— The website of the Sailing Vessel Beatrix, Kelly-Peterson 44 #276 (1980).

In the summer of 2003 we ventured up the BC Coast.  Our original intention was a circumnavigation of Vancouver Island, but we decided to forgo this adventure in favor of a more relaxing time on the Inside.  We just didn't leave quite enough time for a trip around the island.

Our friends Pam and Denise sailed with Jeff up to Refuge Cove in BC.  We left August 1 after a few days delay to finish up some necessary boat work.  In particular the new dinghy davits and boom gallows. Patti and Sarah were to join us a week later at Refuge Cove north of the  BC Sunshine Coast.

Our first stop was in Port Townsend, where we got a new staysail from Carol Hasse at Port Townsend sails, and a preventer system from rigger Brion Toss.  

Next day we had good sailing across the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  In the summer in Puget Sound and points north the wind is usually absent, or going the wrong way, so any time the sails are up is a good time.  Passing through the San Juans on our track north we stopped in Parks Bay across from Friday Harbor, a good anchorage with great crabbing.  

Next day we cleared customs into Canada at Bedwell Harbor and proceeded to Clam Bay for the night.  In the morning Beatrix set out to catch the ebb tide through Porlier Pass and thence to cross Georgia Strait.  Next stop was Vancouver Canada.  We spent 2 nights in Vancouver, enjoying the festive atmosphere of Granville Island, safe in a marina from some very strong winds.

After topping up our fuel and changing the oil (oil change pump - YES!) we thought we would head for Lesqueti island for the night.  The wind was still blowing pretty hard and the recommended anchorage in Boho Bay was full of yachts hanging on by their figurative fingernails.  After three attempts to anchor in the remaining space, we gave up.  It was getting late.  The chart showed a bay around to the leeward side of Lesqueti, but it wasn't in the cruising guide!  Great, nobody would be there, and indeed we found an inlet where we could swing on the hook with good holding and no stern tie required.

The next day we made it up into Refuge Bay, the entrance to Desolation Sound.  This is a fabulous little outpost that is frequented by just about every yacht heading north from Vancouver.  It has a good store, a fuel dock, and the only garbage station for miles.  We had an engine belt break, but it was repaired without drama.  We arrived just in time to greet Patti and Sarah when they flew in from Seattle.

Over the next few days we gunkholed around Desolation Sound, catching oysters, fishing, and trying unsuccessfully to get some shrimp and crab.  The water is pretty warm and I think there are things I need to learn about shrimping.  We anchored in Otter Island the first night (great oysters) and the next in Teakerne Arm.  Both required stern ties.  In Teakerne  there is a waterfall called Cassell Falls.  A short hike from the falls brings you to Casell Lake which is great for swimming.  Sarah took off to swim the entire breadth of the lake, much impressing the passersby.  Our anchorage was a deep drop-off.  We found rings embedded in the rock wall just three inlets west of the Falls.  These made the stern tie easy, but we still deployed our second anchor.  We used the recommended method of rowing out a second anchor whereby the anchor is suspended by a line beneath the dinghy and then slipped.  It worked perfectly.  No shrimp, no crab.

Our next anchorage was in Van Donop Inlet, a very interesting anchorage inside a VERY narrow passage.  The holding is great once you're in. There was a bit of a thunderstorm which started a fire across from us and up the mountainside.  I got to call in an air strike via Comox Coast Guard radio.  The Canadian Forest Service sent in a huge 4-engine water bomber (see below) which was able to extinguish the fire in just 3 passes.

Heading north, we now were into the tidal rapids of the Inside Passage.  Transiting Yuculta Rapids brought us to Big Bay, a noted fishing resort.  We lay over two days so our crew could indulge in their salmon fishing passion.  Two nice Chinooks were caught and enjoyed.

On 14 Aug our crew members, Pam and Denise, departed for Seattle by float plane.  We caught the slack tide heading northwest through Dent Rapids and down the Nodales Channel to Thurston Bay.  We found good holding in Cameleon Bay at the end of Thurston.  Dolphins played in the harbor mouth and the extreme silence was broken only by the screams of eagles.

The next day we followed Nodales Channel down to Johnstone Strait and from there headed NW to Forward Harbor.  This involved another rapids transit (Whirlpool Rapids), but it was an anticlimax.  We had both wind and current boosts on this run.  If Johnstone Strait is taken in the afternoon or when wind is against current it can get very rough.  We did encounter some fog but had no trouble using radar, GPS, and our new foghorn to find our way.    

Forward Harbor was our farthest point for this cruise.  It was quiet and beautiful.  We found lots of clams (still no crabs).  We anchored in Douglas Bay in 50' of water.  On 16 Aug we left Forward Harbor to begin the return journey, and it was this day that delivered up the highlight of the trip.  When we re-entered Johnstone Strait we encountered three  groups of Orcas (Killer Whales), one near shore and the other two very near the boat.  We were alone with the whales for over 15 minutes before other boats and a bloody float plane showed up.  The whales were of all sizes and were traveling west in line abreast.  They breached, slapped flippers, and would all break the surface in unison -- a line of fins.  It was so magnificent to see these animals - so rare.  A beautiful sight.

After that adventure we began to retrace our steps to Thurston Harbor instead of taking on Discovery Passage in the late afternoon.

Next day we were up at 0600 to catch the slack water at Dent Rapids, Gilliam Pasasge, and Yuculta.  Old hands now, we shot on through all three without a hint of trouble.  If the moon is not new or full, if the rapids are not showing standing waves or large swirls, if you are running with the dying current -- then it is OK to slip through early.

We stopped once again at Refuge Bay.  We had a good stern anchorage in Pendrell Sound.  We were very close to shore on the NW side of the "islet" anchorage.  That is where we took the panoramic picture above.

The next several days were slowly going home:  Roscoe Bay,  Prideaux Harbor, Melanie Bay.  In Melanie Bay we started off with a stern tie and 125' of chain.  We were too close to the wall!  It made me nervous.  Lesson: drop lots of chain 4 to 5 boat lengths off the wall.  We just released the stern tie and this allowed us to swing.  There was enough room and we were fine with this.  Prideaux Harbor is just FULL of boats -- a floating boat show.  We rowed our dinghy about and admired some very nice cruisers.

Heading south the next day we stopped at Savary Island.  There is a nice beach community with small store and restaurants.  I understand the south side of the island has some great beaches accessible between the two reefs.  We'll have to schedule a stop on our next trip.  That evening found us in Secret Cove on the Sunshine Coast.  The Vancouver Yacht Club outstation was kind enough to welcome our boat to their dock.

A night in Vancouver, thence to Roche Harbor to clear US Customs, on to Waldron Island to visit our friend Bob Weaver in his fabulous driftwood house, a night in Friday Harbor and back home to our mooring in Lake Union in Seattle.  A great trip!  

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Last modified: March 23 2014 03:39