2022 Alaska Flotilla – Leg 1A, Day 7 – Octopus Islands – Forward Harbour | NW Explorations

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2022 Alaska Flotilla – Leg 1A, Day 7 – Octopus Islands – Forward Harbour

With Waiatt Bay facing east, our morning sunrise over the Octopus Islands mirrored pristinely off the calm waters, gently welcoming us into our day. Our cruise of 39 nautical miles will be an exciting one, we have planned for perfect timing in crossing 6 different rapids at their slack tides on our way to Forward Harbour.

An early start of 7:30am gave us time to discuss our float plans, ready our vessels, disassemble our raft, and lift our anchors for a smooth take off. The Octopus Islands are a very special place, with islets surrounding the provincial park, the BC Marine Parks Forever Society has sustained the 1,883 acres of protected land since the establishment of these grounds in 1974.

Bidding farewell to our haven in Waiatt Bay we head east of the Octopus Islands, back through the slack tide of Hole in the Wall, returning into Calm Channel. As we round the eastern face of Sonora Island, we are all pleasantly surprised at the peaceful currents existing in Yuculta Rapids, Gillard Passage, and Devil’s Hole of Dent Rapids. Having now championed 4 out of the 6 rapids for our adventures today, it was stunning to take a moment to observe the scenery around us. From the many peaks of the alpine B.C. Provincial Parks in the Coast Mountain Range, today’s sun made for a beautiful cruise.

Cruising south into Nodales Channel and west into Johnstone Strait, our trek through Greene Point Rapids and Whirlpool Rapids were planned so well with the slack tide that you wouldn’t have even known these waters were home to rapids if you weren’t told ahead of time. Johnstone Strait was a lovely sightseeing destination, we took a very good look at a few Pacific Loons, Surf Scoters, and even a mother Bald Eagle watching over her nest.

In learning about bald eagles, they are incredibly attentive parents. Both parents strictly tend to their new hatchlings during their first week of life. After that first week, they let the nestling eaglets learn a bit more about their environment by being more exposed, only stepping in for inclement weather. It’s estimated that during the first three weeks of a hatchling’s life, the mother spends about 90% of her time at the nest while the father specializes in bringing food. A field study found that in most observations, the first eaglet hatched received majority of the food brought into the nest. The data collected showed them receiving upwards of 97% of a single meal.

Once we all touched down in Forward Harbour, anchors were dropped, and the fleet initiated their adventures for the afternoon. Not long after the Deception crew started scouting a locally marked trail, the crew aboard Artic Star radioed over that they had seen our first bear sighting!! We were under the impression that this animal had been a black bear, but when the Deception Crew came out of the forest and realized they were sharing the beach with a black bear scouring the shore for a late afternoon snack, Artic Star had realized they were viewing a Grizzly Bear earlier that day.

At a far distance, the shadow shape of a bear seems to be quite universal, but the closer you view these stunning animals it’s an easy task differentiating the local coastal dwellers. Black bears are the most plentiful and widely distributed inhabitants in the entire province of British Columbia, with a smaller population of around 14,000 Grizzlies living alongside them.

After an exciting day having truly felt immersed in the world around us, we all returned to our vessels and watched the sunset send an alpine glow across the peaks above the tidal flats of Forward Harbour. As both mariners and natural world enthusiasts, we’ve learned so much today about the importance of both navigational and environmental awareness. So many incredible memories were made, and we are all looking forward to our journey into Lagoon Cove tomorrow afternoon.

P.S. Is Alaska on your bucket list? We can take you there! Email us to reserve your spot on our 2023 Mother Goose AK Flotilla. charters@nwexplorations.com 

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