Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Favorite Anchorages - Beaver Inlet, Loughborough Inlet

A great, not too popular anchorage that is north of Desolation Sound is Beaver Inlet.  Beaver Inlet is a small inlet that extends west off of the much larger and very scenic Loughborough Inlet.  It's a "bomb-proof" anchorage that's just off of the beaten waterborne path of Chancellor Channel.  My opinion is that it is very scenic, plus it offers some good opportunities for getting seafood - particularly crab and shrimp.  We used it one year as a cruising destination because we didn't have as much time to go farther north.  It offered us some isolation (which I like), a good safe anchorage, and plenty of daytime opportunities for fishing and exploring.

Click to see full image.
Loughborough Inlet is about 18 nm miles long.  As you work your way up the inlet the mountains rise steeply on either side of the inlet.  Like most BC fjords the inlet terminates where a river enters and the waters are shoal and milky and depths are hard to determine.  There's not too many other anchoring opportunities for Loughborough Inlet since small bays of Sidney, Heydah, and Frazer are too deep for safe anchoring.  Where you do find a decent anchorage depth you will find yourself possibly swinging in to shore.  There's also a lot of logging going on in Loughborough Inlet.

View of Franklyn Range from Beaver Inlet anchorage.
Beaver Inlet is about 4 nm miles from start of Loughborough Inlet from Chancellor Channel.  Beaver Inlet itself is about 3 nm in length.  On the south side of Beaver Inlet there are some very scenic mountains of the Franklyn Range.  On the north side of the inlet there are some lower lying hills.  From the end of Beaver Inlet it is only about 3 miles (as the crow flies) from the end of Forward Harbor to the west.  When anchored near the end of Beaver Inlet you can look up the inlet and see snowy tops of the Pembroke Range.

The holding in Beaver Inlet is excellent in thick clay/mud in depths about 30-40'.  Once while anchored here a storm blew through and we probably had a few gusts of 30 knots or more and never moved an inch.  The weather radio reported storm force winds in Johnstone Strait of 50 knots or more.  Some westerly winds will enter through the low lying area from Forward Harbor to the west.  However, I welcome these winds as they keep the bugs (horseflies & mosquitoes) in the woods and keep us cool on hot days.  There's plenty of anchoring space in Beaver Inlet so even if there are other boats anchored you can still feel alone at your anchoring spot.

Crabbing can be good in Beaver Inlet, but occasionally a commercial crabber will set their pots in the Inlet too.  Also there are some year-round residents in Sidney Harbor just north of Beaver Inlet and in the area that will set pots here too.  A fish biologist friend of mine recently did an underwater survey for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and was amazed at the number of young juvenile Dungeness crab he found here.  But again, crabbing can be spotty from year to year.  One year instead of setting pots I simply paid the commercial crabber for some crabs.  I believe I got an incredible deal of big fresh Dungeness crab, helped the local economy, and made another coastal friend.

Nice big spot shrimp from Loughborough.
Shrimping can be excellent in Loughborough Inlet.  In fact, Loughborough is known for its spot shrimp.  You can set shrimp pots almost anywhere and get some shrimp. Once we set one shrimp pot and got well over 100 spot shrimp all over 5" long.  Not more than 100 yards away the other pot had maybe 60 coon stripe shrimp.  Who knows, the bait and depth were the same.  Just be aware that the current does run through Loughborough Inlet which can greatly affect the number of shrimp you might get (see previous post on catching shrimp).  Also, Loughborough Inlet is popular with commercial shrimpers which may also affect how many shrimp you catch.  If setting and retrieving shrimp pots is not your thing, a resident in Sidney Bay will sell you local caught Loughborough Inlet shrimp.

You can also use Beaver Inlet as a base camp for exploring Loughborough Inlet.  We have dinghy explored Sidney Bay to the north as well as some small islands and bays on the east side of Loughborough Inlet.  We found some absolutely gorgeous spots filled with beautiful wildflowers.  We've seen mink and martens, otters, as well as a few bears in the area.  The past few years I've noticed a pair of nesting bald eagles in Beaver Inlet.  You will also see quite a few homes that are either summer residences or a few permanent residences.  Some buildings are "ghost houses" that probably told of better times.  Finally Blind Channel Marina is about 12 nm miles away if you need any crucial fuel, groceries, or liquor.  All in all I believe you will find Beaver Inlet and Loughborough Inlet a fun stop on your exploration of the BC coast.

Because of the shrimp bounty we have experienced in Loughborough Inlet I'll share with you one of my favorite recipes that's sure to be a hit when you raft up with a bunch of friends - Shrimp & Sausage Gumbo.  I also always make my own Cajun seasoning prior to leaving on a trip.

Cajun seasoning:
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground thyme
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
Gumbo ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 lb. Andouille sausage or whatever you have on board (could even be canned chicken)
  • 2-3 chicken bullion cubes
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 can diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 can okra, drained
  • 2 3/4 tsp of cajun seasoning 
  • 1 Tblsp of dried parsley
  • 12-16 medium sized shrimp tails, peeled
  • 3 cups cooked rice
  1. Chop all vegetables in advance, pre-open cans, and have all ingredients ready.
  2. Make a roux.  Pour vegetable oil into a heavy pot and over high heat, heat oil until shimmering.  Add flour and continue to stir until oil-flour mixture looks the color of melted chocolate - a deep, dark, rich brown.  Important thing here is to continuously stir the oil flour mix.  If needed add more oil to make smooth.  This will take about 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add chopped onion, celery, and green pepper to the roux and mix well.  As soon as the vegetables start to get soft (about 2-3 minutes) add sausage.  Again stir frequently until meat just begins to brown (about 3-5 minutes).
  4. Reduce heat to low, and add canned tomatoes, okra, bullion cubes, water and Cajun seasoning.  Stir well and let simmer, covered for about 30 minutes or so.
  5. Turn off the heat, add shrimp, dried parsley, mix well and cover and let stand for 5 minutes.  Meanwhile put a scoop of rice in a bowl and when ready ladle hot gumbo over rice and serve with plenty of Louisiana hot sauce.  Enjoy.

1 comment:

TakingPaws said...

More on the anchorage and others surrounding the area: