Bute Inlet Epic

Bute Inlet Epic
by Rose Marie Williams, 8 June 2017.

After filling up with coffee and cinnamon buns from Nancy’s bakery in Lund, our skipper, Mike welcomes 12 of us aboard his schooner, Misty Isles.   We leave the harbor and turn north, through Thulin Passage.  All stretch their memories to match  names to faces.  Not easy for some, but we do it.  In the Copeland Islands we pause to view the red pictograph on the rocks on our starboard side.  It’s been close to 40 years since I last sailed Desolation Sound and beyond.  It is exciting as memories  flood back.  The sea is calm, the sky is blue and the sun shines brilliantly over the water.  Mike amuses us with stories and facts about the surrounding area.

Our first stop is Refuge Cove.  It’s early in the season and the harbor is empty.  We clamber onto the dock and up to the store where we peruse the books, charts and other trivia offered for sale. Once everyone in Desolation Sound came here for mail, supplies and gossip.  Continuing up Lewis Channel we enter Teakerne Arm, docking below the waterfall.  The adventuresome ones hike up the path to Cassel Lake above the falls.  Mike takes three of us for a cruise around the bay in the zodiac.

Back on board, Devon serves everyone a mug of a most delicious tea and cookies as we enter Calm Channel and pass the most northern point of Cortes Island, Bullock Bluff. Steering to port we enter Drew Passage between Read Island and the Rendezvous Islands. Passing Mayes Point we again steer to port and thread our way through Surge Narrows meticulously following the marked course between Read Island and Maurelle Island.  It’s been a long and exciting day as we head to the far east side of Quadra Island and come to rest at Discovery Islands Lodge.  Our skipper and his mate turn their hands to kitchen duty, and with the help of the lone person at the lodge soon have a salmon dinner on the table. In the morning we awake to freshly baked bread, porridge with many extras, and of course coffee.

On board again, Mike introduces us to the complicated intricacies of tides in Surge Narrows. We retrace our way through the Narrows heading north, cross Calm Channel, observe the site of Church House before beginning our ascent up Bute Inlet, passing Stuart Island on our port side.

Bute Inlet is 80 km long and averages 4 km wide with spectacular mountain vistas. The water is a deep blue and the land on both sides of the inlet is green with the native forests. Barbara Sherriff shows us maps of the geology and discusses the rocks that the trees conceal. As we travel up the inlet the water changes color as melting ice from the surrounding glaciers merge with the seawater.  Toques, mitts, scarves and warm coats appear as the temperature drops.  The wind off the numerous glaciers and massive ice fields is frigid.

After lunch we enter Bear Bay and we seem to be standing still as the tide is running against us.  Mike takes us for a zip around the bay in the zodiac. Now the water is a milky grey turquoise. By late afternoon, mountains and glaciers that rise 9000 feet above sea level surround us. Mike maneuvers the boat to the far northeast corner where the Southgate River enters Bute Inlet and by looking to the north west we can see in the distance snow covered Mt. Waddington, the highest mountain in B.C. (13,186 ft.).  Chuck, a guide from the Homathko Logging camp leads us up the river to the camp where we will spend the next two nights.

In the morning we hike in the surrounding area and instead of warning us about dangerous animals, Chuck says: “Do not disturb or frighten the wild life.” In the afternoon we take the zodiacs and explore the nearby Cumsack and Southgate rivers. The former has exquisite mountain reflections and the latter an old homestead that we explore.

Wednesday morning we begin the return trip down the inlet.  En route Paul Jones  buys fresh prawns off the boat that caught them and Devon serves them with garlic butter. Our last night is spent at another comfy Discovery Islands Lodge, tucked in a bay on Read Island off Sutil Channel.

On the 5th morning we travel south down the west side of Cortes Island. The day is grey, raining and we encounter a stormy southeastern wind. We duck in to Mansons Landing where very kind residents drive us to the local museum and then to Cortes Bay.  Heading into the howling “southeaster” and towering seas, Mike and Devon alone take the Misty Isles down and around the most southern tip of Cortes Island, Sutil Point, to Cortes Bay. We board the vessel for a rough ride, battling 6 ft waves, until we reach the north end of Thulin Passage and the Copeland Islands protect us from the battering wind.  We arrive in Lund harbor peacefully at 5:15 as planned.

Orford River grizzlies

Orford River grizzlies
by Barbara Sherriff, 26 September 2015. 

Seven Malaspina Naturalists met with 3 other intrepid adventurers and boatman John at Lund. We had a fast 2 hour boat trip on Homolka 1 to Bute Inlet.  We just missed seeing a humpback whale as it headed up the Hole in the Wall channel just before we arrived there.

Our Homolka guides were waiting for us with a bus to take us to their beautiful tourist centre for a picnic lunch before heading off to find grizzlies. Our first siting of a grizzly was one walking along the road in front of the bus. We then enjoyed a couple of hours watching groups a grizzlies cavorting in a river. Young cubs were trying to catch their own salmon but kept sneaking back to eat Mum’s.

After another pit stop at the centre we had another exhilarating trip back to Lund.


Bute Inlet and Maurelle Island

Bute Inlet and Maurelle Island
by Heather Harbord, 11 June 2015. 

 Twelve of us went on Captain Mike Moore’s schooner, Misty Isles, to check out the entrance to Bute Inlet and circumnavigate Maurelle Island.

After the compulsory visit to Nancy’s Bakery, we left Lund at 10am, and powered up Thulin Passage to see the pictograph.   It was nice to see that the Active Tug’s name printed on top of it is now fading.  Mike said that the reason the pictographs have endured so long is because they have become coated with a translucent mineralization that leaches out of the underlying granite.   Not far from here, we saw the famous Agarikon mushroom.  Mycologist Paul Stamets and researchers from the University of Illinois have found it has antiviral and anti-bacterial qualities that may cure tuberculosis.  See Mushroom Man: The Search for Agarikon

With the wind blowing steadily from the NW we continued up Lewis and Calm Channels to Stuart Island where Mike showed us a location that he thinks is the same as Vancouver’s Village of the Friendly Indians because the hills behind it match those in a contemporary drawing.  After examining Raven’s Chamber Pot, a round hole in the rock, we headed for Hole-in-the-Wall and came out into the Octopus Islands where some harbor seals and an eagle greeted us.  Once through Beazely Passage, we tied up at Discovery Lodge’s dock and settled in for a great meal of Sockeye Salmon cooked by Mike and Jonah with all Samantha’s trimmings.

 In the morning, we ate a fantastic breakfast cooked by one of the Lodge owners, Lannie Keller, and staff before setting sail for Manson’s Landing. As we left, I took some pictures of birds in the water.  Some of these were murres but when I got home and enlarged them, I found a Rhinoceros Auklet among them.

Out of the shelter of Hoskyn Channel, the NW wind was brisk and cold. We were glad of our heavy clothing as we enjoyed a wonderful sail under almost full rig round the Subtle Islands, through Plunger and Uganda Passages and into Manson’s Bay.  Lots of cirrus clouds ornamented the sky with threats of more wind which didn’t materialize till Mike was trying to get home.

We disembarked into the zodiac at Manson’s Landing where a couple of charming islanders in SUVs drove us to the museum, surrounded by a sweet smelling garden of plants well loved by the pioneers.  Inside we were served tea and goodies before touring the current exhibit of local wildlife.  We had time to walk to the Co-op where some indulged in ice creams.  Back in the SUVs, we drove to Cortes Bay where we re-embarked on Misty and sailed down to Lund.

Although we didn’t see a lot of wildlife, everyone enjoyed the trip immensely, especially as several had never been on a sailboat before.


Bute Inlet grizzly tour

Bute Inlet grizzly tour
by Heather Harbord, 27-29 September 2008.

Bute Inlet BearTour.  This was our second tour to see the Grizzly Bears.  Aboard Misty Isles, we departed Lund at 9:00am and sailed up to Orford River in Bute Inlet.  We dropped our gear at the Homalco logging camp and hopped on their bus for a wild ride to where two crystal clear rivers met.  The native guides who drove the bus wouldn’t let us out of it until they had checked the area to see where the bears were.

Cameras at the ready, we walked a short distance onto a gravel bar where we had a prime view of the bears catching and eating salmon and the little Bonaparte’s and Mew gulls eating the leavings.  We spoke in whispers if at all and watched carefully for signals from the guides to back off.  As dusk began to fall, we returned to the camp where we ate a huge delicious loggers’ supper and fell into bed.  Next morning we were up in darkness for a big breakfast and then drove to the viewing platforms from which we watched the dawn and the bears but did not see as many as last year.

By mid morning we were back at the boat and sailed back down to Toba Wildernest Lodge on Pryce Channel where we spent the night.  In the morning we visited the Lucey graves again but still have not been able to find out much about them except that there was a small mine on the mountain above for a very short time.   Unfortunately, we were never able to arrange this trip again.