Monday, July 31, 2017

Princess Louisa Inlet and Beyond

After clearing Harmony Islands and removing the bark wrapped around the propeller shaft, we headed north up Jervis Inlet.  It's a lengthy haul up Jervis, divided into three long reaches, Prince of Wales, Princess Royal, and Queens.  Fortunately an up-channel breeze arrived and we rolled out the Genoa, continuing with the engine to keep up our speed.  We needed to maintain at least four knots if we were to make it the 35 miles to the rapids at the time the current turned slack.  Later, when we noticed that our speed over ground was in excess of five knots with the engine at idle we knew we could dispense with the diesel altogether.  By the time we entered Princess Royal reach the wind had built and rollers were lifting the stern of the boat.  I noticed that Tula had popped her headsail as well and was speeding along the north shore. It is usual in these reaches for the wind to blow up-channel in the afternoon, bringing white caps later in the day.  After a raucous ride, we arrived at the entry to Princess Louisa Inlet 90 minutes ahead of schedule.

With too much time and no lack of wind, we tacked back and forth waiting for the rapids to calm. By slack we had four sailboats and about six power boats hovering at the entrance. One power boat decided to jump the gun and go through before the ebb turned to flood. We watched the boat struggling against the current.  Horsepower won out the the rest of the power vessels followed suit leaving the four sailboats to linger a little longer.  Sailboats are a little under powered and their deep keel can get swept to one side or the other if a stiff current grabs it. It's good to wait.

Tula with power boat hot on her tail.. through Malibu rapids

Finally at the stroke of 16:11 a single hander in a ketch headed through the now placid rapids.  A sloop followed and Tula fell in line behind with Traveler bringing up the rear.  A power boat named Papa De'eau had just arrived up Queens Reach and approached under speed, looking like it was going to cut off our friends on Tula.  Scott Tobiason hailed the boat and asked what his intentions were. "I'm going through Malibu."  Scott (in a very professional manner) explained that he was already in the approach and we should transit one at a time.  Papa De'eau came back with " But I'm doing 10 knots!"  Scott came back with, "I'm doing four knots and the speed here in the rapids is posted not to exceed five."  There was a few more terse words exchanged but Tula kept her position and old Papa De'eau had to follow.  Of course, he cut in front of Traveler and we followed through, last in line. 

Once through I hailed Tula and suggested that we put up the sails and take our time coasting the few miles up Princess Louisa Inlet, giving us time to forget the rudeness and making our entry a pleasant one.  Now that the current had turned, everyone who was going through the rapids had already done so and the power boats who raced to the anchorage and dock were claiming the good spots.  That's how it always goes.  The boats with big engines hurry to the destinations and take what's available.  The sailboats come in later and take what's left.  I cannot count the times we've entered a breakwater or anchorage and had powerboats zip around us to beat us in. I just stand off and wait for them to get out of the way. 

Chatterbox Falls with public dock

At the head of Princess Louisa Inlet is Chatterbox Falls, a lovely cascade of water.  All around the head of the Inlet are waterfalls, running thousands of feet from the towering heights of the fjord. I counted ten visible from where we drifted while Tula went ahead and scouted the dock for open spots.  We felt lucky as we got the call on the radio from them to come on in and that there was room on the inside near the ramp.  "You can raft up to Tula or try to squeeze into a 45 foot space."  Our boat is 44 feet long overall so it would be a squeeze.  We slowly coasted in, nosed her bow into the dock and used reverse and a little prop walk to slip into the dock with inches to spare.  Across the dock from us sat the towering Papa De'eau, blocking our view of the bay and the falls. 

That's Ok.  We had a great group dinner with Scott, Karen, Alan, and Dick and the next day we hiked and kayaked and had a grand old time.  The first morning a few boats left and we got Traveler and Tula relocated to the outer part of the dock with nice views all around. Day three we motored out of Louisa and arrived at the rapids at 10:37 to again be the last boat to transit. Entering Queens Reach we were glad to see the stern waves of the half dozen boats racing away into the distance.  We had Jervis to ourselves for the rest of the day except for when we met the next batch of visitors about halfway through Princess Royal Reach. First the plodding sailboats, then an hour later, the racing powerboats.  All of us visitors live by the timing of Malibu rapids.

Unfortunately we had the up-channel wind again and so had to motor into wind and waves all day, arriving finally at Ballet Bay within Blind Bay and an easy anchorage for the night.  Tula left the next morning with a northwest wind to help them sail south back to Pender Harbor.  As our next destination was to the north, we decided to take a lay day and wait for the northwest wind to lie down a little.

Tenedos Bay
Texada Island is a crazy 28 miles long and it seems to take forever to leave it astern. In light winds we motored north and were finally able to sail for a while just off Harwood and Savory Islands. We passed the town of Lund and found a stern tie anchorage in the Copeland Islands.  The next day the little channel between the Copelands and Malaspina Peninsula was quite active with boats, everyone motoring north to get into the famous cruising grounds of Desolation Sound. I seemed like all the boats in Canada were converging on this one spot!  We choose to duck into Tenedos Bay and enjoyed a down wind genaker run to the head of the bay.  It took some doing but we found a spot to stern tie and then took the dinghy over to the creek for a hike and a swim in the lake.

Our Desolation Sound anchorage

The next day we rounded the corner and sailed by Prideaux Haven, a fabulous place but much too popular.  I could see on our AIS that there were numerous big yachts in there and by the chatter on the VHF could tell it was quite crowded so we gave it a pass.  We did enter Laura Bay but seeing the 20 boats in there, we left as soon as possible.  Around the corner we finally found a spot to ourselves in the lee of Roffey Island.  The 15 foot tide was quite alarming as the next morning we found ourselves down in a little hole surrounded with heaps of drying oysters.  Carefully, we made our exit, sailing west to Squrrel Cove where we found a large anchorage of constant depth and no stern ties necessary. 

Responding to a hail on the VHF, we were surprised to find Tammy and Dan on their Union Polaris cutter Anjuli. We knew them from our cruising time in Mexico and were surprised to see them up here in the Northwest.  They had just shipped their boat to BC on a cargo ship and had picked it up in Nanaimo the same day we happened to be there. Small world.  We enjoyed the anchorage, the provisioning, and the company of our friends, staying in quiet Squirrel Cove for two nights.  On the way across Lewis Channel Connie calls me up deck.  "See that fishing boat?  Is that a log boom back there behind it?"  "Holy Cow! Don't go behind that boat... It's a tug, towing a log raft!"

Refuge Cove

We visited Refuge Cove and topped off the diesel tanks and visited the store at the docks.  There we met Joy and Jeff on Folie a Deux, friends from Olympia and the South Sound Sailing Society.

Another chance meeting!  From Refuge Cove we went around the corner and found a nice stern tie right at the mouth of the falls at Teakerne Arm. There we hiked to the lake above the falls. Connie did some world class dives off the cliff and we met another couple from Olympia, Geb and Shannon on S/V Marie.  It's amazing to run into so many people you know up here....

We are seeing oysters all around but also see the signs saying not to eat the oysters, but then I see a guy on the dock with a bucket full of oysters hanging in the water.  I ask the guy, "What about the signs?"  He's telling me that anywhere near harbors or populated areas they put the signs just to be safe.  Evidently the problem isn't red tide, it's a fecal chloroform problem.  He recommended we find the oysters in less populated areas.  Open one up and put a little on your lip to test for red tide. Now we are on the hunt again for oysters

Traveler anchored at Teakerne Arm near the falls
And now we are in the land of fewer boats, less people, and more wilderness.  The run north from Teakerne Arm was against the wind (a typical northwesterly) and we were short on time to catch the flat water at Yuculta rapids at precisely 17:18 ... on the 22nd.  Turns out I'd lost a day somewhere and it was the 23rd, with flat water at 18:08 so we cooled our heels floating just south of the rapids for an hour.  But soon we arrived at Big Bay and the Stuart Island Community Dock.  Everything here happens at the turn of the tide with Yuculta rapids just around the corner to the south and Gillard Passage and Dent rapids just north.  As we approached the dock, two more sailboats came in, SawLeeah and Kwinnum from Vancouver.  Cocktail hour happened and we made Canadian friends.  Everyone is so friendly here. We talked, drank some wine, and Connie played a couple of songs.  Now it's almost 10:00 PM, still light in the sky, and the local folks in small boats are drinking and smoking on the dock and grilling fresh caught fish.
Big Bay, Stuart Island Community Dock

I'll be hiking up to the little store in a minute where rumor has it there is WiFi. And we've got showers included with the moorage here. It will be the first shower in 25 days. Can you imagine?  Of course we take deck baths, sink baths, spit baths, and swims in lakes, but a shower... with hot water... what a luxury!

Tomorrow at noon we run a couple more rapids and proceed further north in search of bears on the beach, crabs in the trap, and shrimps on the barbecue


  1. Great post! Thanks for writing about your journey!

  2. Wow! This sounds like and looks like a fantastic summer!