Sunday, December 03, 2017

Kayaking in the Broughton Archipelago: August 10 2017: Dead Reckoning

The heavy fog made a circuit of Watson Island pointless; we wouldn't be able to see any of the scenery. As well, we'd likely have to fight current in Wells Passage if we took the "scenic" route this morning. So we reluctantly cut off the northernmost leg of the trip and started straight for the Polkinghornes.

Glad we'd checked out Hopetown Passage last night; we knew where the deepest channel was, and we took it, now running swiftly westward. (If you visit the area, hug the north shore and you'll be alright at any tide.) The whole area was full of weird currents, sometimes unexpectedly against us. Above the waterline, the world was dead still as we crossed the mouth of Dunsany Passage, and the dense fog gave it an eerie science-fiction quality. It was so thick you couldn't see the other shore except at the narrowest points, and you could predict which way the current would be running at any point by looking "uphill" or "downhill" - the water was visibly higher upstream.
We rode the current, hugging the eastern shoreline where we could. Visibility improved and we were afforded a really cool view of Stuart Narrows into Drury Inlet - a tempting distraction, but we wanted to make the Polkinghornes today and hopefully beat the worst of the current in Wells Passage when the tide turned.

At Lambert Island we stopped for a stretch and a snack. Continuing down Wells Passage, we got a glimpse of the Wren Hills in the fog. Passing Bourmaster Point, it became increasingly foggy and the water became more and more glassy, and we began picking out each new landmark and confirming it before proceeding - it was all dead reckoning. It was like paddling on glass with occasional currents popping up; we were expecting a lot more currents to reckon with in the area and were glad it was such easy going, actually.
Mouth of Carter Passage, looking east
The fog was so heavy that we had to pick our way from islet to islet.
Between Dickson and Percy Islands
Percy Island was completely invisible until we were at the final islet; same with Vincent Island (which has crazy rock formations - a real geological bizarro-world).
Vincent Island
Yet suddenly, there they were: the Polkinghorne Group, seeming too near to be really them.

The clam beach on the main island that marks the campsite is really obvious, an easy landing (though a long carry at low tide). We checked out the rock ledge campsite mentioned in Kimintas and on the BCMTNA site and found it scenic but way too exposed, not to mention cut off from the main island by mid tide - was this hunk of bare rock really the only suitable spot on the island?
Ancient barnacle civilization at Polkinghorne Island

The canoe run on the NE approach to the Polkinghorne site
A bit of walking revealed 3 upland campsites with plenty of evidence of prior use, one of which is absolutely perfect. Lat: N 50°47'53.3" Lon: W 126°56'02.4"
Main tent site at Polkinghorne Island
The beach has tons of featurettes, including a log seat with a backrest. The only drawbacks to this site are a lack of sun and a lack of water.
An ex-jellyfish at Polkinghorne Island
After setting up camp and having a bit of lunch we made a recreational circumnavigation of the island cluster. Light wind in Queen Charlotte Sound made significant waves on the west side of the islands, which are very windswept - dramatic west coast bansai gardens.
Playing on the west coast of Polkhinghorne Island
At Fantome Point
The Mariners handled the wind waves, 3 feet and more in places, handily. I guess we were hitting our stride as paddlers too. Once in the lee of the islands conditions were as calm as you would wish; a crossing to Broughton Island would be as flat as a board. We did a bit more amateur orienteering while floating there, disagreeing on what features on the opposite shore corresponded to which features on the map.
Looking north from the southern tip of Polkinghorne

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