A Refuge and Oasis

In Viner Sound on Gilford Island, boaters can enjoy the natural bonuses of boat life at this simple and quiet getaway.

 After celebrating the last few days of Canada Day in the Broughtons at Pierre’s in Echo Bay and July 4 at Sullivan Bay Marina with friends, we were in need of some time on the hook. Arlene and I decided a couple of days in Viner Sound would be the perfect location to fulfill our requirements.

We woke up to a heavy mist but the weather didn’t dampen our spirits. As we guided Easy Goin’ east in Sutlej Channel, the visibility dropped to about a quarter of a mile and the mist turned to a good old Northwest downpour. But by the time we arrived in Viner Sound, the rain had stopped and the July sky hung with heavy clouds over the narrow three-mile-long sound.

As Easy Goin’ took us inland, we were feeling a bit boxed in by the steep, lush, green hillsides on our flanks, the drying mud flat at the head and the threatening dark gray clouds above. With the exception of a pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins welcoming us, the feeling was one of isolation — just what we needed after being tethered to docks for a few days.

The approach to Viner Sound is free of hazards, and for the most part the sound is too deep for anchorage, except near the head. At times, strong westerlies or easterlies can find their way into the anchorage, but the small cove on the north side and an indentation on the southern shore provide some protection.

During our visit we found four Forest Service mooring buoys in the anchorage, used to secure equipment during the winter months and available to visiting boaters when not in use. Two are located in the northern cove, one in the indentation on the southern shore and the final one in 10 fathoms between the three aforementioned buoys. If the mooring buoys are occupied, anchoring is possible near the head, west of the drying flats in three to nine fathoms of water over thick mud with excellent holding.

When we arrived there was a slight west breeze and boats were rafted to the two buoys in the north cove. We elected not to anchor and took the buoy on the protected southern shoreline, in case the wind decided to pick up in the afternoon, as it often does in the Broughtons. Once Easy Goin’ was secured and things were settled aboard, we launched the tender and set a couple of crab traps in hopes of catching some of boating’s simple little pleasures, delicious Dungeness crab.

Viner Sound is a delightfully peaceful inlet with lush green hillsides that soar straight up and long strands of Old Man’s Beard moss that hang from nearly every tree limb. It resembles the tinsel garland hung at Christmastime. The brown muskeg-infused water is thick with organic material that has washed down the surrounding hillsides.

With high tide in effect and the traps set, it was time to explore this slightly out-of-the- way place. We were able to cross the mud flats and navigate the lower portion of the river. The area is a Kwakiutl Indian Reserve and known for its bear viewing, because they will come down to the beach in search of clams, but we had no such luck.

Just before sunset we decided it was time to check the crab traps. The first pot provided two keepers and the second held six monster crabs. With eight keepers, we had more than enough crab for two people for the next few days, so we pulled the traps and stowed them on board. Since it was getting late, we put the crabs in a five-gallon bucket, with holes drilled in it for circulation, and hung it overboard for the night. We reserved the cleaning and cooking process for the next day, because it was time to relax on the back deck with refreshment in hand and enjoy the end of the day.

The next morning the stunning surrounding hillsides, with their lush green vegetation, were reflected in the mirror-calm water and we engaged in more recuperation, exploration, cooking and feasting.

Here’s the info you need to visit Viner Sound:
– Charts: 3515, 3557
– Location: 50.47 degrees 08 minutes north latitude, 125.23 degrees 01 minute west longitude
– Fisheries and Oceans Canada: pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/index-eng.html


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