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Bilgewater 02-27-2011 06:39 PM

Mitlenatch Island - A wildlife paradise
This is Mitlenatch Island, Located in the middle of the Salish sea on the inside of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Many unusual qualities make Mitlenatch Island what it is and there are no other islands anything like it in the Strait of Georgia.

Mitlenatch Island...very near the 50th parallel is where the currents around Vancouver Island meet. South of this island, it floods from the south and north of here, it floods from the north. On a big southeaster and a large flood looking north you will see very large confused seas caused by the seas piling out of discovery pass and looking south it will look quite manageable. Sometimes it can be quite dramatic.

Mitlenatch is a wind swept island in a rainshadow with very little percipitation during the year which gives it quite a different ecosystem than most others.

The best anchoring (I definately don't recomend overnight) is off the beach on the north side which seems to be pretty good. I usually anchor on the east side and in the small bay but I don't recomend it unless you are very comfortable with a couple of feet under your keel and a very short rode.

Here is the video I put together and I know it's long and drawn out but if you get about halfway through it you will see a gull that is pretty beaten up but should be OK. This is the result of fighting with eagles which during nesting season is quite common as the eagles will regularly attack the nests with some success. The gulls in turn seem to gang up on the eagles and chase them away. I drifted a little too close to the sealions in some of the footage which is obviously an annoyance to them and is a real no no which I'm fully aware of, but I figured I wouldn't waste the footage so I included some of it.

<iframe title="YouTube video player" width="480" height="390" src="" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

Sometimes loosely described as "The Galapagos of the Georgia Strait" many of the locals just call it "Bird Island". In any event, Mitlenatch is like no other island in the strait. Mitlenatch is an uninhabited seabird sanctuary with the largest seabird colony in the Strait of Georgia. It's a rocky island of mostly small shrubs, many different species of flowers, cactus, snakes and much more.

This is the bird blind located up one of the trails. Inside this blind you will see some bird identifying posters which are very handy.

The next two photos show the north side anchorage area that I would recommend particularly during a light to moderate Southeasterly but anything more, it's time to get out of there.

This island is spectacular at any time of the year and always chock-a-block full of wildlife but nesting season is the best.

jrd22 02-27-2011 07:51 PM

Great post Steve, and beautiful pictures. You've told me before that we need to schedule a stop at Middlenatch, now you've convinced me. I better add it to the list for this summer. Thanks!

Bilgewater 02-27-2011 08:57 PM

You won't be disappointed John. It's a little out of the way unless your heading up Johnstone Strait, Hoskyn or Sutil Channels but worth it. The best time to go is on a very calm really comes to life. If you have time to kill to wait out the change at Seymour Narrows, this is the place to do it.

tdw 02-27-2011 09:16 PM

Now that is simply stunning. Absolutely beautiful.

Faster 02-27-2011 09:47 PM

Great post, Steve.. That's one we've passed on so far.

Mittlenatch for us has always been that @&#%$* white rock you can see for hours before you actually get past it!:( :)

btw.. is that a local artist on your soundtrack?

jrd22 02-28-2011 10:57 AM

Ha! Good description Fast. I think we will have to make a dedicated day trip out of it, maybe anchor at Cortez Bay and after taking the dog to shore (no dogs allowed on Mittle) in the morning high tail it down there and explore it and then either find a spot at Savary or the Copelands or Sturt B. It'll probably have to be on the way south because I can't see us taking the time to detour while going north when that close to Desolation and warm water for a swim:-))

Bilgewater 02-28-2011 12:41 PM

Faster, your description of Mitlenatch is about right and exactly how I quite often see it. Mittlenatch is likely my most regularly used aid for determining my position out there.

I often take day trips there from Campbell River or stop there on my way to the sunshine coast and even then it's a bit out of the way and seems to take forever to get there. By the way, there is a very old log cabin on the island and I believe it is the old Manson Family cabin from the days this island was used for sheep farming until I guess they figured the environment was a bit harsh in the winter. The cabin is wide open and filled with all kinds of treasures to look at or add to. During the summer, volunteers take turns camping on the island and basically act as watchmen and I think there's actually a waiting list.

John, your's just that far out of the way that it needs to be a day trip there and back to somewhere sheltered. There are so many places to explore around here and a person can hit multiple spots all in one day as this one requires an entire day getting there, exploring and getting back so it's quite understandable and probably fortunate not to many cruisers go there. The beeches there are covered with some of the largest oysters around but unfortunately no touching. :(

jackdale 02-28-2011 02:19 PM


Originally Posted by jrd22 (Post 703232)
find a spot at Savary or the Copelands or Sturt B.

I have been by Mitlenatch way too many times to count. I do need to go sailing without having to conduct a course and do what I want to do.

John - I would make Savary my last choice. I have anchored there but with great trepidation. There is one spot near Indian Point that is OK, but there are many smaller boats on mooring balls taking up much of the space. There is one shallow (70') spot off the government dock. It is not really on the chart, I found it with a depth sounder. I used 200 feet of chain and 100 of nylon. I was working with a client who has a summer home there. We brought his boat up from Sidney to teach the kids to sail.

Why not go into Lund and enjoy Nancy's in the morning after a night in the pub, or the Laughing Oyster?

Faster 02-28-2011 03:15 PM


Originally Posted by jackdale (Post 703329)
.... after a night in the pub, or the Laughing Oyster?

Here, here!! :)

jrd22 02-28-2011 03:42 PM

Jack/Ron- Lund seems like an awfully tight squeeze to get in and out of the marina, do you tie to the outside of the floating breakwater or go inside?
The government dock always seems to be pretty full too when we've taken a look, no Impulse III to raft up to :-))

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