Broken Group Islands

Paddling the Broken Group Islands

By Fred Hammerquist

e35edb8a0c194e53b9cc548320fb688e_cropped.jpgThe Broken Islands (officially and unmelodic ally named the “Broken Group Island Unit”) is an archipelago of over 100 islands. The scattering of tree-covered scarps, islets, and rocky outcroppings lies off the Pacific coast of Canada, not far from the US border, where it looks like something large in the ancient past reached out and tore off a hunk of Vancouver Island, then threw the pieces into the ocean. The thrower must have had a good arm because the Broken Island archipelago covers over 40 square miles, with only about six miles consisting of land. The area is remote and because most of the islands are sheltered from the ocean, it’s also one of the most peaceful and pristine paddling areas you can find. Every few strokes, we passed pass beautiful lagoons, blowholes, arches, sea caves or rocky beaches that called to us to pull over and picnic. In addition to world class tide-pooling with enough sea cucumbers, anemones, mussel beds, red and purple sea stars to suck our camera's battery power, First Nation middens, village ruins, stone fish traps and archaeological sites wait to be explored. Wilderness campsites, all with composting toilets, are located at Gilbert, Clarke, Turret, Willis, Hand, Dodd and Gibraltar Islands. Almost all of these sites can easily be reached within a day's paddle (or less) of each other. We took the Torquardt Bay water taxi to the drop site on Dodd Island then paddled out to Clark Island, one of the most beautiful and largest campsites. We enjoyed cocktail hour’s golden light with a view of the blows of migrating whales and bedded down on soft moss all four nights. Sure, we could have unloaded, set-up, repacked, unloaded, and set up again, but why bother when we were able to paddle 45 miles in five days hardly retracing our steps?

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