Ghosting over the top of North Broughton Island on a gentle following zephyr and flood tide, I watched as our boatspeed leisurely climbed above 2 knots. Perfectly slow, given the moment.
Not far from our destination and with Magnus and Porter resting below, only the rustle of water trickling from the stern could be heard as mountains slid by and I tended to a fishing line trailing behind us. It couldn’t have been more relaxing. The breeze soon filled in and when we turned south into Greenway Sound, a pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins broke the surface around us, jumping and playing as though we weren’t even there.
The afternoon was a grand start to our time in the sound, which kept getting unexpectedly better as it unfolded.
A Cozy Spot
Greenway Sound is a six-mile long channel between Broughton and North Broughton islands that runs east-west for the first three miles before making a turn south for the last three. At its elbow is the eastern terminus of Carter Passage, which completes the cut that splits the two land masses into islands. Entering the sound, you can easily see why the word “green” was applied when naming this body of water. Much like the rest of the area, vibrant green rain forests flow from the mountain and hilltops down to the sea. And even though a fair bit of logging activity is evident as you travel up and down the sound, its effects don’t diminish the overall beauty of the anchorages within.
Our first stop was at the eastern end of Carter Passage, just inside the mouth of Broughton Point. We tucked into a one-boat cove behind a tiny islet that had good depths and swing room. Not another boat was seen while we were here and if felt like one of those out-of-the-way places that was almost too good to be true.
As is our custom when arriving at an anchorage in the late afternoon, we quickly dropped the kayak in the water and made for shore to explore the rocks, beach and forest. Under the canopy of tall cedar and fir trees, the forest floor was filled with logs for the boys to climb, jump and balance on, and was easily hike-able for those with longer legs. On a trip up the hill, Jill spotted several piles of bear scat and so we all made noise to let them know we were hanging out near their home. “HELLOOO, bears!” Porter called with a tone of seriousness. “We’re here!” We never saw any bears.
Back aboard Yahtzee, Porter and Jill swam from the boat while I did some fishing and just before dinner, the sun made a brief appearance, which created hope for its glorious return the following day.
We awoke the next morning to the pitter-patter of rain dancing on the deck above, not the bright blue sky and abundant sunshine that we’d so hoped for. Oh well, we’d have to wait a bit longer.
While planning our route through the Broughtons over the past week, Jill was fairly adamant that we visit Greenway Sound before leaving the area; partly because of a hike we could take to two lakes on Broughton Island. We’re not big on setting hard and fast plans while cruising, but Jill isn’t one to steer us wrong either, so we brushed off the rain and with no delay motored eastward through the sound for the large bay that dips south into Broughton Island on the east side of Greenway Point.
Many years ago there was a floating post office, store and landing for steamships in the bay and then a husband and wife operated a marina in the same spot for many years. None of it is there now and very few remnants of its presence remain. What is there, though, is a small float put in by the BC Forest Service that grants you access to two maintained hiking trails: one to Broughton and Silver King lakes, and the other to a lookout point over Broughton Lake.
With nary a boat to be seen, we simply dropped the hook, backed down and stern tied to the park float. We were soon bounding through lush green forests, over old logging roads and down a well marked trail. This is what we’d come for. Jill nailed it.
There are very few marked hiking trails in the Broughtons, which is fine by us. But it can be helpful for the boys, and when doing longer distances, to have them marked and maintained. The trail to the lakes was about two miles and of moderate difficulty. Along the way we saw the remnants of past logging activities as well as some limited park infrastructure — a few signs, picnic tables and a small float to swim from, which is a lot for the Broughtons. The lakes were beautiful and wild, just as you’d expect in a place as far removed as this. And had it been a sunny morning instead of a rainy one, I’m sure we’d have been swimming till our hearts were content.
As usual — and despite the rain — the boys were troopers throughout the hike and Magnus even managed to get some sleep while I carried him back down the trail. He woke up just as Yahtzee hove into view through the trees and excitedly exclaimed, “Yahtzee!”
We decided that being stern tied to the small float wasn’t the best place to spend the evening so we weighed anchor and made for our last anchorage in the sound. Near the entrance to Broughton Lagoon are a couple great spots to drop the hook. South of Cecil Island is a smaller, nameless island at the mouth to one of the passes to the lagoon. We dropped the anchor just south and east of this island and watched as water dumped out of the lagoon, creating frothing whitewater rapids.
By this time the rain had stopped and Magnus and I jumped in the kayak to paddle over and check out the rushing water. Finding a back eddy, I moved us parallel to the swift current and then turned sharply into it, which shot us back out towards Yahtzee with a scream of laughter from Magnus and a big “Woo Hoo!” from me. Not wanting to leave Jill and Porter out of the fun, we went back to pick them up so they could enjoy the ride too.
With the full crew and more paddling power aboard, we headed for the main pass into the lagoon and found it flowing at us even faster. Sticking to the side of the channel and out of the bulk of the current, we worked our way into the pass through back eddies and over an amazing kaleidoscope of sea life. It was literally like paddling on top of an immense aquarium.
When we’d gone as far as possible, we paddled into the current and shot back across to the other side of the narrow channel. I spotted a notch in the rocks that we tucked into and we were able to portage the kayak over barnacles, fish, urchins, kelp, sea anemones, mussels and sea stars to get inside the lagoon.
Once inside, we saddled back up and paddled around to where the current would spit us out again. As we reached the narrow pass between tall trees and steep rocks, we could tell the current wasn’t running as swiftly as before, but it shot us through in exhilarating fashion. What an adventure, which, given the current, I think could only be done in a kayak.
From our whitewater exploits we decided to slow it down a bit and found a quiet spot on a nearby beach to throw rocks, have a snack and watch the tide come up. Much to our excitement, we also watched as the cloud cover broke apart to reveal a beautiful blue sky and brilliant sunshine. When the sun bursted through, the previous days of gloom and rain were instantly swept from our collective memories as the warmth it created heated our bodies and dried our clothes. The water before us sparkled and the green trees around us perked up and soaked it all in. Soon, a warm afternoon turned almost hot and we dashed to Yahtzee for our wetsuits and then over to an outcropping of rocks on the nameless island nearby for a swim.
By this time, the tide had come up enough over the large, sunbathed rocks to heat the water and create a perfect swimming area for us and the boys. Leaping into the clear, green water, we splashed, laughed and put the cap on yet another amazing day playing in the Broughton Archipelago.
That night, as I watched the sun set behind the mountains, I took a few minutes to reflect on all we’d seen and done in Greenway Sound over the past few days. From sailing into the sound with dolphins, hiking the lakes and fishing from the kayak to exploring the rapids of Broughton Lagoon and swimming in the cool water under the warm afternoon sun, it had been a time and place to remember. And it won’t be one we forget.