Knights Inlet – The Journey Begins: Mitlenatch Island

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IMG_1851 According to my log, I left Comox at 11:23 April 23, 2013.  It was a beautiful day with scattered cloud and a light NW wind.  It had only become evident a day earlier that I was traveling alone for the first leg.  This didn’t matter, and in fact made life a lot easier, I thought.  I had lots of supplies on board and didn’t need to be at the end of Knights Inlet till the full moon at the end of the month. Twenty five minutes out from the dock was where my crab traps were set.  They would be needed for this trip so I stopped and got myself in position to pull them.  This was my first indication that doing all this alone was tricky.  I would get the boat in position but by the time I got down to the bow to grab the traps we would be blown off.  This held me up a bit but it didn’t matter.  There were some places I wanted to anchor on the way but no real schedule. The first night I would anchor in the gorge on Cortez Island.  It was 12:36 and I was abeam of the east cardinal bouy off of Cape Lazo.  It is a pretty much a straight shot from here to the gorge which would just graze Mitlenatch Island.

Mitlenatch Island is a bird sanctuary and marine park and is rich with an abundance of natural beauty.  This is my 1st stop.IMG_1770

As I was pulling into the only bay to anchor I couldn’t help but notice all the sea lions on the rocks.  I pulled out my camera and got as close as I could for some photos.  Again I had to be careful trying to compose the perfect photo while keeping the boat off the rocks single handed.  I did manage to get one of my favourite wildlife photos of the big bull with birds in the background.  I don’t know what  kind of birds they are.  At first I thought they were puffins, but I don’t think so.  Maybe an Auk of some kind.  Anyone know?Sea Shore


Here is a link to the official web-site for the Island

The island has voluntary caretakers stationed in a beach-wood fort and tarp compound that kind of reminds you of Gilligan’s Island.  They are there to protect the fragile habitat that clings to this place.  There are strict rules on visiting this park;  one is no commercial visits without a permit.  Unfortunately  I still don’t have the permits needed to take passengers to this park but hope to by the summer of 2014.  When you step foot on the island you will probably be greeted with a smile and the list of rules.  You are only allowed to travel by the well marked trails.  One of the biggest threats to the incubating eggs of the gulls is crows.  The nesting gull can fend off a crow, but if scared off its nest the crows quickly take advantage.  The first thing I noticed when I started down the trails was


flowers.  The birds have done a good job of fertilizing this rock and there were plants of all sorts everywhere.  The main trail takes you to the top of the island where you can view the nesting birds from behind a bird blind.  It was warm with no wind and I stretched out on my back, closed my eyes and nodded out to the defining screeching of a thousand gulls.  So there I was sitting on top of the hill.  Was I the egg man?IMG_1760

I spent three hours on the island wandering around in shorts and a t-shirt enjoying an unusually warm April afternoon.  What a contrast to what I would experience up Knights Inlet in 3 or 4 days.  Gorge Harbour is still 2 hours away and it was coming up on 6 PM.  On my way back to the boat one of the caretakers told me that the sea lions had moved to their evening hangout on the SW side of the island so I took the Zodiac around for a look.  There were about 20 of them sunning on the smooth rocks that faced the setting sun.  I shut the engine off and drifted by and they hardly noticed, except one.  The alfa male slipped into the water and charted a course straight towards me.  I was taking a movie and realized he was charging at me but all I could do was brace myself and see what happens.  It seems it was a bluff charge as he dove before getting to me but I was ready to get back to the boat.

It took just under 2 hours to get from Mitlenatch to the anchorage in Gorge Harbour in front of my old friend’s, Ted & Susie’s, place.  Ted hired me to work for Ferries when I was 18 and I always like to stop in and visit when I can.  Turns out that they were off the Island so I ate my fill of the crab I had caught in Comox and fell asleep studying the chart for tomorrow’s adventure.

The next leg will be through the Stuart Island area with it’s wild tidal rapids and millionaire lodges.  The tidal rapids can only be attempted near slack tides but if timed right, they can really boost your fuel economy.  Stay tuned for the next blog and let us know if you would like to visit any of these areas.  We plan on cruising north again in May of 2014.  I’d like to break the trip up into 3 or 4 legs so people could join  in at different stages or locations.  If you’re interested and can let me know your schedule, we can work on coordinating this.