Forward Harbour welcome

Here’s our latest installment from Three Sheets Northwest guest columnist Jim Burgoyne of SalishSeaPilot.com

A view east down Forward Harbour from the anchorage at Douglas Bay. (Photo by Salish Sea Pilot)

The crew had grown tired of pounding into the lumpy result of wind against current in Johnstone Strait, so we opted to zig into Chancellor Channel and zag up Wellbore Channel where there was relief in the stillness.

We took the flow up through Whirlpool Rapids, which hide their power till you get to the other side, and took the first right at the entrance to Forward Harbour.

The anchorage at Douglas Bay, with protection from the northwest, is popular, with depths of 5-20 meters. We opted for deeper water, anchoring in 18 meters near low tide, as we could deploy lots of scope and not worry about the vessels closer to the beach.

It is a scenic anchorage, with mountains in the distance, where the Broughtons, that cruising area northwest of the Discovery Islands, actually begins. Forward Harbour is a friendly welcome, especially when the sun is shining and the mountain snows are gleaming.

We beached the dinghy and looked for the trail across the waist of Thynne Peninsula to Bessborough Bay. There are a few false starts, promising trails created by other eager trekkers, which dwindle to nothing, disillusioned. You try again.

By and by, you find the true trail, unmistakable for the chain saw cuts through trees felled by powerful storms you wish you could have been here for though maybe not on anchor.

The beach at Bessborough Bay has lovely views down Sunderland Channel and cries out to be explored, things that need to be picked up if only to see the crabs underneath scramble for cover.

Returning to Douglas Bay, we were taught a lesson. We had pulled our dinghy up beyond what we thought would be necessary, but clearly it wasn’t necessary enough because our dinghy was floating abeam the beach a hike from where we pulled her up. We knew the tidal range was greater than south in the Salish Sea.

Looking west from Bessborough Bay and down Sunderland Channel. (Photo by Salish Sea Pilot)

We collected our dinghy and our wits and visited two boats anchored off the beach to grill the crews about their scope, their holding and their thoughts on the anchorage. The experiences of other crews sure beats us having to drop our own hook and set it to determine the quality of holding. Both were American boats, headed for Alaska, and probably not prepared to play 20 Questions. Hide if you see us coming.

At the east end of Forward Harbour is a fishing camp, and you will be welcomed to dinghy to their dock if only for conversation. Here is also anchorage, with shelter from easterly winds, with good holding in mud and room to deploy generous scope.

Whether at the start or end of your cruise to the Broughtons or destinations north, it is hard to up anchor and leave this lovely place.

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