Destinations Fiordland

Destination: James Bay (Pooley Island)

Friday, October 03, 2014S.V. CAMBRIA

The head of James Bay.


Entrance:        52°41.308’N, 128°12.194’W
Anchorage:     52°42.692’N, 128°12.789’W

Disclaimer:  This blog article is not to be used for navigation.  It is solely an account of our personal experience and anchor location in Kynoch Inlet during calm 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 and any boat that enters should be self-sufficient.

When it comes to what I consider a “destination”, James Bay doesn’t actually cut the mustard – the protection isn’t the best and, at first glance, it doesn’t seem to have much going for it scenically.  But I’ve been known to be wrong a time or two (or three or four) in my life, and this would be one of those times.  James Bay is definitely a destination, but not why I originally thought.

At first I was going to add it to our series because of three simple reasons: 1) we stayed in the anchorage for three nights; 2) it’s only 14 nautical miles from the boundary of Fiordland Recreational Reserve, making it a convenient base to explore the park; and 3) I had a pretty special wildlife experience there.  But I’ve learned more since our visit.   

Like it’s part of the Pooley Island Conservancy.

And that James Bay Creek is a habitat for the elusive Spirit Bear, or Kermode.    

The Kermode is a subspecies of the black bear that lives along the central and north coast of British Columbia and has a recessive gene that causes their coat to be white or cream-coloured.  The population is estimated to be only 400 to 1,000, with the majority inhabiting Gribbell and Princess Royal islands to the north.  Everyone, and I mean everyone, who cruises this area wants to see one (ourselves included) – by all accounts it’s a once in a lifetime experience.  So, the fact that they frequent the estuaries here is a real attraction.

The James Creek Estuary.

So, what’s the catch?

A former logging operation scars the western shoreline to James Bay.

There’s a recently abandoned logging operation set up along the western shore of the bay.  But the anchorage is well-beyond that point and it can’t be easily seen . . . neither can the clear-cutting.  And it’s open to southerly weather and inflow winds from Mathieson Channel.  It gets a little lumpy with stronger breezes. BUT if the wind is blowing less than 10 knots, the impact is minimal inside the anchorage.

Anchor in 20 metres (66 feet) off the northeast corner near the head of the bay.  The holding is good in sand and mud with plenty of swing room, but watch for shoaling from the river mouth. 

The view out to Mathieson Channel is beautiful.

Things to Do:
  • Watch the shore for wildlife (wolves and bears).
  • Take a walk along the former logging road (be bear aware).
  • Kayak.
  • Take a short dinghy trip up-river at high tide.
  • Visit Fiordland Recreational Area.

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