Set the hook and find what adventures await in the lush Broughton Islands.
We have spent the last few hours cruising up Johnstone Straight under overcast skies, and as Easy Goin’ rounds the Broken Islands to enter Havannah Channel there is an immediate mixed feeling of relief and excitement flowing through the boat. The rapids and reputation of Johnston Strait are behind us and our anticipation heightens with what the next couple of months in the Broughtons have in store for us. For Arlene and me, a Broughton Islands adventure doesn’t begin until we set the hook in our first anchorage at Matilpi (pronounced MAT-il-pi) off Havannah Channel. The anchorage has always provided solitude and an excellent location to decompress and enjoy the local wildlife.
Prior to pulling into the anchorage we set a couple of prawn traps in 280 feet water in hopes of reaping the bounty of the sea. The plan is to let the traps soak overnight and pick them up the next day before we continue our journey.
SETTING THE HOOK
The anchorage, which is popular with boaters waiting for favorable currents in nearby Chatham Channel, has two entrances. The first is from the north via the deep channel between Indian Island and the mainland, and the second is from the west in 25 feet of water between the northern Indian Islands and a charted rock that is awash at a one-meter tide.
The gunkhole lies between the northernmost Indian Islands, the mainland and north of the charted rock in 10 to 60 feet. There is a good-holding mud and shell bottom inside of 30 feet. In greater depth the bottom turns rocky and holding is fair to poor. A light current of about 1 knot flows through the anchorage. The haven is protected from the east and west but open to the north and south.
There is also good-holding mud west of the charted rock between the two islands but is exposed to any wind. The area south of the charted rock and between the southern island and the mainland appears to be a well-protected anchorage at high tide but it’s foul ground and a portion is a drying bank.
NOT THE FIRST OR ALONE
The surrounding islands and land is a First Nations Reserve. What appears to be a beautiful white sand beach on the mainland is actually finely crushed shells that mark the abandoned Kwakiutl village of Matilpi. This midden is where native people discarded their clam and oyster shells for thousands of years.
I can easily imagine why the indigenous people selected this location. It’s peaceful, sheltered, faces southwest and has a freshwater creek and a beautiful beach with lots of wildlife. The village was occupied years ago during the fishing season. The uplands are now overgrown with dense forest and undergrowth, leaving no evidence of the village.
As we sat on the back deck, soaked up some sun and enjoyed lunch, a mink wandered the shoreline in search of something to eat, while a couple of loons surveyed the anchorage and appeared curious as to who had invaded their home waters. The ravens were calling a welcome, making for a perfect location to unwind. We have heard stories of boaters seeing black bears walking along the shoreline but we have never been lucky enough to see one.
That afternoon, as the skies began to cloud over, a couple other boats joined us in the peaceful little anchorage. A powerboat set the hook east of our location between the two islands and a sailboat dropped its hook north of us. There was plenty of room for all of us to enjoy the seclusion.
B.C. COAST RAIN
By dinnertime it had begun to rain, and before long it was an outright downpour. One of those rains where the raindrops are large and coming down so hard that they appear to bounce off the sea surface. It was a good reminder how hard it can rain on the central B.C. coast.
The following morning the rain had passed and after a hearty breakfast we weighed anchor and headed out to retrieve the prawn traps before navigating Chatham Channel on our way to our next destination. The traps produced three dozen spot prawns, not a large haul but more than enough to make a nice dinner that evening.
If You Plan to Visit
• Charts: 3545, 3564
• Location: 50.33’.54” N, 126.11’.30” W
• Fisheries and Oceans Canada: www.pac.dfo-mpo.gc.ca/index-eng.html