After a peaceful night at anchor in Bullhead Cove, we head north to the eastern entrance of Behm Canal. On this 150 mile exploration, we will circumnavigate Revillagigedo Island counterclockwise. The trip will take us into the heart of Misty Fiords National Monument Wilderness. This is the second largest wilderness in the United States encompassing 2.2 million acres. As we enter the canal, we are greeted by a feeding humpback whale and a school of energetic Pacific White Sided Dolphins. The dolphins escort us several miles north while cavorting on our bow wave. The snow capped mountain peaks are obscured today by a band of clouds hovering several hundred feet above the water. Overhead, we hear the droning of a float plane flying tourists from Ketchikan into the wilderness area. We think of the tragic plane crash just last week in this area of two float planes. Both planes were carrying tourists off of a cruise ship from Ketchikan out for a day of sight seeing. The two planes collided and ten people were killed. Another float plane accident just two days ago in Prince Rupert killed two people.
Anchorages in the park are few and far between so we must plan carefully. Our first stop is just a few miles up the Behm Canal behind Whinstanley Island. The anchorage is called Shoalwater Pass in reference to the shallow bar that we must cross while entering. As we cautiously ease over the bar, our depth sounder squawks at us as it reads only 7 feet. We draw five feet so there wasn’t much depth to spare. Being at mid tide, we make a note not to cross at low tide when we leave.
We spend the next two beautiful days enjoying the solitude of this tranquil wilderness setting. Just ashore is a cabin which the US Forrest Service rents out for $25 a night. We spend some time exploring the cabin and enjoy reading the log book that tells of past visitors experiences. Heading back to the dinghy, we come across a fresh pile of bear scat. Sightings of both brown and black bears are frequent in this area. While motoring back to the boat, some movement ashore catches our eyes. As we quietly ease our way over, a massive black bear appears. He is feeding in the sedge grass. Sensing our presence, he turns to face us with the green sedge grass still dangling from the corners of his mouth. He has a beautiful silky jet black coat of fur draped over his muscular body. As he meanders into the next field, we see a second black bear equally as big. It is always a privilege to see these magnificent carnivores.
One of the things on my bucket list for this year is to catch a big halibut. After setting the prawn and crab traps, we headed out to the Behm Canal to try our luck. We were out only 30 minutes when something really big swallowed the bait. After fighting him for 10-15 minutes, the line went limp and our dreams of a big Halibut vanished. We did manage a consolation prize of two nice Rockfish. The biggest weighed in at 5 pounds. There are two types of Rockfish, pelagic and non-pelagic. Ours was a non pelagic of which you are allowed only one per day. These guys can be 30 to 70 years old. We felt bad for catching a fish that has lived so long! Because of the extreme depths (200 plus feet), he would never survive if we released him.
Our clear skies are soon replaced with storm clouds and we have a sleepless night as the wind funnels through the anchorage. Because of the tall surrounding mountains, wind direction is totally unpredictable. The canyons creat their own weather with both inflow and outflow winds.
With a light mist in the air and low visibility, we work our way north to Punchbowl Cove. We make a brief stop on the way to photograph Misty Fiords most famous landmark, the New Eddystone Rock named by Captain George Vancouver for a lighthouse rock in England. This 230 foot spire rises from the 1000 foot depths in the center of the Behm Canal.
As we turn into Rudyerd Bay, we marvel at the 3000 foot cliffs which rise from the still water. We enter Punchbowl Bay in hopes that the one Forest Service mooring buoy is unoccupied.
It is not a place we want to anchor as the depths go from over 100 feet to mud flats in a short distance. We are in luck today. There are no other boats in the bay. We ease Idyll Time up to the buoy and quickly secure our mooring line. It is another beautiful spot with a babbling stream and meadow at the head of the bay. There is a Forrest Service trail which climbs up the mountain and connects to Punchbowl Lake. With the misty rain and high chances of brown bears ashore, we decide to enjoy the scenery from the safety and comfort of our back deck.
As we continue north, our next anchorage is in Walker Bay. Tall granite cliffs flank both sides of the entrance. The mountain peaks surrounding us are much closer than in Punchbowl giving a more intimate feeling. We are again hoping that the one mooring buoy is unoccupied. As we round the last bend, we give a sigh of relieve. The buoy is vacant. This anchorage is even more stunning than that of Punchbowl. We are surrounded by tall mountains with ribbons of water flowing down and a grassy meadow at the head of the bay. We monitor the beach all evening in hopes of a bear sighting. The salmon are not here yet and neither are the bears.
The next morning, we awake to a baby blue cloudless sky, a rarity for Misty Fiords. We continue north to the head of the canal and enter Bhem Narrows for our final leg of the trip. We have yet to see another boater. We do spot a big brown bear along a stream bed( sorry too far away for photos).
We make a brief detour into Yess Bay to check out the Yess Bay Fishing Lodge. We are hoping they are open so we can get some gas for the dinghy and possibly a good meal at their restaurant. They have been here for many years and have a great reputation. Unfortunately there is not a sole around and everything is boarded up from the winter.
Our last anchorage in Misty Fiords is Klu Bay. We are again fortunate to find the Forrest Service float vacant. Once secured we launch the dinghy to set out our crab and shrimp traps. The outer bay is called Shrimp Bay so we are hoping that it lives up to its name. There are two magnificent waterfalls at the head of the bay. Next to the waterfall is a trail that leads to the Plenty Cutthroat Lake and another Forrest Service cabin. Armed with our bear spray, bear bells, and gun, we hike the two miles over the mountain to the lake. The trail has not been well maintained and several of the rotten wooden foot bridges could not be trusted. The small one room cabin built in 1954 is perched on a beautiful lake and two rowing boats are there for anyone to use. Reading through the log, it doesn’t appear to be rented very often. Most years there have only been three entries. For $35 per night this would be a great vacation spot.
Another new fishing gadget added this year is a shrimp pot puller. Klu Bay is our first try at using it. The pulley is hooked to a large float. The shrimp pot line is run through the pulley and attached to a cleat on the boat. We then run forward at full speed and the shrimp pot line is pulled through the pulley and the pot is brought to the surface. We then double back to the buoy and retrieve our 400 feet of line. We were not sure if this was going to work but after several modifications we have success. This saves a lot of time and effort. We are happy to find some really large shrimp in the pot. After our shrimping success, we haul the crab pots to find two keepable males. Klu Bay has proven to be a success for us and a great anchorage. Tomorrow we will say goodby to Misty Fiords and head to Thorn Bay to restock fresh fruit and vegetables and crab bait as well as dinghy gas. We have had a wonderful week along with some beautiful weather in Misty Fiords.