Broughton Archipelago, Johnstone Strait, BC 5-12 Sept 2015

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by alexsidles, Sep 19, 2015.

  1. alexsidles

    alexsidles Paddler

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    A few years ago, an Inside Passage solo took me through the Broughton Archipelago off the north coast of Vancouver Island. Not having a guidebook with me, and using only a topographic map to navigate, I struggled to find good campsites among these rocky islands. I was so early in the season that no one else was kayaking the Broughtons, so I was on my own for finding sites. Each afternoon, I would begin hunting for suitable a site for the evening, but it would take so long to find one that I would end up traveling many miles farther than I’d intended. As a result, I made it through the entire Broughtons in two days, and my overall impression of the place was that it was rocky and desolate and not much fun.

    Trip reports from other kayakers convinced me to give the Broughtons another try earlier this month, and I’m so glad I did. This time, I brought along John Kimantas’s excellent atlas, which completely solved the campsite-finding problem, and I spent a lovely week wandering around the islands. With no fixed itinerary, I wended my way through the watery mazes, enjoying the magnificent bird and animal life.



    My seven campsites were: Hanson Island, White Cliff Islets, Fox Islands, Crease Island, Flower Island, Pig Ranch, and a pebble beach on Vancouver Island. The sites at the White Cliffs and on Flower Island were top-notch, and Crease Island and Pig Ranch were also very good. Hanson Island was poor, and the Fox Islands site was mediocre, but I may have that impression only because those were the two sites at which other kayakers were present. Unlike my previous visit, this time, there were lots of other people in the islands. Still, camping alone five nights out of seven is pretty good, and I did get two 24-hour periods of not talking to anyone else at all.









    The water mazes were beautiful, but the real attraction was the wildlife. Altogether, I saw 10 species of mammals: Stellar’s Sea Lion, Harbor Seal, Harbor Porpoise, Dahl’s Porpoise, Orca, Humpback Whale, American Black Bear, Douglas Squirrel, Red Squirrel, and Mink. I also saw 53 species of bird, of which the highlights were a Fork-tailed Storm Petrel, four Black-legged Kittiwakes, and approximately 10,000 Red-necked Phalaropes! There were also an extraordinary number of Common Murres, perhaps around 3,000 or so.









    The storm petrel was especially delightful: on Blackfish Sound, he came winging in out of a fog so dense I couldn’t see a hundred meters in any direction. The storm petrel must not have seen me either, because as he whipped past my bow, he goggled at me in surprise. We made a moment’s eye contact, and then he disappeared into the endless mist.

    CONTINUED IN NEXT POST
     
  2. alexsidles

    alexsidles Paddler

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    Re: Broughton Archipelago, Johnstone Strait, BC 5-12 Sept 20

    Many of the campsites in the Broughtons seemed to be tucked into the woods. I preferred the more open ones, right on the beach if I could get it, immediately adjacent if not. Crease Island, Flower Island, and Pig Ranch all offered beach camping or adjacent, and I recommend any of those places. The White Cliff Islets are also not to be missed: you sit on a tiny rock on the eastern edge of Queen Charlotte Strait, and it’s as if you and the animals are the only living things in the world.









    There were several families of Orcas in Blackney Passage and in Johnstone Strait east to Robson Bight. I was sitting in Blackney Passage in dense fog, watching a small pod of Orcas and hoping a cruise ship wouldn’t run me over in the meantime, when a Humpback Whale’s mighty head burst out of the water next to me and let loose an explosive, whooshing breath. I’d had no idea a Humpback was even in the vicinity; usually, you can hear them coming a long way off, but this one was a sneaker. It’s wonderful to be so close to such powerful animals.









    Seven days was exactly the right amount of time to explore the Broughtons. Toward the end of the trip, I was paddling a little slower and spending more time ashore to avoid rushing through the archipelago too quickly. The place feels large, because there are so many twisty passages and hidden bays, but in reality, it’s quite small. I had plenty of time for shore-based adventures, like visiting the ruins at Meequam Leese and hiking from Pig Ranch to Boat Bay through an old growth forest on West Cracroft. Even in the busy season, there were enough opportunities for solitude and wildlife viewing that the Broughtons felt like a real wilderness. I’m glad to have revised my opinion of this area, and I now think it’s one of the best places on the coast.

    Alex
     
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  3. chodups

    chodups Paddler

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    Re: Broughton Archipelago, Johnstone Strait, BC 5-12 Sept 20

    Wonderful report!

    Thank you!
     
  4. pawsplus

    pawsplus Paddler

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    Re: Broughton Archipelago, Johnstone Strait, BC 5-12 Sept 20

    Great report. I will definitely get back up there someday--Johnstone Strait was great but I do want to see the Broughtons--especially after seeing your beautiful pix!
     
  5. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Re: Broughton Archipelago, Johnstone Strait, BC 5-12 Sept 20

    Alex, you really skimmed off the good stuff. Best set of photos I have seen of the area. I suppose Insect Island was just a little out of reach. I gather there will be a next time, though!

    BTW, if you surrender the dinero for transport to the Paddlers Inn, you and your sweet one might enjoy a one way return to Telegraph Cove, for easy exploration of the eastern sector of the Broughtons.
     
  6. Yeti

    Yeti Paddler

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    Re: Broughton Archipelago, Johnstone Strait, BC 5-12 Sept 20

    Great trip report, thanks for taking us along :)
     
  7. benson

    benson Paddler

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    Re: Broughton Archipelago, Johnstone Strait, BC 5-12 Sept 20

    Nice report with some great photos! It's been a few years since we were there, but I definitely want to go back. Our week trip seemed a little short since we paddled out to the Burdwood Group and camped a couple of nights at Insect Island. We camped the first and last nights at Telegraph Cove which left us only 5 nights in the Broughtons. Another 2 or 3 days would be nice. Looks like you travel with a nice roomy tent. Is that a Talus? Also curious how your water resupply worked?
     
  8. GeroV

    GeroV Paddler

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    Re: Broughton Archipelago, Johnstone Strait, BC 5-12 Sept 20

    very nice report - looks like you had perfect water. A little rain doesn't hurt, and the scenery looked beautiful.

    Gero
     
  9. Gorio

    Gorio New Member

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    Re: Broughton Archipelago, Johnstone Strait, BC 5-12 Sept 20

    Nice
    Thanks
     
  10. designer

    designer Paddler

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    Re: Broughton Archipelago, Johnstone Strait, BC 5-12 Sept 20

    Okay, now I really have to post my late summer trip to the Broughtons (Water Taxi to the Burwood Group and paddled back across the strait); nice job!

    But Alex, you said that humpback surprised you and yet you were able to get a snapshot of the dive. So where do you keep your camera? Is it always on? I've seen (albeit a little expensive because they were made as one-offs when I checked) a holder that clips on the paddle shaft. That way I could position the Camera near my hand so I'm still holding the paddle in both hands but I can click a shutter. However, in my case I think my camera "goes to sleep" if not completely shuts off after minutes of non-use. So a surprise shot would require waking it up, point, focus, click in less than a second. How did you do it?
     
  11. alexsidles

    alexsidles Paddler

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    Re: Broughton Archipelago, Johnstone Strait, BC 5-12 Sept 20

    Designer,

    Please do post your trip report as well. The TRs are my favorite part of this site.

    Most of my on-water shots are taken with a waterproof camera, the now-superseded and discontinued Canon Powershot D10. I started using a waterproof camera after dropping two digital cameras into the water on previous trips while unloading my boat.

    On rare occasions, when conditions are calm and dry and I have reason to think I'll see interesting birds or animals, I bring my DSLR, a Nikon D5100, into the cockpit with me, using either a 18-55 or 55-200mm kit lens. When I do this, I keep the camera in a large ziplock bag on the deck. It's not as precarious as it sounds, because my boats are all folding kayaks, so the deck forms a kind of basket the camera won't fall out of unless I hit it. With this setup, the camera is available quickly for birds or animals that don't give me much prep time.

    I got the Humpback just by luck. I was drifting in fog with the 55-200mm lens on, trying to get pictures of a small pod of Orcas that were swimming past me. The fog was so thick the Orca pics weren't coming out well (example below). I had the camera already out and switched on when the Humpback popped up totally unexpected nearby, and I was able to get his flukes as he went down.




    Benson, the tent is an REI-brand Half Dome 2 Plus. It's a palace when I use it solo, which comes in handy on weather days. As for water, on trips lasting a week or less, I just bring all the water I need. I brought 10 gallons (38 liters) on this trip, far more than I needed. Bringing extra water turned out to be a good idea, because I accidentally sat on one of the 2.5 gallon (10 liter) jugs, and it broke open and spilled all its contents!

    Everyone else, thank you all for your kind words and encouragement.

    Alex
     
  12. Alex050560

    Alex050560 Paddler

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    Re: Broughton Archipelago, Johnstone Strait, BC 5-12 Sept 20

    Thanks for you excellent photos!
    I am curious about your kayak shown on the first photo. Is it "collapsible & inflatable"? Can you share the trademark and basic specs? I am a great fun of inflatable kayaks and canoes, as they are lightweight and "backpackable", have two such boats. Also there is a guy in Victoria who makes amazing solo trips with his AdvancedFrame Convertible...
    http://www.focusonwild.com/writing.html
    Good luck with your future trips!
     
  13. alexsidles

    alexsidles Paddler

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    Re: Broughton Archipelago, Johnstone Strait, BC 5-12 Sept 20

    Alex,

    That kayak is a Feathercraft Klondike, a skin-on-frame folding kayak. It might look "inflatable" because it has two air-filled sponsons running along the side, but the primary purpose of the sponsons is to tighten the skin, not to provide flotation.

    The boat is 17 feet, 10 inches long (544 cm) and 31 inches wide (79 cm), so it is a real barge. It carries enough gear that I can stay out for up to four weeks at a time. I frequently pack ridiculous amounts of gear: two different stoves, multiple pots and pans, DSLR cameras and lenses in a pelican case, a full-size tripod, a 2-person tent plus a sleeping hammock, several books and a kindle, up to five plastic bear barrels of food, a camping chair, several changes of clothes, various forms of footwear, multiple large tarps. It gets a little silly sometimes.

    The boat is fairly heavy, weighing in empty at around 80 pounds or so (37 kg).

    The biggest weakness of the boat is its enormous open cockpit. Even with the spraydeck installed, waves breaking over the deck will eventually swamp the boat. Because there are no bulkheads, the amount of water the boat will take on is limited only by the amount of water displaced by the drybags. With sufficient drybags in place, the boat will never sink, but it would also not be capable of maneuver. For these reasons, the Klondike is not suitable for use in rough conditions. Once the windspeed is above 15 knots, I start looking toward shore.

    For long trips in remote areas, the Klondike is my favorite kayak. It carries a ton of gear, hull punctures can be repaired overnight, and its rock-solid stability gives me a comfortable, safe feeling on the water.

    For short trips, the Klondike is too big and heavy. For trips in rough conditions, the Klondike's cockpit is too open. It is also more expensive than most kayaks.

    Alex
     
  14. Alex050560

    Alex050560 Paddler

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    Re: Broughton Archipelago, Johnstone Strait, BC 5-12 Sept 20

    Thanks a lot for the detailed explanation. I used to travel a lot with framed " canyaks" like yours. Now prefer inflatables - they are way lighter, a bit compromised loadability and speed are not critical to me. Hope to visit Broughtons this summer for 12-14 days with my rubber girl (15'/17kg...:) Thanks for your report - it inspired me!
     
  15. Alex050560

    Alex050560 Paddler

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    Re: Broughton Archipelago, Johnstone Strait, BC 5-12 Sept 20

    As to the open cockpit problem, a sparayskirt is a solution, isn't it?
     
  16. alexsidles

    alexsidles Paddler

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    Re: Broughton Archipelago, Johnstone Strait, BC 5-12 Sept 20

    Good to meet a fellow folding kayaker. They are fun boats, very comfortable on the water.

    The sprayskirt/spraydeck is only a partial solution. If large waves break over the spraydeck, water will force its way into the boat through the velcro and the bungieed portions. As the name implies, the spraydeck is really designed to ward off spray, not green water. The boat handles chop just fine, but serious waves are beyond its capacity. As more and more waves break on the deck, the boat gradually takes on water, a little bit at a time.

    Alex
     
  17. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

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    Re: Broughton Archipelago, Johnstone Strait, BC 5-12 Sept 20

    Another ragboater here. My brand is Folbot, whose models primarily use an open cockpit form similar to Alex's Klondike. And, leaks when there is water sloshing across the spraydeck are common. Yes, eventually the boat can fill with water, although care in sealing the velcro closure helps.

    Some Folbot models use a so called traditional coaming, as do many Feathercraft models. These are pretty much as leak proof as a hardshell coaming and sprayskirt.

    Long ago I made a DIY spray deck of Hypalon to fit Folbot's double. That was not a leaker, but it was a lot of work to make, and was sold along with the double.

    Despite the tendency to leak, open cockpit form folders are generally very seaworthy, and some of the European folding doubles, viz., Klepper, have been mainstays in long transoceanic crossings.

    Some adherents to folding kayaks are real zealots, and resemble members of a cult. Not me. Not Alex. I like my folders, but own two hardshells, which see the most use. Folders allow some trips in which the logistics of getting to the launch site are ridiculously complicated, to the extent that a hardshell is an impossible choice unless there is an on site outfitter.
     
  18. Alex050560

    Alex050560 Paddler

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    Re: Broughton Archipelago, Johnstone Strait, BC 5-12 Sept 20

    [quote]Some Folbot models use a so ... [url]https://goo.gl/photos/aTLFpD3xq3NCrDbT7
     
  19. designer

    designer Paddler

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    Re: Broughton Archipelago, Johnstone Strait, BC 5-12 Sept 20

    We gave Alex kudos for his trip report so I hope he doesn't mind that we hijacked his thread a bit to talk about boats. :)

    Just wanted to mention to Dave that in 1974-ish, a friend talked me into getting a Folbot kit. But I didn't have a place to build and was not very good at that stuff (more into ham radio). So my friend said he'd store it for me.

    Twenty years later I finally was able to rent a place with a garage and was by the water (Santa Cruz, CA). I contacted my friend about sending the boat and he said he checked all the glues and coatings and they had all dried out (imagine that). Also, because of EPA policies, the glues were no longer available.

    So I gave him the boat he had been storing and he built it using the wood frame and instead of the "skin" cover, he fiberglassed it. He said it weight 80-90 lbs. He said the Navy contacted him and asked to borrow it to break up some ice flows.

    I've seen the beast hanging in his work area. It's difficult for him to paddle because when the water sees it, it runs away scared. But once it's floating - very stable, very smooth.

    But that little "boat" seed grew and grew inside me an finally blossomed into a Seda Swift. And a Dagger Vesper, And a Mariner XL and Express. It took some time, but I finally got there.
     
  20. Alex050560

    Alex050560 Paddler

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    Re: Broughton Archipelago, Johnstone Strait, BC 5-12 Sept 20

    Hi again Alex!

    One more question about the photo of your kayak. There is a tube on it looking like an effective pump to me, but you told your kayak is not inflatable... May I ask you what is it for?