Sunday, October 9, 2011

Favorite Anchorages - Turnbull Cove, Grappler Sound

One of my favorite anchorages when visiting the Broughton Archipelago is Turnbull Cove at the far northern end of Grappler Sound.  For me it is one of those anchorages where you can truly sit back and relax.  It's a quiet anchorage where you can hear the rain dripping off of the trees after a rain, the sounds of birds in the woods, quite simply it is a place where you can do some meditation.  However, there's lots to see and do if you are adventurous.

Click on image to enlarge
Calm before the storm in Turnbull Cove
Getting to Turnbull Cove is easy and there are no navigational hazards.  You travel up Grappler Sound, around Watson Point, through the narrows between Watson Island and the mainland, and turn to port into beautiful Turnbull Cove.  Currents will reach up to 5 knots by Watson Point and through the narrows, but there are no rapids.  Turnbull Cove is very protected from any kind of weather.  It can be stormy out in Queen Charlotte Strait and you'll barely notice the winds in Turnbull Cove.  Once we waited out quite a blow here and barely experienced a ripple.  The hard mud bottom has good holding all around.  I like to anchor in the western side of the bay in about 30-40' of water. 

At the far northern end of Turnbull Cove you can hike to Huaskin Lake - look for the collection of pilings and the BC Provincial Parks trail head sign.  It's not much of a trail, a simple straight up trail up the old logging shoot.  You can see the old cables left over from logging.  It's just shy of about a half mile hike - no switchbacks just straight up the hill.  Once you get to the top you will drop down a staircase to Huaskin Lake where there's a rustic dock and picnic table.  A few adventurous types I know have lugged a kayak up to the lake and did some fishing for trout.  You can also go hiking on the many logging roads nearby.

Roaringhole Rapids
A very fun side trip is to go to Roaringhole Rapids which is the entrance to Nepah Lagoon.  Foam from the rapids when ebbing can often be seen as far away as Watson Point.  Once we entered Nepah Lagoon at the end of flood and traveled a mile or so in but I got worried about getting stuck inside of Nepah Lagoon and so we left quickly.  Inside of Nepah Lagoon it seemed like a very wild and pristine place.

Another fun trip is to circumnavigate Watson Island.  It's an easy and scenic trip even by dinghy.  You start by going through beautiful Kenneth Passage with its many small islands, going around Claypole Point which to me seems to jut out like the giant bow of a ship, and then down through Hopetown Passage and Hoy Bay.  Hopetown Passage gets very shallow so you'll have to watch it.  One year we saw a large yacht grounded in Hopetown Passage - not sure what they were thinking by going through it.  After going through Hopetown Passage you make your way back into Grappler Sound.  If you travel on a flood with the exception of Hopetown Passage you'll get pushed all the way.  If the current is ebbing you can also see the rapids by Overflow Basin as you make your way back to Turnbull Cove.

If you're into fishing, shrimping and crabbing, there's plenty around.  We've caught halibut in Grappler Sound, caught lingcod and yelloweye rockfish nearby, got crab in nearby Burly Bay, and shrimping in plenty of different spots around Turnbull Cove and Mackenzie Sound.  We didn't get too many Spot prawns but always got lots of the smaller Coon Stripes.  Note that Kenneth Passage and the entrance to Nepah Lagoon is a rockfish conservation area.  If you're into wildlife watching keep an eye out on shore during low tide there's a good chance you'll see black bears on the beach. Once I counted over 7 black bears at the same time on the beach in Turnbull Cove. If you travel to the head of Mackenzie Sound or into Nimmo Bay you may be able to see a grizzly.   In Kenneth Passage and down Mackenzie Sound there's lots of waterfowl to see.

If you need to re-supply on groceries or fuel, or want to eat out you can visit nearby Sullivan Bay about 7 nautical miles away.  Port McNeill is about 27 nautical miles away.

I hope you visit Turnbull Cove and enjoy it as much as I do.  It is one of my most favorite places on the entire BC coast.

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