Leaving Port McNeill behind us, we made our way over to Port Hardy, after camping on a beautiful beach in the Cattle Islands to celebrate Leo’s 30th birthday. When we paddled into Port Hardy we were welcomed by a large scale industrial harbour, nestled into an open bay. We paddled by a Marine Harvest farmed fish processing plant, fishing boats and huge logging booms, which felt quite overwhelming after spending so much time in remote areas. Jeff Chamberland, founder of Bearfoot Renewables , was generous enough to meet us in Port Hardy to look over our solar panel system and fix some minor issues. If that wasn’t enough, he also brought vegan treats for us – huge thanks to you, Jeff!
Gods Pocket Marine Park
Before transiting Queen Charlotte Strait, we paddled through the wonderful group of protected islands known as Gods Pocket Marine Park. Between the Gordon Islands, Hurst and Bell Island, we came across the most magnificent patches of sea weed and giant aggreagations of sea stars, anemones and urchins. We also spotted our first sea otters! The ecosystem up here seems to be intact, no wonder it is one of the best cold water dive spots in the world. Admittedly though, the presence of fish farms here (as well as in the Broughton’s) darkened our mood and made us wonder what impact they have on the surrounding ecosystem.
Crossing Queen Charlotte Strait & navigating Cape Caution
Three major kayaking cruxes lay ahead of us: crossing Queen Charlotte Strait from Hurst Island to Shelter Bay, finding ourselves in the washing machine of the Outer Narrows and paddling around the exposed Cape Caution. With a good weather window ahead, we woke up just after 3am each morning and rode the ebb tide, which was carrying us north. As we got up so early, we finished our days by late morning, which gave us enough time to plan for the next day and to get some rest. Ocean swell and gigantic boomers were hazards along the way, but dense fog took our visual as well. Especially in the vicinity of Miles Inlet, we were riding mountains of water, not exactly seeing where the next boomers were. Planning and paddling along this exposed shoreline put big smiles on our faces, it was amazing to witness natures unpredictable forces!
Paddling into the Great Bear Rainforest
We have been lucky to see more and more whales and dolphins on our route up north now: humpback whales, killer whales, porpoises and Pacific white-sided dolphins. Not only that, the intertidal zone also keeps getting more diverse and colourful. We miss the big swell and huge rock formations of the outside waters already, but are curious what is waiting for us in the protected waters of the Great Bear Rainforest. We will keep our eyes open for the Spirit Bear as well! Our next stop will be in Klemtu, and we’ll have some company – our friend Catherine joins us for Leg 4.