Broken Group Islands - July 2010

posted Jul 28, 2010, 1:36 PM by Richard Sevenich   [ updated Jul 29, 2010, 8:41 AM ]
Leaving Nanaimo at ~5:45 AM on Monday, July 19 the six of us caravaned to Port Alberni. There we loaded our luggage and kayak gear into large plastic containers for transport on the MV Frances Barkley. The ship's crew loaded our 4 single kayaks plus one tandem along with the plastic totes. Upon arriving at the Sechart Lodge, we settled our belongings into our 3 rooms and had lunch. There was still plenty of time to paddle to Hand Island via the Pinkertons and then back.
MV Frances Barkley at the Sechart Lodge Dock

The next 4 days provided splendid paddling weather, never hot. The mornings were occasionally foggy, but not so thick as to interfere with navigation. Brian was Head Navigator, with Audrey and I also participating. Compass and chart proved sufficient, but the GPS also proved handy.
Brian and Anna in Synch

Dempster Island features interesting sea caves. We did not venture past the cave mouths, somewhat unsure whether cormorants might be nesting or sea dragons lying in wait.
A Typical Cave with Bull Kelp in Forewater

After paddling, Eli, Anna, and I would relax while Audrey, Brian, and Dominique practiced their Celtic tunes. Once I had enough, I would sing along, forcing them to stop.
Post Paddling Jam Session

The islands offer protection from the Pacific, unless one ventures to the outer part of the BGI - which we did not (maybe another time). The islands themselves have interesting histories and features.
A Sapling on Willis Island

Each day's paddle was special. We entered lagoons via openings not navigable at low tide, followed serpentine channels through tightly spaced islands, or made open water crossings (none harrowing).
A Typical Channel

The GPS gave useful coordinates when needed, but also acted as a speedometer. One afternoon, Eli and I hit warp speed (4.5 knots) in the tandem, surfing on Dominique's wake, in a fruitless attempt to catch him on the home stretch.

After the rather stout suppers, evenings were spent relaxing - a jigsaw puzzle, reading, Scrabble, game of hearts, etc. Toward the end of each supper a list was circulated so we had an opportunity to make some choices for the next day's lunch. The next morning, after breakfast, you would grab the lunch bag labeled with your very own name and then stow it in your kayak.

On Friday, we loaded what we could into the plastic containers and then paddled to Dempster Island and back  via a somewhat new route. We returned in time to participate in the frenzied rush for showers and finished loading our gear. The ship's crew then took over and stowed gear and kayaks on the MV Frances Barkley for the scenic trip back via the Alberni Inlet. Interestingly, the ship was built at Stavanger in Eli's homeland.
Eli on Stavanger-built MV Frances Barkley

It was a most successful trip, a most excellent adventure. We saw fewer critters than we might have liked - many eagles, a few seals, cormorants, sea stars, the Sechart Lodge resident bear etc. - but no whales nor even sea lions. Of course, we hadn't ventured to the outer islands, but perhaps it was the time of year. We certainly saw more sea life last year near Surge Narrows.