Day 2 - Wednesday - May 28 - Shelter Bay to Skull Cove
Heading out of Shelter Bay on a rainy morning.
My watch alarm woke me up this morning at 5am to the sound of a light rain falling on my tent. After a breakfast of some coffee and oatmeal, I got all my gear packed and launched at 7:30am. Today’s destination was Skull Cove on Bramham Island. It was only eight miles away from Shelter Bay, and protected for the most part from the winds of Queen Charlotte Strait by dozens of small islands and rock outcrops. According to information available in guidebooks, Skull Cove would offer me the last good campsite before attempting to round Cape Caution. Since I traveled further yesterday than expected, and passing up Skull Cove was not an option, the distance of today’s route was much shorter than planned.
Paddling through the sheltered waters of the Southgate Island Group.
The weather today was heavily overcast and although it was not raining, there was a constant mist in the air. The wind was blowing at around 10 mph and I had to put on my neoprene paddling gloves for the first time on the trip.
I also found that a couple of new pieces of gear would come in handy for the first time today. Last year my ears and neck were often cold on windy wet days, so this year I was prepared with a fleece ear band and neck gator. These became standard everyday apparel, as the weather was cold, wet, and windy most of the time from this point on.
By 10:30am, I had reached Skull Cove and entered it on the east side of an island that protects the entrance. Guidebooks had indicated a good place to camp in this cove but a flat level spot above high tide was not immediately obvious. I paddled around until I spotted a grassy damp spot near the west entrance to the cove that would have to do. After unloading the boat and setting up camp I had lunch and then set off with my camera and bear spray to do some exploring.
My campsite in Skull Cove.
Near my campsite were some stairs that led up a cliff and into the trees. These stairs seemed like the natural place to start looking around. At the top of the stairs was an area containing eight small cabins connected by a series of footpaths through the dense underbrush. Among these cabins was a communal kitchen area designed for use by a small number of temporary visitors. A hand painted map on one of the trees showed how trails connected the various cabins. There was no indication of who built these facilities but it looked similar to a whale research site run by a BC university that I had run across further south on Johnstone Strait. The area is set high up on a bluff with great views across Queen Charlotte Sound. This makes it the perfect location to scan the waters for the many types of whales that pass along this section of the BC coast. (After doing some research on the site, I found out that it is a field station used by CERF - Coastal Ecosystems Research Foundation and Earth Watch Institute for housing their staff while in the field studying whales.
My kayak on the low, soggy campsite at Skull Cove.
Today’s short paddle gave me a bit of a break so I could get some extra rest. Tomorrow I would be paddling around the infamous Cape Caution so I hit the sack early and hoped for clear calm weather in the morning.
Looking out across Queen Charlotte Strait from the whale watching camp at Skull Cove.