Walters Cove, Rugged Point, Nuchatlitz | West Side of Vancouver Island

The small settlement of Walters Cove  is in Kyoquot Sound, just eight miles south of the Bunsby Islands. We popped in and tied up at the public dock for a quick look around and to see if the small general store happened to be open. It wasn’t, but the woman we asked about the store hours was the store owner, and she opened it for us so we could do some shopping. What a treat!

Airship on the public dock, the store in the background

The store had a surprising amount of fresh produce, eggs, milk, cheese, and even ice cream. Just what we needed on this hot day! After getting groceries and filling up Airship with water (a $5 fee), we took the trail out to the Kyuquot Inn to see if Java the Hutt coffee shop/cafe was open. The doors were open, and the WiFi worked, but there was no one cooking or serving. Too bad, because it’s been a long time since we’ve had any poutine!

We checked email (slowly, and under the watchful gaze of the Queen) and then wandered the trail back to the public dock before heading off toward Rugged Point, about six miles away.

We anchored in the cove on the north side of Rugged Point Marine Provincial Park and took a dinghy ashore so we could hike over to the ocean beaches. Back in September 2014, a male kayaker was attacked by a cougar on one of the beaches here, and wolves have been known to frequent the area as well, so we hiked loudly, with big sticks, bear spray, and a canned air horn. The beaches were covered in animal tracks.

Cougar…wolf…hard to tell in the soft sand

Once to the beaches on the other side, we walked around, noticed more tracks, and kept a good eye on our surroundings.

These look a little closer to cougar tracks than wolf tracks:

Sam and Kevin sat on the rocks while Laura stood to keep watch, and pretty quickly some dark bulky things moving off in the distance on the next beach over caught her attention. “Guys. Guys. Look!” It was a large black bear and a cub, strolling along in the sand. (The park’s website has cougar warnings, and wolf warnings, but there’s no mention of bears!)

Tiny black dots in the distance = black bear and cub
Cropped way in so you can make out the bears

The sow lifted her nose to the air and seemed to smell our presence, and they continued on into the brush…which meant, you know, we might meet up with them again on our way back. We waited a while before walking down to where they’d been to see their prints before taking the trail (noisily, of course) back to our dinghy.

Freshly made bear tracks

We encountered no further sign of bears (or cougars, or wolves), and once back on the boats we discussed moving on.  This anchorage was pretty but a little rolly, and since we’d already seen the beaches (and bears!) we decided to continue on down to Nootka Sound. Conditions outside were so nice! Some fairly large swells, lazily spaced, made for an enjoyable cruise down the coast.

Cruising on the coast is such a different experience than cruising the inside waterways. The salty air and the frequent whiff of drying kelp, the constant motion of the boat, the wave-battered shoreline…we are loving it! The gorgeous weather isn’t hurting, either!

Grogan Rock jutting out from the surf

Intense foam, churned up by the waves crashing over the many many rock piles out here:

The route into Nuchatlitz on Nootka Island takes a meandering path through a zillion rocky islets, and is a fun navigational experience. We anchored not far from the site of an old church and since the light was perfect (low sun, around 6 p.m.) we quickly headed to shore for a closer look and a photo or two, before starting dinner.

Once ashore, as we walked toward the crumbling lumber that remained, two large black bears emerged from the brush and took off running, away from us, thankfully. “Oh whoa! Bears! Uh, bears!” Sam yelled, as we turned back towards the dinghy. A good reminder to make noise and carry bear spray when wandering around ashore, even for quick trips not far from the beach.

This is the only photo we took — a blurry black bear running for the woods and away from its berry bushes:

Back at Airship and Safe Harbour we enjoyed another dinner outside, with a colorful west coast sunset to end the day.

And one more from the air:

Our route for the day, about 35 nautical miles and three stops: