After a week of relaxation, recuperation and repairing we set out refreshed from Port Edward on Sep 2. The weather had continued to be wet and cold and it was drzzling as we packed the kayaks.

It was mid-afternoon by the time we actually got on the water so we just cross over to Porcher Island and set up camp in the Creak Islets. The rain continued during the night and into the next morning. During a break in the rain we quickly pack and get on the water.

As we paddle a break in the clouds appears behind us, casting Stphens Island in a beautiful light. The break gets bigger as it comes closer to us until, finally, we are paddling in sunshine again! Spirits soar, even losing our way in the maze of islets and taking a wrong turn into Welcome Harbour does little to diminish the joy the sun has brought. Things continue to get better as we have our second wolf encounter soon afterwards.

The fine weather continues over the next 3 days as we make our way south past the beautiful beaches of Porcher Island and then the rocky shores of Banks Island.

We had been warned of treacherous seas that can build in the shallow waters of Hecate Strait. What we encountered was a pleasant contradiction - flat seas, sunny skies and not a breath of wind.

Making the most of these conditions we would push on into the evening which almost caused some problems when we were unable to find a good landing site at the south tip of Banks Island.

Making the most of a poor pull out we ended up camping on beach logs, taking care to stay well above the logs that had been lifted by the previous nights spring tides.

Our precautions proved inadequate and we were woken by the sound of water lapping under our sleeping logs. We rushed to get our kayaks and cooking gear to higher ground before the logs they were on lifted. Our make-shift kitchen lifted, rolled over and floated away only minutes after we moved the pots and stoves.

(As a strong low pressure system moved in 24 hours later the higher than expected tides were most likely the result of the lower pressure and a small storm surge.)

The next morning was Garth's 32nd birthday and he was treated to a special chocolate cake that Kevin baked for breakfast - for this one he baked in Mars bars baked in and even iced it!

 
     
             
Welcoming the sun at Welcome Harbour

The birthday entertainment arrived soon afterwards - two wolves came along the headland and watched us from the rocky point in front of the camp. Meanwhile a third boldly made it's way into camp from the trees behind us then tried to run off with one of Garth's dry bags. Thankfully he dropped it when we went to give chase!

A big storm was forecast to arrive that evening so we set off for sheltered waters inside the Estevan Group. We had been told there was an abalone farm at the the old radar station in Ethelda Bay which we were also hoping to check out. Here we met Dan Pollock, manager of the site for Ethelda Bay Ventures. We were disappointed to find out that the farm wasn't operational due to lengthy delays by the DFO in giving approval but Dan kindly offered gor us to stay.

We therefore were able to sit out the worst storm of the trip in comfort - warm and dry indoors, drinking Garth's birthday bottle of wine, swapping stories and then watching Pink Floyd concerts! Sheer Bliss.

We spent two days at Ethelda Bay enjoying Dan's company as the storm raged. Here we also got to meet Marie and Eli - a French couple who were sailing the world in their yacht Oberon. They had also elected to hide from the storm in Ethelda Bay.

The weather cleared after the storm passed and we continued south. Leaving the Estevan Group and crossing Camano Sound we were treated to beautiful views of Campania Island.

Weather turns grey and wet again as we make our way along Aristazabal Island. Both feeling really tired so we try to get off water early but no good campsites to be found. Find a poor pull out on Arriaga Island and set up camp in gloom. Rains heavily on us during the night and our bivvies and sleeping bags get wet.

Thick fog enevelops us as we continue along Aristazabal Island and into the broken islands at it's southern tip. Have lunch on one of these then take a compass bearing and set out into the fog banks to cross Laredo Sound. As it turned out neither of us was comfortable making this crossing but each believed that the other was wanting to make the cabin that our charts told us was on Price Island.

Another nerve-wracking crossing through a shipping lane in the fog! We were happy to see boomers appear, showing us we were entering the reefs off Price Island. Threading through the boomers we were able to then cruise along in sheltered waters inside small islands and islets that run along Price. Use our GPS for the second time on the trip to find out just where we were on Price Island. Disappointed to find that the cabin we had been eagerly anticipating was in ruins.

The fog continued to persist so we sat it out here for another day as neither of us were wanting to cross Milbanke Sound, another shipping route, in these conditions. With the continually damp conditions were mildew was starting to grow on the inside inside of our bivvy bags and the outside of our sleeping bags. We needed to find a dry place or encounter some sunny weather as soon as possible!

Set out in grey weather and soon are at McInnes Island at the south end of Price. Try to radio the light-house keepers but unable to raise them - later examination shows that batteries had run low. Paddle around the Island looking for a landing spot but even in the gentle 4 ft swells we were only able to find seal-landings that we would rather avoid.

Instead we set off across Milbanke Sound for Athalone Island and Bardswell Group. As we are leaving McInnes Island we encounter a family group of orcas cruising back and forth in the channels -a mother, father and a new born. Cute! (The wide-eyed sea lions hiding in the kelp beside the rocks obviously didn't think so!)

As we approach Cape Mark the sun comes out and we encounter a charter boat. The guide tells us of good camopsites behind Cape mark so we set off. Find a great sheltered cove and set up campo on a small islet. All our gear comes out to dry in the late afternoon sun. Next day the rain is back and forecast is for southeast winds to build and heavy rain to continue. Quickly make our campsite as bombproof as we can and spend the day sleeping, baking and eating large!

Next day the sun returns and we head south through the incredibly beautiful broken islands of the area - Hougton Islands, McMullin Group, Tribal Group, and Breadner Group before making camp on Triquet Island.We felt that we were doing this area an injustice by rushing through when it just begged to be explored by kayak. Definitely a place to return to!

From Triquet Island a short day paddle takes us across Hakai Passage and into Choked Passage. The forecast is for another storm to pass through so we are hoping to find a sheltered spot to sit it out. Landing on an irresistable sand beach we find a number of cabins and out buidlings in the trees - the summer camp of a fishing club. One cabin has a sign announcing that it is available for public use. Fortune is smiling on us!

We quickly get the the fire going and start drying out our gear. Overnight the storm arrives and we spend the next day happily esconsed inside as the winds howl and heavy rain falls.

After the storm passes we are greeted by sunny skies and no winds. While in Prince Rupert we had sent word to Steve, Colleen and Amy that we intended to arrive at Egg Island that day so were eager to depart.

As we paddled along Choked passage the water was surprisingly roughed up - should have been a warning of what awaited us! Navigating to the outside of Calvert Island required passing through a small channel - here incoming waves were breaking with the surge rebounding off the rocky sides shunting us sideways. Neither of us were happy with the situation but both held our tongues, expecting conditions to improve in open water beyond the channel.

Boy, were we wrong! For the first time on the trip we encountered conditions that neither of us were comfortable in. Both of us were unwilling to run the breakers in the channel back into Choked Passage and risk being surfed into the rocks and barnacles. Looking south along our intended route things looked even worse. Looking to the north huge breakers could be observed where the ocean swells met the outgoing ebb from Hakai Passage. So much for that escape route!

What followed was a nervous hour riding the clapotis resulting from rebound waves approaching from numerous directions. 14 ft pyramids of ocean would abruptly lurch us skyward then drop us back down with a dizzying rush and offered little for us to brace on. Despite this we remained surprisingly calm and relaxed, at least it was a sunny day out! Keeping well away from the rocks we were eventually pushed to where another small channel could be seen. No breakers were occurring in this channel so we gingerly paddled over to the entrance before making a mad rush hrough to the calmer waters inside.

Laughing at our folly and near escape we made our way back to the cabin and a glorious afternoon was then spent sun bathing and reading on the beach. Reviewing the situation we made a resolution to both be more open about our concerns. If just one of us had spoken up we would probably have turned back before getting ourselves into that mess!

The next day also dawned sunny and calm and the seas were much calmer. However they were still big enough that a surf landing was required in order to have lunch. Despite making excellent time night fell before we could reach Egg Island and we made camp at Extended Pt. Oh so close!

A relaxed paddle took us to Egg Island the next day where we were happy to reunite with Steve, Collen and Amy. Once again they show us great hospitality and we find it very hard to motivate ourselves to leave the Island. Over the three days Incredibly thick fog banks continually roll in to envelop the island and blanket Queen Charlotte Sound.

However all good things must come to an end and we have to push on to meet our friend Karen who was waiting to join us in Port Hardy. She has been in contact us at Egg Island and arranges to meet us at the Gordon group near Port Hardy. During a break in the fog we set off but another bank rolls in before we reach Cape Caution.

Kev gets an incredible fright when a "rock" suddenly rises up in front of him and he has to urgently backpaddle to stop himself from surfing into it. Actually the "rock" was moving towards him - our first Grey Whale! We thread our way through the kelp beds and grey whales off Cape Caution before making camp at our previous campsite in Burnett Bay.

A grey foggy day takes us along the mainland coast and south to the Southgate Group. Fog has the Deserter's group blanketed but we have faith in our piloting skills so set off. After 30 mins of blind paddling the islands appear out of the gloom. We pass through these beautiful islands and then aim for the Gordon Group. Following Karen's directions we easily locate her idyllic campsite. After so long away from Victoria it was good to see anold friend and we spend the rest of the evening eagerly discussing what lies ahead.

For Kev and Ithat includes resupplies and repairs in Port Hardy. High on the list was to replace our tent poles which had become brittle and were now broken beyond repair due to repeated exposure to salt water. With the expectation of severe weather along the West Coast of Vancouver Island we were hoping to once again have the comfort of our roomy tent to sit out any storms.

 
 
Calm conditions at Fan Pt, Porcher Is.d
 
Calm waters along Banks Island
   
 
Never forget how the tree got there!
   
 
Rock gardens and kelp, south Banks Is.
   
 
Sunset at the south of Banks Island - where's a beach?
   
 
Whose afraid of the big bad wolf?
   
 
Ethelda Bay, Estevan Group
   
 
Campania Is viewed from Estevan Group
 
The cabin that wasn't - Price Island
 
Mother and baby orca near McInnes Is
 
Sitting out the storm at Cape Mark
   
 
Our shelter from the storm at Choked Passage, Calvert Island
 
Colleen, Amy and Steve at Egg Island
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