Prince Rupert to Port Hardy

A chance encounter with Chuck Curry in 2007 set our minds in motion and inspired this trip that we embark on in a few days. We were camped at the west end of Higgins Passage when Chuck stopped by to chat. A Puget Sound paddler, he was going solo from Port Hardy to Prince Rupert. He had crossed Milbanke Sound earlier that day in the same dense fog that Greg had unerringly led the 15.2 NM route from Milne Island to Higgins. After about 20 minutes Chuck paddled off towards the west. He still had some miles to make. We would meet up with him later in Seattle and learn that he had taken a route outside of Aristazabal, Trutch and Banks Islands. He had intended to go outside of Porcher, also, but ducked inside because he was running out of food. We were inspired to attempt his route, in reverse, and that is what we spent the past two years planning.

We will drive to Port Hardy on Thursday the 16th and board the Prince Rupert Ferry early Friday morning. Sailing time to Prince Rupert is about 15 hours. We hope to start paddling sometime Saturday the 18th. After that it’s hard to say where we will be at any particular time other than saying that we need to be in the vicinity of Seaforth Channel at the midpoint of our trip so that Greg can catch the PH ferry. He has just two weeks so won’t be able to make the full trip.

An extremely rough sketch of our intended route was to go through Edye Passage at the north end of Porcher Island and hang a left, keeping open ocean to our right until the time came to cross Queen Charlotte Strait for Port Hardy. We don’t have the expectation that conditions will allow that but it’s still the dream and will have wait another year or two. The BC Coast is not known for producing the perfect stretch of weather it would take to allow us to consider that a viable route with our current schedule so an Inside/Outside Route is what we expect to take.

We will travel south of Porcher through Ogden Channel then south down Petrel Channel between Pitt Island and McCauley or Principe Channel between Banks and Pitt. We have wanted to visit Campania Island for some time and this route will take us right to it. Weather and time lost expending “weather days” will determine which side of Aristazabal we see. The west coast of Aristazabal takes us into Kayak Bill territory. I would like to visit the camps along that shoreline as well as the camp just up the south end on Laredo Sound. That would mean that we would be visiting Higgins Passage and Pidwell again on the way to our resupply in Klemtu. If we go inside of Aristazabal, down Laredo Channel, we will take the shorter Meyers Passage route to Klemtu.

Dave has been on the outside of Athlone before and I think he would prefer to go through Gale Passage, instead. I’m fine with either and we do have familiarity the Gale route through the Bardswells. We don’t need to do Goose again so I see us working down the east side of Queens Sound and, weather willing, outside of Calvert. If weather doesn’t cooperate we can still work south seeking cover in passages between islands.

Many points along this route require clear strategies and help from the weather. Since the trip will take about a month we’ll see both ends of the tidal spectrum. We will see some 23’+ tidal exchanges and big exchanges create big currents so several spots along the way will require timing to coordinate current and wind to allow safe passage.

For the benefit of family and friends we are carrying a Spot Satellite Messenger and our daily progress can be followed at Dave’s blog, In my experience the device is less than 100% dependable so it is critical that nobody assumes the worst if our position doesn’t post regularly or if any message other than “I’m OK” shows up. Dave also offers a link to BC coastal weather that may provide you a clue as to what we are experiencing and why our position doesn’t change. I will be wearing an EPIRB in case we encounter an event that truly requires emergency assistance. We will use the “I Need Help” function on the Spot to communicate with our friend, Allen Burnhart, if we have a hopelessly broken boat or a non-life-threatening situation that doesn’t require immediate extraction. Allen has clear directions on what to do if he receives that signal.

This was all so much easier when this technology didn’t exist and we just went off and “disappeared” for a while.

See you in a month.


Just got back…
…Great trip! Weather was supernaturally good. We only took one bad weather day off and if we had gotten up really early we could have traveled that day too. Photos are posted here:

Your trip
Great pics! It looks like the weather was exceptional

I don’t think it could…
…have been any better. No rain. A little drizzle on 3 days. My storm cag never got used for anything other than a pillow. Lots of sun. Temps ranged from the low-50’s on the water to the low-90’s on land.

How long did you spend paddling that stretch of the coast? I am also curious on about how many miles you paddled. It looks like from your pics that you had alot of pretty decent campsites. I have paddled the stretch from Ketchikan to Skagway Alaska and am thinking of doing the lower part of the inside passage in 2011. Because that section is more protected from Ocean waves nice sandy beaches were sometimes very hard to find.

Three weeks.
I haven’t gotten the GPS mileage from my partner yet but we planned on a route that was a touch over 300 NM. We varied from that route a bit so I don’t know if we added or subtracted miles. Our paddle plan called for days ranging from 6 NM to 23 NM but ended up between 8 NM and a little over 30 NM. As you know, campsites up here are where they are and, while covering just 8 NM may seem like a waste of a day, not taking that short day can make the next 8 NM too long.

Things really fell into place, weather-wise. There were definately some days with contrary current and winds but when we needed a break for a crossing or a long day we got it.


For the info on your trip Paul