Destinations The Central Coast

Destination: Briggs Inlet

Tuesday, October 28, 2014S.V. CAMBRIA


The Central Coast is a popular place during the height of the summer.  Not by the same standards as Desolation Sound where sharing an anchorage with dozens of other boats – sometimes more – is the  norm.  But in a “Damn!  There’s already another boat anchored here” kind of way.  And the closer you are to Shearwater, the busier it gets.  But Briggs Inlet, north of Return Channel, can be a really nice break from that.

It’s all about location and Briggs Inlet has the misfortune of being sandwiched between Roscoe Inlet (one of the most striking along the Central Coast) and Spiller Channel (home to Ellerslie Lagoon and Falls), so it’s understandable that it gets overlooked by most boats.  But it shouldn’t.  The scenery may not compare to its neighbours, but it’s beautiful in its own right:  It’s narrow and intimate with rolling, tree-covered mountains and steep granite walls that embrace you and make you feel right at home. 


But it does come with a couple of obstacles.

Starting with the First Narrows.  About 2.5 miles from the entrance, Briggs Inlet takes a turn westward and tapers down to 80 metres (262 feet), causing a large section of turbulent water.  Somehow David and I both missed this piece of information when planning our route and hit the narrows on a rising tide when it was running 3 knots.  The flow was laminar but the water was active for a half-mile or so and included upwellings and small whirlpools that did a good job of kicking Cambria around.  Travelling with the current, it wasn’t an issue but we made sure to time our arrival the following day near slack tide.

The head of Emily Bay.

Just north of the first narrows lies Emily Bay, a beautiful and quiet anchorage with good holding and protection.  But it also has something else that’s pretty rare in this part of the world – a short hike!  And that’s exactly why we were there. 

At the head of the bay, there’s a primitive trail that passes through a fish hatchery run by the Heiltsuk Nation out of Bella Bella.  Some changes have taken place over the last few years and the conditions that were described in the Douglass cruising guide, “Exploring the North Coast of British Columbia” have been improved.  The trail is still on the undeveloped side and difficult to follow at times, but new boardwalks and bridges have been installed and accessing the trail is straightforward.  It rises about 30 metres (100 feet) in elevation over the span of a quarter mile or so and leads to the head of Emily Lake.  But if you’re only interested in swimming, this walk probably isn’t for you.

Walking up to the hatcheries cabin . . .

. . . over a bridge and small waterfall . . .

. . . and up to the trail that leads to Emily Lake.

Emily Lake is pretty but not very inviting.

North of Emily Bay, the inlet continues to Briggs Lagoon and the second narrows.  But we weren’t interested in taking Cambria through a poorly charted entrance that Douglass describes as a set of rapids and tight, so that ended our exploration of Briggs Inlet . . . by boat.  We did, however, make it to the lagoon from a trail located at the head of Boukind Bay (Roscoe Inlet). It wasn’t the most adventurous way to see the rest of Briggs Inlet, but it was the easiest and didn’t require waiting for high water slack to get in and out.  It was also the second opportunity to get off the boat and stretch our legs.  And that, along with everything else, is what made Briggs Inlet worth visiting.

Briggs Lagoon.


Waypoints of Interest:

First Narrows:     52°21.587 N, 128°00.448 W
Emily Bay:          52°23.527 N, 127°59.979 W (Approach)
                        52°23.519 N, 128°00.692 W (Anchorage)
Boukind Bay:      52°26.733 N, 127°56.203 W (Approach)
52°27.786 N, 127°56.257 W (Anchorage)

Things to Do:

Take a hike to Emily Bay (Briggs Inlet).
Take a hike to Briggs Lagoon (Roscoe Inlet).

Disclaimer:  This blog article is not to be used for navigation.  It is solely an account of our personal experience and anchor locations in Briggs Inlet during settled weather conditions.  What worked for us at one particular time is no guarantee or indication that it will work for others.  There are no services in the immediate area and any boat that enters should be self-sufficient.

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