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Rose Spit - where the Hecate Strait meets Dixon Entrance - Photo: Owen Perry

The rainforest experience - moss carpeted paths, a lingering scent of fresh cedar and the sounds of silence - Photo: Owen Perry

Step into another world as you tour ancient Haida village sites in Gwaii Haanas - Photo: Owen Perry


Swan Lake

By Linda Leitch / Blue Sky Charters

We’re leaving the dock early in the morning to catch the incoming tide that will carry us into Masset Inlet. The docks are a beautiful place to be at five a.m.  The sunlight is gently rising through the mist that hangs over the harbour and the only noise to be heard is the sucking movements of water against wood as we move around on the surface of the docks. As always the detailed planning is left to the gods that be - we live in Masset and exploring up the inlet is just a weekend in our backyard.

Guy Kimola / Haida Gwaii Photos

Across from us is a fleet of sport fishing boats. The guides are already on board, and have big steaming cups of coffee sitting close to them as they tiredly tie their leaders for the day’s fishing ahead. We shake the dew off the lines, pulling them in as the motor takes control of our 27’ Catalina. The guides wave and call out friendly taunts and we tease back, this is a small town and at this time in the morning, everyone knows each other.

In the inlet the tide is already pulling us in strongly; which is a good thing because there isn’t wind to touch our sails let alone fill them. As we pass by Nadu River, approximately halfway up Masset Sound I snap a picture of the Lowrance. It shows us going at a speed of 9.2 knots, our motor is practically at an idol, that’s just how quickly we’re being swept along with the current.

It seems that as soon as Nadu disappears behind us we’re gliding past Kumdis Island and the logging base at Collison Point; then we’re being spit out past Ship Island as we transition from Masset Sound to Masset Inlet.

Linda Leitch / Blue Sky Charters

In Masset we’re used to wide open beach landscapes, the dunes roll higher as they recede from the shore but it’s otherwise flat. In the short distance up Masset Sound we’ve been able to totally change our environment, Masset inlet is surrounded by rolling friendly hills and snowcapped mountains. The push from the tide relaxes here and our motor again digs in.

I plot a new course that leads us directly to a friend’s shrimp traps. We launch our little dingy and 2 of us paddle over to pull the traps while the other 2 stay with the sailboat jigging for rock fish. Both parties are wildly successful. We return to the boat with a bucket of large jumping shrimp just as Dann reels in a nice size Ling Cod.

Linda Leitch / Blue Sky Charters

The day is still young and it’s brilliantly sunny and warm, kind of a rarity for us here. We decide today will be an excellent day to try my theory on a swimming hole where Swan Lake drains into the Inlet just east of McClinton bay.

On its path to the ocean the lake passes over a big black rock with different size pools worn into it. Towering cedars line the edge of the area and some even sprout from unlikely places in the center of the rock causing the lake to choose between 2 different paths. 2 separate waterfalls flow down either side into a bay full of little islets. My theory is that the fresh water will heat up as it passes slowly over the black rock and make nice warm little swimming pools.

The area that we choose to anchor is not very well protected but there’s still no wind, the water is glassy calm and crystal clear, we can see 40 feet down to the rocky bottom and we know we’re firmly hooked. We pack a quick lunch and launch the 2 kayaks and the dingy and head to shore. The easiest way up to the lake is to climb through the most western waterfall. At this time of year it’s a slow trickle and only a few inches deep.

Linda Leitch / Blue Sky Charters

We plop our things down on a nearby log and I take off my boots and stick my toes into the shallowest of pools. My theory’s panning out; this water is warm like a bathtub. I excitedly put on my bathing suit and start wandering around like Goldilocks testing the temperature of all the pools. I find the one that’s just right and sink in letting the water close over my head.

We spend most of the day here basking in the sunshine. I float on my back looking up into the canopy above me and absorb the beauty of this unique little treasure we’ve found. Every once in a while I float over to the top of the eastern waterfall to check on our sailboat. From this vantage point I can just see the top of our mast, right where we left it.

Linda Leitch / Blue Sky Charters

Eventually we return to the boat. Should the weather change during the night this isn’t a good place for us to be. We decide that before dinner we should move into an anchorage that’s an old favorite us, Salt Lake in Shannon Bay. We keep a close eye on the plotter as we weave our way through the narrow entrance to Salt Lake, and think light thoughts as our deep keel barely floats over shallow rocks. In the water around us there’s a meteor shower of jelly fish passing by. Once safely in the “lake” we drop the hook into the muddy bottom, make a dinner of shrimp and ling cod then blissfully go to sleep.

We awake in the morning to thick fog rolling around the bay. Here and there the fog is pierced with an ambitious ray of sunshine. We’re in no hurry to decide what to do with the rest of the day and we can’t start to head home until late in the afternoon when the tide changes and will be ready to pull us back up Masset Sound to our home.

Once again we launch our flotilla of tiny vessels and disperse from the boat toward the shore eager to explore a paradise we’re lucky enough to call our backyard.

Linda Leitch / Blue Sky Charters


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