Friday, January 13, 2017

Blue Highways - Queens Sound / Bardswell Group - Part III

Swordfish Bay

An option to picking up your resupply in Shearwater is to have it sent to Klemtu, instead.  That makes Shearwater a discretionary stop rather than required and makes it easier to exercise the Queens Sound / Bardswell Group Blue Highway option.  Klemtu is a dry community, though, so no pizza and beer dinner.

If you are in a hurry to get back on the IP you need to reach Seaforth Channel.  From Cultus travel up Queens Sound on a strong flood and blow through Raymond Passage to Seaforth.  You will miss a lot if you do but will be back on task.  Instead consider stops at the Goose Group, the McMullin Group and the transit of Gale Passage.  That is a much more interesting route but more time consuming.

Crossing Queens Sound to Goose commits you to 7.5 NM of open water so conditions must be within your skillset.  If that doesn’t sound like fun there are other options but if you love sandy beaches the area sheltered by Goose, Gosling, Gull, Snipe, Duck and Swan Islands provides more than you will be able to handle.  It was recently rated as one of the Top Ten Beaches in British Columbia by Wild Coast Magazine.

Morning on Gosling Island

North of Goose lies the McMullin Group.  The western shores of this stunning cluster of granite islets are pounded by the open Pacific and slowly eroded to sand that settles on the eastern shallows creating a Tropics-like environment.  At low tide there is sandy beach in all directions.  At high tide the water is a beautiful aquamarine.

McMullin Group from Islet 48

North of McMullin and just off the south end of Potts Island is Islet 48 which is one of my favorite campsites.  It doesn’t get much traffic and has a surprising number of tent sites above the high tide line.  Aside from being a nice campsite is strategically located.

Islet 48

Continuing into Thompson Bay you can enter Gale Passage which separates Athlone and Dufferin Islands.  It connects with Seaforth Channel about a mile from where the oil barge tug recently sunk and leaked diesel.  Damage is still being assessed.  Paddling Gale is a unique experience since both the north and south ends are constricted and feed into a large lagoon.  As the tide rises water pours in through both ends creating tidal rapids and filling up the lagoon.   When the tide drops the current reverses draining the lagoon.  Timing is everything in navigating Gale Passage.

Entering Gale Passage

Just inside the northern entrance to Gale is a Heiltsuk cabin and a reliable source of fresh water.

Heiltsuk Cabin Gale Passage

If the diesel spill makes Gale Passage untenable follow the western shoreline of Potts Island to the “Back Door” of Joassa Channel where another Heiltsuk cabin is located on Quinoot Point.  Follow Joassa north to Seaforth Channel and back to the Inside Passage route.
Back Door to Joassa Channel

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