Port Harvey we added to the Nordhavns in residence count to a total of three!  We also met Joe and Lynn from the Ocean Alexander, Ocean Suite who we would happily reconnect with over the coming weeks.  They provided us with some great intel on cruising the Broughtons and told us the story of Port Harvey.

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Logging operation at the entry to Port Harvey
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Wolfanu
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Fam photo
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Red Rover in the foreground with Playmor (N50) in the background
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Port Harvey

After a quick night we rose early to fog gracing the sunrise.  We were off to run Chatham Channel at slack tide, which required a 6 am departure.  Beautiful.

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Chatham Channel

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A short run down Chatham Channel brought us to Lagoon Cove.  Sheepishly, I called the marina on the VHF prior to 8 am and asked if perhaps, maybe, just maybe, they might have room for us so early in the day.  Stumbling on my words, the proprietor suggested that they also had coffee ready!  With that we moved on in for two nights. Generally, we love to anchor out and mix in a marina or two here and there.  One of the special experiences of the Broughtons is a series of small (like 8-10 boats) marinas that are owned and operated by rugged families.  These marinas are in the wilderness.  They run off of generators and everything, literally everything, must be grown on-site, built by hand or brought in by boat or seaplane.  Each marina has their own personality and each is a completely unique experience.  When you step off of your boat to tie up, it is generally the owner who greets you, asks your name and shakes your hand.

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Can you spot the Nordhavn flag? In the “workshop” by the happy hour deck.
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Kevin and Max
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The workshop and the happy hour deck
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I spy Red Rover

Lagoon Cove is one of our favorites.  The young couple and their dad/father-in-law who run the marina have a great sense of humor and a ton of energy.  They create a welcoming experience every day.  Each evening they host a happy hour on the upper dock by the “shop.”  Every boat brings an appetizer to share, their own plates, silverware and drinks. The Lagoon Cove folks set shrimp pots out during the day and bring a bushel of fresh spot prawns to happy hour, complemented by their homemade Lagoon Cove cocktail sauce, which is tasty and kind of like a prawn salsa.  You sit and chat with your neighbors and learn all kinds of things.  People who are cruising the Broughtons tend to be outgoing, friendly and adventurous.  Many of the people we met had been cruising the area for years (one couple over 30 years!) and had many suggestions and thoughts for us, all provided in a friendly way.  Sometimes we find that our relative youthful age, as opposed to some of the other cruising public, creates an opportunity for a lecture about the things we don’t know.  This wasn’t the case in the Broughtons.

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Hiking trail map
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Dinghy cruising
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The owners have a sense of humor!

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Modern totem pole
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Exercise facility.  Zoe is skeptical.

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Red Rover at the dock
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Check out the dock construction
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How fuel and propane gets delivered

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We hiked, dinghy cruised and relaxed at and around Lagoon Cove and were delighted when Lynn and Joe pulled in late the first day, with their boat being handily docked by Lynn who is a BOSS!  The next morning another fun surprise – the Nordhavn count increased to two with the arrival of Brad and Kelly on Morning Dew, a spectacular Nordhavn 60.

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Hello Morning Dew!  Twinning.
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Sun worshippers

After two nights of eating more spot prawns than is generally socially acceptable, we left to head to Kwatsi Bay, where we would meet up with both Morning Dew and Ocean Suite.  Crossing Knights Inlet we came across a pod of several hundred white sided dolphins.  They played in our wake and rode the bow wake, brushing up against the boat.  Do we have photos?  Um no.  We were too busy watching!  But it was a great memory!  We later learned that the white sided dolphins have incredibly sensitive skin and that they like to make contact with boats to engage their senses.  The dolphins have a crook in their dorsal fin and are easy to spot.

Running up Tribune Channel we were surrounded by mountains.  Stunning.

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We arrived at Kwatsi Bay, having heard that it was “rustic.”  It was, but in a happy way.  The owners of this small marina have pieced together handmade docks with a covered gathering area at the heart of the space.  Every other night is either happy hour or potluck dinner.  We arrived on a potluck dinner night, which was fantastic.  People can certainly cook in their galleys!  But prior to dinner we had to do some recreating, and move a tree.  Of course.  We took a dinghy ride with Joe and Lynn to Watson Cove to see if Lacy Falls (located at the head of the bay) was flowing and to check out the bay for anchoring suitability.  While the waterfall was barely running, and the bay was super deep and an unlikely anchoring spot, it was a gorgeous ride.

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Kwatsi Bay

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Joe and Zoe, with Lynn’s back!

Upon returning to Kwatsi we found that a very large tree was making its way to the marina.  Oh, I should add that it was floating.  Kevin and Joe grabbed some lines and our dinghy to play tug boat.  They were supervised by Brad and Kelly in their kayak and assisted by a helpful young teenager from a family sailboat (Mount Baker, Seattle based) we would see multiple times in the coming weeks as well.

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Moving the tree

In the morning, we left Kwatsi with Morning Dew, with a goal to shoot a Nordhavn-centric drone video.  This would be our first time flying the drone while the boat was moving!  I should say, Kevin’s first time, as I do not have much to do with flying the drone.  Kevin has flown the drone while we are anchored, or from land or a dock, but while moving – a whole different story.  The possibility of pulling out the DAN first aid kit to tend to cut fingers from drone catching, or the fishing net to capture a very expensive “fish” that might land in the water was quite real!  So with these happy thoughts in mind, Kevin moved to the bow and I took the helm, each with our headsets on.  Kevin called the shots (literally) and Brad (Morning Dew) and I chatted back and forth on the VHF regarding heading and speed.  I managed to not hit Brad but stay close enough to him.  Rather, I should say, Brad, being an excellent captain managed to avoid me!

During our chats on the VHF Brad mentioned that there was a “photobombing Krogen” coming up behind us.  What what!?  The competition, right?  Well not really, we have friends with Krogens – stunning boats that we also love.  Now, sometimes, when you are simply cruising along, you become “interested” in what other boats are talking about. Nosy is perhaps a better description!  This entails flipping channels on the VHF.  Well apparently, the good folks on the 44 Krogen, Brass Monkey, were also interested in what we were doing, and upon hearing a reference to their boat, decided to join in the conversation, introducing themselves as “the photobombing Krogen.”  Ha!  We all met up at Pierre’s Echo Bay later and had a good laugh.  Turns out two of the folks on the Krogen are involved in film and photography.

Where is this video, you ask?  Well, we need real data speed to upload it.  So give it 10 days or so.  We’ll be back to what some might call civilization soon and will upload it to our YouTube channel and will also add the link into this story.  It’s pretty cool I must say.  Sorry to be a tease.

After channeling our inner film-makers, we arrived at Pierre’s Echo Bay.  Pierre’s is yet another one of the small family-owned marinas in the Broughtons.  It is perhaps the most famous of the group and has the most dock space.  Echo Bay is owned and operated by a busy couple, Pierre and Tove.  They have owned the “resort,” which is on the Kenmore Air flight schedule, since 2008.  Other than the beautiful surroundings, the charming floating buildings, and the small store with groceries(!), a big draw at Pierre’s is good food.  Pierre’s hosts dinners with slow spit-roasted prime rib on Mondays  and Thursdays, fish & chips on Wednesdays and a pig roast on Saturdays.  The thought of prime rib made us drool.  So we arrived on a Monday!  It did not disappoint.

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Pierre’s at Echo Bay

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Zoe swimming
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Relaxing on the flybridge
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Cruising is exhausting

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We were fortunate to dine with not only Brad and Kelly but also two super fun gentlemen, Lou and Bill.  Bill sails his wooden ketch in B.C. each summer, and also participates in a variety of shows where he educates people about the history of these boats.  Lou and Bill met many years ago in the Navy and they regaled us with stories during dinner.  Lou was visiting Bill for two weeks and the two were obviously delighted to see one another again.

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Tove explaining the dinner process
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Pierre and the prime ribs
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Dessert!
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Lou and Bill

The following day we hiked over to Billy Proctor’s museum, another draw at Echo Bay.  We were Billy’s first visitors of the day and we enjoyed seeing his incredible collection of artifacts that he has found in the region.  Billy is a bit of a legend, having lived in the area for more than 80 years.  He has been a logger, a fisherman, a trapper and a storyteller, as he has written three books, all of which now reside on Red Rover.  Tenacious, tough, smart, and salty, Billy has lived an amazing life in the islands.  After visiting with him, we reflected on what the Broughtons will be like when people like Billy and Pierre are no longer the keepers of its stories.  Many of the small marinas are for sale, as it must be challenging to make a living on what truly amounts to two months of business.  We hope that, like Lagoon Cove, they find new owners and new energy to keep the traditions alive.

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On the hike over

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Billy’s dog greeted us

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Billy’s dock
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In the museum
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Guest book

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Zoe enjoying Billy’s museum
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Billy Proctor, handwriting in a ledger for the sale of our books

That said, all of this small marina experience had been great fun but we were ready for some time swinging on the anchor, a bit of solitude, some time with our books and oh… wine.  We took a beautiful but short cruise to Turnbull Cove, where our friend, RAIN, reappeared.  We had been told that Turnbull Cove was simply stunning and it was really nice, but we didn’t see what all the fuss was about.  Apparently, had we been able to see the mountains surrounding the bay, it would have made a lot more sense.  We put on the rain gear and took some dinghy rides from the bay, enjoying one of our favorite pastimes – exploring new places.

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Approaching Turnbull Cove
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Entry to Turnbull Cove
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Turnbull Cove
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A relic of logging – an old steam donkey
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Abandoned steam donkey in the woods
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On a bluff at the entry to Turnbull Cove
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On a bluff at the entry to Turnbull Cove. We later left some beautiful shells around the plaque.
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Explorer Doggo Zoe
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Junior Explorer Doggo Max
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Mmm. Dinner on a rainy night in the galley.

After a few days of loafing about at Turnbull we had come up with a laundry list of things we should be doing, all of which required cell service, something that we hadn’t had much of for some time.  The answer – scoot to Port McNeil, visit the grocery store, get rid of some garbage (a difficult thing to do in the Broughtons), work on the connectivity-required-to-do-list and catch up with our friends Leo and Mamie on N60 Paradise Found. 

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Somewhere under the rainbow there’s a Nordhavn
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One of the benefits of rain = rainbows!
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The full rainbow was in Turnbull Cove

One of the things we have realized this summer is that we are not on vacation.  We are actively cruising and now and then we have to deal with reality. That reality might be as simple as checking in with family, or it might be arranging for a haul-out in Seattle in late August, or spending a day cleaning.  Whatever it is, it often requires more connectivity than we have in the islands. Outside of our Iridium Go connection we do not have additional satellite support on Red Rover.  When I decided not to work, we decided to put the more expensive satellite installation and monthly data cost on hold.  So far, so good!  Lack of cell service can be lovely too… but it does delay very important efforts, like updating this blog!  More to come!

12 thoughts on “Cruising the Broughtons, British Columbia – Part 1

  1. Hey Red Rover,
    Your 8-15 words and beautiful pics were fabulous. Almost like being with you.
    We sold the Caribe on 8-13. Our first day without a boat since 1966.😩
    Guy & Joy

    1. Hi guys! We miss you. The massive giant dinghy is gone? NO! That thing was a sports car. Would love to see you while we are in Seattle if we can figure it out! – much love, Alison

  2. Photos and stories about those small marinas look stunning. Having spent time in Kodiak with Natasha and Josh on Samba, and seeing this cruising area, l wonder if we will be tempted to make the crossing from Aussie. Thanks for this post.

    1. Hi Peter, it was a truly gorgeous area. Cool that you went cruising with Natasha and Josh! We are planning to be in Prince William Sound next summer and cannot wait to see it as we hear it is beyond spectacular. Someday we hope to get to Australia as well – maybe we’ll cross at sea! Thank you for the note! – Alison

  3. Hi guys!
    Very interesting to read your stories. Good stuff! Looking forward to next part and also the drone video.
    Best regards,
    Mikael from Stockholm, Sweden – a serious Nordhavn dreamer.

    1. Hi Mikael – thank you for the comment! Part 2 is up! The video will be up soon – Kevin is the video editor, so he needs to finish it up now that we have cell service. Happy dreaming! We did for years – and sometimes I still can’t believe this is our life.

  4. A boatless Nordhavn Dreamer here, but getting closer every day.
    Thanks for sharing this. We cruised through the area several times in the late 1990’s. Lagoon Cove was a favourite. It is indeed great to see it is still going and carrying on where Bill left off with the spot prawn feasts and a great place to meet others.
    I know conductivity is expensive, however, if you do get a chance, please do a short bit on the technical side of your blog. What you use to make it and how you picked the soft ware and hard ware you use.
    Thanks, please keep it posting.

    1. Hi Dean, thanks so much for the comment and for reading our blog! And for the suggestion – we will do a little update on the software (WordPress) and hardware and how we put it all together. Great suggestion! 🙂

  5. Loved your blog, as always. Just missed you in the Broughtons. We were ther in June. Saw Leo yesterday on his dock, Aug. 16, while we were leaving for Maple Bay. He had just gotten back. xo

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