For many of you, just seeing the words “Kwatsi Bay” in the headlines conjures up a flood of pleasant memories. The sale of Kwatsi Bay is bittersweet. After 25 years of building and managing the Kwatsi Bay Marina, Max Knierim and Anka Fraser deserve a well-earned retirement. The new owners will be making renovations during the 2021 season so this “summer camp for adults” will not be open in 2021. Boaters can look forward to new memories in the coming seasons, while the old memories will last forever. For many, Kwatsi is heaven on earth, or at least heaven in the Broughton Archipelago. Kwatsi has long been a destination and goal for many boaters to visit summer after summer. And that’s not surprising, because Kwatsi Bay is one of the most beautiful locations on the BC coast, remote and beautiful.
Part of its beauty and enduring legacy are the people, Max and Anka in the lead, who enjoyed an almost daily afternoon Happy Hour, where everyone got to know each other, or when old friendships from prior cruising seasons were renewed. For the kids, they might think that Disney Land is the happiest place on earth. For the Northwest Boater, it was Kwatsi Bay. The mood was infectious as the stories rolled out during Happy Hour about the fish caught that day, or the state of the waterfall reached on the trail, a short dinghy ride away.
Most folks had an early warning of the potential sale, when a small ad was placed on Craigs List some three years ago, and more than a few us dreamed of what it might be like to own this remote paradise. We were all so thankful that Max and Anka elected to develop this property and make it their home and a place to raise their kids, Russell and Marieke. Living in paradise, however, came with a price. I remember Anka telling me about terrifying winter-time boat trips to Port McNeill to take the kids to the orthodontist or to go shopping. Or the loaded rifle discretely kept at the top of the dock in case the local wildlife got a little too wild. They elected a life for their family far from the big city.
They carved out this marina from locally felled logs with basic amenities. Mother Nature was the biggest amenity; the water was fresh and pure from a local stream. Robert Hale, the founding editor of the Waggoner Cruising Guide captured it very succinctly in issues of the Waggoner Guide, “This is not a luxury resort; this is the wilderness at its gentle but hardworking best. The floats may be primitive, but the people are not.”
On behalf of the boating community – THANK YOU Max and Anka. We will miss you.