Orcas the Discovery Islands

Nodales Channel

Monday, August 30, 2010S.V. CAMBRIA

Orcas swimming in Nodales Channel looking toward Frederick Arm.

This afternoon, we upped anchor and made way for Dent and Yuculta Rapids. Our goal was to be back by week's end for the Labor Day Beef Roast but, just in case we get delayed by weather, we said our good-byes to Nicholas, who will be leaving on Friday, and Bill, who won't be too far behind him.

Our plan was to explore Bute Inlet for a few days before working our way back to Shoal Bay through the Hole in the Wall with a stop-over in Octopus Islands Marine Park – one of this year's favourite anchorages. When we got to the “intersection” of Frederick Arm and Nodales Channel, we spotted an orca, and another one, and another one – the first of the year! So we stopped to watch and missed our opportunity to transit the rapids, but it was worth it. Not only did we see a pod of just five or six but a large group numbering in the forties, some of them coming within ten feet of the bow. They were everywhere and filled the air with the sounds of spray coming from their blowholes as they echoed between the channel. It was an incredible experience, a once in a lifetime moment, and well worth missing an adventure in Bute Inlet. Besides, there's always tomorrow.

It was only three o'clock, so we decided to go back to Shoal Bay to get Nicholas who'd expressed an interest in kayaking up Phillips Arm – a five nautical mile trip each way. When we arrived at the dock, he wasn't there. Greg, the neighbour, had taken him out to see the orcas – his first experience with them as well. Our timing wasn't bad, however, and they got back minutes after us, so we tied up the kayak and made way for the head of Phillips Arm.

With the anchor set, I towed Nicholas and the kayak to the mouth of the river. It started to sprinkle, but a little water never hurt anyone and he was happy to carry on. An hour or so later, we saw him paddling back towards the boat, so I jumped in the dinghy and picked him up. He was soaking wet but grinning from ear to ear. He had seen a mother and cub playing along the shore and, when the mother spotted him as he was reaching for his camera and began to charge, he got out of there as quickly as possible. Realizing he wasn't a threat and the cub was safe, they retreated back into the woods robbing him of the opportunity to take a picture.

The rain was really beginning to come down and it was getting late, so we made our way “home” where we tied up to the dock for the night and had dinner together before calling it a night. All in all, it was a great day leaving the three of us happy to have spent it in Shoal Bay.

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