Desolation Sound and Beyond
Desolation Sound and Beyond
Before we left Nanaimo, we had a wonderful time with Sam’s dad Jim (or Jelle, which is harder to pronounce). He gave of his time generously, taking us to hot tubs and old growth forests. Kristin thought she had died and gone to heaven. Not only did the summer finally arrive that day, but giant tubs of hot water (this one surround with gardens planted in faux rock) as well. Everything she ever wanted.
We set out the next day into strong winds from the southeast. We had the big jib hanked on so I had to go forward and put our working jib on. It was an adventure, kneeling on the foredeck as it pitched about. When it pitched up I was light enough to slide back and forth on deck from the rolling action. It wore out the tops of my feet. Non-skid?  Exfoliant.  Once we got the jib up we were able to reach downwind with just the jib and mizzen at over 5 knots. It was an awesome sail down big waves all the way to our next destination, False Bay on Lasqueti Island. We anchored safely. We had no cell or Kindle service, but we did notice the local community wireless project. This is not like a wireless project in Portland, where everyone has DSL or Cable anyway. These folks have a wireless point to point link with Vancouver Island and are bringing internet service to a place that would otherwise be without.  They also raised their green flag, bragging on the login page that the service was powered exclusively by solar, micro-hydro, and wind power.  We didn’t use it, ours was a short stay.
From Lasqueti we had planned to head to Campbell River, a long trip with strong currents to contend with at the end. We talked it over and felt it better to head to Lund instead, a trip with more islands and scenery.  Our plan was to avoid Desolation Sound altogether, making fast progress instead toward the Broughton Islands. Lund was a marvelous surprise.  Scenic beyond belief, but also affordable and well stocked. I suggest a visit, and the directions are simple: take highway 101 north until it stops.
The harbour master was as helpful and friendly as it is possible to be. He pointed out a middle way for us, a quick trip through Desolation Sound on a fairly direct back channel to the Broughtons. The next day we sailed away, though at the end of the favorable tide we had to motor the rest of the way. We pulled into Teakerne Arm to see if the anchorage by the waterfall was workable. It was a tight fit, we had to pull alongside one boat, and turn sharply along a cliff to then be pointing out the right way to be away from our neighbor and close to our stern tie. We had dropped the hook in 30 feet, were in 20 feet, and were less than 10 feet from the shore. Yikes!  If we had dropped the hook further out we’d be in 60, 80, 150 feet in no time. Floating over a cliff!
The waterfall pours into the sound from a lake above. The stream from the lake is perhaps 100 yards long, and drops at least 50 yards there at the end. The lake was an amazing surprise, fringed in cliffs with scraggly Doug Fir and Madrone clinging to the sides; deep and warm!  There were two giggling skinny dippers there when we arrived, and it seemed the least awkward thing to do was to just join them. Summer was no where to be found a few short days ago, and there I was scratching my mosquito bites, nursing a sunburn, and skinny dipping.
Our next stop presented us with a problem. The channel ahead contained 5 notorious rapids, places where the tide rushes through a constriction in a channel. The trick to crossing safely is timing, doing it on a small tide near or at slack water. But our trusty tide book, purchased in Astoria and covering the entire west coast, turned out to be a little light on information for the back channels we were in. We needed the Canadian Tide Tables, vol. 6. We didn’t have it. I rowed over to our neighbors and they invited me in and went over the tides. We’d make it through Yuculta Rapids the next day, and then tie up in Big Bay where a store sells the book. Because we were on a small tide and there at the right time, the rapids were unimpressive. The next day, we went through Gillard Passage and Dent Rapids and again they were unimpressive. I guess I shouldn’t complain. Our friends who transited the rapids at the same time say they have never seen them so calm. We still have Greene Point and Whirlpool Rapids ahead, and because they are 2 hours apart, we shall have to take them an hour or more before or after slack.  Hopefully our luck will hold.
We’ve come upon an oasis called Shoal Bay. I don’t know all the details, but there is a bar that seems to be run by whoever has been anchored here long enough to know how the system works. The system seems to be get a beer from the fridge and mark it next to your boat name. The bar is also the home of the property owner. Kristin is behind me now in that “bar” (or more properly living room) taking a yoga class with 5-10 other boaters. There are plentiful crabs in the bay, free reliable wireless, and from the porch I can keep an eye on my boat and the mountains behind. Its not clear why anyone would ever leave. But, what else might lie ahead?