the Discovery Islands the Inside Passage

Phillips Arm

Wednesday, August 11, 2010S.V. CAMBRIA

The Phillips River

Yesterday, Kelly mentioned that Christina went out on a boat last week to Phillips Arm, a mainland inlet directly across from Shoal Bay, and up the Phillips River where she saw a grizzly bear and took some great photos. It wasn't an anchorage we'd previously considered as there isn't anything written about it in our cruising guides, but we were game and made plans to go together.

We left Shoal Bay in the early afternoon to time our arrival in Phillips Arm for incoming tide and better access to the river. It's an amazingly beautiful inlet and the only reason I can come up with for being overlooked by cruising guides is the logging and aquaculture in the area – deterrents to some cruisers, myself included. Okay, so it may not offer the best protection from inflow winds, but the holding is good and, in settled conditions, it's an excellent place to spend a night or two.

David and I dropped the anchor in a small bight south west of the head of the bay and Blues Power rafted up to us. This was our first time tying up with another boat, a practice for which we never really saw the point, but it's fair to say we're converts. It was really nice to sit on the deck and chat without the use of a dinghy or VHF radio and, with the right people, rafting can be a lot of fun. If nothing else, it's certainly convenient.

After waiting a while to make sure we were securely anchored, we jumped into our dinghies and made our way to the head of the bay and the mouth of the Phillips River – if we were going to a bear, it would be here in the vast wilderness of the BC coast.

It's difficult to describe what it's like travelling by dinghy, especially compared to a sail boat. It's an entirely different perspective, one I never tire of. You sit close to the water and your surroundings seem much grander than they do when you're eight feet above sea level. You can fit into the smallest nooks and crannies with a minimum amount of water under your hull making you privy to things you can't possibly see from a regular boat – the only thing better is kayaking!

The Phillips River is an incredibly scenic stretch of water. Its beautiful light green colour contrasts perfectly with a blue summer sky and the dark green cedars along the shore and surrounding hills – in short, it's idyllic. Unfortunately, we weren't able to travel very far. The river shallows out and turns into short sections of rapids that neither of our dinghies or low horse-powered outboard motors could manage, so we pulled onto a small sandy niche along the rocky shore and took a look around. McKayla, David's granddaughter, enjoys making crafts and is a master at pet rocks, so we spent some time combing the beach for just the right stones to add to her collection and chatting with Kelly while Linda pulled out her fishing rod.

We never did see a bear, but it didn't matter. It was a great day that continued into the evening when we had a delicious meal in the cockpit ofBlues Power – freshly caught trout (thanks to Linda's earlier efforts), crab and prawns – along with excellent company, a beautiful sunset and plenty of laughter.

Sometimes it's the anchorage that's special and sometimes it's the people you share it with. We were fortunate to find a little of both today. Clearly it's time to get my nose out of the cruising guides and take us to less travelled destinations where we can continue to create memories for ourselves and, hopefully, others.

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