Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Fjordland Park

June 21, 2011
Fjordland Park, Culpepper Lagoon, BC
Anchorage Position: 52°43.8803N 127°49.7842W

Kynoch Inlet and Culpepper Lagoon, part of British Columbia's Fjordland Park, offers magnificent scenery beyond compare. Towering granite domes, sculpted glacial valleys, towering bright snow capped peaks, countless snow melt waterfalls cascading from snow fields above and verdant old growth forest merely offer only broad brush strokes in describing this beautiful wilderness. That we haven't seen another human in days is an eagles feather in our caps. Eagles perching on an old growth cedar are a common sight, seeing an Eagle swoop down to pluck a fish out of the water is nearly a daily occurrence. Sure, it's a long way off the beaten path and Culpepper Lagoon offers a tricky entrance and nothing resembling a good anchorage, but really we get it all to ourselves? This really is one of the most beautiful places we've ever visited, move over Yosemite there are more granite walls here, move over Fjordlands of the South Island of New Zealand this is way better and we get it all to ourselves? Amazing!

Ok, enough gloating. We made the journey up the Fjords to try to spot some brown bears at the head of Culpepper Lagoon. No luck spotting bears, but we did catch some huge Dungeness Crabs, spot a porcupine climbing a tree, watch frolicking river otters, marvel over a deer swimming across the lagoon and of course plenty of seals and a cornucopia of birds from King Fishers to Ravens. Oh, and the Crabs were over 8" across the back making them the biggest I've ever pulled from the sea. So big I only kept four of my daily limit of 6 as they were just too big.

A little more on Culpepper Lagoon anchorage (June 20, 2011), the anchorage is non-existent in the conventional sense so we spent over an hour motoring around the head of the inlet to collect enough data to create a custom depth chart using our sounder and some software. The inlet goes from uber deep to shoal in just a few boat lengths so mapping out the best spot to drop the anchor was paramount to safely spending the night. After studying our newly minted charts we decided on a little niche to the south of the small creek near Anchorage Position: 52°43.8803N 127°49.7842W. The anchor dropped down in 24+ meters about 3 boat lengths from shore then we backed toward shore about 2 boat lengths leaving a mere one boat length to shore. The stern was in 4 meters the bow in 12 meters and the anchor in 24 meters. While I was fussing with the exact position to drop the anchor, Kathy launched the dinghy to run a stern line to a cedar tree on the rocky shore. Our first try of both anchor and tree didn't work out so we re-anchored and tried a different tree. Finally, satisfied with the secure position of the boat we took the dinghy for an evening ride up the river to look for bears. We found evidence of bears, but no bears as we drifted silently back down the river.

The weather was benign overnight so our anchoring scheme thankfully didn't get a stress test. It rained most of the night and at the dawn of the summer solstice thick fog filled the Fjord. The tide was falling quickly and the tidal height for the day was not conducive to further exploration of the tidal river estuary, so we decide to ride the current out of Culpepper toward Mathieson Channel.

One stunningly beautiful waterfall near the intersection of Knoch Inlet and Mathieson Channel surely is a standout. This fall is like the one at Princess Louisa Inlet, but way bigger and it pours directly into the Fjord. Our guide book suggest that one not get too close or the boat could be swamped. We took some pretty cool videos of our exploration of the fall that will eventually get posted on the blog when we get internet.

Once back in Mathieson Channel we'll head North towards Mussel Inlet and Poison Cove, both named by Captain Cook during his futile search for the Northwest Passage, and so named as some of his crew ate some toxic mussels and died. Unfortunately, the risk of Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning (PSP) prevents us from enjoying a bounty of clams, oysters and mussels. We are limited to crab, prawns and fish this time of year. I wonder if there is a home testing kit for PSP that we could carry aboard? Would also love to have a test kit for Ciguatera toxin for tropical fish.

Just stopped in Oatswish Bay 52°55.703N 128°07.80'W to marvel at one huge waterfall spilling into the bay. Drifted around the bay while we cracked crab in preparation for canning. Crab cracked and no bears sighted we are continuing onto Mussel Bay and Poison Cove to look for bears and likely spend the night... if we can sort out an anchorage.

It's been a few days since my last post so I quickly hit on some of the highlights after leaving Fly Bay in Smith Sound. We pulled our prawn trap, and lucky us had a king crab hanging on the outside of the trap, but no prawns. The king crab was delicious! The days journey took us up Fitz Hugh Sound to Koeye River, along the way we enjoyed the company of several humpback whales. We stopped at a few likely spots and picked up some beautiful rock fish for dinner, but it's still too early for salmon fishing.

June 18, 2011
Arriving at Koeye River on the high tide we found the bay to be a bit rolly so we ventured up the river about one mile to the site of an old lime mine. Searching the river for a deep channel to anchor for the night we tried out a few spots, but the power of the current and the narrowness of the river was a bit too risky. Heading back to the bay we anchored off a beautifully decorated Indian Long house for the night. Before calling it a day we ran the dinghy up the river Koeye river a few miles looking for bears, no luck with bears, but what a beautiful spot and definitely bear country. We hope to stop back at Koeye River on our way south.

June 19, 2011
From Koeye River we sailed for a good bit of the day toward Bella Bella to refuel, do some laundry and pick up some groceries at Shearwater. The long days are awesome and after our errands we sailed for another hour and a half to Mouat Cove for the night.

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