Seymour Narrows is a bit of water one approaches with caution. This narrow passage north of Campbell River provides the shortest route between Vancouver Island and the mainland for transiting vessels. This passage is also subject to dramatic tidal currents of up to fifteen knots.
The strong currents create large areas where the water seems to boil, dotted with whirlpools and debris swept along by the rushing water. The result is what explorer Captain George Vancouver described in his logs as “one of the vilest stretches of water in the world.”
As usual we had anchored and waited a couple hours for the tide to change, waiting for the worst of the currents to slack. While small, fast boats can pass by during high current, most vessels wait for the tide here. We were not alone, when we pulled anchor and nosed into the narrows we joined a parade of boats that had waited.
The passage was once much worse, a large rock named Ripple Rock lurked just under the surface at low tide. This mid channel rock created huge standing waves and vicious eddies as the current ran over it.
OK, you can stop asking for the new Inside Passage video… It is done!
It has bears! Whales! Sea lions! Grizzly bears! Aurora! Lots of drone footage! More bears!
Actually the video came together pretty well. I already had a piece of music picked out, that saved a great deal of trouble. Nearly four weeks on the water meant a great deal of photographic material to work with. As usual the Inside Passage provided plenty of photographic opportunity, particularly the first week when is seemed like even the wildlife was performing on cue.
And there were lots of bears…
There are fewer and fewer good ruins to explore along the Inside Passage. This last year saw one of the best set of ruins bulldozed and burned.
The region is littered with abandoned canneries, mines, and shipwrecks, ample material for those who wish to explore and photograph. I must count myself among those who seek out such places.
The steamship stop and cannery at Buttedale is no longer the picturesque set of collapsing buildings it was when I last visited two years ago. We made a swing through the cove this year to note that most of the structures were gone, replaced with blackened ground and foundations. Just a few buildings and the large steam engine remain.
We did not go to Ocean Falls this year, it is a fair ways off the primary cruising route and we had a great visit a couple years ago. Instead I planned for Namu, a large abandoned cannery on Fitz Hugh Sound I had not had a chance to explore before.
A visit to Namu was not assured on this passage. With our alternator repairs and planning for a crossing of Queen Charlotte Sound before bad weather set in, time to explore the cannery might easily get crossed off the schedule.
SE Alaska and the coast of British Columbia are a place where the past does not get wiped away. Ruins, wrecks, and abandoned places are often left for nature to reclaim rather than scrapped or redeveloped. When traveling the waterways of the Inside Passage you are often wandering through echoes of the past.