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Faster 08-25-2013 02:06 PM

Beyond Desolation at last
We had a great summer, once again, managing to get away for a solid 7 weeks. On top of that we had a long awaited venture further north than usual, and this time we made it. After a relatively quick dash to Desolation Sound our flotilla left Squirrel Cove to take on the infamous rapids between us and the Broughton Islands.

Following Jack Dale’s excellent suggestions the rapids turned out to be largely non events, in fact we dealt with more adverse current in more open areas, however these rapids are not something to trifle with and transiting at or very near slack is always advised.

Heading up towards Bute Inlet, rapids around point on the left.

Day one was getting through the Yucaltas, Gillard, and Dent rapids, which constitutes a 5 NM run through the three of them. Fighting the tail end of the flood, using backeddies in the Yucaltas, we got through Gillard a half hour early and hit the Dents pretty well spot on.

Path from Squirrel Cove to Forward Harbour, with 5 rapids to transit

This took us to Shoal Bay, a rustic resort that has a very popular public dock. One thing we noticed right away was the colder water.. Desolation’s 68 -70F immediately gave way to 53-55F, the boat cooled down immediately, esp in mornings. It was often warmer on deck in the early am.

Shoal Bay

From Shoal Bay we moved a short way to the Cardero Island anchorage, a delightful spot where we caught up with the rest of our group before heading through Greene Point and Whirlpool rapids to Forward Harbour – the serious rapids were dealt with.

Cardero Anchorage

Due to forecast afternoon gales (common in summer, and esp good weather) we had a 5 am start to try to catch the ebb and a bit less wind through the unavoidable stretch of Johnstone Strait. This transit, too, was uneventful and the typical morning grey, low cloud predictably cleared and brightened to a sunny late afternoon, a pattern that was nearly a daily event throughout.

Entering Havanna Channel from Johnstone Str.

The day ended at an abandoned resort area on Minstrel Island, once a vibrant social hub of the area. Sadly falling down and overgrown, the docks remain and cruisers make good use of the free moorage. Exploring the tumbledown buildings and surrounding area is a neat way to spend some time, always keeping an eye out for local bears.

After a supply stop at Lagoon Cove, we moved up Tribune Channel to Kwatzi Bay, an almost Princess Louisa-like bay half way through Tribune. Here we anchored at the base of the steep slopes. We visited the nearby marina, which was quite busy and had some very nice crafts and clothing in the floating store.

Clouds clearing in Tribune Channel

Kwatzi Bay.. morning and afternoon..

Serious Barnacles:

Lichen/moss filled trees are common here.. very pretty

Our overall meanderings in the area north of the rapids:

Faster 08-25-2013 02:24 PM

Re: Beyond Desolation at last
Simoom Sound was our next stop, and we stayed an extra day – our only really rainy day. As it was grey and dreary and we were reading below and all morning thought we heard ‘whalesong’, but the others, sitting in their cockpit enclosures, didn’t hear anything. After a while I went on deck for a lookaround and saw hundreds of dophins frenziedly heading to the head of the sound, a half mile of white water in otherwise flat calm. One of our party hopped in the dinghy to investigate and were treated to a spectacular show, the dophins were attempting to escape a pod of a half dozen Orcas. Unfortunately the show of leaping whales and dolphins was out of sight of our anchored raft, but a number of dolphins sought safety in a nearby cove and we got up close and personal with some of these.

Another abandoned resort is Greenway Sound. Again, docks left behind but these, while usable, are deteriorating rather quickly. With a half mile of floats in deep water, one leg is turning into a bit of a pretzel. The resorts’ famous ‘red carpet’ still covers the majority of the floats.

Lake at end of hike at Greenway

Our northernmost point was Turnbull Cove, another small, steep sided cove with great shelter in any weather. The next day was one of the rare early morning clear, sunny dawns.

Down Wells Passage for a night a Dickson Island, known for halibut fishing but not, apparently, for our group. This was followed by a light air grey crossing to the top of Malcolm Island and a visit to Sointula, an old Swedish settlement that has persevered. A visit to Alert Bay (detailed in another thread) preceded a couple of days in Port MacNeil for provisioning and to pick up guests.

Alert Bay visitor's dock

Leaving that area we headed to Blackfish Sound where we were treated to the sight of a couple of Humpback whales, including some good tail shows, though never managed to capture one with a camera.

We also stopped at Mamilallacula, and ancient aboriginal village with a huge midden beach and decaying buildings and structures.

Old Pier near village


Former school/hospital

Remains of a Longhouse

Fallen, rotting totem.. can you see the otter??

By now we’ve grown to a flotilla of 9 and all of us converged on an already busy anchorage at Waddington Bay.

We started heading back south by this time and intended to attend the music festivals in Comox, as is our usual custom. Transiting the rapids in reverse we retraced our path to Desolation and happily jumped in the warm water as full summer returned.

However I have to say we were thrilled with the weather. This part of the coast, like the West Coast of Vancouver Island, is known for extensive fog, cloud cover, rain and drizzle. We did not hit any significant fog and only had one solid day of rain (which even then cleared off by evening) and a morning of drizzle here and there. Nearly every day ended in sunshine, often by noon or early afternoon.

copacabana 08-25-2013 04:52 PM

Re: Beyond Desolation at last
Lovely pics and trip Ron. You're tempting me to sail up to the BC coast ..... :)

Faster 08-25-2013 05:01 PM

Re: Beyond Desolation at last
Thanks Mark.. turn left at Trinidad Tobago and right after Panama!! ;)

LinekinBayCD 08-25-2013 06:25 PM

Re: Beyond Desolation at last
What is the secret to getting away for seven weeks?

jackdale 08-25-2013 07:35 PM

Re: Beyond Desolation at last
Great stuff. We saw some of the Broughtons on the AVI in May. We only had two weeks for the whole trip. It was nice and and quiet :). Lacey Falls is great then as it had lots of water, it is a bit disappointing later in the season.

I am glad my advise about the rapids worked.

tdw 08-25-2013 08:26 PM

Re: Beyond Desolation at last
Splendid splendid splendid and welcome back mate.

Naturally enough after seeing those pics I hate you but thats not surprising now is it ? After all I am a bitter and twisted old sod. :p

Couple of questions ....

Why are those resorts closed ? GFC I guess ?
Can I buy one ? Resort not GFC.


northoceanbeach 08-25-2013 08:41 PM

Re: Beyond Desolation at last
Awesome Glad you had so much fun. Those are some nice pictures. good think you had so much luck with the weather too. I wonder if I crossed your path somewhere along the way.

Sal Paradise 08-25-2013 09:05 PM

Re: Beyond Desolation at last
Great pictures. Thanks for posting

John33 08-26-2013 05:56 AM

Re: Beyond Desolation at last
Beautiful photos. Thanks for sharing. Looks like an amazing place for exploring.

- John

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