Years ago I read a 1992 account by Neil Frazer about a time that he and his wife stumbled upon Bill’s camp at Swordfish Bay. They were seeking shelter on a cold, rainy, miserable day and pulled into Swordfish hoping for the best. He described a tiny, well-tended camp beneath a tarp supported by driftwood. Not large enough to set up a tent but it contained a single bunk and a fire box made of large rocks. It was integrated into the islet to such a degree that it was hard to detect. The camp was scrupulously clean.
Looking south from the tombolo.
In 2007 while camped at Cultus Bay I paddled the 2 NM south for a look. I found that the entrance to Swordfish Bay is choked down by an islet and the tombolo that ties it to Hunter Island. The entrance on the west side of the islet is constricted with rocky shoals that act nasty with southerly swell and wind. The islet seemed the logical place for the camp so after touring the rest of the bay I landed on its bright gravel and shell beach. Not a windscreen in site. No wooden structure. Only a clearing barely large enough for a single tent just above the Spring Tide line. The ground cover was well over my head but I attempted to beat my way into the center of the islet. It was ridiculously difficult and didn’t seem to match Neil’s description. I did find Bill’s signature fresh water well consisting of a 5-gallon bucket with holes in the bottom buried in the ground but nothing else. No other signs of his occupation.
I returned again in 2009, 2012 and recently in August 2017. The tiny clearing remains but the bucket was and remains nowhere to be found. In August I took the time to bushwhack my way into the heart of the islet from the tiny clearing but, once again, found nothing. While searching the northwest corner of the islet along the edge of the tree line I found an area that made sense but didn’t show any of the usual signs of Bill’s camps. No ropes or large lumber. No windscreen but one may not have existed at this camp. It made sense because it was very close to where I had found the bucket-well in 2007. It was about the right size for a clearing to be but the beach is composed of large rocks and wouldn’t be kayak-friendly.
I appreciate the strategic location of Swordfish Bay and find it to be one of the most compelling solo campsites on the coast. I suspect that it was an early camp that Bill created on his northward migration from Echo Bay and that it became a secondary camp when he pushed out to Goose. I’ll be back.
To be continued..........