|Lovely Promenade along Port McNeill Waterfront|
Departing Port McNeill and making our way eastward between Vancouver Island and Malcolm Island (Broughton Strait/Cormorant Channel) brought some pleasant surprises.
Just off Sointula on Malcolm Island we were
met by a pod of Orca whales. Humpback
whales and Gray whales are more commonly seen in our Pacific Northwest waters,
while Orca seem more allusive so it was a special treat to encounter a pod of
We shut off the engine and watched
as they moved gracefully past us in the opposite direction; it appeared that a
mother had two calves by her side. Orca
whales or Killer whales are the largest member of the dolphin family and can
move at speeds up to 35 miles per hour.
They often cruise along the surface of the water but also spend time
under water navigating and hunting in complete darkness using sound or
echo-location much like sonar.
consist of three major groups identified as residents, transients, and
offshores; these groups have different social behaviors and vocalizations. We assume the Orca we witnessed were
transients. Transients live in pods of
three to seven and tend to be very quiet and vocalize only after a kill.
Orca or Killer whales are highly intelligent
and often cooperate in hunting and feeding and will sometimes ‘spy hop’ to look
above the water surface. Going our
separate way, we continued along the south shore of Malcolm Island and spotted
lovely Mitchell Bay with a dock and a bright red net shed.
As noted in the Waggoner Cruising Guide,
Mitchell Bay located near the east end of the Malcolm Island is a good summer
time anchorage, protected from easterlies and northwest winds. But what about the dock? There was no signage on the dock, which at
first glance appeared to be private.
Upon closer inspection we determined the dock was public with a self-registration payment box at the head of the ramp. Turns out this dock is managed by the ‘Malcolm Island Lions Harbour Authority,’ same as the docks in Sointula. The public dock at Mitchell Bay offers approximately 150 feet of linear moorage in an L-shape configuration. We tied-up and went ashore it investigate the pebble beaches, the quiet country road, and the bright red net shed. The net shed houses a collection of antique items and other collectables available for purchase.
We met Tina and Robert Turner who run the
shop and have lived on the island since their youth. They are both descendants of pioneers who
first settled on Malcolm Island. They
seemed to enjoy having visitors and were happy to share their stories of
growing up on the island. In the early
days, there was no road connection between Mitchell Bay and Sointula,
transportation was by boat only. Port
McNeill was just a small logging camp and Alert Bay on Cormorant Island was the
hub of activity with fuel, groceries, and housing. Electricity didn’t come to Malcolm Island
until the early 1960’s and the completion of the ‘Carrot Road’ to the north end
of Vancouver Island soon changed the dynamics of Port McNeill and Port Hardy.
The little community at Mitchell Bay,
however, remains as one of the last quiet, peaceful stops for visiting boaters.
|Sointula seen from Port McNeill along Broughton Strait|
|Orca Whale in Broughton Strait|
|White Markings of the Orca Whale|
|Scars and other markings help identify individual Orcas|
|Mitchell Bay Public Dock and the 'Red Net Shed'|
|Beautiful Views from Mitchell Bay Docks|
|Antique Shopping at 'The Red Net Shed'|
|Nice Beaches and Views at Mitchell Bay|