Desolation Sound July 2013
AUGUST 18, 2013
What a wonderful trip! It has been a month on board Mischief in consistently hot, sunny weather.
After one day of fog around the Strait of Juan De Fuca, we breezed through Customs in Sidney and stocked up on forbidden fruits & vegetables.
We made it up to Desolation Sound in 6 days, taking a new path for us up the west side of the Strait of Georgia and through Seymour Narrows. We enjoyed Tribune Bay on Hornby Island so much we stayed there on the way back as well for more hiking.
After unexpectedly encountering a pod of orcas on our way up the Strait, Michael did a great job of hopping the eddies to beat the 8 knot current around Cape Mudge. We spent our only night at a dock at Campbell River and were extremely grateful for the excellent marine store there, where Michael was able to get the parts to replace the macerator pump.
Once through the Narrows, we were catching the edge of gale force winds coming down Johnstone Strait for a couple of days so we tucked into the well protected inside bay of Small Inlet for our first night truly “away from it all.” A short hike led to a refreshing dip in pristine Newton Lake (Michael abstained this time – too chilly for him). Another windy day took us to Shoal Bay, arriving a bit late to get a good spot to anchor, and having to re-anchor just as it was getting dark.
To get out of the wind we went on to Von Donop Inlet, familiar territory but we still enjoyed two days of exploring and cleaning up the boat there. Jellyfish everywhere. With the weather pattern now changed to calm, we motored through spectacular scenery in Pryce Channel to stern-tie in Walsh Cove with 20 some other boats also stern-tied. It’s a popular spot, with good reason – the shallow waters amongst the reefs are warm enough for swimming, and are a most beautiful emerald green. This time we remembered to wear our Tevas for swimming, to arm ourselves for stepping on the dangerously sharp oyster shells. We took the long way around East Redonda Island to get to Roscoe Bay, timing it to have plenty of water over the drying entrance. It’s another popular spot, with people constantly jumping off their boats into the warm saltwater. We stern-tied again, amazingly close to the shore it seemed, but the boat never moved despite the lightning storm and accompanying wind and rain. We dinghied up to the end of Roscoe Bay where it is connected to Black Lake, another great spot for swimming, and especially well-deserved after our hot and grueling morning hike up Llanover Mountain for the grand view.
We bypassed Prideaux Haven to get away from the crowds, and headed down Malaspina Inlet to the Cochrane Islands, a rather obscure cluster of reefy bits with more great hiking on the Sunshine Coast Trail. As we were coming in, looking at the guidebook’s description of the anchorage and its photograph of that very spot showing a sister Eagle anchored in it, we looked up to see yet another Eagle 40 (the very first, in fact) stern tied as if they were never giving up the spot. We immediately became great friends with our counterparts on Honu, and spent two evenings swapping tours and experiences (tall tales) aboard our boats. Daytime was spent hiking 14 km to Manzanita Bluff and then we finally brought out the new inflatable kayak. Months of lifting weights didn’t help with developing kayaking arm muscles, but a few days of practice did the trick. Kayaking was really fun, since it was warm enough to just step right into the water at the beach, and Michael liked being able to see where he was going for a change.
We always try to find new places to go, so we decided to explore Read Island, negotiating the range markers through skinny Whiterock Passage and checking out Evans Bay. We weren’t expecting much, but found a lovely spot in Bird Cove that we had all to ourselves. That put us in a good position to go to Rebecca Spit the next day. We had heard that Heriot Bay was a good place to reprovision without the chaos of Refuge Cove, so we paid a small fee to tie up at Taku Resort for a couple of hours and got water, wi-fi and a few groceries at a real supermarket. We ended up anchored in Drew Harbour with time to hike the spit and enjoy the fabulous views and great eagle watching. Every stone on the beach was beautiful and many people were compelled to build cairns.
Time to start heading south again, back the way we came. Since it was calm, we took the opportunity to swing by Mitlenatch Island, an isolated wildlife sanctuary mid-Strait. No safe place to anchor, but we had great fun getting up close to the sea lions and checking out the colony of nesting cormorants. We used to try to get out of the Strait as quickly as possible, so we enjoyed feeling secure enough in Mischief to explore the more remote spots. Heading to go past Ballenas Islands but, when Michael remembered seeing mooring buoys there the last time we passed it, we went in between the islands to find, yes, the Schooner Cove Yacht Club had placed four buoys there for general use. We grabbed one, thinking, wow, we get to spend the night at this really remote spot! Soon all the buoys were taken, but most people left in the evening. This was our rockiest night, but still it wasn’t bad, and our modified hull truly doesn’t make noise anymore. Great tidepooling and hiking if you don’t need a trail – Michael led us up some bluffs that were almost rock climbing. Fantastic stargazing, and we even saw cruise ships in the Strait at 3:00 in the morning – don’t ask why we were up.
Then it was back into the Gulf Islands through Gabriola Passage, to spend the night in Clam Bay, actually in our own sub-cove of Clam Bay. Took the kayak through “The Cut” to Telegraph Harbor on the other side of Thetis Island. Fortified with ice cream from the store, we fought the current on the way back, and went further out to Penelakut Spit. We connected by cell phone with friends who were out on their sailboat, Kia Ora, and since we were really close agreed to meet in Princess Cove at Wallace Island. At 5 miles it was definitely our shortest day. We got there first, and stern tied. They arrived a bit later and rafted to us until we left them there in the morning on their own stern tie. Nice hike together out to Chivers Point followed by ice cold G+T’s and a lovely evening.
For out last night in Canada Michael dug up another spot we’ve never been to, Russell Island. Obscure, but close enough to Sidney for a number of boats to be there, with beautiful shell middens and an historic homestead to explore. Crossed the border in the morning, phoning in near Turn Point. Successfully back in the US (hooray, internet again), we again found our own private cove in Prevost Harbor. Michael’s pretty good at finding these nooks in otherwise crowded bays. Stretched our legs hiking out to Turn Point and then kayaked out to the other entrance to the bay, around some reefs inhabited by a heron and some oystercatchers who posed for pictures while we paddled up close. The evening sun turned everything golden.
Karen had a ticket on the Victoria Clipper to go back to Seattle for a few days of work, so Michael dropped her off in busy Friday Harbor and then went on solo to Park’s Bay. He enjoyed just staying put on the boat, doing deferred maintenance, he says, and then went on to spend another couple of days hiking around Sucia Island. Michael reports the new anchoring setup works great when soloing the boat.
We had a plan for getting back together for the last couple of days to bring the boat home. Karen got herself back up to Anacortes on a bus, then to Shaw Island on the ferry, where Michael picked her up in the dinghy from his anchorage in Blind Bay. The weather was starting to turn cold and in the morning we went out Cattle Pass and across the Strait in thick fog. To break up the day, we detoured to visit Minor Island, in the middle of the Strait. The old observation station buildings had sunk into the ground at various angles and what was left of the eroding island was covered with sea lions and nesting cormorants. We took Mischief right up to the edge of the island, close enough to pick up the bad smells and a boatload of flies! The fog thinned as we approached Port Townsend and we made it to Mats Mats Bay for our last night out. Very peaceful there, and because the entrance is so shallow we couldn’t leave until noon the next day. Our easy trip back to Shilshole had one moment of excitement – we arrived in the middle of a sailboat race full of women dressed in pink!
Sad to leave our moveable summer home, which we enjoyed very much. Now the planning starts for next year.