Cruising Southeast Alaska - 2009

By Linda Lewis

 

20. Broughton Islands - Pierre's at Echo Bay

 

After our pleasantly uneventful southbound crossing of Queen Charlotte Sound, we were ready to kick back at our favorite stop-over marina: Port McNeill Harbour (below). Even though we had started across with first daylight, the inn was almost full when we arrived; we got the next to the last spot. They don't take reservations, so it's always a gamble. This is a busy time of the season (end of August) as cruisers like us are making our way down from Southeast Alaska towards home and the Broughton Islands' cruising boats are making their last big stock-up before heading south. We're glad to know that expansion of the breakwater and the docks is on the near horizon.

In the mean time, it's good to know that you can make reservations for moorage at Port McNeill at another marina. The floats to the right of the fueling area are a part of the Port McNeill Fuel Dock & Marina; they take reservations. Last summer they added moorage space; will there be more to come? The fuel dock is in the middle of the photo, below, with the moorage area to the right. The boats at the far left are actually at the Port McNeill Harbour.

We didn't get to the Broughton Islands last year, so we decided to make a short side trip over there. In particular, we wanted to see the newly relocated Pierre's at Echo Bay (www.pierresatechobay.com). And we especially wanted to be a part of the fun at one of Pierre's famous Pig Roasts (Saturdays during the summer; reservations a must - see full activities schedule on their website).

The signature white tent is easy to spot from the water.



The Royal Sounder was honored to be moored right in front of the beautiful lodge. The lighthouse building is also in residence; but Lady Di - the baker - has retired. (Sad sighs from everyone.)

All of the docks have been fully refurbished, re-powered, and flowered up. The store is active, the fuel dock is in full swing, and wifi is broadcast to the docks. It's a real pleasure to walk around this marina and visit with other cruisers.

How all of the buildings got transferred from Pierre's former, nearby location to the new location and the way the marina was rebuilt is a story in itself. The following photos are actually pictures I took of pictures that Pierre has posted in the community room (reprinted here with Pierre's permission). The quality isn't stellar this way, but they tell a great story. The lodge was towed on the water to its new location. It's actually fairly common to see buildings being towed along the Inside Passage.

However, what's not common is to be blessed with an Orca escort during the tow! Pretty special.

The newly-installed docks also went in with a little magical help - from cruisers and other friends.

Cruisers like the Broughton's and appreciate the numerous little marinas scattered throughout the islands. They especially liked what Pierre was doing at Echo Bay and they were willing to help in many ways, such as pounding a few nails. I recognized Stew and Pat from Pegasus in this photo. During our visit this year, Pat even pointed out some of the nails she had pounded (well, sort of) as we walked along.

It took a lot of lumber.

And not a moment was to be wasted, so work proceeded even while underway!

Things look great there now. All kinds of boats are attracted to this open, easy-to-dock location.

And the seaplanes still make frequent stops.

People come from all over to see Pierre's place. Ursula came all the way from Germany (Berlin). She's trying to hide behind her host, Pat - from Pegasus, but I caught her.

Ursula's husband, Jurgen was not so shy. He was happy to show off his 11 lb Coho - among the first salmon he has ever caught.

Hi host, Stew, took care of the hard part.

Billy Proctor's Museum is a short walk or dinghy ride from Echo Bay. It's a must-see for anyone new to the Broughton's. Newbies Dan and Sally, from Spirit of Balto, made sure they got there.

Billy is the recognized patriarch of the Broughton Islands. Although he is taciturn, you can get him going and the stories just roll out.

Inside the museum there are all kinds of 'coast artifacts': old bottles, tools, hooks, shells. It's fun to just ramble in the aisles and see what you can find.

I was captivated by the story behind this very old Life magazine article laying open on display - with a hand-written note on it that had been placed there just a few days earlier. The person who wrote the note was the daughter of the article's author! She was amazed to see it sitting in Billy's Museum. I was fascinated by the serendipitous nature of her visit to the museum where this article awaited her. What an incredibly small world it is.

Well, it was time to get back to Echo Bay and Pierre's Pig. You might say that he really leans into his work. His fun-loving wife, Tove, had already gone back home to start her teaching year. So, he did the best he could with a stand-in. The huge barbecue oven he roasts the pig in takes 60 lbs of charcoal - just to start with. The oven was a gift from the Des Moines Yacht Club (Seattle area).

Everyone brings a 'hearty' side dish and their own beverages. Each event has a theme; this time it was Western night. Ready for the fun to begin - I mean - continue.

It's a big job to carve that pig, but Pierre's up to it.

There are many special marinas in the Broughtons: Kwatsi Bay, Lagoon Cove, Shawl Bay, Sullivan Bay, Greenway Sound, Jennis Bay. You can keep up with the doings at all of them through Bob Hale's yearly-updated cruising guide: Waggoner Cruising Guide (www.waggonerguide.com).

At or near the top of everyone's list of special marinas is Pierre's at Echo Bay. With lots of good reason.

After tasting the fabulous pig, we are sure to come back next summer for something that is being talked about even more: Prime Rib on Wednesday nights. Some people are saying it's even better than the roasted pig! We'll have to test that out for ourselves next year.

Before leaving the Broughton's, we put the hook down in Crease Cove - a favorite anchorage, then made our way down Johnstone Strait to a NEW marina in the Broughtons: Port Harvey Marine Resort. More about that next time.

 

 


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