Discovering Blind Channel:
A Hidden Gem in British Columbia
Imagine the awe and wonder that must have gripped early explorers as they stumbled upon Blind Channel, British Columbia, without the luxury of today’s navigational aids.
Even modern mariners find themselves questioning their charts while searching for the narrow, tree-lined entrance to this tranquil haven – one that I stumbled upon while photographing Pacific White-Sided Dolphins in Johnstone Strait, many years ago.
I was completely engrossed in photographing these magnificent creatures when it dawned on me – I might not have enough fuel left to make it back home. Yet, at that moment, I couldn’t care less. Capturing the dolphins in their natural habitat was worth it. I figured I could seek refuge on an island or ride the currents back if it came to that.
As the dolphins finally bid me adieu, I glanced at my dwindling fuel gauge with a hint of concern. It was then that fate intervened, leading me to a fortuitous discovery. My cruising guides unveiled the Blind Channel Resort – and fuel dock! What a relief! I steered toward Blind Channel, only to be met with disappointment – the fuel dock was closed. Now, my fuel situation was even more dire.
But hey, I had dolphin photos that would last a lifetime!
With swift currents swirling around me, I decided to harness their power to make my way back to Campbell River. If necessary, my trusty little kicker engine with its separate gas tank would come to my rescue in navigating into the marina. Guided by a relentless 10-knot current, I conserved fuel, using just enough to maintain my course until I approached slack current, when I revved up my engine to maximize distance.
To my astonishment, I made it all the way back to my marina without ever having to resort to the kicker engine! It was an adventure I would never forget.
Fast forward to this year …
Aboard our 1976 CHB Trawler, Vestri, we found ourselves in need of supplies and craving to head north. Blind Channel beckoned once again, but this time, I stumbled upon another hidden gem – Charles Bay, just across the passage.
On the chart, Charles Bay doesn’t scream “safe anchorage” with the swift current flowing nearby. Yet, to my sheer delight, it turned out to be an idyllic haven – serene, teeming with wildlife, boasting excellent holding in mud and sand, and most of the time, we had it all to ourselves.
Here, I cherished the simple pleasure of sitting still, absorbing the quietude, and patiently awaiting wildlife encounters. Bonaparte’s Gulls, loons serenading the dawn and dusk, seals, deer, ducks, otters, herons, and even eagles graced our days.
Venturing into areas where drone flights are usually prohibited, I seized the opportunity to capture aerial footage of the bay and our new boat, often when we were the sole vessel in the anchorage.
Then I brought out my underwater camera, an Akaso Brave 8 action cam, to document the mesmerizing kelp forests and even a colossal Medusa Jellyfish. This magnificent creature spanned roughly 2 feet in width and stretched about 6 to 7 feet in length.
I make my underwater photos completely blind. I simply dunk the camera, sometimes attached to a long pole, and hope for the best. Sometimes, I set it on video mode, other times on time-lapse photography mode, capturing an image every 3 seconds as I gently move it around.
It seems the name Blind Channel holds true hundreds of years after the early explorers named it.
If you’ve enjoyed reading this, I invite you to watch my vide my video: “Charles Bay, Blind Channel, British Columbia: Above and Below.”
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As we departed on our final morning, the anchorage was shrouded in the mystique of morning fog.