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Plumper 07-03-2008 11:50 AM

Barkley Sound
My Dad and I took Plumper up the west coast of Vancouver Island this past week. We left Esquimalt on Tuesday morning and sailed up to Sooke, where we anchored for the night. We left Sooke at 0500, hoping for an easterly wind working with the long ebb tide to take us out as far as Cape Beale. Unfortunately, the wind was on the nose. We beat against the NW wind until the speed we needed to get to Cape Beale before dark was excessive, and then we flashed the iron genny for the rest of the day. We approached Cape Beale at about 2100 and the tide had changed. It was ebbing (out of Barkley Sound) and hitting the NW wind off the Cape and created a very confused and nasty chop. Plumper was rolling on her beam ends as we avoided the myriad shoals and entered Trevor Channel. We saw many Humpback wahles in that last hour or so before we anchored in Dodger Channel (dodging the swell).
After a good night's sleep in we set sail up Trevor Channel exploring the Sound. We dragged either a bucktail or a diver and flasher all day but had no luck catching fish. We pulled into the Port Alberni Yacht Club for the night. It is basically a fish camp that the thirty members welcome visitors at. There are no reciprocals because they need the moorage fees to keep the place running. It was worth the buck a foot mootage. They have created some wonderful hiking trails on their island with spectacular views. The shower there is the finest anywhere. One of the club members (a ceramic tiler) built it. The on-demand hot water is endless and the shower itself is huge. I pulled up a lawn chair and basked in the clean hot creek water being piped in. Best $2 I ever spent.
From the PAYC we sailed out looking for salmon but again had no luck. The sailing was fine with steady winds off the Pacific. We pulled into Effingham Bay for the night. There were three other boats there. One was flying the Red Duster and hailed from Southampton, England. On Effingham Island there was a rugged hike across to the other side of the island where an old native village used to exist. The hike was really fun, if a bit tortuous. The village is almost non-existant. There was a boat from Oregon there, and the guy came over and gave us a couple of Greenling for dinner. They were delicious.
The next morning we sailed out of Effingham and wandered over to Bamfield where we tied up for an hour or so at the grocery store. We stayed just long enough to buy some bread and beer and have an ice cream cone.
From there we went back to Dodger Channel to be in position for the run back down Juan de Fuca Strait the next day. We rowed ashore and watched three humpback whales in the small lagoon eating and frolicking. It was very cool.
We left Barkley Sound early the next morning and started sailing SE hoping to get to Sooke. Unfortunately we were again becalmed for a while. Eventually the winds piped up and were forecast to hit 35 so we decided to seek shelter in Port San Juan. The bay at Port San Juan is open to the SW with almost no shelter, and the wind was blowing about 25 and building from the SW when we got there. Fortunately, a fisherman in a boat called K-Roby let us tie up alongside him and we spent the night bouncing around at the dock secured to him. He was very friendly and we learned a lot about the black art of salmon fishing from him.
The next day was an all day flood and 20 knots of NW winds forecast. We left Port San Juan at 0820 and hoisted sail. It was a banner day in Plumper. We sailed all the way back to Esquimalt (about 72 miles) in 8 hours. The wind was cooperating as was the tide. We pulled into CFSA at 1620 (exactly) after a boisterous sail home.
It was a great week!

Sequitur 07-03-2008 12:11 PM

Thank you for your excellent report.

I have very fond memories of Barkley Sound and the Broken Group Islands. I've been there many times, including three summers in the mid 70s conducting leadership training for junior naval officers. I've spent a total of five months or so exploring the islands by boat, canoe and foot, but I haven't been back since 1983.

I'm planning a three-week sail up the west coast of Vancouver Island from late July to mid-August, and am very much looking forward to seeing the area again. Thank you again for refreshing my memories of this spectacular area.

tomhuntdmd 07-03-2008 12:22 PM

Thanks for the nice report on Barkley. We plan on leaving Poulsbo, WA for Barkley on Aug. 6th and be gone for 2 1/2 weeks. Were you able to get any clams or crab?

Plumper 07-03-2008 01:06 PM

We didn't bring traps and didn't try to find clams but others were having good luck.

Faster 07-03-2008 01:45 PM

Thanks for the report, Plumper... brought back good memories here also.

Agree that the PAYC facility is a great deal, a real nice setup that we don't mind helping to support. We too "enjoyed" the hike from Effingham to the village site, on one of the few sunny days we had.

We also spotted humps, just outside the PAYC in Trevor Channel, and greys in the distance on our way past Cape Beal in the early hours as we headed home.

We did a marathon Victoria -Bamfield, mostly chugging in a light westerly, and then hooked into a good westerly on the way home, going from Bamfield to Sidney Spit in another dawn to dusk passage.

A real interesting change from the inside waters, well worth the effort to get there, but of course you need to be prepared to give up some summer weather much of the time.

Thanks again

jrd22 07-03-2008 02:33 PM

Plumper- it sounds like you had a great week with your Dad. We were up there several years ago with my father and had a fantastic trip. I think it must be about time to go back. Thanks for the report.


camaraderie 07-03-2008 07:02 PM

Nice trip report...thanks.

erps 01-02-2009 01:07 PM

I think I have Sandy talked into going to Barkley Sound next summer, 2009. We really like anchorages with warm water lakes within walking distance to swim in. Are there places like that in Barkley Sound? We're accustom to warm water and air temperatures in Desolation Sound. What's the climate like in Barkley Sound? Any anchorages that one "must see" while they are there?

Faster 01-02-2009 01:40 PM


Originally Posted by erps (Post 426311)
I think I have Sandy talked into going to Barkley Sound next summer, 2009. We really like anchorages with warm water lakes within walking distance to swim in. Are there places like that in Barkley Sound? We're accustom to warm water and air temperatures in Desolation Sound. What's the climate like in Barkley Sound? Any anchorages that one "must see" while they are there?

Desolation Sound's fresh water swimming opportunities are one of our favourite things about that area too.. but you'll not find such treasures in Barkley Sound unfortunately. You may well give up "summer" for the duration of your stay (not always, but odds are......) Lots of marine cloud and fog can obscure the sun and keep things coolish even when Georgia Strait and other inside areas are enjoying clear warm sunshine. We were there the first 2 weeks in July and that was our experience - others have had nice weather, almost warm, but swimming is extremely rare except for the hardiest sorts. Apparently August (aka FOGUST) is worse still.

That said, the area has attractions that make up for all of that. Highlights for us were:

Bamfield - original terminus of the first Trans Pacific cable, quaint village with supplies and fuel, two towns, really, an isolated side and one at the "end of the road". The isolated side has a waterfront boardwalk that is quite famous and the walk to Brady's Beach is well worthwhile.

Port Alberni Yacht Club outstation - good moorage, welcoming people, showers make this a nice stop, good kayaking in the area too.

Numerous anchorages available, the bonus is you're often on your own once you're away from the supply ports of Bamfield and Uclulet. Busier anchorages include Effingham and the Turtle group, but we were often able to find one boat hideyholes here and there.

"Lucky Creek" near the mouth of Pipestem inlet was a treat.. a nice paddle/row up an estuary takes you to a series of small waterfalls with swimming holes - they'd be very tempting on a hot day.

The outer islands (Clarke, Benson and others) are not really good overnight stays but in the right conditions are fascinating day stops as long as the swell isn't too severe. Effingham is a good base to explore these islands from. The hike/bushwack from Effingham to the aborignal village site is another good excursion.

The rugged harsh outer island shores are in stark contrast to the rounded sandstone we see so much of in the Gulf Islands.

Ucluclet is a good provisioning spot but very busy with fish charters, not our fave but pretty much a necessary stopover if you're there for any time at all. The highlight there was an incredible breakfast at the local bowling alley:confused:.

Getting there and back we did a couple of marathons - Victoria to Bamfield in 17 hours, coming back we had better conditions and did Bamfield to Sidney Spit in a pre-dawn to dusk day. We chose not to try to overnight in San Juan harbour - too many stories of lack of space and excessive swell.

I'd highly recommend having kayaks on board.. these will greatly enhance your experience here.. paddling close to these rugged islands in the residual swell is really neat, there are plenty of lagoons and shallow areas you'd otherwise not see.

Don't be too discouraged by our tales of cold weather/conditions.. it was still well worth it and we'll do it again - but not every year.

erps 01-02-2009 03:31 PM

Thanks Ron. Now I'll have to get on google earth to find those spots. I heard there were some hot springs somewhere on the west side. Maybe further north?

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