Greenway Sound should be on your list of places to visit when cruising the Broughtons.

Slowing down to discover a gem of the Broughton Archipelago

Like many sailors, I love sailing fast. I love the interaction of wind pressing on the rig, flowing through the sails, and water rushing by the rail. Sending it downwind with a spinnaker up in a big breeze always brings me back for more. Racing on the ocean or around the buoys, getting every last bit of speed out of the boat as possible, is positively thrilling to me. Yet over my years cruising the Pacific Northwest, I came to truly appreciate the times when I needed to brush the hell-bent racer in me aside and say, “You don’t need to sail fast to get somewhere special.”

So it was while ghosting over the top of North Broughton Island on a gentle following zephyr and a flood tide. Not far from our next anchorage in Greenway Sound, only the rustle of water trickling from Yahtzee’s stern could be heard. Shrouded in veils of misty fog, mountain peaks slid by and I watched as our boatspeed leisurely climbed above 2 knots. Perfectly slow.

As expected, a northerly breeze soon filled in and when we turned south into the sound we were welcomed by a pod of Pacific white-sided dolphins playing in our bow waves. Having our choice of spots to drop the hook with no other boats in sight, I felt like we’d found an idyllic place to laze away a few days before moving on. Indeed, we had.

Jill stands among the trees at Silver King Lake.

A Cozy Spot

Porter was eager to put his climbing skills to good use.

Located in the northern section of the Broughton Archipelago — roughly 35 miles from Port Hardy — Greenway Sound is easily accessible from nearby Sullivan Bay Marina. A 6-mile-long channel between Broughton and North Broughton islands, Greenway runs east-west for the first 3 miles before making a turn south for the last 3. At its elbow is the eastern terminus of Carter Passage, which completes the cut that splits the land masses into two separate islands. Entering the sound, you can easily see why the word “green” was applied when naming this body of water. Much like the rest of the area, vibrant green rain forests flow from the mountain and hilltops down to the sea. And even though a fair bit of past logging activity is evident as you travel up and down the sound, its effects don’t diminish the overall beauty of the anchorages within.

Yahtzee anchored and stern tied to the park float.

Our first stop on this late June afternoon was at the eastern end of Carter Passage, just inside the mouth of Broughton Point. We tucked into a one-boat cove behind a tiny islet with suitable depths and swing room, dropped the hook and settled in. It was one of those out of the way places that was almost too good to be true.

Eager to explore the adjacent shoreline, we quickly dropped the kayak in the water and made for shore to poke around tide pools and stretch our legs in the forest. Under the canopy of tall cedar and fir trees, the mossy forest floor was the perfect playground for our sons, Porter and Magnus, to climb, jump, and balance on logs. Easily hike-able, which isn’t always the case in the Broughtons, we meandered up a hill and came across several piles of bear scat. It didn’t look fresh, but we did our best to make noise to let any nearby bruins know that we were hanging out near their home. “Hello, bears!” Porter called out in his biggest voice. “We’re here!” We never saw any bears.

Back aboard Yahtzee, Porter and Jill donned wetsuits and bravely swam in the sound’s not-so-warm waters as I fiddled with fishing gear. That evening, while enjoying dinner in the cockpit, the clouds parted just enough to reveal spots of blue sky and for the sun to make a brief appearance, giving us a shred of hope that it would make a glorious return the following day.

Signage and trail markers help guide hikers to the various lakes and lookouts.

Twin Lakes

Alas, it was not to be. We awoke the next morning to the pitter-patter of rain dancing on deck, not the abundant sunshine that we were craving. Oh well, we’d have to wait a bit longer.

While planning our route through the Broughtons over the past week, Jill was fairly adamant that we visit Greenway Sound before leaving the area; partly because of a hike we could take on Broughton Island. We’re not big on setting hard and fast plans while cruising, but she isn’t one to steer us wrong either, so we brushed off the rain and motored eastward through the sound over glassy water to a large bay that dips south into Broughton Island on the east side of Greenway Point.

Jill paddles towards the rapids as the boys look on.

Many years ago there was a floating post office, store, and landing for steamships in the bay and at one point a small marina was operated here by a couple. Few remnants of this past activity remain, and a search on Google Maps shows it as Greenway Sound Recreation Site. What we happened upon was a very small float put in by the BC Forest Service that grants users access to two maintained hiking trails: one to Broughton and Silver King lakes, and the other to a lookout point over Broughton Lake.

With nary a boat to be seen, we dropped the hook, backed down and stern tied to the park float. Nobody else was around, so we figured why not? From the dock, we set out through lush green forests, over old logging roads and down a well marked trail. This is what we had come for. Predictably, Jill nailed it.

The trail to the lakes was about two miles and of moderate difficulty. Along the way, we plodded past remnants of former logging activities as well as some limited park infrastructure — a few signs, picnic tables, and a small float to swim from, which is a lot for the Broughtons. The lakes themselves were set amongst a backdrop of cloud-swept forest with downed timber and green grasses accentuating the shorelines. It was beautiful, wild, and raw, just as you’d expect in a place as far removed as this. Had it been a warmer, sunnier day instead of a rainy one, I’m sure we’d have been swimming until our hearts were content.

After devouring lunch on a makeshift log table, we ambled back towards Yahtzee in no particular hurry. Porter scurried ahead and Magnus, as one-and-a-half-year-olds are wont to do, eventually fell asleep while I carried him down the trail. He woke up just as Yahtzee came into view through the trees and excitedly exclaimed, “Yahtzee!”

A successful portage into Broughton Lagoon.

Water World

Returning back home, we decided that being stern tied to the small float wasn’t the best place to spend the night, so we weighed anchor and made for our last anchorage in the sound. Near the entrance to Broughton Lagoon are a couple of great spots to drop the hook. South of Cecil Island is a smaller, nameless island at the mouth to one of the passes to the lagoon. We dropped the anchor just south and east of this island and watched in awe as the tide ebbed and water dumped out of the lagoon, creating frothing whitewater rapids that were too enticing to ignore.

By the next day, the rain finally relented and Magnus and I jumped in the kayak to paddle over and check out the rushing water at a near low tide. Finding an eddy, I moved us parallel to the swift current and then turned sharply into it, which shot us back out into the anchorage with a scream of laughter from Magnus and a big “Woo Hoo!” from me. Not wanting to leave Jill and Porter out of the fun, we went back to pick them up so they could enjoy the ride too.

With the full crew and more paddling power aboard, we headed for the main pass into the lagoon and found it flowing even faster. Sticking to the side of the channel and out of the bulk of the current, we steadily worked our way into the pass through eddies and over a kaleidoscope of colorful barnacles, fish, urchins, kelp, sea anemones, mussels, and sea stars. It was like paddling on top of an immense aquarium.

The passes flowing in and out of the lagoon are teeming with sea life.

When we’d gone as far as possible, we paddled into the current and shot back across to the other side of the narrow channel. I spotted a notch in the rocks that our kayak could tuck into and, from there, we were able to carefully portage over a break in the rocks to get into the lagoon.

Once inside Broughton Lagoon, we saddled back up and paddled around to where the current would spit us out near Yahtzee. As we reached the narrow pass between tall trees and steep rocks, we could tell the current wasn’t running as swiftly as before, but it shot us through in exhilarating fashion. What an adventure, which, given the rocks and turbulent current, I think could only be accomplished in a kayak or pack raft.

Porter approves of even the smallest catch.

Following our whitewater exploits, we decided to slow it down a bit and found a quiet spot on a nearby beach to throw rocks, have a snack, and watch the tide come up. Much to our excitement, we also watched as the cloud cover broke apart to reveal a beautiful blue sky and brilliant sunshine. When the sun burst through, the previous days of gloom and rain were instantly swept from our collective memories as the warmth it created heated our bodies and dried our clothes. The water around us sparkled and the vegetation perked up and soaked it all in. Soon, a warm afternoon turned almost hot and we dashed to Yahtzee for our wetsuits and then over to an outcropping of rocks on the nameless island nearby for a swim.

By this time, the tide had come up enough over the large, sunbathed rocks to heat the water and create a perfect swimming area for us and a kiddie pool of sorts for the boys. Leaping into the clear, green water, we splashed, laughed and put the cap on yet another amazing day playing in the Broughton Archipelago.

That night, as I watched the sun set behind the mountains, I took a few minutes to reflect on all we’d seen and done in Greenway Sound over the past few days. From lazily sailing into the sound with dolphins to hiking the lakes, exploring the rapids of Broughton Lagoon and swimming in the cool water under the warm afternoon sun, it had been a time and place to remember. Truly, an unexpected gem — one of those payoffs cruisers often discover when taking it slow.

When the sun came out, the sound was like a huge swimming pool. Cannonball!

Andy Cross is the editor of 48° North. You can follow his family’s cruising adventures at