Relaxed and refreshed we left Shearwater on May 2nd. Amornings paddle took us along Seaforth Channel to the mouth of Milbanke Sound. Landing at a disused boat shed on the north of Ivory island we hiked overland to visit the Ivory Island Lighthouse. Here we met the relief keepers Steve, Colleen and their daughter Amy.

Bad weather, a cold artic front with northwest winds and above all Steve and Collen's hospitality kept us on Ivory island for two more days. It was hard to say goodbye to our new friends but plans were made to visit them on our return journey at their regular posting on Egg Island.

After the clearcuts of Vancouver Island and the lower mainland, the section between Ivory Island and Porcher island was a pleasant change. Very few clearcuts were observed from the route we took, except for in and around inlets on the bigger islands. However very little of this land is protected, and clearcut logging does occur, despite popular support for protecting the Great Bear Rainforest and a dedicated campain by the Raincoast Conservation Society.

 
     
             

Leaving Ivory Island we made our way north through Milbanke Sound before deviating from the typical Inside Passage route favoured by ferries and cruiseships.

Seeking isolation and a truer wilderness experience we took what we termed the "middle passage" , a series of channels and passages between the outer coast and Inside Passage.

Higgins passage between Swindle and Price Islands took us from Milbanke to Laredo Sound.

The Laredo Sound entrance to Higgens Passage was a maze of beautiful islets. As we weaved our through these we had our first close encounter with a pod of orcas. To our great excitement three females passed by within 30 ft of our kayaks. We then easily spent an hour relaxing in our boats, watching the full pod of ten orcas as the surfaced and blew.

On May 7th we landed at a small headland on Princess Royal Island. Our charts indicated an old native settlement had existed here but we were too tired to search for it after a long day of bucking the wind.

The next morning we were woken early by a pair of Sandhill Cranes competing with a pair of Canadian Geese for the title of world's noisiest birds.

We then explored the area, finding the ruins of an old longhouse. Mixed feelings of sadness and awe filled us as marvelled at the huge beams and contemplated what we would have encountered had we arrived 100 years earlier.

 
Steve, Amy and Colleen at Ivory Island
     
 
Orcas at Higgens Passage
     
 
 
Longhouse ruins on Princess Royal Island

Campania Sound and Squally Channel took us past Campania Island, perhaps the most striking of the BC islands that we paddled by. High peaks with steep, bare cliffs lend Campania a rugged, desolate beauty.

Principe Channel took us between Pitt and Banks Islands. Strong winds and choppy seas encouraged us to seek more sheltered waters in Ala passage as we skirted around Anger Island. Although it was a wet, grey day this area was still full of beauty. Thick forests encroached to the waters edge and the forest canopy seemed to hang over us as we made our way through the quiet, calm waters.

Ala Passage took us back to Principe Channel at it's junction with Petrel Channel. Taking Petrel Channel north we passed between Macauley and Pitt Islands to Porcher Island and Ogden Channel.

A southerly squall pushed us along on May 3rd as we crossed Chatham Sound from Porcher Island to Port Edward near Prince Rupert. Here we were kindly hosted by Cecilio and Goychi Mulleda, parents of our friend Fred in Victoria. We had arrangedto store food boxes with Cecilio and Goychi but we were totally unprepared for their incredible hospitality. They hosted us for 6 days as we restocked, thoroughly cleaned our clothes and equipment and made minor repairs.

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