A weekend trip around Bonwick Island from Telegraph Cove with a stay at the beautiful midden beach at Fox 66.
A two day loop around Bonwick Island from Telegraph Cove (route and campsite in yellow)
Bonwick Circumnavigation from Telegraph Cove. 62 km. 2 days.
Nearing the end of April, L and I were near the end of our time in Hyde Creek. We had been keen to get out to the West Coast, but those areas remained closed due to COVID-19, so we settled on doing a loop of Bonwick Island and visiting a favourite campsite: Fox 66. We had paddled extensively in this area in a trip in 2017, but there were still a few places left to explore!
Day 1: April 24, 2021 – Telegraph Cove to Fox Group (via “outside”)
Another morning launch from Telegraph Cove to glassy waters on Johnstone Strait. We crossed the Strait, aiming for the Plumper Group of islands just to the north west of Hanson Island. Current moves quickly through this area, at times even creating standing waves and whirlpools, but we had timed our passage well and got a nice ride through the islands.
We paddled past an island I had camped at the previous weekend on a trip around Malcolm that I dubbed Banana Slug Islet. From here we left the islands and crossed Blackfish Sound at its widest point. After an hour or so of paddling, we reached the NW tip of Swanson Island – a shoreline that we had never paddled.
Paddling through the Sedge Group of islands.
We left Swanson and paddled into the lovely Surge Islets. Only minimal swell was rolling in off of Queen Charlotte Strait. Despite the gorgeous island clusters behind us, we had never paddled the north shore of Swanson Island as a large fish farm dominates the area. I believe it is being removed soon. We also bypassed White Cliff Islets, which we have also never visited. We had considered it as a campsite on this trip, but it was much too early in the day and felt quite exposed in the unsettled weather.
Continuing across the mouth of Knight Inlet we aimed for the western shore of Fire Island and a small channel that we could see on the chart. We paddled from there through small passages to the islands northwest of Cedar Island. The last crossing of the day took us through the Canoe Islets and across Spring Passage to the Sedge Islands.
Taking a nature break near Bonwick.
While camping opportunities in the Sedge Group are limited, the islets offer extremely gorgeous paddling. Expansive views of Queen Charolette Strait abound and small channels with varied shoreline and windblown trees provide great sea kayaking. We were in no rush and took our time winding our way through the islets and slowly heading towards the shore of Bonwick Island.
We entered Arrow Passage through a small channel along the north side of Bonwick and into Sedgley Bay. The fish farm in this area visible on Google Maps and marked on the chart has been removed, although some infrastructure is still evident. Continuing down Arrow Channel, the weather remained glum.
Nice shoreline on Bonwick Island.
We found some more islets to weave through and then paddled over to one of our favourite campsites in the area. The campsite is on the SW tip of an island marked with “66” in the Fox Group. There is a large midden at this site, unfortunately windfall has covered most of the beach and the easiest access is at the south end. This is a gorgeous site and well used in the summer – a large group could set up camp here, but boat storage could be tricky.
Low tide landing at the midden beach at Fox 66.
We pitched the tarp as the sky continued to darken – it had threatened rain all day but had only ever sprinkled. It seemed imminent now, but we were able to enjoy a few hours of reading and hiking around the island before it started to rain. We found a gorgeous orchid and a culturally modified tree. We returned to camp, ate a great pasta dinner, and had another great night out in the tent.
Cozy setup at Fox 66.
Fairy slipper orchid (Calypso Orchid) found while wandering around on Fox 66.
Day 2: Fox Group to Telegraph Cove (via “inside”)
Sunflower star in the intertidal zone in the Fox Group.
The rain stopped overnight, but we awoke to a grey day. The wind was very calm though. We loaded the boats on the beautiful midden beach and left the paradise of the Fox group. There was some great intertidal life in the Fox Group.
We photographed some rhinoceros auklets on the crossing over to Gilford Island and continued on the Gilford shoreline down Retreat Passage. We crossed Meade Bay and came around the corner to the vibrant community of Gwayasdums (Health Bay).
From here we continued south into familiar waters. The islets north of Seabreeze Island are great for a rest stop, but we continued on past Henrietta Island and towards the Ridge Islets. The small group of rocks in the middle of Spring Passage and just northeast of Midsummer Island offer a fun little stretch of paddling, but make sure you time your passage here wisely as plenty of current moves through this area.
L paddling past the community of Gwayasdums (Health Bay) on the west side of Gilford Island.
We crossed Knight Inlet and paddled through the passage to the west of Maude Island and towards the Goat Islands. The paddling in this area is gorgeous and we enjoyed slowing our pace down as we made our way into Village Channel. We continued along the shoreline, to the north of Compton Island, where we experienced some current in our favour. We went out of the way to check out Flower Island – a great campsite in Blackfish Sound and an awesome place for whale watching.
From Flower Island, we decided to cross directly to Hanson Island and decide which way to travel once we reached the shore. We ended up crossing directly to Square Notch Bay on Hanson Island, somewhere we have camped in the past. We decided to take the faster, and perhaps more interesting route back to Telegraph Cove via the Plumper Group.
The shoreline of Hanson is incredibly varied and we padded in and out of bays and enjoyed the exposed shore. We stuck to the Hanson Island shore as we made our way through the Plumper Group. We experienced minimal current and easily made our way towards Weynton Island. In the past however, L and I have experienced significant current here – enough to stop us in our tracks.
From Wenyton Island, we crossed directly towards Telegraph Cove. There were some rips and strong currents entering Weynton Passage, but nothing that gave us any pause. The wind was blowing lightly from the southeast and up Johnstone, but the water was calm and we enjoyed an easy paddle back to the cove.