Destinations Inside Passage

Mitlenatch Island Nature Park | Way Bay Wednesday

Wednesday, November 23, 2016S.V. CAMBRIA


It’s Way Back Wednesday, an opportunity to dig through the files and pull out an old blog post to shed some new light on it. Over the years, I’ve written several posts about anchorages we’ve stayed in, including first-hand anchoring information (i.e. holding, protection, GPS coordinates), historical information and things to do. To date, I’ve done 26 of these (they can all be found on our Destinations page) and they’re some of my favourite posts. For the next six months, I’ll be highlighting one every Wednesday (from south to north) and adding a few new ones in where I can. This week, it’s a return to Middlenatch Island Nature Park in Canada’s northern Strait of Georgia (you can read the original post here).

Disclaimer:  This blog article is not to be used for navigation.  It is solely an account of our personal experience anchoring off Mitlenatch Island during calm weather conditions.  What worked for us at one particular time is no guarantee or indication that it will work for others. 

What goes up must come down; it’s a simple law of physics.  As much we hate moving south for the winter, it has to be done and dropping below 50° N is particularly difficult for us.  To help make the process as painless as possible, we like to visit new anchorages whenever we can. This time around we chose Mitlenatch Island in the Strait of Georgia.

Once an important seasonal camp for the Coast Salish, Mitlenatch was purchased by the Manson family of Cortes Island who raised sheep and cattle there from 1894 to 1959. In 1961, the island became a Provincial Nature Park and is now an internationally designated Important Bird Area (IBA).  


Now home to over 10,000 birds (including the Glaucous-winged Gulls, Plagic Cormorants, Pigeon Guillemots and Black Oystercatchers), Mitlenatch is the largest seabird colony in the Strait of Georgia. For viewing nesting birds, spring is best. But every season has something different to offer. From May to July, wildflowers and cactus are in bloom. And from the late fall until the summer, Steller and California sea lions can be found lazing along the shoreline along with hundreds of harbour seals. Transient orca whales (not the resident salmon-eating orcas) can be seen hunting around the island during these months. 


 
Temporary anchorage can be found in Camp Bay on the southeastern side of the island in 5 to 10 metres (16 to 33 feet). The holding is poor in rock and the anchorage is open to swell from the Strait of Georgia with little swing room. In settled conditions, anchorage can also be found on the northern side of the island off North Beach in 10 to 20 metres (33 to 66 feet). Again, the holding is poor and you’re subject to the swell. These two anchorages offer the only shore access to visiting boaters.




Mitlenatch is considered a sensitive ecosystem and a large section of the island is off-limits. Visitors are asked to stay on the trails and view nesting birds from the bird blind (no pets or camping). Marine life within 300 metres (1000 feet) of the coastline is protected and boats are asked to stay at least 50 metres (165 feet) from the shore to keep from disturbing the wildlife. 



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8 comments

  1. What a pristine area! I love all the wildlife!

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    1. Me too. Wildlife is one of the things I'll miss most about cruising the Inside Passage -- it's been an amazing ride!

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  2. Grr...bad internet just ate my last comment. Let's try again.

    Your wildlife photos are stunning! The one of the birds almost doesn't look real with their markings and their perfect pose for the camera. Did you put some stuffed birds out there and take a photo? The sea lions look more realistic, but maybe they're stuffed too and you used some fancy editing software to make them look more realistic?

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    1. Thanks, Ellen. You got me! I did put some stuffed Harlequins out there because I got so tired of the real ones flying off. Lol. And the other pictures are actually ones of David dressed up in a stellar sea lion costume. Getting the thing zipped was a real bitch, but I think we pulled it off.

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  3. Amazing photos. I was going to say something similar to Ellen... Those birds look like they have been drawn into the photo, or cut out of colored cardboard. So interesting and unreal looking! Wildlife and our interactions with it is what I miss most from the boat life. That and the peace and serenity.

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    1. On days like today when it's pouring down rain, cold and windy, it's exciting to think about moving on to our next adventure. But whenever I think about places like Mitlenatch and all the wonderful experiences we've had over the years, I'm not quite as confident. :-(

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    2. Your next adventure will be different, for sure, but memorable and exciting nevertheless. We don't have any regrets about selling our boat. If we want to do it again one day, we will just start over. At least we know what to expect now! :-)

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    3. That's how we look at it. If we don't like what's next, we can always come back to the PNW. It'll be on a different boat, but this environment is better suited to trawlers anyway.

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