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Posted By Robin & Jim

Our next stop was Prideaux Haven, which has several coves and rock crannies where boats can anchor. We chose Melanie Cove for this visit, but we'll try other spots on future visits because each has a different view. Our cove had a little babbling brook where I found a nice black oystercatcher hunting in the shallows.

black oystercatcher

It was a terrific place to kayak with so many little corners to explore and beautiful views.

kayak view

Boats were able to anchor in some improbable spots by using a stern tie - a line from the stern of the boat tied to something sturdy on shore. We bought a big reel of line in case we need to stern tie, but we haven't tried it yet. It's another Pacific NW custom we're learning about.

anchored among rocks

The evening light just before sunset was pretty so we took an after-dinner dinghy cruise to enjoy the view. The sun can seem to set quickly because of the tall mountains. 

prideaux haven sunset

Jim chose Squirrel Cove on Cortes Island as our next destination. It has a big protected anchorage with a salt water lake that floods through a narrow rapids at high tide. We had a ball playing in the rapids with our kayaks.
The outer harbor has a public dock, general store, craft store, and a little restaurant. I always like to read the bulletin boards in different places, and we saw a poster for the annual Cortes Island Music Festival the next day, which looked interesting. We checked the web site and it looked even better, though it was located on the other side of the very hilly island.
We decided to go to the music festival since we have bikes. We knew the island was very hilly, but the exercise is good for us!
It turned out that the hills were much steeper than we expected, and we walked our bikes up the worst ones. But the ride on the road through the deep forest was very beautiful. We arrived a little after the music festival was due to start and found a bunch of hippies making signs and cutting the grass... the stage was set up but it didn't look like music was going to happen anytime soon. The whole thing was a little creepy so we took a short break to rest, and got back on the hilly road for the 8 km ride/walk. An adventure!


 
Posted By Robin & Jim

We felt we were really spoiled by Princess Louisa Inlet - how could we top it? We returned to Pender Harbour for a last hurrah with Linda and Ed before they headed south to meet guests, and we headed north to Desolation Sound.
We hiked through a nice wooded trail...

forest floor

...and ended up on a small road where we met a woman herding her two Labrador retrievers into her truck. A young black bear was about 50' up her cherry tree and the dogs were going crazy. Evidently this bear likes her tree and will spend much of the day in it - eating and napping. I wasn't able to get a good photo, but it was interesting to see. We made sure to talk loudly on the hike back through the woods.
Pender was pretty, with loons calling in the early morning, hummingbirds, and bald eagles.

eagle

From Pender we cruised up into Desolation Sound - somewhat of a misnomer since it's popular with boats from the Seattle and Vancouver areas on vacation.  But it's a big place with lots of nooks and crannies, and harbors big enough for everyone. 
Our first stop was Grace Harbour - a beautiful spot. We hiked up to a fresh water lake, and came upon this old logging bulldozer abandoned in the woods.

bulldozer

Nothing beats a walk in the woods... and we love the tall cedars, spruce, fir, and arbutus trees, and the lush ferns in the understory.

forest ferns

We've also been enjoying exploring by kayak. We see lots of starfish clinging to the rock walls, and they don't seem to mind being high and dry when the tide goes out.

starfish


hang on

We're on our own now, still getting used to being new in the area and hoping to make some new friends. We love our new home waters, but miss our family and old friends very much. We had a surprise call from friends last night - a rare treat!

We're learning to slow down and enjoy cruising after a long winter of working on the boat 7 days a week and then the stress and mess of shipping ADVENTURES. It still feels like a guilty pleasure to be able to just relax, though we both have lots of fun projects to keep us busy. Jim is playing with his GoPro video and editing, and I'm knitting, writing some articles, and working on photos. A number of my photos appear in the latest (July/Aug) issue of PassageMaker magazine to go with an article about DeFever 49s, so that's pretty cool. 

 


 
Posted By Robin & Jim

Take a look at Princess Louisa Inlet on Google Earth - it's up a series of fjords that reach deep into Canada's Coastal Mountains. Accompanied by ONE FINE DAY, we made the long 50 mile trek up to Princess Louisa - a place only accessible by boat or seaplane - and it was well worth the trip. When I say fjords, I mean mountains that are 4500-7000' tall that plunge straight down into water that is a thousand or more feet deep. 

princess reach

Just before entering Princess Louisa, you have to wiggle through the tight S-curve of Malibu Rapids (at slack current, of course). As Princess Louisa Inlet opens up you almost can't catch your breath.  Words are woefully inadequate to describe it. At the head is the biggest waterfall, Chatterbox Falls, which sits beneath a huge vertical granite cliff face. The ranger told us that mountain goats raise their kids on that cliff face in the spring.

princess louisa

You can see how tiny the boats look in the lower right, just to give you some sense of scale, though the photos don't capture the grandeur. White ribbons of falling water are all around, 60+ waterfalls when the snow melt is at its most active in the spring. We spent a glorious three nights on the park dock there, though you can stay longer and anchor in a few spots near other little waterfalls. The water is very deep so you just drop an anchor and a lot of chain close to shore and stern tie to shore. We definitely plan to return more than once!

looking down inlet

As you can imagine, there is no cell service or TV signal way up here, but it's good to savor the beauty without distractions.

While Linda and I paddled kayaks, Jim and our friend Ed went on a long hike up to the trapper's cabin high up the mountainside. Along the way they found some nice huckleberries and wild blueberries...

berry picking jim

...though they were exhausted by the very vertical scramble.

scrambling jim

Such a special place deserved a more formal touch for dinner, so we set a proper table on the park dock with our buddy boat friends. To top it all off, Linda and Ed served crepes with sauce made from the berries for dessert.

dock dinner

 We met some nice people including one couple with a 1972 wood DeFever, pictured next to us below.

two defevers

We'll return in the spring when Chatterbox Falls is roaring!

 
Posted By Robin & Jim

We crossed the Strait of Georgia from Vancouver Island (where the city of Vancouver is NOT) over to the mainland (where Vancouver IS) to explore British Columbia's Sunshine Coast and Desolation Sound.  About 50 miles NW of Vancouver (the city, not the island) is one of the areas where a narrow cut causes violent rapids and whirlpools to form when the tidal current is at its strongest.  Friends recommended a little marina where we could tie up and hike to an overlook to watch Skookumchuck Rapids (aka "the Skook"). 

But first, we had to head north up Agamemnon Channel towards the area where the Skook occurs, and turning the corner into the channel was just breathtaking.  And of course a bald eagle flew across our path, just to add to the dramatic view.

agamemnon channel

We were heading into fjord country - with mountains growing steeper the farther we headed north, and water hundreds of feet deep right at the shoreline.  We even had a little problem with our GPS units for a few minutes where they couldn't see the satellites - they must have been lower than the mountains for a short time. 

We were able to link back up with our new friends Linda and Ed on their sailboat ONE FINE DAY (great name) in the town of Egmont, and we all trooped up the hill and through the woods to the overlook for the rapids near the time of maximum ebb current.  WOW!

skook ebb

Pictures just don't do justice to the roaring, rushing water that was moving at speeds up to 16 knots.  Yet this rapids is as placid as a mill pond at slack current, and boats like ours can make the passage through it easily - though the window for slack is about 15-20 minutes.  Scary!

We made arrangements to take a fast tour boat through the rapids at maximum flood later in the day - just to experience it for ourselves.  On the flood tide the current produces huge standing waves (12-15' tall) and the local white water kayakers take turns paddling into those monsters and doing spin tricks.  Amazing.

skook paddler

It was a high-octane ride in the rapids - thank goodness the small boat we were on had lots of power and a reliable engine!  Rapids are not unusual up in this region, and you just have to pay attention to what the cruising guides recommend and double-check your current and tide tables. 

We have been having a ball with our new Canadian friends, and we hope to link up with them again later in the summer.

linda and ed

We enjoyed some nice cold beer watching the mountains change from golden-green to deep blue and purple as the sun set.  In the morning this was our view, with ONE FINE DAY just a white speck as we headed to our next destination: Princess Louisa Inlet.

leaving back eddy marina


 
Posted By Robin & Jim

Our friend Laurie from grad school came up to visit us, and we had a great time exploring some of the Gulf Islands.  We all enjoy photography so we had to spend a long day at the famous Butchart Gardens near Victoria.  It's an amazing place with many different types of gardens, including a stunning rose garden...

rose garden

...and a huge sunken garden.  It was a cloudy day - perfect for close-up flower photography, but not the best for wide angle shots of this fantastic place.

sunken garden

We cruised to Saturna Island to visit the little winery again.  Their little bistro was scheduled to open, and we liked the chardonnay grown in the shadow of a huge cliff face - it's the big expanse of rock heated by the sun that keeps the grapes warm.  We enjoyed the bistro and bought a few more bottles of wine, and noticed that even the locals think the new chef at the bistro has done a good job!

saturna charlie

We spent some time hiking around Montague Bay where there's a Provincial Park, and saw a nice sandy beach where the Canadians were actually swimming - the water is about 60 degrees!  We are acclimating to the cooler temps up here, but will never jump into water that cold without a heavy wet suit or a dry suit on!

We strolled the streets of Ganges, a little town on Salt Spring Island known for its artsy community.  We've had a nice mix of towns as well as woods and hiking, though I really love the wild places and am looking forward to heading north to Desolation and the Broughtons.

ganges

July 1 is Canada Day, and we anchored off South Pender Island to watch the fireworks.  It wasn't quite the same as a good old Fourth of July, but we had a great view from the bow of our boat.  We had a great time with Laurie, and the fireworks were a nice finale to her trip.

jim and laurie

While we're savoring the beauty of our new cruising grounds, we think about our friends who are struggling with serious health issues.  We never take a day of any of this for granted, and we try to live as best we can every day since one never knows what will happen tomorrow.  Our thoughts and prayers are with those dealing with difficulty and sadness.

 
Posted By Robin & Jim

The Gulf Islands off Vancouver Island are very pretty, and we've spent a wonderful three weeks exploring small towns and hiking various parks.
There are a lot of new things we have to get used to out here, such as logs.  There is a lot of logging and log handling along the Inside Passage, and a lot of logs get loose.  They can be quite large and you don't want to hit one!

jim and log

We've seen several towns with some kind of log handling operation - wood pulp or lumber mill or shipping, and large natural bays can be full of corraled floating logs...

log boom bay

and long log booms towed by tugs.
tug with log boom

Another new thing to get used to and to watch out for are seaplanes.  They are everywhere, with scheduled flights to/from small towns as well as frequent visits to many other harbors.  We have learned to keep a sharp eye out for seaplanes landing when we're out in the dinghy since they are pretty quiet when they land.  Taking off is a noisy affair so we get plenty of warning.

seaplane

Planes land in the same channels that boats use, and we've seen them take off and land fairly close to us or other boats.  It's just how things are done around here, and everyone seems to deal with it without much fuss.  Some time we'll take a flight on one - it looks like so much fun!
Last week we anchored in Tod Inlet so we could visit the famous Butchart Gardens near Victoria.  They have a nice dinghy dock for boaters to access, and we got a kick out of the sign on the end of the dock...

sign

A little something for everyone - how thoughtful!
Tod Inlet was a beautiful spot that felt very remote, despite being about 10 km from downtown Victoria.

tod inlet

We had cocktails with some local boaters and they warned us about some troublesome otters in the area.  Just as a precaution we closed the side gate to the boat, and it was a good thing since the otters had a big party on our swim platform and in our dinghy overnight.  We never heard them, but they left fish guts and other smelly messes for us.  We used to think that otters were cute, but after cleaning more fish guts off our swim platform again this morning they are Public Enemy #1!
The Butchart Gardens were stunning, and we spent a very long day photographing the incredible variety of flowers around the property.  We're feeling more like locals now - we bought annual passes for the Gardens since we plan to winter in nearby Victoria.  I'll post more about Butchart Gardens in the next blog entry.