JRD22 showed me a web page of some folks who make the trip up there for New Years. Bilgewater was telling us about a winter trip he made up there. Just before he rounded the corner where the big cliff is and you could start to see the dock, fireworks started shooting up into the air from the dock area. When he arrived, Steve said the dock was almost full. Takes all kinds. Have you done a winter visit Ron? I would entertain it, but I would want Fast Forward to go first if the water was iced over. Your gelcoat is a lot tougher than mine.
Ahhh...you remembered my story Ray, good memory. We were up there in January or February a few years ago. It was absolutely spectacular to say the least. Here's how the story goes...
Didn't really check the long term forecast, we just went for it and it turned out to be spectacular weather. We were wearing cruisers suites most of the time. We started out in Campbell River and spotted not a soul in 7 days other than one lone sailing vessel at the mouth of Jervis Inlet. We worked our way up Jervis and into Princess Louisa, the inlet was like a glass mirror. As I was making my way toward the head of PL, the ocean looked a bit peculiar in the distance. By the time we reached the last bend to port (where that big rock face is) we found ourselves in the middle of ice sheets. I scanned about, looking for a passage but nothing. It turned out to be quite thin and pushing through it would break off large clear sheets that would slide off and over the next sheet. It was quite a site indeed although the integrity of the gelcoat was always in the back of my mind. As it turned out, it took off a thin line of bottom paint at the water line but no other damage.
As I was rounding the point I saw a flare go off. Now, I was fully expecting that we would be the lone vessel out here in the middle of winter and now not only was there life out here, someone needed my help, I thought. As I finally caught sight of the government float in the last minutes of dusk, I soon realized to my surprise that half the float was full of boats.
We continued to slowly make our way toward the float with fireworks going off all around us, it was quite spectacular really and the surroundings just made it that much more interesting. As we got closer we spotted people with flashlights signaling us to a spot on the dock near the end. I could see a few helpful souls digging the snow off the dock for our arrival, how nice I thought. As we were securing the boat, a monk in white robes came over to greet us. He had some kind of book in his hands, as I recall it was a tide book or something like that. He also had drinks for us in his other hand. Talking to him was a challenge, I think he had a few drinks before our arrival.
In all, there were about 40 people out there all crammed onto these boats. They were all from the Victoria Yacht Club as I recall and they were out for their annual pig roast and beer fest or whatever they called it...it did have a name but I can't remember. We were invited to share in the festivities which included feasting on pig on a spit, fireworks, drinking, laughing, drinking, laughing, telling stories and more drinking.
All through the night and the next day, we could hear rumbling in the distance. Up in the snow covered peaks which are very close and steep in this inlet, we could watch and hear the mini-avalanches regularly. Later that day, two very large American power yachts with paid crew arrived and were greeted in the same way as us. They were nice and friendly but I think they would have preferred less noise... can't blame them really but what could I do.
The next morning the American Yachts had left very early in the morning which I thought to be a bit peculiar because I had figured the slack at the rapids was very late in the morning. I double checked the slack and assumed they must know something I don't, so we just stayed and enjoyed our morning coffee and breakfast before heading out a little later.
Malibu Rapids at the mouth of Princess Louisa runs pretty fast at times and as we approached, we soon realized that we were a bit early judging by the white water we could see ahead. So we decided to pull into the Malibu Camp float and wait it out for a while. We finished securing the boat and headed up the hill when we spotted the camp watchman coming down toward us. He was happy to see us and let us explore around a bit while we waited out the change. He told us that earlier that morning, two yachts had come through during a heavy ebb or flood (can't remember which) and one of them went to starboard of the green light and over the rocks with a loud crunching and grinding sound that he had heard from the other side of the hill. Apparently it stayed afloat and the two of them limped back rafted together to who knows where, but a long journey I'm sure.
Princess Louisa is spectacular in the winter and as a matter of fact, I prefer it in the winter. In my mind, I have a collapsible ice breaker attachment for the bow that I would likely implement for the next trip but in any case, with one person on the bow with an oar or something, it should be easy to break it up a bit as you slowly make your way through....well worth the trouble. The falls were wonderful with all the snow covered rocks and running so fast but very slippery to say the least but the steep snow covered rocky mountains are the best by far. It's quite magical back there in the winter.
Winter in Malibu Rapids leaving Princess Louisa Inlet with view of Queens Reach (Jervis Inlet)