British Columbia Clayoquot Sound

Clayoquot Sound . . . Or Not

Thursday, August 22, 2013S.V. CAMBRIA


The approach to Bedwell Sound

One night in Ritchie Bay was enough; even in the calmest of conditions, the anchorage isn’t the most comfortable.  But we chose it solely for its convenience to Bedwell Sound and Matlset Narrows, and it served that purpose well.

Reputed to be one of the most beautiful fjords along the West Coast of Vancouver Island, Bedwell Sound didn’t disappoint.  Despite the heavy logging that scars the low-lying hills and the fish farms that now dot the shoreline, the inlet is very pretty and offers a spectacular view of the Strathcona Peaks from the river's delta.  And even though the Clayoquot Wilderness Resort with its luxury canvas tents (some with ensuites), mooring buoys and dock now occupies the head of the sound, it manages to remain picturesque. 

The head of Bedwell Sound

We only had time for a quick trip if we wanted to transit Matlset Narrows at slack tide, so we didn’t linger.  Although there aren’t any turbulence to be concerned about, the fairway tapers down to a 0.15 mile and the current can run up to four knots during spring tides.  We arrived at what was supposed to be slack tide but we saw more than three knots, fortunately, in our favour.  Once through, we made our way down Fortune Channel to the east side of Meares Island and our destination for the night, Windy Bay– an anchorage that’s named well. 

Cambria at anchor in Windy Bay

Windy Bay doesn’t offer the best protection but ranks up there as one of the prettiest spots we’ve visited along this side of Vancouver Island:  Tree limbs extend over the waterline and a steep granite escarpment rises from the sea on the north side of the bay.  The view out into Fortune Channel, backed by rugged mountain peaks, is impressive.  And the pyramid-shaped rocks onshore are interesting to look at; but landing a dog can be challenging, especially at lower tides.  The mud is like quicksand and I had to carry Sally to firmer ground while I struggled to walk in muck that didn’t want to let go of my sandals – not exactly something you want in between your toes. 

Cambria at anchor in Windy Bay looking out to Forward Channel

After a peaceful night at anchor, we woke up to a deteriorating forecast:  A low pressure system is approaching the area and gale-force southeaterlies are due to hit the region tomorrow so, rather than continue our circumnavigation of Meares Island, we decide to backtrack and make way for Quait Bay, an all-weather anchorage, situated off Cypress Bay.  After taking Sally to shore (this time at a higher tide), we upped-anchor and made our way back to Matlset Narrows.  Based on our experience yesterday, we shouldn’t have been surprised to see over four knots of current; but this time it was against us and our progressed slowed to a whopping one knot over ground.  So much for our slack tide calculations!

Though it didn’t sound too promising on paper becauseof a floating lodge that’s located on the northern shore and descriptions of sports fishing boats coming and going throughout the day, Quait Bay is surprisingly quiet and nice.  The barge housing the resort building along with the land-based infrastructure is still here but, come to find out, the actual resort moved eight years ago to Bedwell Sound (Clayoquot Wilderness Resort) and there’s only a caretaker in residence.  Once again, it looks like our cruising guides for the West Coast need to be updated; even Waggoner (which is published yearly) had it wrong.

With the anchor dug into mud and plenty of protection from all-quadrants, all we have to do now is wait and see what tomorrow brings. 

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