Visitors will enjoy fun, history, relaxation and plenty of food.
I switched the channel on the VHF radio to 66A and hailed “Pierre’s Echo Bay, Pierre’s Echo Bay, motor vessel Easy Goin’, over.” The friendly and welcoming voice of the wharfinger responded “Easy Goin’, Pierre’s, over.”
“Pierre’s, Easy Goin’. We are 40 feet LOA, have reservations for the next two nights and looking for a slip assignment.” As we arrived at our assigned slip the wharfinger was waiting to assist with our lines.
During the past few years, Arlene and I have made a number of trips to British Columbia’s Broughton Island area. The Broughtons, as it’s known in the cruising community, offers plenty for boaters with its scenery, wildlife, marine life, secluded anchorages and small wilderness marinas. One of the rustic facilities that we visit every time we are in the area is Pierre’s Echo Bay Lodge & Marina on Gilford Island. Each of the handful of marinas in the area has something unique to offer visitors, and Pierre’s is no different.
Our visit last summer fell on Canada Day, July 1, so we celebrated the national holiday with 75 of our closest Canadian and American friends. We had enjoyed the festivities so much a few years previous that we had to return. The celebration began the day before as boats of all shapes and sizes arrived for the holiday. We soon got to know a few of the other guests during an impromptu happy hour on the dock that had boaters bringing appetizers to share, enjoying their favorite beverage and swapping their best boating stories.
Boats were decorated with colorful pennants and Canadian flags. Canadians and Americans alike wore their red and white. Early in the morning Pierre Landry fired up a huge barbecue and loaded the rotisserie rack with enough prime rib to feed everyone. At 5 p.m. everyone gathered at the pavilion, sang “Oh Canada” and rounds of “Brother John” (Frere Jacques) in both English and French, and enjoyed a family-style dinner. After dessert the entertainment for the balance of the evening was the delightful music of the Davis family, from Abbotsford.
What’s for Dinner
Canada Day is not the only day long-bearded Pierre and his wife Tove (pronounced “Tova”) offer dinner to their guests. Each year they establish an event calendar, available on the website, which provides the schedule for dinners and also art shows, guest speakers, live music and theme nights.
The calendar runs from the last week in June to the first week in September. This year’s dinners included barbecued prime rib (Monday and Thursday), fish and chips (Wednesday) and roasted whole pig (Saturday). The latter is what Pierre is best known for in the cruising community. Kids 12 and under eat for free and they get a kick out of the Landrys’ hospitality; adults are encouraged to become kids again.
The Landrys provide the pig and do the barbecuing — on a unit that was built and donated by the Des Moines Yacht Club of Washington — and cruisers are asked to bring cutlery and a plate, a beverage, a hearty dish to share and a big appetite. Then everyone eats together like one big family in the dining hall. Due to the pig roast’s popularity, moorage fills quickly, and guests are requested to make reservations for arrival on Friday. The hosts don’t take reservations for Saturday, so they can devote the entire day to the pig.
As popular as the roasted whole pig is with boaters, our favorite is the prime rib. Pierre cuts and serves healthy portions, and it’s delicious.
Pierre’s is more than dinner. The family-owned and -operated marina is open year-round and located in well-protected deep-water Echo Bay, which has a spectacular sheer rock cliff on one side. Echo Bay got its name from how sound bounced back from the large cliff on the east side of the bay.
Personality emanates from the buildings and floats tied up to this floating community. The facilities include well-maintained extra-wide docks; a fuel float that offers diesel, gasoline and propane; 15-, 30- and 50-amp power; a well-stocked wilderness store; water, washrooms, showers, laundry and limited Wi-Fi; a post office, a gift shop and a book exchange; a community fire pit and a wood-burning saltwater hot tub. The store carries a good selection of items, including meats, dairy products and fresh produce (July and August only) canned goods, condiments and other grocery products. The marina is also dog friendly.
Several seaplane operations call on the marina, which makes it convenient for crewmembers to join or leave a cruise. Pierre’s isn’t solely the domain of boat owners. Two self-contained suites in the hand-built cedar lodge have balconies that overlook the marina and the mountains to the north. The suites tend to rent out often, so it’s recommended to make reservations.
The next morning, after coffee and breakfast, we took a short walk. A visit to Pierre’s isn’t complete without following the trail that leads to Billy Proctor’s Museum, open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and full of relics and artifacts that he has found throughout the years. Proctor has spent his life logging, trapping and fishing in northern British Columbia, and he began collecting his impressive collection of memorabilia when he was five years old. On display are arrowheads, tools, old bottles, fishing gear, old pictures, a logging and trapping cabin, and a blacksmith shop. All donations to the museum go to salmon enhancement.
It’s always a pleasure talking to Proctor, who is quite a character. Now in his 80s, the local pioneer, area legend and writer has co-written two books about his life in the Broughtons. The first, written with Alexandra Morton, “Heart of the Raincoast,” tells stories about the region. The second, “Full Moon, Flood Tide,” also written with Morton, documents the history of the archipelago from the writer’s viewpoint. Both are well worth reading and are available for sale in his small gift shop along with other interesting gifts.
Get Out & Explore
At the end of the bay is a provincial park that is popular with kayakers, and a trail from Pierre’s makes the trip there a short afternoon hike. Up until 2008 when it was closed, the park area was the site of the Echo Bay School. The building was torn down in 2014.
If foraging for a meal is your thing, try fishing in the area. Salmon, halibut, rock cod, prawns and crabs are there to be caught.