The last time we were in the Broughton Islands was in 2011. The weather was awful, time was short, and our boating skills were limited.
This trip the weather was spectacular, we are more confident boaters and we took full advantage of the southern area of the Broughtons.
Because the weather was so nice this year there were definitely more boats cruising and sailing the area than four years ago, but it didn’t feel “crowded” at all. The Broughtons include fjords that stretch for 50 miles, plus channels, bays, hills and mountains that are 99.99% undeveloped. There are very few houses, almost no roads, and when people travel, they travel by boat, seaplane or (rarely) helicopter. As the Captain said: “the physical world here is divided primarily into only three things: the sea, the forest and the sky. And on that beautiful backdrop, there are eagles, osprey, dolphins, whales and, at low-tide, black bears and grizzly bears looking for crabs and clams on the exposed rocks and mud flats.
As we cruised up Tribune Channel, we encountered our first whale of the trip. We’re pretty sure it was a humpback whale so we named it “Wanda.” Little did we know that we would have the opportunity to spend a lot more time with Wanda only a few days later, and only a few miles away.
On our second night in the Broughtons we decided we needed to stop someplace with internet so that meant a night at one of the wilderness marinas. So we stopped in at the Echo Bay Marina and got the last open dock space just in time to share the marina’s amazing prime rib dinner with about 70 other boaters.
The owners are truly lovely people. The internet was very limited, but that’s the case almost everywhere in the Broughtons. Cell phone service is also very limited.
Amazingly, we happened to sit down for dinner with two retired gentlemen who were in the area fishing – one from Whidbey Island (near Seattle), and the other from Pasco in Eastern Washington. After talking for a bit, we discovered that the one from Pasco grew up in Portland (Oregon), where Jim’s Dad grew up, and that his grandmother’s maiden, name was Spady! She was related to George Spady, who is Jim’s great uncle, so its very likely that we shared a meal with Jim’s cousin, who Jim had never met previously, at dinner. What a small world! Jim and his cousin exchanged contact information and plan to meet again later this summer.
Despite our desire to get away from it all we must admit being severed from the collective is very unsettling. While we could get, a satellite internet service for our boat, it’s ridiculously expensive so we’re not planning to do that anytime soon. So we do what we can when we get occasional cell phone service and also check in when we can when we stop at a marina.
We realized pretty early on this voyage that we were only going to get to do a little bit more of this vast area than we did four years ago. We needed to pick one of the many long channels to explore this time, so we chose Mackenzie Sound and the Little Nimmo (pronounced “Nee-mow”) Bay Resort. Over most of its history, the Little Nimmo Bay Resort has been available only to people staying at one of the cabins at the resort. But recently the resort opened up its simple but beautiful facilities and restaurant to boaters on a reservation-only basis. It seemed appealing in the guide book, and we were able to get a dinner reservation for Saturday including an afternoon massage and dinner.
Cruising to Nimmo Bay took us to an area of the Broughtons that we had never visited before. As we motored towards the resort, the mountains and constantly changing channel views were enchanting. We passed dolphins and eagles as we cruised, finally passing through Mackenzie Sound and the narrow, shallow entrance to Nimmo Bay.
This is a magical little spot where the resort owners raised their children, schooling them at a nearby First Nation village (Hopetown) that is now almost completely abandoned. One of those children is now the grown man who is running the resort. He lives at the resort with his wife and children, carrying on the family business.
After anchoring and taking a tour of the resort from Brianna (who has worked there for 9 summers) we took the dinghy out to explore the far end (head) of Mackenzie Sound where we discovered that the salt water there was a very comfortable 76 degrees! I couldn’t wait to swim. But I was concerned I couldn’t get back on the dinghy without a ladder. After searching through the dinghy the Captain magically found a little ladder that worked perfectly.
So I went swimming in the salt water of the Broughtons!
That evening we enjoyed a yummy light dinner of caprese (tomato and mozzarella) salad and some pot stickers before heading out on our dinghy for the best sunset we have ever shared on the True Love: 360 degrees of colorful sky in every direction, beginning with golds and ending with deep reds and pinks.
The next morning we headed out to catch some fish and photograph a bear on the beach. Both evaded us but we did take time to play with the dinghy’s new chart plotter and fish finder. The Captain loves this new piece of equipment because it allows him to feel safe as we quickly explore nearby shallow areas at 20 MPH, something the mother ship cannot do.
Although the fish and bear were elusive we did have a fantastic encounter with a pod of about 15 dolphins at both ends of Mackenzie Sound. That may be why we couldn’t catch any fish! We stopped for our picnic lunch during our second dolphin encounter and just watched the dolphins play and fish at the narrow, rocky entrance of Hopetown Channel (which was too small at low tide even for our dinghy to pass). According to the manager of the Nimmo Bay Resort, every year at least one large boat ends up on the rocks in this channel because they don’t review their charts carefully and don’t realize their mistake until it’s too late.
Our afternoon at Nimmo Bay was spent reading, soaking in the resort hot tub by the waterfall and getting massages.
Our evening was spent with 4 other guests enjoying a delicious wilderness gourmet meal and ending with a gathering by the dockside fire pit. There was a father and son from Westchester, NY (small world – that’s where I grew up), and a husband and wife from Victoria.
You would have thought after such a full day and a large meal, sleep would come pretty easily. After about an hour of reading when I was still no closer to falling asleep, I decided to go to the top of the boat and look at the stars. The night sky on the water is iffy. Although there isn’t any light pollution, there is usually a marine layer of clouds. But that night was an exception: the stars were glorious and I saw 4 shooting stars (allowing 4 wishes) and a variety of satellites before I headed down to sleep.
Little Nimmo Resort has a reputation for not being very welcoming to boaters, but they couldn’t have been nicer to us or given us better service. They definitely are ambivalent towards boaters if you don’t make a reservation in advance. But we would highly recommend the resort to anyone who can get a reservation. This isn’t a place where you can “drop in” and join the other guests for dinner at the last minute