Sailing Kynoch Inlet, Fiordland, in British Columbia


By Steve Lorimer

Fiordland Conservancy in central British Columbia, Canada, has some of the most beautiful scenery you could ever hope to see. To get there, you must cruise several miles from the north end of Finlayson Channel to Sheep Passage and continue into Mussel Inlet or turn into Kynoch Inlet. Together the inlets comprise Fiordland, and a visit to both provides several days of anchorage alternatives.

Once in Fiordland you pass bold snow-topped mountains, rushing streams and waterfalls. In some ways it’s similar to Princess Louisa Inlet in lower British Columbia.

Before reaching Kynoch Inlet, the crown jewel of Fiordland, we anchor at Windy Bay and tuck our vessel into a small slot near an island. Twice while anchored here we have seen and heard wolves howling on the shoreline and on the surrounding hills.

Once in Fiordland you pass bold snow-topped mountains, rushing streams and waterfalls. In some ways it’s similar to Princess Louisa Inlet in lower British Columbia.

Following our overnight visit to Windy Bay, we continue our run and arrive at Kynoch, anchoring just off one of the two streams at the head of the inlet. On one of our visits to Klemtu, a native village we frequently visit, we went to the longhouse and had a great talk with one of the native elders who spoke of Kynoch Inlet with longing. In years past the elder’s forefathers lived in a village at Kynoch. He spoke about the British Columbia government’s practice of relocating troublesome grizzly bears here from populated areas. Knowing this fact, we frequently watch the nearby beaches throughout the day, especially at low tide. One year we spotted a grizzly standing on hind legs accompanied by two cubs.

In some years, Kynoch Inlet has a vast snow cave we have checked out twice. A nearby mountain has a long chute extending from on high that sends vast amounts of snow to the beach below. Finding bear scat on the beach where we land our skiff to visit the cave is a bit disconcerting, but the visit inside the cave is breathtaking. Having snow for the ice chest is also nice.

Cruising guides tell of Culpepper Lagoon at the head of Kynoch Inlet; visiting the lagoon involves transiting tidal rapids. We prefer to anchor at the far end of the lagoon, just off a stream and steep tidal shelf. The windy ­afternoon conditions in Kynoch Inlet can be mitigated by anchoring in the more protected lagoon, so we frequently go into the scenic lagoon after getting blown off our anchorage.

Kynoch Inlet’s walls are sheer, and we have fished from our skiff in 100 feet of water with the nose literally touching the cliff face. These waters are home to a large variety of rockfish, including a fish known in the Northwest as a red snapper. At the head of Kynoch Inlet and Culpepper Lagoon, you can find Dungeness crabs. One day a floatplane landed nearby and lowered two crab pots into the water. The plane departed and returned a couple of hours later to pull the pots and take off. It would be interesting to know how far the plane flew with its catch. We’ve caught halibut off our anchored vessel in 50 feet of water in front of Kynoch, and salmon runs occur in the streams.

The conservancy has other ­scenic anchorage sites besides Kynoch, including an interesting one in front of the Mussel River and nearby Poison Cove. The long one-way trip to Fiordland with a multiple day visit at Kynoch Inlet and other choice anchorage sites is well worth a visit.

Steve Lorimer lives in Bellingham, Washington, and is a past commander of Bellingham Sail & Power Squadron/16. He likes to spend most of the summer boating in Alaska. His article first appeared in the squadron newsletter, Bell Signals.

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