Day 3 - Thursday - May 29 - Skull Cove to Smith Sound

Cape Caution comes into view off in the distance.

Well the big day had finally arrived. The day I would face Cape Caution and whatever it threw at me. I wanted to get off to an early start so I could put as many miles behind me as possible before the wind started to pick up. Since much of the coastal wind is formed by the air being destabilized as it is warmed by the sun, it is always a good idea to get off to an early start. My alarm woke me up at 4am. By 6am, I had packed up and was shoving off. The day was almost perfect. There was only a one-meter swell coming in off the Pacific and almost no wind.

The waters of Queen Charlotte Strait remained calm as I rounded Cape Caution.

I made my way up the coast past Miles Inlet, the Fox Islands, and Slingsby Channel and had reached Bremner Point by 8am. As I paddled across the wide expanse of Burnett Bay, I heard the distinctive sound of a humpback whale breathing not far away. My new traveling companion was going my way, so he kept me company for a while as I approached Cape Caution. By 9:10am, I was off Wilkie Point and 10 miles from my starting point in Skull Cove. It was hard to believe how lucky I was to round Cape Caution in the calmest weather imaginable, but here I was paddling in smooth water across one of the most dangerous stretches of the Inside Passage. By 10:10am, only a little over four hours into today’s paddle, I was rounding Cape Caution.

A flock of Surf Scoters make their get-away.

I continued paddling without stopping for the next 3 ½ hours passing the landmarks of Neck Ness, Milthorp Point, Macnicol Point, and entering Smith Sound. I arrived at my destination for today, a red sand beach in a cove just past Chest Island, at 1:45pm. It had taken me 7 hours and 45 minutes to travel the 24 miles around Cape Caution and I could breathe a sigh of relief in knowing that the potentially most dangerous part of my trip was behind me.

Entering Alexandra Passage in Smith Sound.

After setting up camp, I did some beachcombing and found that a small cat had visited the area recently and left his footprints behind for me to photograph. A nice creek flows here and is a good place to refill water bottles. The beach seems to be high enough to keep paddlers safely dry above even the highest monthly tides. The last two campsites were in small coves with limited long-range visibility but this site had beautiful long distance views across Smith Sound.

My campsite at the red sand beach.

After three days alone in the wilderness, it seemed that background sounds like wind, waves, and birdcalls were people’s voices talking with each other off in the distance. Before long, I became accustomed to hearing this mix of sounds and the phenomena of distant voices disappeared.

Looking out on Smith Sound from my campsite at the red sand beach.