Cruising the Broughtons, British Columbia – Part 2

One of the best things about owning a Nordhavn is the Nordhavn community.  Kevin and I spent years raising our kids, running our companies and working like dogs (but apparently not our dogs, because they live the life of luxury).  We had (and still have!) some truly wonderful and much-loved friends that we met growing up, through work, or by standing on the side of a lake/river/inlet watching our daughter row.  But we always had a rather small circle of friends, and that was all good with us as we aren’t serious extroverts.  Enter the Nordhavn community.  We now have a large circle of friends who have this same crazy passion for exploring the world on the big blue watery highway.  Nordhavn owners are fun, smart, interesting, adventurous and friendly.  And really, this statement can be broadened to the boating community.  Boat people tend to be good people.

So speaking of good people, once we found a tiny shred of cell service coming out of the Broughtons, we were able to alert Leo and Mamie, our friends on N60 Paradise Found, that we were heading to Port McNeill to see them. Upon hearing that we were on our way, Mamie jumped into action, trying to secure us a slip in a busy town. She is a persuasive individual, getting one marina to agree to let us hang out on their fuel dock, even with our giant need of 5 gallons of gas for the dinghy.


Port McNeill is a small town in what is called North Island (aka Vancouver Island). People are friendly, open and helpful.  We enjoyed everyone we met!  Our goal in visiting Port McNeill was to check some items off of our to-do list.  As mentioned in our last blog post, while we are cruising, we aren’t completely on vacation, and we have to keep up with life!  A lack of cell service sometimes impedes this. I actually love it when we don’t have cell service as it allows us to truly be present with each other and with our experience, but now and then it is necessary!

Who knew?


The dogs appreciated the ability to hop on and off of the boat and go on nice long bear-concern-free walks.  The boat appreciated Kevin’s attention to some projects and I appreciated the real grocery store!  Oh, and the ability to get rid of trash.  Trash is an issue in the Broughtons as the small marinas do not have the ability to deal with garbage.  Pack it in, pack it out.  Let me just say, it is amazing how much garbage (and um wine bottle recycling) two people can create.  Thanks for taking our garbage (and recycling), Port McNeilI!

Nothing runs like a Deere (or a Lugger, which is a marinized Deere!)

On our first full day in Port McNeill, we joined Leo and Mamie for a quick ferry ride to Malcolm Island and the community of Sointula. Sointula is a small town that was settled by Finnish immigrants in the early 1900s.  The name means, “place of harmony” (great boat name option!) in reference to the original goal of the community to be a “utopian cooperative.”  Being of Finnish descent myself, I was excited to see it!  Leo and Mamie brought their awesome speedy electric bikes and Kevin and I brought out our Segway Ninebot electric scooters for an island ride. Our little gang did attract a bit of attention here and there.


The original co-op store, still in operation.


The bike/scooter gang

Upon return to Port McNeill we were delighted to find Joe and Lynn from Ocean Suite in residence at the marina!  Introductions all around, cocktails and truly outstanding pizza at a restaurant labeled as a steak restaurant followed.  Fun for all!

Having spent one of our days in port having fun, we focused on chores the next day.  That is, until Brad and Kelly on N60 Morning Dew joined us to bring the Nordhavn count to three!  What do you do when the count is three?  Taco night on Red Rover of course.


In the morning, we departed Port McNeill with Leo and Mamie.  Or, we tried to.  The stern thruster wasn’t interested in performing.  A quick review and we found that one of the large fuses in the lazarette was fried.  Spare time!  And we were underway.



Zoe on her Nordhavn mat, her preferred location for cruising.
And Max on the starboard side.


Our destination was Joe Cove, a beautiful small inlet in the Broughton Archipelago, on the south side of Eden Island.  Due to our fuse replacement pit crew experience, Leo and Mamie were already anchored but had left space for us just in front of them.  We noticed a few large crab pot buoys that appeared to be commercial, but it didn’t click why they might be in a line…. Hmmm…  Ah well, onto having fun!  We spent two days in Joe Cove with dog swims, black bear sightings, dinghy rides to remote coves and eating.  Lots of eating.  Dinner on Red Rover, dinner on Paradise Found, there was no lack of tasty goodness!

Hey bear!
Zoe swims almost every day – a dream come true for this labrador retriever!


Almost twins.
Dog swimming cove at low tide
Dog swim beach with two Nordies in the background.

During this idyllic few days we needed to find some cell service to deal with reality once more.  Darren (for whom we will be forever thankful) had sold my car!  Wahoo!  We had to have a little conversation with Audi Financial and get that title sent along.  So of course, we dinghied out to Queen Charlotte Strait and hoped the signal would hold long enough to get it all taken care of.  While Kevin talked to the nice folks at Audi, Zoe and Max and I listened to humpback whales breathing around us on a beautiful still morning.  Likely an unusual sound to the gentleman on the other end of the line!

Kevin likes to talk on speakerphone.  What did the Audi guy think about the whale breathing?

Back to those crab pots.  Somewhere between margaritas and dinner, we figured out that those commercial buoys showed a line of pots that were all connected beneath the water.  Uh oh.  And where was that cable in relation to our two anchors?  Hmmm….  The very nice fisherman appeared early one morning and successfully removed his pots.  Phew.

Sorry Mr. Fisherman.  Didn’t mean to anchor over your pots!

From Joe Cove we moved to Booker Lagoon.  Booker Lagoon is just off of Queen Charlotte Strait on Broughton Island.  The lagoon is accessed via a tidal “rapids” channel that is about 50 feet wide.  According to the Waggonner Guide, the current can run to 7 knots or more, and slack only lasts for 10 minutes.  We hit it right at slack and filed in one Nordhavn after the other.  Two nights and three days were spent loafing around Booker Lagoon with more eating, dog exploration adventures, dog swimming, more bear sightings, kayaking, a dinghy race, and a 2-human and 2-dog dance party on Red Rover.  Time well spent, we might add.

Coming into the bay to enter Booker Lagoon
Paradise Found enters the channel


Doggos (and a Kevin) on a rock.


Any kind of grass, even sea grass, will do.
Another bear!


Dinghy dogs
Sunset with Paradise Found.  Maybe we did find paradise?
Wine precursor to dance party


This is my “throw the stick” face.


Doggo in the wild.

On our last afternoon at Booker Lagoon, we accompanied Leo and Mamie through the tidal entrance (not at slack) and out into the Strait to go on a dinghy ride and to find a little cell service. While Mamie, Kevin and I were sucked into our electronic devices, Leo was spotting whales.  Lots of them!  Humpbacks and orcas too.  All of the sudden the orca pod moved toward us and came up just in front of the dinghy.  So cool!  Unpolished video below.  🙂 No edits…


After relaxing in Booker Lagoon, we decided to move down to Blackfish Sound. Farewell Harbor was the selected destination.  We read in our various guidebooks that Farewell Harbour hosted a fishing resort that didn’t offer services to boaters.  But we thought we’d check.  Kevin called them up, with many questions all of which had a very polite no as an answer.  Except one question that is.  We could use the beach to pull our dinghy up and access the marine provincial park trails, but not their docks thanks very much.  They were quite nice, but not interested in engaging with us or the other large boats anchored in the harbor.  A miss it seems, as they had a restaurant and bar, which I am sure every boat in the bay would have visited.


The fishing lodge



Max is from Mexico.  He does not love the rain…


Rain doesn’t bother Zoe’s swimming hour.


Later that evening, after pizza and salad (yes, Costco pizza!  In the wilderness!), we did in fact get to engage with the fishing resort team.  In an unplanned sort of way.  It seems that our pizza party morphed into a bit of a dance party that leveraged all of the speakers on Paradise Found.  A boat without running lights, carrying a man with a severe case of bed head approached out of the darkness. Apparently there had been some calls to the front desk by slumbering fisherpeople who were concerned about some music(!) drifting into their rooms.  Oops.  The owner, who came to visit with us, nicely declined our offer of an adult beverage, and remarked that he expected to find a bunch of 20 somethings out on these boats.  Ha!


After our late evening fun, the rain returned.  Of course.  It poured.  And poured.  And poured.  But dogs need to go out and explore, so we put on the rain gear and cruised the area in the dinghy.  That evening we were rewarded with a prime rib dinner on Paradise Found!  Yes!


In the morning, we bade farewell to Farewell Harbour and to Leo and Mamie (at least for a few days).  Cruising south down Johnstone Strait, we saw more white sided dolphins and a few humpbacks during another calm, beautiful ride on this often-feared channel of water.  Later that afternoon we arrived at Blind Channel Resort at slack current.  We had been warned that the current could run at a high rate of speed perpendicular to the docks, conveniently at the opposite direction of the current in the channel.  Fun!  With our slack current arrival, all went smoothly, although we were on high alert and ready to react.


Blind Channel Resort is another small family-owned and operated marina in a stunningly beautiful setting. It has a German restaurant (honoring its owners), an outdoor café for breakfast, lunch and happy hour appies, a great little store, a wee bit of cell service and WiFi, a beach, a big meadow, rental cabins and hiking trails.  We loved it.  We spent two and a half happy days at Blind Channel including a bit of jaeger schnitzel at the restaurant.  Mmm…  The hiking trails were developed in partnership with the forestry company that owns the adjacent land.  The forestry company took the opportunity to create and install educational signage along the trails.  Much of it is interesting but some of it would lead you to believe that logging is the answer for all of our environmental concerns, which I doubt it is.  At any rate, it does make you wonder in amazement at the amount of work it takes to grow a tree, harvest a tree, move a log from the forest to the water to a mill, to bring it to market as a 2×4 that costs the consumer $3 at Home Depot.  Pretty incredible.



Imagine how difficult it was to take down this tree 100 years ago?
Log dog.


800 year old cedar tree
Trying to get dogs to hold still in front of the 800 year old cedar


Blind Channel Resort


The store wall was built with recycled bottles.  So cool!


I think I can get some G’s if I put the phone right next to the router…



At Blind Channel we had a couple of intermittent texts with our friends Dig and Pam who were cruising the area in their 48 Kadey Krogen.  Our next goal was to connect with them!  And, as such, we decided we would run Okisollo Channel down to the Octopus Islands, where we were fairly certain we would find Dig and Pam.  The issue here was that Okisollo has two sets of rapids, the lower and upper rapids, which can only be run at slack current. The rapids can run to 9 knots and apparently look like a whitewater course outside of slack water.  We had some time to burn prior to slack, and took a lovely ride down Nodales Channel by Shoal Bay, had a little impromptu picnic lunch in a cove along the way, and managed to hit the rapids area right at slack.


The Octopus Islands are super cool.  Let’s just start with that!  The marine park is full of small islets, kayak and dinghy friendly wandering waterways and beautiful scenery.  While we wished we could have anchored in one of the tiny bays, they were all quite full with other boats.  We had not seen so many boats in one place since leaving the San Juan Islands in early July.  Wow!  This would be the first of many such reactions as we entered Desolation Sound in August.

We met Dig and Pam and joined our dinners together for a lovely evening on Rubenesque, their beautiful Krogen.  I just love that name.  Oh and I shouldn’t forget!  Upon arrival in the Octopus Islands we anchored by not only Dig and Pam, but also by Passage III, a Nordhavn 40 from Maple Ridge, BC owned by the super friendly couple of Jeff and Denise with whom we dinghy chatted for a bit!


Digby and Pam and Rubenesque
Zoe gets comfortable on Rubenesque in the master bedroom while we eat dinner… where did Zoe go?  Oh…

In the morning our friend RAIN returned, but alas a little rain doesn’t stop a PNW family with two dogs.  In the morning we discovered a very cool find – a small wooden cabin literally covered with boat signs.  Apparently a family owns the property and the cabin, but welcomes visiting boaters to add their “artwork” to the cabin. It is very, very cool.  Well this got us all excited, of course.  So we gathered up some driftwood to make our own signs, and left them at Red Rover to dry for the day.

The cabin in the woods


View from the cabin
Lots of artwork!


In the meantime, Zoe, Max, Kevin and I took ourselves on a gorgeous hike through the woods and up a very, very steep incline, to Newton Lake.  At the top we met a very lovely gentleman from Orcas Island with whom we shared some snacks on a big granite rock overlooking the lake.  Photos, you ask?  Ah… we forgot.  The hike photos are beautiful though!


That evening, the four of us gathered on Red Rover to create our signs for the cabin that we would install the next day.  So much fun!  Arts and crafts on Red Rover!

Of course we have a Dremel.  And of course Kevin can’t get away from making signs.


Even though I am not the sign maker in the family…

In the morning, we dinghied over to the island, picked our spots and installed our signs to be viewed and enjoyed by other boaters to come!  If you see one of our signs, do drop us a note!

Digby finds the perfect spot.
Kevin doesn’t mess around installing signs.





After a morning of fun, we pulled the anchors and headed out of the Octopus Islands in plenty of time to wait for slack at the Hole in the Wall.  The Hole in the Wall is another tidal rapid area that again can only be run at slack.  Well in our two big slow trawlers with deep drafts anyways!  We proceeded without incident and upon exiting the Hole in the Wall had arrived in Desolation Sound!  Sunshine ahead!

Ruby exiting the Octopus Islands


Rubenesque enters the Hole in the Wall at slack water.

4 thoughts on “Cruising the Broughtons, British Columbia – Part 2

  1. Alison,
    I write for a living. I want to tell you – you are good! A really pleasurable read.
    I remember reading one of your posts where you were planning to study video editing – your still shots inserted within the copy –
    a great combination.

    1. Hi Perry! Thank you for the nice note! I appreciate that! The video editing is still sadly still in goal status…as a gentleman I used to work for said once, “a goal without a plan is only a dream.” I need to make the time to learn! Hopefully I will get there this fall. 🙂 Thanks again! – Alison

Leave a Reply