Day 1 - Tuesday - May 27 - Port Hardy to Shelter Bay

Second Leg - Days 1-8 - Port Hardy to Shearwater

The main natural and man made features encountered along this stretch of the route include the city of Port Hardy, Queen Charlotte Sound, Cape Caution, Smith Sound, Rivers Inlet, Duncanby Landing, Fitz Hugh Sound, Namu, Lama Passage, and Shearwater.

Getting ready to launch from the Sunny Sanctuary campground in Port Hardy.

Today I started on the second leg of my Inside Passage kayak trip. Al, the Sunny Sanctuary campground manager, met me at 6am to see me off, and take a few photos of me launching. After carrying my kayak to the waters edge and loading it with all my equipment, I pushed off at 6:50am on a very overcast and peaceful day.

Finally in the water and ready to go.

The harbor in Port Hardy was coming to life with fishermen busily getting their boats ready for a day on the water. In a short time, I passed the spot where my trip had ended a year earlier at the Scotia Bay Campground. At 8:25am, I was passing Duval Island at the northwest corner of Hardy Bay.

The Gordon Islands come into view from Hardy Bay.

Goletas Channel lay ahead of me, the first of many big open water crossings I would make on this years trip. The water was calm as glass, but I knew that winds could build at any time so I wasted no time heading across toward the Gordon Islands 3 ½ miles away. I passed through the Gordon Islands at 9:25am and headed across Gordon Channel toward the southeast tip of Deserters Island, which I reached at 10:30am.

Looking up the coast of Vancouver Island as I cross Goletas Channel to the Gordon Islands.

The weather remained incredibly quiet and I did not want to miss the opportunity to make it across Queen Charlotte Strait my first day out. I immediately headed across Ripple Passage toward the Millar Group Islands. I was paddling a bit to the east of my intended route, so as I crossed Richards Channel, the last big crossing in Queen Charlotte Strait, I ended up going off the edge of my 1:100,000 scale chart. When I hit the mainland, I quickly realized I had gone too far east. This four-mile long detour ended up costing me an extra hour of paddling to get back on course. After a few days of chart reading, I became more proficient. I would not go off course again during the remainder of the trip.

Looking across Ripple Passage to the Millar Island Group.

The weather on Queen Charlotte Strait is not usually as tranquil as what I experienced on this day. I was extremely fortunate to have calm weather for this big open water crossing on my first day of paddling. The three island groups that separate Queen Charlotte Strait into four smaller channels offer shelter and camp opportunities for kayakers if winds pick up, or fog moves in, making conditions too dangerous to continue.

After crossing Queen Charlotte Strait I am finally paddling up the mainland shoreline.

After covering 21 miles in 6 hours and 40 minutes, I reached my first day’s destination in Shelter Bay at 1:30pm. Shelter Bay has a big sand beach with tent sites up in the trees for high tide nights, a stream to refill water bottles, and no shortage of bugs. The bugs did not bite much, but were so numerous that they got in my eyes and ears and were just annoying making every chore just a little bit harder. I noted in my logbook that there were so many bugs hitting the outside of my tent it sounded like rain.

The beach in Shelter Bay comes into view.

The BC Park Service had signs posted all around Shelter Bay warning campers that a cougar had been frequenting the area. This information gave me a bit of a creepy feeling, knowing that a big cat might be hiding in the trees and stalking me as I moved about. The only thing I could do was to constantly be on the lookout, and keep my pepper spray with me at all times. After spending 18 hours at the site, I saw no sign of a cougar, and my stay at Shelter Bay was thankfully uneventful.

The beach at Shelter Bay.