Day 20 - Wednesday - June 27 - The Broken Islands to Johnstone Strait near Robson Bight

Low tide at launch time from my Broken Island campsite.

As I awoke this morning around 6am, the tide was still on its way out reaching the low point of the day at 6:50am. Just as the day before, the waterline was about thirty yards out across a field of barnacle covered rocks over which I really didn‘t want to have to carry my boat and all my gear. By the time, I had eaten breakfast, broken down camp, and packed everything up, the water level had reached a gravel area near the campsite where my loaded kayak was sitting. This allowed me to essentially sit in the boat and wait for the tide to float me off the beach.

Looking out across Johnstone Strait from the Broken Islands.

We continued west down Johnstone Strait passing Forward Bay and hugging the coast of West Cracroft Island. After paddling for about three hours into a light headwind and against a small current it was time to take a break. I started looking for a convenient beach to land on and soon found one that was perfect. It is located on the chart, right by a compass rose. As I approached, I saw a black bear on the beach turning over logs with its paw and foraging for something to eat. I stayed quiet and the bear did not see me at first, giving me enough time to get its picture. I figured it would be best to leave this beach to the bear, and continued on looking for another beach on which to take a break.

A nice beach for a break stop.

After paddling a half-mile, I spotted another suitable beach. As I approached, I was amazed to find a second black bear, this time a cub, foraging right on the beach. Not only did I not want to bother the little guy in his search for lunch, but I also figured mom would be somewhere nearby in the bushes. So on my way I went.

Heading west up Johnstone Strait.

About another half mile down the coast was a similar beach that looked promising. As I approached it, unbelievably, there was a third black bear foraging. By now, I did not want to land anywhere on that coastline for fear of having lunch interrupted by an ursine interloper. This experience with the three bears turned out to be one of my favorite memories on this first leg of my Inside Passage journey.

Looking across Johnstone Strait toward the Tsitika River valley and Robson Bight.

At 2:20pm, we arrived at the Boat Bay Orca Patrol Base. This is a research station manned by university students who study Orcas and protect the nearby area of Robson Bight, which is an Orca sanctuary. We had a look around and visited with the staff for a couple of hours, then decided it was time to head off for this evenings destination. We paddled around to Swaine Point and then headed diagonally across Johnstone Strait for the three-mile open water crossing to a beach on Vancouver Island.

The Boat Bay orca patrol base across from Robison Bight.

I had camped on this beach during three other trips to the area. Each time I launched from Telegraph Cove and paddled east along the shoreline. The site always provided the perfect viewpoint from which to spot the many pods of Orcas that frequent this area of the Inside Passage. It is located a mile west of the Robson Bight Ecological Reserve.

Getting ready to head across Johnstone Strait from near Swaine Point.

It took us an hour and forty minutes to cross the strait, fighting a headwind and opposing current the whole way. We arrived at our destination after paddling 16 miles in 7 hours.
Since we planned on taking the next day off from paddling, and the chance of spotting Orcas was good, I decided to stay up late and keep a lookout. I lit my first campfire of the trip using some of the abundant driftwood that had collected on the beach. By 11pm, with darkness setting in, I had not spotted a single dorsal fin so I decided to call it a night and try again tomorrow.

Sunset over Johnstone Strait.