Access: Take the bus as far as the turn off to Egmont [See Getting to the Sunshine Coast] where you will meet your prearranged pick up for the 8 km ride into Egmont itself. The folks at Egmont Marina Resort will arrange for a pick up as part of multi-day kayak rentals. This is something to add to the negotiations when calling to make your kayak reservations.

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The tiny rural backwater of Egmont is an ideally situated jumping off point for a variety of prime kayaking areas including Nelson and Hardy Islands, Hotham Sound, Jervis Inlet in its entirety as well as the jewel at the end, Princess Louisa Inlet. All of Sechelt Inlet is likewise accessible from Egmont though a formidable barrier must first be circumvented. Since the raging rapids of Skookumchuck Narrows stand in the way it is the recommendation of this book that kayakers access Sechelt Inlet from its lower end only. That route is described here.

Tidal Whitewater Tidal Whitewater Tidal Whitewater

Skookumchuck -- meaning "big water" in Chinook Jargon -- Narrows is a must-see phenomenon however and is best viewed from the safety of solid ground. An easy 4 km hike provides access to viewpoints overlooking the Narrows. The trailhead can be reached from Egmont by walking back towards Highway 101 for 20 minutes or so. Time your visit to coincide with a particularly extreme tidal mood swing to see the rapids in all their fury. The worst time to see this natural wonder is of course when the tide is slack. On a typical three-metre tide as much as 9 trillion litres of seawater is flushed through the narrows at speeds up to 26 km/h, spawning cascades as high as 5 metres; giant, basketball court-sized whirlpools; standing waves as big as a bus and a multitude of mixed metaphors.

Many of the place names hereabouts commemorate Commodore Nelson's 1797 victory over the Spanish during the Battle of St. Vincent. Nelson's superior officer was Sir John Jervis while Captain Island takes its name from the H. M. S. Captain, Nelson's flagship. Another flagship from Nelson's victory at the Nile has been reincarnated as Vanguard Bay while Nelson's man-of-war, the H. M. S. Agamemnon has morphed into the narrow channel separating Nelson's very own island from the mainland. The names date from the 1860s when Captain Richards undertook a detailed survey of the coast from the H. M. Plumper. He borrowed names for Hotham Sound, Hardy Island, Cape Cockburn and Fearney Point from captains of other ships which took part in Lord Nelson's celebrated victories. The regal reaches of Jervis Inlet derive their names from fur trading vessels dedicated to royalty which plied the coast hereabouts in the late 1780s.

The End


Skunk Cabbage

Skunk Cabbage

Though not in themselves palatable, skunk cabbage leaves had a zillion uses around the aboriginal kitchen. The unusually large leaves were ideal for lining and covering containers, lining steam pits, making fruit leather and sun drying seafood. Bears are known to bung themselves up by ingesting copious quantities of mud just prior to settling in for that long winter nap. Come springtime they seek out the laxative properties of skunk cabbage to -- stand back -- flush the system.

Illustration by Manami Kimura