Quatsino Sound / Johnstone Strait

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by LAM, Aug 3, 2018.

  1. LAM

    LAM Paddler

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2012
    Messages:
    198
    Location:
    Outside
    We found our way up to Coal Harbour on Vancouver Island and launched our kayaks on Sunday July 22, 2018 from the old airplane hangar. The gentleman who runs this place is Joey and was very pleasant. We were charged $5.00 per day to park the truck as well as a $10.00 per kayak launch fee. Joey has a very impressive museum in his shop, worth taking the time to look around.
    Coal Harbour Launch.jpg
    Ready to go.jpg
    We launched a bit early and had to fight against the current in Quatsino Narrows. We had a quick lunch break at Drake Island and were back in the kayaks in about 20 minutes. Next stop was Mahatta Creek where we spent a night.
    Mahatta Creek Campsite.jpg
    Mahatta Creek was a very nice camp site and we had it all to ourselves. There was a sea otter carcass on a beach across from us which kept many eagles and turkey vulture well fed. We enjoyed watching sea otters play all afternoon.
    Sea Otter 1.jpg
    Next morning we were up early to make our way to Grant Bay. As we got out into the Sound the wind had picked up coming down the sound and the water was coming at me broadside and made for a very uncomfortable paddle. We ended up turning the kayaks into the wind and crossing the Sound in the wrong direction with the plan to turn back again once on the North side of the Sound. It didn’t add too much time to the trip and was much more comfortable to paddle in.
    Crossing over Quatsino Sound.jpg
    We took a quick break for a light snack and to get out of the wind for a bit.
    Taking a break before rounding Cape Parkins.jpg
    Then a lunch break at Kains Beach. We would be back here to camp.
    Kains Beach Camp Site.jpg
    Back into the kayaks and into the wind to make our way around Cape Parkins. That was a crazy ride! We really should have waited for the wind to die off a bit but we didn’t and the current and wind opposing each other made for some big confused seas. At one point we ducked into an area that looked pretty calm just to catch our breath for a bit. I was following behind Doug when I saw a big whirl pool push into him and the next thing I see is Doug side surfing and yelling at me “don’t follow me!!”. But the sea had a different plan for me anyway. My stern was picked up by a HUGE surf wave and I had no choice but to ride it until it passed under me. By then Doug was out of his whirlypool and the two of us were now in safe water. We took a few minutes then we headed back out. Luckily we were just about around the cape anyway and it wasn’t long before we were just making the long slog towards a massive sandy beach.

    Grant Bay. Beautiful. We planned to stay here for 2 nights and just relax and read. There is a road from Winter Harbour which goes almost to Grant Bay, with just a quick 10 minute walk from the road to the Bay. There were a few people on the beach throughout the 2 days we were there.
    Made it around Crazy Cape Parkins.jpg
    Grant Bay.jpg
    Kayaks on beach at Grant Bay.jpg
    Tent at Grant Bay.jpg
    On Wednesday July 25th we got up at 5:00 am. We wanted to get an early start before the wind came up so that we could enjoy going back around Cape Parkins. It was a very nice paddle around this time. There was some fog along the South side of the Sound which obstructed our view of the North side of Brooks.
    Leaving Grant Bay.jpg
    On the water again.jpg
    Just past Cape Parkins with Kains Island in view.jpg
    Back at Kains beach we set up camp. Spent the day in the sun reading and walking the beach. This was a very nice camp site until evening when the mosquitos came out. They were really bad here.
    Kains Beach (2).jpg
    Kains Beach Sea Stack.jpg
    Kains Beach.jpg
    Thursday morning we headed over Quatsino Sound again back to Mahatta Creek. We paddled up the creek as far as we could. I could hear that we were close to the waterfall but it was low tide and we couldn’t go any further. It was very narrow and lots of huge boulders blocked our path. Back at the camp site we cooked some soup and then sat in the Sun and watched sea otters and eagles all afternoon. Mahatta Creek is a great site as there are two beach areas. When one is in the shade the other is in the sun. Choices!
    Kingfisher at Mahatta Creek.jpg
    Doug in Quatsino Sound.jpg
    Quatsino Sound.jpg
    Again up early to make the paddle back to Coal Harbour. This time we went up the North side for a change in scenery. The wind was minimal all day. Another lunch break at Drake.
    Lunch break on Drake.jpg
    We shot through the narrows as the current was backing off a bit and flowing in our direction. We clocked our paddle speed at 11 k/ph. It didn’t feel that fast as there was a very strong wind in the narrows.
    We got back to Coal Harbour after a long paddle and were feeling the effects of that. Tired and sore, we loaded up the gear and found our way to Port McNeil. We got a room for the night and as we were cleaning up it wasn’t long before we decided that since we are in the area and have some time, perhaps we should take a day or two and paddle down Johnson Straight to see if we could find some orcas. We generally paddle in the “off season” so we don’t get to see the Orcas. We purchased a chart at a local marine store and did some laundry and grocery shopping and we were back on the water out of Telegraph Cove on Sunday July 29th.
    10 minutes out of Telegraph Cove a small pod of Orcas were heading up the Straight and were being followed by a pod of dolphins. There were also lots of porpoises in the bays on the way down to Kaikash Creek. There was a couple from Vancouver there when we arrived and they were packing up and going home. We had the place to ourselves. For one hour. At one point over the 2 nights we counted 32 people. But it is such a spread out place that we never felt crowded.
    Sun going down over Johnson Straight.jpg
    Sundown.jpg
    The Orcas swam past our camp each night, which brought everyone out to the water side. We spent two nights there then early on Wednesday morning we packed up in the fog and had to hand rail ourselves back to Telegraph Cove. The fog was so thick! Closer to Telegraph Cove we could hear the Orcas pass by us and then we heard a Humpback singing and slapping it’s fin. It was so beautiful.
    Heading back to Telegraph Cove in fog.jpg
    Johnson Straight fog.jpg

    Another amazing West Coast Adventure.

    Quatsino GPS Tracks.png

    Lila
     
    jefffski, stagger and chodups like this.
  2. JohnAbercrombie

    JohnAbercrombie Paddler

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2011
    Messages:
    1,637
    Location:
    Victoria, BC
    Excellent writeup and photos!
    Thanks!
     
  3. chodups

    chodups Paddler

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2005
    Messages:
    906
    Likewise! Great photos and trip description.
     
  4. paddlesores

    paddlesores Paddler

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2007
    Messages:
    190
    Location:
    Maple Ridge, BC
    Hoping someone can help me ID a bird we saw on this trip.
    auklet 1.jpg auklet 2.jpg
    I believe they are some kind of an Auklet but not too sure. Pictures aren't very good but I wasn't able to get close enough for better shots. Thanks,
    Doug
     
  5. Tangler

    Tangler Paddler

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2016
    Messages:
    35
    Thanks for the nice trip report. :)
    I have wondered about that area but thought the logging might detract. How was it for you?
    That bird is a Surf Scoter. A marine duck not an auklet. You can get flocks of them in English Bay during the winter.
     
  6. Astoriadave

    Astoriadave Paddler

    Joined:
    May 31, 2005
    Messages:
    5,542
    Location:
    Astoria, Oregon, USA
    Great report! Lovely photos, also. That is indeed a male surf scoter. Quite common on the Oregon coast in winter, also, as well as on major bays. Very much at home in surf zones. One of my faves, so much so that I named a boat after it. More details here: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surf_scoter
     
  7. paddlesores

    paddlesores Paddler

    Joined:
    Nov 24, 2007
    Messages:
    190
    Location:
    Maple Ridge, BC
    Thanks Tangler. I've never seen one before. As far as logging in Quatsino…...it's there, lots of it. Fresh cut blocks, regrowth and everything in between. It's a resource based economy up there and it's all part of the landscape. It didn't take away from the trip as we were expecting it. I would say Kyuquot or Nootka Sound is less obviously logged and probably more enjoyable scenery. We didn't come across any other paddlers in the 6 days we were in the sound, lots of fishing boats though. All in all, a good trip, lots of sea otters and Grant Bay is a beautiful site.
    Doug
     
  8. AM

    AM Paddler

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2006
    Messages:
    718
    Location:
    Vancouver
    Thanks for the fun read and great photos. They brought back some good memories of that area. Looks like you had amazing weather for lolling on that wonderful beach!

    Cheers,
    Andrew
     
  9. mbiraman

    mbiraman Paddler

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2010
    Messages:
    300
    Location:
    west kootenays
    Nice TR and photo's, thanks
     
  10. LAM

    LAM Paddler

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2012
    Messages:
    198
    Location:
    Outside
    Thank you all for your nice comments.

    Lila