Inside Passage Sum It Up Sunday

Ports and Passages

Sunday, May 17, 2015S.V. CAMBRIA

Looking back, it’s difficult to believe we were in Shearwater only a week ago . . . so much has changed.  Only two hundred miles have passed under Cambria’s keel, but the landscape, at least here in Prince Rupert, is entirely different – more “West Coast Industrial” than “Inside Passage”.

But I’m getting ahead of myself again.

The stretch of water along Princess Royal Channel is arguably the most beautiful and dramatic section of the Inside Passage, especially this time of year when the mountain ranges lining the channel are still capped with snow and waterfalls deliver the melt to the sea in powerful flows.  In hindsight, I wish we would’ve take more time to enjoy it – Khutze Inlet, in particular, where we later learned a family of grizzlies were feeding along the shore several days in a row.  But we were anxious to reach one of our favourite spots, Bishop Bay Hot Springs.

As always, Bishop Bay was a welcomed treat and we lingered several days, enjoying long, hot soaks until our fingers looked like prunes.

From Bishop Bay, we continued north to Lowe Inlet off Grenville Channel where we finally dug out our inflatable kayaks to explore the anchorage and simply laze about, soaking up the warm sun.  Lowe Inlet is a beautiful spot and it was tempting to stay another day but, in the end, we decided to finish out Grenville Channel and make way for Prince Rupert on Friday.  The forecast for crossing Dixon Entrance looked good for Sunday or Monday:  Alaska was calling.

It was a long day, made even longer by a dreary landscape cloaked in an overcast sky.  Hour after hour, we slogged our way north:  First through the wind and chop, then later through the current off the Skeena River.  By the time we’d finished the 60-mile passage, we were ready to call it a day.  And we did.

Come Saturday morning, we were ready to launch the dinghy and see what Prince Rupert was all about. 
The truth is, on the surface, it looks a lot like any other coastal city in British Columbia:  Caf├ęs, restaurants and souvenir shops line the main road.  Tourists roam around in search of the next bear or whale watching adventure.  And locals go about their daily business, ignoring the rest. 

What sets it apart is a world-class cultural museum, The Museum of Northern British Columbia. 

But the city also boasts one of the deepest natural harbours in the world and is the fastest route to and from Asia, so it’s an important trading port for the Asian market.  In fact, trade has played a central role in the economy here for 10,000 years – from the first arrivals after the glaciers melted to present day.  It’s the reason the city was founded and the reason it continues to exist when so many other communities along the coast faded away.

Day after day, ships arrive to unload cargo from Japan and China which are then loaded onto freight trains bound for Toronto, Detroit and Chicago.  Or placed onto barges and towed down to communities in southern British Columbia.  Meanwhile, other ships are here to fill their holds with grain and coal before returning wherever it is they call home.

Like I said . . . a world apart from the solitude of the Inside Passage.

You Might Also Like


  1. As usual its great to read your blog. We are looking forward to reading your Alaskan travel adventures. Was the soak in Bishop Bay hot springs as good as usual? Richard, Jude and Katya. S/V Sarita.