Shoal Bay – A Peaceful Oasis in the Discovery Islands!
Once we successfully navigated through the rapids of Yucalta, Gillard and Dent we made our way another eight miles to the Discovery Islands and finally to Shoal Bay. This will be our first stop on the way to the Broughton’s. Shoal Bay sits, as the name implies, in a bay off of Cordero Channel, up Phillips Arm. The shoal part of Shoal Bay has to do with how shallow the bay is as represented by how far the old dock, built in 1927, extends from shore out into the bay.
Originally a cannery town, Shoal Bay was once the largest town on the western coast of Canada. Although no remains are visible today, save the massive 600-foot-long pier, Shoal Bay was once a hub of activity for mining and forestry in the 1800s. Today you can still hike up the mountain not far from the marina to the remnants of an old gold mine.
Shoal Bay is also well-know for it’s summer music festival.
It is becoming difficult to describe what the simple idea that the “music fest” once was,… has actually evolved into. What once was two guitar hobbyists on the deck with a beer has become two days of chaos, people, boats, beer, and most of all,… incredibly wonderful music.
Every year we get a spectacular combination of both amateur and professional musicians from all over the world. New music just floats in from who knows where. The music festival is becoming a real summer happening, and it just keeps getting better and better.
So mark your calendar and make your travel plans for the Shoal Bay Music Festival – Saturday August 12th, 2017. It promises to be a wonderful day.
Minutes after we tied up to the government dock, Jim joined up with Tim and Jake, father and son boaters docked next to us. They were just leaving to hike up to the gold mine on an old mountain trail on East Thurlow island to an abandoned 1800s gold mine. At one time there were three mines in Shoal Bay with a large encampment of 5,000 workers living in the bay area. Lisa opted to stay behind to check out the facility and take photos of the marina area.
The hike was a wonderful adventure through a loosely marked trail up to almost the top of the mountain. We did find the mine and were able to enter a horizontal shaft that in turn came to several perpendicular shafts. From there our sight was limited to the what we could see with our flashlights. We found no gold! There was a lookout (photos below) close to the mine that had a remarkable view of Cordero Channel, the bay and off into the distant snow capped mountain range.
This is a government dock where you must be willing for boats to raft off your hull if it gets busy. There is no fueling services, electricity or fresh water available for the boaters.
There are showers, one outside (below-right), and another inside. Laundry facilities available on shore for a small charge.
One of the owners is also a potter, using an airy outdoor kiln to fire up her pots.
One thing that impressed us while visiting Shoal Bay is the striking character of the facilities. One might think it was heaven while walking among the garden flowers with a stunning view of the mountainous bay as a backdrop. The owners, Mark and Cynthia (below), are warm and welcoming hosts, they have created a haven for boaters in the wilds of the Discovery Islands. Many boaters come to stay awhile and help with garden and construction chores during the course of the summer. There are also overnight accomodations.
Boaters are welcomed to help in the garden if the gardening bug hits them. They are also encouraged to pick some greens for their dinner, just have to leave a small token in the purple shack.
Back at the marina after our hike, Lisa joined us at the lodge where we had beers on the front porch. Tim and another Ranger Tug owner, John, on Elefthera and Larry, a fellow we met back in Desolation Sound made for some interesting conversation. The view of the harbour is incredible from almost anywhere on shore. Shoal Bay had such a laid back, friendly, feeling we decided to stay two days. Well that and the wind was blowing at 30/35 knots in Johnstone Straits.
Our last day at Shoal Bay, Lisa spent the morning and early afternoon on the porch of the lodge using the wifi to upload a blog post. She doesn’t think she will ever forget that day because Cynthia had a beef brisket cooking inside the kitchen – the addictive smoky aroma found it’s way out the doors to the porch where she sat. Periodically the owners cook and serve lunch for fishermen, with reservations. They come off the water mid-day for a break from fishing. Lisa swears she will never forget how that roast smelled as it clung to her clothes all the rest of the day reminding her of of our stay. Cynthia, if you’re reading this, we’d love to have that brisket recipe!
Finally, after consulting with many boaters who came and went at the dock during our two-day stay, we felt ready to head north again armed with enough knowledge to keep us out of harms way at least. After much deliberation and weather watching, we decided to take the inside and more protected route to the north of Sonora, East and West Thurlow and Hardwicke Islands rather then the more unprotected and open waters of the Johnstone Strait.