Bumbling Bear Cove, Bedwell Sound

If you sail up the fjords of Clayoquot you will be surrounded by incredible beauty. Mountains rise on either side; mists hang, shrouding tops of trees.  In the summer, the sky is blue and the weather can be fine. If you get the chance, it’s well worth the trip to travel up those fingers of water. It’s enchanting and we spent a bit of time just pinching ourselves because it felt a little surreal, all that magnificence. We know we got incredibly lucky on the weather. There is never a guarantee that you’ll have sun, much less that it will be so warm.

Sailing up Tofino inlet

Sailing up Tofino inlet on a hot, sunny day. It was one of the finest sails we’ve ever had.

The thing about sailing up those inlets that is worth knowing in advance, however,  is that there are precious few areas that are protected from the considerable winds that whoosh up from the ocean, and good luck finding a protected anchorage. By the time the wind gets to the top of the inlet, it has built up a nice head of steam and can be rather gnarly.  This is what happened each time we sailed up into the fjords in Clayoquot Sound. We’d have a lovely sail up the sound thinking we were going to anchor at the head where we could explore the river flats as they empty out into the salt water.

Another pretty view of Tofino Inlet.

Then we’d get there and two things would happen. First the wind would be blowing 25 knots, enough to make getting the sails down very exciting. Then we’d discover that we would have to anchor in at least 60 feet of water to have enough room between us and the land. Does that sound like fun to you? I know we are prone to ‘anchoring outside the box’ but no thanks. No rest for the weary and nothing to prove, we’d turn and motor into the wind back down the inlet, all in a good day’s exploration.  It is times like these I am grateful for Galapagos’ girth. She glides like a river queen; confident and strong.

Going up Bedwell Sound.

In Bedwell sound we knew that there would be a resort that took over the river flats at the head. They also took over literally the only decent place to anchor a boat. There was one spot on the opposite side that we thought would work as the depth was pretty good, but we tried twice and couldn’t get the anchor to set. There was an old wreck of a boat on the shore right there, so, perhaps that didn’t bode well for the holding power of an anchor at that spot. Frankly, it felt like solid rock to us. Still, we did try.

We were a little disappointed we wouldn’t be able to kayak around the flats, but on the other hand I’ll bet there are plenty of mosquitoes there and I had already been bitten enough to look like a toddler who’d crawled through brambles. I tend to scratch. Maybe giving that a miss wasn’t such a bad idea. Who knows what we could discover somewhere else?

The river flats at the head of Bedwell Sound.

This area, which is to port when you get to the head of the inlet, is where there would be a pretty good anchorage. Except now you’d have to anchor right by their dock. That seems a little unfriendly to us. We moved on.

Knowing we wanted to spend the night in Bedwell sound, we had been on the lookout for possible spots on the way up to the river flats. One had a smallish sand beach next to an eagle’s nest high in a dead tree. We headed for that but it was a no-go. Too deep, too close to crunchy rocks, too exposed even for us. No sleep would be had there.

Eagle in craggy tree.

I headed across the inlet to a group of islets we had seen on the way up, knowing that was as good as it was going to get if we wanted to anchor in the sound. Nosing our way behind a group of large rocks, we found the perfect place. About 45 feet of water, enough swing room for Galapagos to be comfortable and keep her butt off the rocks, and a magnificent view, plus it looked like decent kayaking. Pleased with ourselves, we dropped the hook.

Best. Anchorage. Ever.

As I was preparing for a little cockpit siesta and Kindle time, this happened:

Loved this so much!

And it just kept happening. Mom and baby nosed along the shoreline and, after checking out Galapagos per the photo above, didn’t give us another look. We were absolutely delighted. We had bear watching time for about 30 minutes, followed by more bear watching later that day and the next as two male bears made their appearances along the same route. The entire trip was worth it just for this place.

I’ve got a million of them.


This is an unnamed cove on our GPS so we’ve named this Bumbling Bear Cove. I don’t know if this counts, but we’re staking our claim here. And there is a very small cove next to it where a shallow draft small boat could anchor nicely. We think that one should be Cub Cove.

Shoreline of Cub Cove. You would, of course, avoid that rock.

Male that visited the following day.

Taking the kayak out onto the sound, I kept thinking to myself, ‘Here I am. In my kayak paddling on a fjord, watching bears from my seat on our sailboat. Wow. That’s amazing.’.  And I felt very lucky, indeed.

Looking up Bedwell Sound from the kayak.


8 thoughts on “Bumbling Bear Cove, Bedwell Sound

  1. We sailed around Vanisle last summer in prep to our launch south. We saw bears in every anchorage. What a wonderful gift to watch. Enjoy.

  2. Melissa, have you tried vitamin B for mosquito bites? I began taking a multi-vitamin B supplement a number of years ago after I learned that caffeine and alcohol rob the body of vitamin B. A beneficial side effect is that I don’t seem to be attractive to mosquitoes, and when I’m bitten by them (or fleas) I don’t swell or itch much, if at all. On a visit to Molokai two friends were driven to distraction by mosquitoes when we hiked to a waterfall. They hummed around me, but I didn’t notice any bites. My friends were wearing repellant and got many bites.

    • That is very interesting information, Cheryl and thank you for posting it! When I am on the boat, I admit I forget to take any and all supplements and this is not good. It’s like my entire healthcare routine goes out the window. When I am at home I do take a B vitamin supplement, along with a few others like fish oil. Next time we go, I will make a more determined effort to remember my usual routine, especially the vitamin B complex. On a side note, to help control itching I use a hot wash cloth, as hot as I can stand it without burning my skin, directly applied to the bite. That does seem to reduce the itching and make the bite away faster, but I sometimes have to apply it more than once.

  3. What a great area, with amazing scenery, and wildlife. It doesn’t matter how often I see eagles, bears, moose, jumping salmon, etc, I never tire of it, and I always look forward to the next time.

    • I agree. Somehow, it just doesn’t get old seeing the wildlife up here. I still can make a fool of myself over eagles, even though I see them almost every day.

  4. Is this on the chart about 2/3 north in Bedwell on the west side, with 3 rocks / islets protecting the south side? Two soundings of 29.9 and 32.8 on Navionics.

    That does look like it’d be the only good anchorage in Bedwell. We didn’t head up there but around the corner is Quait Bay, which is big and protected (no bears though).

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