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Khutze Bay and Klemtu | BC

Our cruise from Farrant Island Lagoon (just north of Hartley Bay) through the last bit of Grenville Channel, then McKay Reach, then Fraser Reach, then Graham Reach…was a slog. It rained all night in Farrant Island Lagoon, and continued all day today. Oh also, the winds were 20-30 knots. For as much as the wind was gusting, the only really gnarly part was out in the part between Grenville Channel and McKay Reach (where Douglas Channel, Grenville Channel, Whale Channel and McKay Reach all meet up). It was here that we saw several humpbacks breaching. Those breaching whales happened to be about 50 yards from the boat! It was so rainy and windy and bumpy, however, that I took no photos. It was cool though, trust me.

Here’s me trying to get a photo of a whale breaching (no whale…it was off to the right):


I did manage to get this shot though (before I fell over and my shoe came off)…some fin-slapping between breaches:


Later on though, we saw MORE whales breaching (on both sides of the boat!) and it wasn’t quite as bumpy, but it was still pouring rain, so no photos of that either. At one point as we were cruising along, we had to do an emergency shut off stop because a humpback surfaced RIGHT in front of the boat. Whew…glad we were alert for that one!

It was not a nice weather day, at all. This whole route is just lined with waterfalls on both sides. We probably passed a hundred waterfalls. Here are two (through the pouring rain, taken through the window):

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Considering how strong the wind was blowing, the sea conditions weren’t all that bad. A little bumpy, but nothing too terrible.

We arrived in Khutze Bay and there were maybe 5 or 6 boats there! We’ve only ever seen one other boat there, so this felt packed! As you can tell, the weather did not improve:

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Another waterfall in the rain:


At least three of the boats here were big Canadian charter cruise boats full of people (complaining on the radio about how many boats were here). Their passengers needed to see some bears, so crewmembers were taking loads of people out by the dinghy-load over to the shore and up river a bit so they could see some bears (and they did).


We, however, have both (a) been here before and seen bears, and (b) have seen a lot of bears this summer, so we stayed warm inside and cooked dinner (fresh halibut, lemon risotto, and zucchini).

This morning we could see blue sky from the stateroom hatch! We opted to head out (and not go see bears again) and left our anchorage around 9am.


The conditions out in Graham Reach…beautiful:

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Boat Bluff Lighthouse, on the south end of Sarah Island, almost to Klemtu:


Klemtu is the home of the Kitasoo tribe of Tsimshians (originally from Kitasu Bay), and the Xai’xais of Kynoch Inlet, a subgroup of the Heiltsuk people. The name Klemtu comes from the Coast Tsimshian language, and means  “impassable”.

Here’s some fun folklore, from Wikipedia:

Around 1968 Sasquatch were reportedly seen by people from the village of Klemtu. Bigfoot researcher John Green and Bob Titmus visited Klemtu to investigate the sightings. Their findings indicated that the villagers rarely traveled inland. In older times there was only one trail on the island, across one end of it. The people went everywhere by boat, even hunting and trapping on the beaches, and told stories of apes in the islands. A Klemtu villager named Joe Hopkins reported seeing a Sasquatch on a clam beach. Others encountered Bigfoot when they hunted or fished. A crew of men from Klemtu who were building a dam on a lake above the village had seen tracks on a beach. The varying size of tracks indicated to John Green that a family of Sasquatch were present. This is the first report of a family of Sasquatch. The natives reported stories of the apes swimming from island to island. Sasquatch prints were also reported found in snow on the boardwalks of the unused bunkhouses behind Klemtu Cannery.

In late 2014 Survivorman Les Stroud did a special on Klemtu where he searched for Bigfoot. The special aired in April, 2015.

The Big House, from the water:


The Big House is one of the highlights of Klemtu, we hear. We walked a lot of the village, and then up to the Big House. We passed a woman in a car on the way up and she stopped to ask if we’d been able to get in touch with anyone about a tour. We told her no, and she said she’d see if she could get it arranged for us. How nice! We walked around and looked at the outside…

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The “Dreamcatcher Trail” is just around the other side of the Big House, so we walked that (short, but very cool) trail:

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Textured so the step doesn’t get too slippery:


The trail ends at a small cemetery (I only noticed two above-ground tombs).

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We walked the trail back to the Big House, and waited around a while just enjoying the view (in case someone was coming by to show us the inside…the timing wasn’t clear). There’s a guy mentioned in a guidebook who apparently gives tours of the Big House for ten bucks, so maybe this was who the woman was getting ahold of…in any case, they know where to find us…we’re the only tourist boat here.

Looking across the bay at the other side of town, and the public dock where Airship got the last available space:


No one showed up at the Big House, so we wandered back through town. A man in a car pulled over near us and asked if we were in the white boat that had come in earlier, and we told him yes. He introduced himself (I’ll call him “Jim”) and showed us some of his artwork..beautiful work, and if I hadn’t already bought too much art this summer I might have considered buying something. He chatted with us for maybe 10 minutes or so about all sorts of things. We asked if there was a way to see the inside of the Big House, and he said that sadly, there was no one taking care of it anymore…and that the guy taking care of it had been taking tourists’ money and not reporting it to the Band Office, so they let him go. (Oops!) We chatted a little more, then said goodbye to “Jim” and wandered up the hill to look at the school and the Spirit Bear Lodge (though we didn’t go in the lodge…I don’t know why because it’s probably cool, but we really wanted to see the Big House so didn’t want to stray too far from a potential tour).

On our way back along the waterfront, we ran into another local guy and he stopped us to chat for a few minutes. He introduced himself (I’ll call him “Bob”). It turns out that “Bob” was the very guy mentioned in the guidebook as the one who gives tours of the Big House. He told us all about meeting the publisher, and seemed quite proud to be “in the book!” However, with recent local knowledge learned from “Jim” of a scandal involving Big House tours, I did not mention that I knew who he was, in case he was the one ousted from the tour-giving care-taking job. We asked “Bob” if there was a way to see the inside of the Big House, and he said he worked over at the Spirit Bear Lodge and that he’d go talk to some people and see if he could arrange it. “Bob” also told us that sometimes they open the Big House up for dance and drum practice (“for the youngsters” he said) and that if such a thing were to be happening later this evening, we’d hear about it on VHF Channel 06 (the whole town monitors VHF Ch. 06, apparently), and that he’d reach us on Ch. 06 if he could arrange a tour.

We returned to Airship and figured we’d hang out and do some work and monitor Ch. 06.

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We never heard from “Bob,” nor were there any announcements about the Big House being open, so we haven’t been able to see it. We did learn, however, that a woman had been waiting (for a while it seemed) for a man, and the man said he was coming, and the woman then told him that she forgot to tell him “not to talk to anybody.” Intrigue in Klemtu.

Tomorrow I think we’ll head over to Shearwater for some groceries (though we did pick up a few things here at the Band Store like milk, lemons, and tortillas…we still need more), some laundry, and perhaps some fuel.