The farthest we had previously been up the West Coast of Vancouver Island was Barkley Sound. We spent a few lovely nights in Joe’s Bay after our 3 day shakedown in the ocean last year. So, in a way, getting to Barkley completes an interrupted circumnavigation of Vancouver Island although it won’t feel like we’ve been around the island until we head back into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
We left Tofino in the early afternoon after waiting out the fog and arrived at the mouth of Ucluelet Inlet just at twilight. We don’t like coming into anchor at night even with a good moon, primarily because of the crab traps but deep fog is definitely less fun because we can’t see land OR other boats. We weren’t planning to go to Ucluelet but it was the closest easy place to anchor and we anchored on the East side of the channel just past Spring Bay.
We slept in and had a late morning sail out of the inlet across to the Broken Group. – for those unfamiliar with them, the Broken Group is a bunch of picturesque islands, islets and reefs that are an ecological preserve/park in the middle of Barkley Sound. They are filled with kayakers and everywhere you want to go seems to be about 5 – 10 miles from where you are. We ran into friends MV Eventide while underway and had a 5 mile gennaker sail in the sun. It was one of those days where you wish you had a longer way to go because you aren’t ready to take down the sails.
We anchored at Clarke Island in the Broken Group and spent two nights. We kayaked around, watched kayak-campers come and go on the shell beach and enjoyed two glorious sunsets. The only reason we didn’t stay longer was that my brother was coming to Ucluelet for a weekend visit with us. We might end up going back there for another night or two – we’ll see. There are so many gorgeous anchorages in Barkley and we are a little sad to see Fall coming.
Benson Island, immediately N of Clarke, has been continuously inhabited for 5000 years according to archeological digs and is the site of the local First Nations creation myth. It’s like Christianity’s Garden of Eden except…a lot older. It is a lush wet island in the greenest of greens that you find on the raincoast. Correction to Dreamspeaker’s Guidebook: Benson Island no longer has camping. It has been closed for overnight use although it is still OK to visit and hike around by day. Kayakers can camp on next door Clarke Island.
We had heard how busy Barkley sound was with cruising boats but apparently arriving Sept 1 is late enough in the season. We had the anchorages at Clarke Island to ourselves for two nights and have only seen other boats at anchor in Ucluelet. Perhaps we were just lucky? Not that we mind sharing the anchorage. We are purposefully joining up with some other boats later this week for some group play time.