Low tide exploration

Low tide exploration
by John Edwards
30 July 2023

A fantastic low tide exploration day was enjoyed by members of the Malaspina Naturalists (Bengul, Dale, Dan, Madelon, Sharron, Fran, Colleen, Lynn, John and Kelly) on Sunday, July 30.  We powered out of Lund Harbor aboard the Misty Isles with captain Jonas steering us past Keefer Rock to the intertidal zone of Hernando Island.  The enthusiastic and knowledgeable naturalist George Sirk provided us with captivating information about the local bio-diversity, geology, ecology of our beloved Salish Sea.  He described how the ancient glaciers brought the gulf islands here all the way from the Fiji, depositing glacial moraine, large erratics and the makings of coral reefs. George and Jonas explained how the gravitational pull of the moon ebbs and flows the tidal waters from both sides of Vancouver Island, meeting up at Mitlenatch.  Bringing with it the warm waters and sandy beaches that we know as the Riviera of the North.
Before arriving at the southern tip of Hernando Island, the secretive harbor porpoises were putting on a show, as were sea lions and even a pair of sea otters.  Captain Jonas dropped anchor off the southern tip of Hernando and onto the skiff to deliver us to the warm beach, reef and subtidal shore line.
We counted twenty plus species of bird life; from eagle, turkey vulture, heron and barn swallows to harlequin ducks, common and red breasted mergansers, oystercatchers, nesting cormorants, numerous gull species, a Caspian Tern, sand piper….and from its artic nesting grounds a short-billed dowitcher!
As we explored the crystal -clear waters at this 1.3ft. low tide, George was teaching us all the various sea life of such abundance if the Pacific Northwest waters.  Finding such treasures like eelgrass limpet, and other limpets, top snails, turbans, Horse clams, cockles, mussels, oysters and moon snails and many more shellfish.  Several species of sea stars were found as well as a rare orange sun star.  We were unable to find the elusive sea anemones, sea cucumber, octopus, squid or sea urchins closer to shore, however Sharron may have spotted some while she snorkeled in deeper waters.  We saw a healthy crab population, various kelp species, like the turkish towel, sea grasses, sponge’s and hooded nudibranch.
With the tide changing, Jonas ‘skiffed’ us back aboard the Misty Isles, where he set the sails and we enjoyed our lunch and delicious homemade cookies listening to the peaceful sounds of luffing sails.  On our journey towards the Copeland Islands, we watched three foraging Humpback Whales for half an hour.  This was definitely the icing on an already delicious cake! A fabulous Low Tide Expedition had by all!



Mitlenatch aboard the Misty Isles

Mitlenatch aboard the Misty Isles
by Sheila Peters
13 May 2023

Saturday, May 13, 2023 was a gorgeous day for 12 club members to join captain Jonas Fineman and naturalist George Sirk on the Misty Isles trip to Mitlenatch Island.

Just out of Lund, Major Islet was bright with monkey flowers and sea blush and noisy with both Steller and California sea lions. Some lucky folks saw harbour porpoises off Hernando Island.

Jonas provided delicious cookies, tea and coffee while we circumnavigated Mittlenatch before anchoring at Northwest Bay. The sound and smell of sea lions filled Camp and Echo Bays, quite an increase from George’s 1969 summer working there when he saw just one. Both species of cormorants were on their separate nesting sites nearby and glaucous-winged gulls staked out their territory on rocky outcrops around the island.

Walking the trails, we saw abundant camas and chocolate lilies. Jonas explained how the many First Nations that used the island would mark the flowering blue camas, a rare source of starch, in the spring to be sure they didn’t dig up the death camas by mistake when they returned in the fall. Other plants included Hooker’s onions, monkey flower, sea blush, yarrow, trailing blackberry, cascara, Indian celery and stretches of flowering Saskatoon shrubs, providing welcome shade where the trails curved through them. Two volunteers welcomed us, pointing out the sea lion skeleton assembled near their cabin. No snakes, though.

Throughout the trip, we saw 27 bird species including a common murre, four rhinoceros auklets, marbled murrelets, double-crested and pelagic cormorants; Bonaparte, ring-billed, mew and glaucous-winged gulls; surf and white-winged scoters, crows, oyster catchers, a Caspian tern, Brant and Canada geese, a Pacific loon, harlequins, and an eagle.

Thanks to our guides for sharing their knowledge and enthusiasm. And special thanks to Jonas for making the time for two of us to swim, a relief after the afternoon walks in the +25 heat.

Bengul and Cal Smith have kindly provided links to their Flickr accounts featuring more photos of the trip.

Cal: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjAE3iR

Bengul: https://flic.kr/s/aHBqjAE3iR

The Mitlenatch Island Stewardship Team has a great website with more information about the island: https://www.mitlenatch.ca/


Desolation Sound

Desolation Sound
by Heather Harbord, 11 Jul

Brandishing our masks, six members boarded Misty Isles at Lund for a day trip to Desolation Sound.  Two of the 8 passengers mandated by Covid-19 regulations had got sick the day before and were unable to come.

A steady rain started but after several months locked down at home because of the pandemic, we were happy to be outside and the tarp spread across the ship’s boom was an added bonus.  Leaving Lund, we proceeded north up Thulin Passage but were unable to get close enough to the pictograph because a wide log boom was tied up below it.

After rounding Sarah Point, we welcomed the calmer seas and lighter rain.  With hot coffee and teas in our hands, we slid along the north side of Mink Island and were lucky enough to see the snowfield below Mt. Denman.  The peak itself remained shrouded in cloud all day.  This was the same weather Captain Vancouver encountered when he named the place in 1792.

Captain Jonas explained how the food chain works from plankton to orca.  He also showed us the entry in Andrew Scott’s Raincoast Place Names describing how Mink Island’s name was changed to Repulse Is and then won back by a petition signed by neighbours from Lund to Refuge Cove.

At the end of Mink Island, orange tents lit up several levels of the Curme Islands which is not a good place for boats the size of Misty Isles to visit because the water is either too shallow or too deep to anchor.  As we approached  the narrow channel between Otter Is and the mainland to enter the outer part of Prideaux Haven, a pair of Marbled Murrelets dived but most other birds and the whales stayed away all day.

The rain stopped so we toured Melanie Cove where the initial settler, Mike Shutler, built his cabin in the 1890s, well sheltered behind a small island.  Black Oystercatchers screamed round the anchored yachts, just as they did when Wylie Blanchet and her children visited in the 1930s.  Several of us had read her popular book The Curve of Time which Jonas passed around.  Parts of the inner waters of the cove were populated by large numbers of Moon Jellyfish.

Before leaving the area, we stopped to admire the sleek bodies of a small herd of silvery Harbour Seals on Pringle Rock named after the Columbia Coast Mission captain who ran up on it.

More coffee and tea plus thoughtfully provided little bags of two each of the famous Samantha’s cookies enlivened the voyage back past Portage Cove, Zephine Head and Sarah Point.  During the run down Thulin Passage we bucked a strong southeasterly wind but reached Lund on time at 5pm.

Desolation Sound

Desolation Sound
by Andrew Bryant, 28 June 2018

After our traditional pit-stop at Nancy’s Bakery, nine of us boarded the Misty Isles in Lund for a cruise up Desolation Sound.

Ably skippered by Jonas and deck-handled by Karie, we travelled north on the lee side of the Copeland Islands.  We mostly ignored the impressive big-money homes at “Bliss Bay”.  Instead we focussed on pictographs, marbled murrelets and that wonderful little island that, at least aboard the Misty Isles crew, has come to be known as “Littlenatch”.

Ooh ya.  Harbour seals, Pigeon Guillemots, Marbled Murrelets, apparently a few nesting Glaucus-winged Gulls, oystercatchers, assorted shorebirds, and some evidence of recovery from the sea-star “wasting” event of 2014.

We dropped anchor and lunched at the “slot” before entering Homfray Sound and Desolation Sound Marine Park.  Hopes of great views of Mt. Denman were dashed by the weather.  Oh well.   We then proceeded SW to Refuge Cove, where we endulged in some local shopping and local snooping…

All in all?  Another great day out.

P.S: Special thanks to Heather Harbord (coordinator) and Mike Moore (Misty Isles) who generously refunded payments to 3 of our members who couldn’t make this trip.  Thank you!

Mitlenatch Island trip

Mitlenatch Island trip
by Winnie Ferrier, 2 June 2018

On Saturday twelve of us carpooled to Lund to begin an awesome adventure.   We were greeted by Skipper Mike Moore, and then shuttled by zodiac to the Misty Isles, already moored in Finn Bay.

There we were welcomed aboard by Jonas who is skipper-in-training, and Karie, their crew member.  We set off towards Mitlenach under cloudy skies and a cool temperature but Mike pointed out to us that there was a patch of blue sky over our destination and was confident that we would have sunshine.  While we were underway Mike gave us both a geographical and historical lesson of the islands that we were cruising past.

While we were anchoring we witnessed an exciting display of several California sea lions porpoising out of the water in succession. There were exclamations of excitement and cameras were quickly pulled out.

We were divided into two groups, with six participants being taken ashore with Karie for a walkabout on the island and six of us going with Mike and Jonas in the zodiac to circle the island by water.  As it was mating season there was an abundance of harbor seals, and both California and Stellar sea lions for us to view.  We saw large groups basking on the rocks and as we continued around a corner we were witness to about 50 juvenile male California sea lions tussling with each other, pushing their competitors off of the bluffs and into the water.  Our trip continued with Mike pointing out marbled murrelets, pigeon guillemots, black oystercatchers, bald eagles and a passing belted kingfisher.  We saw rookeries of pelagic cormorants on cliff faces and the larger double-crested cormorants nesting on the tops of the cliffs.

Our turn ashore started with Mike picking up from the shallow water a beautiful moon snail with its body, including its siphon, exposed for us to see.  We had a pleasant stroll with Karie along the assigned island paths, looking at numerous wildflowers along the way.  Amongst them were purple brodiaea, blossoms of wild onions and a gorgeous yellow bloom of a prickly pear cactus.  The most prevalent was the wild tiger lily which was scattered amongst the high grasses and along the edges of our pathways.  The sunshine, which Mike had promised, exemplified their beautiful colours.  We had the opportunity to climb up to a bird blind and watch mating glaucous winged seagulls.  Nature in action!  After a short visit to the cabin of the volunteering stewards of the island we returned to the shore where we were all again deposited back on Misty Isles.

On the return trip to Lund Mike had more stories and history to share and we were all treated to chai tea and Mike’s wife, Samantha’s delicious home made cookies.

A Mitlenatch day-trip

A Mitlenatch day-trip
by Marg Reckenberg, 29 June 2017.

What a warm, sunny, calm day as the twelve of us set out for Mitlenatch Island aboard the Misty Isles with Captain Mike Moore and assistant Amy.  We left Lund Harbor at 10 am after a quick stop at Nancy’s Bakery.  Then we were on our way, for the 2 hour trip past Major Rock, then through Baker Passage between Hernando Island and Twin Island.

Mike showed us our course on the marine map and told us interesting tidbits about the islands that we past.  We saw lots of white jellyfish in the water en route and an eagle skimming along the water with a large fish.  The eagle could not get airborne and had to struggle just to land his fish on shore.  Mike explained the optical illusion of Mitlenatch looking close but, in fact, it took us another 45 min. before we arrived.

The Island is surrounded by a fairly shallow rocky shoal so we anchored and half our group went ashore by zodiac.  (Note from Misty Isles crew – remember to bring water shoes as a dry docking is not always possible).  The group on shore looked at wildflowers – including one prickly pear cactus in bloom – the island has a desert-like climate and we visited the naturalist cabin and then the nesting areas of the seagulls and many of us saw for the first time gull chicks scooting under their Moms.

Meanwhile the other half of the group went around the island in the zodiac with Mike.

He was wonderful at pointing out the nests of Pelagic and Double-crested Cormorants, Black Oystercatchers, Harlequin ducks, Pigeon Buillemots, and Great Blue herons as well as crows, ravens, eagles and gulls.  We saw plenty of harbor seals and Stellar sea lions.  From their growling noises we understood where they got their name.  Then these huge sea lions began to take to the water – and soon afterwards we saw a nearby humpback whale.  If this wasn’t bonus enough we saw a humpback further away breaching.

It just doesn’t get better than this.  Of course, the two groups switched places halfway through the allotted time.  At the end of the leisurely afternoon we headed back to Lund.  Of note, on our return trip, was a brown scummy substance, widely spread across the water.  Mike thought this was likely an algae bloom that the changing tides brought our way.  It gave the boat’s wake a muddy appearance.

We returned, feeling that the day had been truly magical!

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.

Return to Mitlenatch and Twin Islands

Return to Mitlenatch and Twin Islands
by Tom Koleszar, 23 May 2017.

Twelve of us boarded the Misty Isles at Lund for a 2 day trip with Captain Mike Moore and naturalist leader George Sirk.  We sailed south around Savary Island and Mystery Reef, finding hundreds of Pacific Loons and Common Murres, along with many other sea birds. From Savary we continued on to Mitlenatch Island, where we split into 2 groups – half going ashore and the other half circumnavigating the island in Mike’s zodiac.

There was a profusion of sea lions, seals, and cormorants and other sea birds for the zodiac groups, and many wildflowers and gulls for the island groups.  The second activity for each group was cut a bit short by a sudden (but forecast) change in the weather.  Strong northwest gale force winds came up suddenly and forced a quick return to the boat, and then made the trip from Mitlenatch to Twins Island a very interesting ride!  We made it in safely, however, and then were treated to a fantastic salmon dinner at the Twin Islands lodge by Captain Mike, Amy, Samantha and host Mark Torrance.

After a very comfortable night, some of us went for a pre-breakfast bird walk lead by George Sirk, then all enjoyed a wonderful breakfast provided by Mike’s crew.  After breakfast, our host Mark gave us a tour showing what he is doing to make his place environmentally friendly and sustainable – solar and micro-hydro power systems, extensive gardens, etc. – a very informative morning!  The walk then continued down through the dry forests of South Twin Island (where guide George continued our bird and plant education) to Iron Point (where trip participant Tom Koleszar gave a summary of the area geology).  From there it was back to the lodge for a great lunch, and then on to the boat for the trip back to Lund – and we put up the sails for this nice, relaxing final stage of the journey!

Special thanks to Captain Mike Moore and guide George Sirk for a great couple of days of learning, to Amy and Samantha for the great meals, and to our host at Twin Islands Mark Torrance for opening his place to us and showing us around.  We all learned a lot and had a great time.  Thanks also to Heather Harbord for making all the trip arrangements for the Club.

Rock Art with Judith Williams

Rock Art with Judith Williams 
by Michael Stewart, 15
 September 2016.

Mike, skipper of Misty Isles, his wife Samantha, guest historian Judith Williams, and six naturalists departed Lund Harbour, thrilled to hear that there were  Humpbacks just outside the harbour.  We were able to watch the 2 humpbacks  and have  this extra  unplanned “event”  for the beginning of our 2 day voyage.  The weather was perfect and  the scenery is so amazing.  We  motored up Thulin Pass to see  the first pictograph of our trip.  It was very interesting to see what animal was in the pictograph!

We continued past Sarah Point and into Desolation Sound while hearing many tales from both Judith and Mike.   The seas were calm  and visibility was perfect so we enjoyed the   wonderful scenery; then we went north into Waddington Channel where Mike found the location of the next pictograph near  Durham Point on East Redonda Island. We continued up Waddington Channel to Walsh cove on West Redonda Island where  Misty Isles  anchored.  From the zodiac, Judith pointed out and explained the pictographs and was delighted to point out the magical dancing reflections on the same rock faces.

Sarah presented us with a  tasty home-cooked lunch on board and then Judith  demonstrated rock art by mixing us red paint with a base of pulverized salmon eggs.  Each person   painted an example of their own rock art.

We continued west through Pryce channel where we saw some seabirds, a Dall’s porpoise,  another  pictograph and more wonderful scenery.  At the end of the afternoon, we landed in Evans Bay on Read Island to stay at Coast Mountain Lodge overnight.  We  were presented with an amazing home  cooked(Samantha) gourmet dinner and enjoyed the company of the owners, Ralph and Lannie, and their son and staff.  Many more stories were enjoyed.

After breakfast in the lodge, we set out towards Quadra Island.  We anchored and all went ashore in the  Zodiac to see a petrogylph that Judith had not yet seen.  It is in a beautiful setting just north of Rebecca Spit Marine Park.  The rock formations were amazing let alone the petroglyph.

Back on Misty Isles, we  continued through Uganda Pass and  the entrance to Gorge Harbour on Cortes island to see more  pictographs.  We  were entertained with more tales of early settlers and First Nations culture from our skipper and  Judith and then another wonderful  lunch  prepared by Samantha.  We  had  a sunny, calm trip all the way  back to Lund.


East Thurlow Island

East Thurlow Island 
by Caroline Brown, 29
 Aug 2016.

Pictographs, a “brand new” petroglyph, exotic geology, whales, dolphins, stories of gin and tonic sailors, mistresses, tall and not-so-tall tales were some of the highlights for twelve of the Malaspina Naturalists as we headed to East Thurlow Island aboard the Misty Isles – for three whole days!

For most of us, this was a new area to be explored and although the weather was not totally cooperative, it was a great three days and two nights (Aug 27-29). Mike Moore and his crew, Jonah Weyler, welcomed us in Lund and we set sail – well, not actually.  Although Misty is a gaff rigged schooner, Mike used its “functional seaworthiness of a west coast troller” for this trip.

Our first sighting was toward Little Mitlenatch Island, or as Mike calls it, an orca snack bar and also a hangout for glaucous-winged gulls and cormorants. As we passed through the waters of gorgeous Desolation Sound, known to have as many as 300 boats in Prideaux Haven, Mike reminded us of Captain Vancouver’s 1792 journal notes describing this area as “gloomy and dismal….dreary rocks.” Perhaps, but certainly not for us!

After travelling through the Gillard Pass and around the northern side of East Thurlow Island, our first night was on West Thurlow Island at Blind Channel Resort, originally the site of a thriving cannery.  A delicious salmon dinner completed Day 1.  Our accommodation was luxurious in the two, new, two-bedroom cabins, although one of our group opted to sleep on MI.

Before breakfast Sunday, several of the group explored the well-maintained trails behind the resort.  Soon after cast-off, Mike scooted to Mayne Passage, finding us 002 Pod – four orcas, including Tumbo, a large male with a bend in his fin. And later in the day, in Nodales Channel, we were entertained by a school/pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins.  The day had been chilly and wet and we all appreciated the warmth of the fireplace at Discovery Islands Lodge.  Our third meal of the day (all meals were provided by Mike and Jonah, with thanks to the pre-preparation of Mike’s wife, Samantha) was equally enjoyable.  The spacious, welcoming “great room” of the lodge allowed for good conversation.

Following a yummy breakfast prepared by our lodge hosts, we began our homeward journey.  Only the wished-for humpbacks were missing.  BUT the next day, our two Victoria participants saw a pair from the ferry.

Thanks to all our eclectic, delightful and well informed travelling companions for a memorable trip!


Twin Islands and Mitlenatch

Twin Islands and Mitlenatch
by Heather Harbord, 26
 May 2016. 

Ten members boarded the schooner, Misty Isles, at Lund on May 26th bound for Mitlenatch and Twin Islands.  It was great to have extra time on Mitlenatch especially as the Tiger Lilies were coming into bloom in the meadow and the Glaucous-winged gulls were beginning to sit on eggs.  The Stellers and California sea lions, Harbour seals, Pelagic and Double-crested cormorants, Black Oystercatchers and a few Pigeon Guillemots gave star performances which we watched from the zodiac.   As the wind was a bit strong we only circumnavigated the southern part of the island on both sides of Camp Bay instead of going all the way round.   As usual, Mike and his staff gave a knowledgeable presentation of what we were seeing supplemented by two of us (Janet May and I) who had been wardens the previous week.

We then went on to Twin Islands stopping at the rock where the Arctic Terns had been seen for the previous four years.  Unfortunately, they did not return for us.  The lodge at Twin Islands was fascinating and we enjoyed Mike Yip’s talk and photos of butterflies and birds. He is a wonderful photographer and some of us bought his books which he gave us a special rate on.  The following morning, we were on the go at 7am for a bird walk with Mike.  We did a bit too much exploring and didn’t have much time to spend at the swamp in the centre of the southern island where there was a Kingfisher and a Red-winged blackbird.  In the well-fenced garden a wobbly fledgling robin looked down on us from a tree.

After breakfast, the owner of the lodge, Mark Torrance, showed us his solar power system which he can control from his computer.   This was quite fascinating.  As we sailed away after lunch, we put up the red sails, got into the dingy and admired our handywork.

Thanks, Mike and Jonah, for another wonderful trip on Misty.


Cortes Island geology

Cortes Island geology
by Tammy Siddall, 22 July 2015. 

It was a perfect July day in Lund when 12 naturalists boarded the Misty Isles in search of rocks. Captain Mike and crewmate Amy had planned an exciting two-day circumnavigation of Cortes Island for us.  From Lund Harbour we first headed north towards the Twin Islands.

As we travelled, co-leaders Barbara Sherriff & Tom Kolezar spoke about the geological formations and what we hoped to find.  We were on the lookout for dykes, which are sheets of igneous rock that form in fractures of existing rock.  We hit the mother lode arriving on Twin, where we hopped into the zodiac to head ashore.  The dykes did not disappoint!

From there we headed farther northwest around Cortes as Mike spoke to the group about Buchia, which are bivalve fossils.  His enthusiasm for Buchia was infectious and we followed a tip he had on a new specimen. It was a treasure hunt. We headed ashore and found the Buchia fossil. This was a hunt 140 million years in the making!

After a lovely lunch and some of the best cookies going, we travelled further around Cortes, learning the history of the region and spotting more dykes. With the informative rock lessons from our great leaders, no one on this trip will ever look at the shoreline the same way again.

An impromptu stop at Quartz Bay revealed a stunning dyke of quartz crystals. Tom and Barbara worked out that the existing rock setting in which the crystals formed was a sandstone while a foraging deer looked on. We even spotted a ‘cute’ dyke!

For the evening we headed to Read Island to stay at the Coast Mountain Expedition lodge. As we anchored in a bloom of moon jellyfish we knew we were in for something magical. The setting was serene and the hosts were marvelous.  As usual, the meal was awesome.  The next morning we had a lovely breakfast made by Lannie and Ralph, our lodge hosts and we were off in search of a copper and molybdenite deposit.

We travelled to the location of a stream that drains below a claim site on West Redonda Island.  Here we came ashore and we found assorted interesting cobbles including magnetite, basalt, diorite, granodiorite, and a rich sulphide. (You know the rocks are interesting when the geologists take back samples for themselves!)   Another treat at this location was the mysterious albeit beautiful gravestone belonging to two small children named Lucey.  The grave is still a mystery more than 100 years later.  The setting of the stream was idyllic and the water so clear that many of the group took time out to have a quick dip in the ocean.

Refreshed and renewed, we headed off in search of more ancestral pictographs. Mike once again regaled us with the history of the area, peppered like shiny mica, with the mystical stories as told by the area’s aboriginal communities.  After lunch, which included more of those great cookies (thanks Samantha!) we headed south towards geological formations known as xenoliths.  The xenoliths created wild patterns where they contrasted the host rock.  On our way to the xenoliths, we rounded a small island, which Mike calls Mini-Mittlenatch where we spotted many sea birds along-side seals nursing their young.

When we came into the Lund Harbour after an incredible day at sea, most of us realized our bags were much heavier than when we started.  Various rock samples of our treasure hunts were stuffed into our luggage.

For many of us on this trip the unfolding world of rocks was a new and tuff one, but after a fantastic two days we all agreed it was a blast!



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.


A day on Mitlenatch

A day on Mitlenatch
by Cindy Dalcourt, 9 May 2015. 

On a beautiful, sunny morning 12 members carpooled to Lund where we met Captain Mike Moore aboard the Misty Isles for a trip to the B.C. Park nature preserve Mitlenatch Island. The very personable Captain briefed us on what the trip would consist of and shared his vast knowledge of the area and surrounding islands as well.

Mitlenatch is approximately half way between the coast and Vancouver Island and its name means “calm waters all around” in the Coast Salish language. Being in the rain shadow of Vancouver Island it is considered semi-arid, even having prickly pear cactus growing on it. When the tides come in around Vancouver Island from the north and the south they meet at Mitlenatch, bringing with them lots of nutrients and sea life. This attracts all kinds of fish, sea mammals and birds. It is home to the largest seabird colony in the Strait of Georgia.

Upon arrival at the island we were divided into two groups. The first group went ashore and were met by members Janet May and Heather Harbord who were volunteer wardens for B.C. Parks that week. They toured a small part of the island keeping to the existing trails as the island has a very sensitive ecosystem. They walked through a meadow full of spring flowers including common camas and chocolate lilies. In small groups they went into a bird blind where they could watch the gulls more closely. The surrounding cliffs were full of birds, courting and nesting. They ended their tour at the rustic cabin where Janet and Heather were staying.

During this time the second group did a circumnavigation of the island by zodiac where they were curiously watched by large groups of noisy stellar sea lions. They also saw harbour seals as well as many different kinds of birds including Pelagic Cormorants, Black Oystercatchers, and Pigeon Guillemots. The birds were nervous about the presence of a few eagles and displayed some interesting flying manoeuvres to distract them. When the zodiac came back to shore the two groups exchanged places and were once again off to explore.

Too soon it was time to reboard the Misty Isles and after a snack of tea and cookies we arrived back in Lund. Everyone agreed that we had a wonderful day.


Toba Inlet

Toba Inlet
by Barbara Sherriff and others, 9-10 August 2014.

Twelve of us took a two-day voyage up Homfray Channel, Desolation Sound, and Toba Inlet aboard the trusty Misty Isles, with Captain Mike Moore at the helm. I asked everyone what their personal highlights were.  Here’s what I learned…

  • Lying in the bowsprit
  • the colour of the water in Toba inlet
  • seeing the black bear along Toba inlet
  • interesting travel companions; they were great travel mates with good stories
  • well fed, wonderful sleep, starting the day with a short trail hike up to the waterfall followed by a delicious breakfast and coffee on a sunny cabin deck enjoying the view and company
  • fresh ripe blackberries to eat on the way to and from the meal cabin, pruned blackberry and salmon berry hedges
  • you can’t beat swimming in the warm waters of Pendrell Sound
  • thank you Captain Mike and helper Jonah for such a fabulous trip!
  • the whole trip
  • being with our friends and showing them our beautiful British Columbia
  • enjoying the stories our captain told us
  • seeing the bear spotted by Bernd
  • This was the best opportunity we found to access and explore the beauty of the ‘Unknown Canada’ of Desolation Sound and beyond. On your own it’s not accessible.  The times of the great explorers of the area like James Cook, George Vancouver and later entrepreneurs and homesteaders came to life through the stories told by our captain Mike.   I always looked forward for the next ‘storytime’.  We had a wonderful trip.
  • Big Thanks to the organizers of the trip. We look forward to doing a similar trip again.
  • wonderful days in a fairy-tale landscape, with the best
    weather you can think of
  • to be with our friends
  • we don’t have anything like this in Germany
  • One of the most impressive trips we have made during our
    vacation here in Canada
  • we even saw one sea lion paddling around
  • Seeing our water, air and land meet in such incredible harmony in
    relief from the world of man
  • seeing Captain Mike sitting on his deck reading stories of Butte Inlet to us.
  • Seeing the heights of the mountains and imagining the depths of
    the inlets, smells, feelings of wind and fresh cool air in the sails
  • distorted growth of ancient trees growing on sheer rock
  • dryness of usually streaming water falls
  • Sharing Pendrell Sound with a few lower down jellyfish makes you realise how bright is the white body that I’ve been protecting from the sun
  • you fit right in with the supermoon of the night before
  • cool pool but no octopi visible.
  • amazing turquoise blue water in Toba inlet
  • Total silence at Toba Wildernest Lodge
  • Misty Isles skipper and his wonderful stories, magnificent accommodation, great shower and flush toilet, the most amazing view over the mountains, great food
  • I was so mellow when I swam in Pendrell Sound
  • great salt water, warm and inviting
  • the super moon over the mountains was spectacular
  • accommodations were wonderful, especially the shower pressure
  • my style of camping
  • The colour of the water in Toba Inlet
  • leaving the many boats behind
  • Mike’s stories, our lovely cabin deck
  • sails up with Mike scampering up the ladder
  • glacial remnants
  • beautiful light
  • the full moon
  • a fabulous view from the cabin, great dinner and breakie
  • thanks Jonah!
  • I loved sailing up Toba Inlet with the two sails up and the beautiful aqua colour of the water
  • swimming in the warm water of Pendrell Sound was wonderful
  • The moon rise over the mountains
  • the wonderful glaciers
  • horns
  • the Crack of the World
  • xenoliths
  • pictographs

Cortez Island Geology

Cortez Island Geology
by Tom Koleszar, 26 July 2014.

Twelve naturalists, led by our own Barbara Sherriff, boarded the Misty Isles with Captain Mike Moore for a day-long geological tour of Hernando, Twin, and Cortes Islands.

We first cruised past Hernando Island before landing at Iron Point at the south end of Twin Islands, where we had ample opportunity the get our hands on the rocks of Wrangelia and the Coast Plutonic Complex.  Back aboard the Misty Isles, we then cruised along the south shore of Cortes Island looking at recent Quaternary sediments and more examples of the plutonic rocks of coastal BC.

For the latter part of the afternoon, Captain Mike took us on a cruise around Kinghorn Island in Desolation Sound and then along the Copeland Islands and back to Lund.  Along the way we saw some wildlife and a rare Agarikon fungas on an old growth Douglas Fir (in addition to the rocks and beautiful scenery, of course!)

We had a wonderful day with great weather, and we all learned a lot about the geology of our own area.  Special thanks to Barbara and Mike Moore for making it all possible!

Hernando Reef tour

Hernando Reef tour
by Heather Harbord, 15 July 2011.

Maurelle Island

Maurelle Island
by Heather Harbord, 31 August – 1 September 2009.

There are only certain tides in the summer that will allow Captain Mike Moore and the Misty Isles to do this circumnavigation.   We were picked us up in Lund, and we sailed through Baker’s Pass and up the west side of Cortes after stopping to admire our sails from the zodiac.

While we waited for the tide at the entrance to Von Donop Inlet, we cooled off with a swim off the boat which has a swim ladder that goes down far enough to be useful.  Going through White Rock Pass was exciting because we had to line up the markers to avoid the rocks.  We spent the night at Discovery Lodge, just south of Beazley Passage.

Next morning we were up early to catch the tide before it  turned to flood against us.  We headed up to Wiatt Bay where we went ashore to see the gallery.  We rode the flood through Hole in the Wall about noon and rounded the top of Maurelle.  In Lewis Channel, we poked into Teakerne Arm for a swim at the falls from  Cassel Lake returning to Lund about 5pm.

Mike’s knowledge of the area and its stories enhanced the pleasure of this trip.  The cost was $331 per person.

Return to Toba Inlet

Return to Toba Inlet
by Heather Harbord, 17 June 2009.

We were fortunate to repeat our 2007 journey to Toba Inlet, courtesy of Captain Mike and the ever trusty Misty Isles.

Again we stopped to admire the pictographs, and got wet when Mike poked the bow of our craft under the big waterfall at the entrance to Toba Inlet.

Then spectacular double waterfall at Racine Creek never fails to impress, and more people got wet.

As usual we stayed at the wonderful Toba Wildernest Resort, where we ate extremely well.  Captain Mike again showed his exceptional culinary skills.   The two days aboard ship and one night at Toba Wildernest cost (including GST) was the same as last time: $305 per person in cabin accommodations (for 10) and $280 per person for campers (2).

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.

Toba Inlet

Toba Inlet
by Heather Harbord, 30 June – 1 July 2007.

To reach Toba Inlet you have to sail through Desolation Sound, so the trip is a two for one.

The Misty Isles is a wonderful vessel as long as you are able to negotiate steep stairs and obstacles on deck.  Some adventurous souls on our trip learned how to get out onto the bowsprit where they stretched out prone for a nap.  Captain Mike Moore, a veteran of 11 years in the Arctic as a Coast Guard Navigation Officer, is very experienced and knowledgeable about the area and stops at every pictograph.

The first day we sailed past Prideaux Haven, the popular anchorage in Desolation Sound, and proceeded up Homfray Channel.  We poked the bow of the boat under the big waterfall at the entrance to Toba Inlet and soaked a few people.  Then we went up to Racine Creek which has a spectacular double waterfall and more people got wet.  On the way back to Pryce Channel we got some wonderful views of the mountains above Forbes Bay.

We disembarked at Toba Wildernest Resort, we had an incredible view from there too.  As supper was prepared, some people climbed the steep trail to the waterfall above.  Our supper of BBQ teriyaki salmon, cooked by the captain, was superb.  He has many talents.

Two of us camped on the lawn where we had ring side seats of the full moon. The rest enjoyed the bunk beds and showers in the comfortable rustic cabins, some with 4 beds to a room.  The trip was sold out by mid March.  The two days aboard ship and one night at Toba Wildernest cost (including GST) was $305 per person in cabin accommodations (for 10) and $280 per person for campers.