Desolation Sound and busy boating
06 August 2019 | Powell River
Jo Winter | Hot sunshine
We had organised a road trip with Mike and Laurian at the end of their stay, leaving Brother Wind, snugly in the Fisherman's Wharf Marina, in Campbell River. Infuriatingly the only available car had to be collected from the airport by a $35 taxi ride. We had organised to stay in Port Alberni a good half way stop towards Tofino, and only a couple of hours drive away, which gave us time to visit the dramatic Elfin Falls, close to a large hydroelectric scheme, and the excellent Campbell River museum.
It turned out that we had booked two bedrooms in what they called the penthouse suite in Port Alberni, so we were very comfy, except for poor Laurian, who slipped and hurt herself in the shower. Port Alberni although geographically closer to Vancouver Island's east coast is a west coast port, thirty miles up a very long inlet. It is an interesting work-a-day place, so far by passed by tourism.
It provided a good jumping off place to get to both Ucluelet and Tofino on the west coast, both places attract surfers in the summer and storm watchers in the winter. There are very few roads that go through the mountainous interior to the west coast of Vancouver Island, and there had been a big rock slip which meant that part of the road was one way single track. We had lovely sunshine in which to enjoy the popular lighthouse trail in Ucluelet, which goes around the lighthouse and along the steep rocky cliffs for several miles. Tofino, another 20 miles along the coast is a bigger more touristy town, but both places are laid back and attractive, and we enjoyed a delicious seafood lunch.
On our way back to Nanaimo the next day we stopped by to look at the nearby petroglyphs carved into the rock face on the edge of Sproat Lake, they are of indeterminate age, and gently erode through time. McLean sawmill, now a museum, gave us an insight into what by most standards was a very hard but organised existence from 1928 for fifty years, very cut off from the rest of the world.
Our route also took us past the honey pot sight of giant red cedars that grow in the area, and are immensely tall and straight, although the trunks of the trees were smaller in diameter than the last one we visited.
We left Mike and Laurian in their hotel in Nanaimo, for their onward journey home, enviably their first leg was a sea plane flight to Vancouver city, a hop across the water!
We got back late to Brother Wind, who in spite of an alarm (carbon monoxide) going off which gave us worried phone calls from the marina, looked non the worse for wear! We had a hectic morning making full use of the car to do a big shop and piles of laundry, and then while Giles returned it to the airport, I managed to find a hairdresser to cut my hair, which was a real luxury!
We set off late in the afternoon and caught the tide only a few miles north across to Quadra Island and the very pretty Gowlland bay, where we anchored to the south of Stag Island, one of the many tiny islands in the bay. The bay has several houses along its shore line, many with their own private jetty, so next day after a morning of rain had dissuaded us from moving, we ventured ashore to try and go for a walk. The owner of the jetty we selected was delighted for us to tie up there, and walk through his lovely orchard on our way to find a road, which resulted in a reasonable woodland trail to walk.
Part of the reason of staying close to civilization had been to have a phone signal, and as it was my birthday next day, I was able to Whats App and speak to all of the family. The sun had obligingly come out and as our next destination was not far off, we spent more time trying to catch a salmon off Mudge Point, our only consolation was that we couldn't see anyone else hauling in fish either!
We had booked a table at the resort in the large landlocked Gorge bay, on Cores Island, entered by a steep sided narrow channel , our luck held and the evening remained fine, so that we could sit out on the balcony enjoying the view over the harbour as darkness fell.
The expected rain came during the night, and the wind blew and rain came down torrentially for the next 24 hours. We were relieved to be in a safe haven, although we got slightly crowded in as other boats came into harbour anchoring closer than we would have liked. We watched with wry amusement as a large motor boat went inshore of us, where a rock was marked on the chart, he clearly hit it, came to an abrupt stop, and reversed off in a hurry!!
It was still raining when we woke next day, but soon the clouds had given way to blue sky again, and the temperature climbed back to a pleasant 20', and made a quick trip ashore to leave rubbish, always high on our list of priorities, and to briefly use the wi-fi, which brought poor Giles bad news of a leaking shower and angry tenant (easier not to know)!
We up anchored and moved on to Desolation Sound, a small area of islands, bays and inlets of outstanding beauty, but also rather to our horror outstandingly popular and every anchorage was crammed with boats of all descriptions, made even worse by the fact that on Sunday it was British Columbia Day, and the Monday was a bank holiday!
The normal procedure in some of the tight bays is to take a long stern line ashore to tie to a tree, so that the boat doesn't swing, which makes more space for others. For this purpose most of them had thin long lines of about 50 metres, which we sadly lack. So far we have managed to anchor without needing to go through that performance, but inevitable we will have to in due course, and yet another line needs to be added to our inventory!
The anchorage that we chose in the Desolation Sound, Tenedos Bay, had the attraction of a short walk to a freshwater lake where you could swim, luckily as we dragged our dinghy ashore, a friendly lady, another 'Jo', befriended us, and we followed her to a prime swimming spot off a large rock.
Next day we moved on, trying to find somewhere less popular, and to our delight we are now anchored in a marginally more exposed spot, (not in the guide books), which means that we are a small channel away from a few other boats, instead of cheek by jowl with them, a small price to pay for the small amount of swell caused by wash from passing boats in the Waddington Channel.