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Escape to the


[Largely] Unknown Five Summer Paddling Hotspots,


From Ocean to Oscillating Ocean.


CAPE CAUTION, Inside Passage British Columbia


Cape Caution is so named because it is the only stretch of B.C.’s Inside Passage that’s not actually inside anything. Lying too far north to be sheltered by Vancouver Island, Cape Caution is exposed to the storms of the open Pacific, but it’s also home to some of the West Coast’s most beautiful and solitary beaches. The pinnacle of a week-long, out-and-back trip from Port Hardy is Burnett Bay, a vast crescent sweep of fine, golden sand just south of the cape. A long day of island-hopping across the Queen Charlotte Strait—or a $325 water taxi charter—takes you from the put-in on Vancouver Island to the mainland coast. Calm weather and another day or two at the oars will land you at Burnett. The best camp- ing is at the sheltered south end near the creek mouth.


After a few days spent soaking up the beauty and exploring up the creek, push north around the Cape to discover more beach gems. When heading back to Port Hardy, allow time to ride the tidal currents up Slingsby Channel to view the whitewater mayhem of Nakwakto Rapids.


30 // Summer 2005


IT’S A LITTLE-KNOWN FACT: In the trees at the north end of Burnett Bay you’ll find a humble cedar-shake cabin built by Seattle kayaker Randall Washburne. Logbook entries from well-known pad- dlers mix with those from the less well- known and document two decades of coastal pilgrimages. It’s interesting reading, particularly the entry of hermit Haddington John and the sobering tale of some poorly prepared kayakers who had a near-death experience here in huge surf.


MAPS: Chart 3605 (Quatsino Sound to Queen Charlotte Strait).


GETTING THERE: Port Hardy is 500 kilo- metres north of Victoria on Vancouver Island. Pacific Coastal Airlines connects from Vancouver (www.pacific- coastal.com). See www.greyhound.ca for bus schedules.


story and photos by Tim Shuff


INFO: Port Hardy Chamber of Commerce (www.ph-chamber.bc.ca), Adventure Center (www.adventurecen- ter.ca).


OUTFITTERS: Tofino Expeditions offers seven-day guided tours (www.tofino.com). Info, rentals and water taxi bookings are available in Port Hardy from North Island Kayak (www.kayakbc.ca) and Odyssey Kayaking (www.odysseykayaking.com).


CONDITIONS: Tidal currents can mix dangerously with wind and waves in Queen Charlotte Strait and at the mouth of Slingsby Channel. Surfing into either end of Burnett Bay is easy in a typical low summer swell, but offshore storms can kick up bigger waves at any time.


WILDLIFE: Cape Caution has the world’s highest concentration of gray whales. Keep an eye out for the ridged back of a feeding gray.


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