Cruising Southeast Alaska - 2009

By Linda Lewis


18. Kynoch Inlet and Culpepper Lagoon - British Columbia


We have heard about Kynoch Inlet in British Columbia for years. It is located in the area called Fiordlands - above Bella Bella/Shearwater. But we were always on our way to or from Southeast Alaska and just couldn't seem to find the time for this off-the-beaten-path spot. People said it is the most beautiful spot in British Columbia, using words like "awesome" and "magnificent." Well, they weren't kidding. It does indeed rival some of the spots we have been to in Southeast Alaska.

Here is the beautiful waterfall that greets you as you enter Kynoch Inlet.

This is the path down the long, gorgeous inlet to Culpeper Lagoon.

These massive chunks of rock rise 3,000+ feet in the air and go straight down several thousand feet into the water in places.

We were reminded very much of the area in SE AK called Fords Terror.

Every way we turned, the scenery was wonderful.

This spot reminded me of Misty Fiords National Monument - just east of Ketchikan.

We made our way down the long inlet, timing our entrance into Culpepper Lagoon for high water slack. We had a variety of pieces of local knowledge about what stations to use to estimate slack at this spot. Brian Pemberton - owner and operator of a fine Grand Banks charter company out of Bellingham WA ( - said to expect high water slack at Culpepper to occur about 30 minutes after high tide at the Tom Bay station. From our experience, I would say he was right on the money. We entered a little early and found about a half knot flood still running (on a Spring Tide).

Here's what the Royal Sounder looked like at anchor in Culpepper Lagoon.

I loved looking at the blue snow up on mountain tops.

I didn't love looking at the shoal right beyond our boat. Like many of these fiords, the water is very deep right up to the edge of a shoal. You need to do a good cruise-through in these areas before you decide where to put the anchor down.

Even then, some of us are a little nervous. Dave caught me out on the bow the next morning checking things out.

OK - so it looked all right and I decided to just chill and have my coffee.

We needed to wait for the afternoon high water slack in order to make our exit. In the mean time, we went exploring the narrows in The Green Devil - of course at max flood!

We were certainly convinced we didn't want to go through THAT with our 7 knot boat. Even the Green Devil with its 40 hp would have meant a slog going out and a real rocket ride coming back in. We estimated it was flooding at about 9 knots.

The pictures say it all.

Like this overfall and whirlpool? Not exciting enough?

How about this?

Or this? Yes - Dave was very careful to steer off to the side of these and I was hanging on for dear life, making one-armed camera shots.

Can't get enough of these.

Well, our moment to exit did arrive. With our own local knowledge under our belt, we elected to go a bit before high water slack. We encountered about a 3-4 knot flood against us. That is pushing it for us.

It was Dave's turn at the helm so I went outside to take pictures. As we entered "the tongue" of the flow - right at the narrows - we got pushed pretty hard to starboard. I was once again hanging on for dear life and you do NOT want to know what I was saying (repeatedly) at this moment in time.

Even with local knowledge, I don't think we shouldn't have pushed the window quite this closely. It was a Spring Tide after all (when currents tend to run harder). Will we never learn?

As we left Kynoch Inlet we heard some ugly weather forecasts for Queen Charlotte Sound - up to 35 K winds. (At the same time, 40-50 K winds were being forecast for Dixon Entrance.) If we didn't get to the Queen Charlotte Sound jump-off spot in two days and make it across on that single "window" day, we were likely to be waiting for 3-4 days before the next opportunity.

Next time... Did we make the window?



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