Sunset Laura Cove - Desolation Sound

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It was an easy start to a three week vacation aboard Helios. Linda got off work a little early on Thursday, and we went up the store to purchase some perishable foodstuffs, as everything else was already packed. We bought some sandwiches from the deli for our dinner and had a quiet night aboard. We were up later than normal on Friday, and left the marina at 10:30 headed for Eagle Harbor and the TYC Outstation. There was no one there when we arrived after motoring the whole way with no wind. Joe and Cheryl on Focused arrived around 6 and we celebrated being on vacation. The next day we got an early start as the goal was the TYC Outstation at Coronet Bay, 55 miles away, and as we approached Joe and I decided that the currents through Deception Pass and Rosario Strait we in our favor, so we traveled to Mud Bay on Lopez Island for a day’s travel of 68 miles. Sunday we headed into the Gulf Islands and Port Browning Marina, using our Nexus cards to clear Canadian Customs via a cell phone. We got an early start on Monday and headed up through the Gulf Islands to  Porlier Pass and the Strait of Georgia and the Garden Bay Marina in Pender Harbour, with our goal of Desolation Sound and the Discovery Islands only 50 miles away. We made a trip to Squirrel Cove on Cortez Island and dropped anchors. We had traveled about 250 miles and it was time to kick in to a more relaxed mode, so we spent a couple of nights in Squirrel Cove, with dinghy rides during the day. We went up Lewis Channel after leaving Squirrel Cove and around the top of Cortez Island and into Von Donup Inlet. There were a few boats but we were able to set our anchors at the head of the inlet. We spent a quiet evening, and the next day took and extended dinghy ride with Joe and Cheryl up to the saltwater lagoon, but decided there was not enough water to enter the lagoon, and motored along the shoreline back to the boats. As had become the norm, we gathered in the cockpit, this time Helios, in the evening for visiting and a little wine for the 3 of them and ginger ale for me. We had both worked on small boat projects while anchored in Von Donup, and decided the next stop would be the Octopus Islands and Waiatt Bay. We were up early the next morning to have the anchors raised and boats underway towards Hole in the Wall rapids and the Octopus Islands Provincial Park. We timed our travel well, as we passed through Hole in the Wall at slack. We were anchored along the southern shore of Waiatt Bay nearer the head than the mouth about 200 feet apart, with our nearest neighbor over ½ mile away. We had grown accustomed to travel and staying two nights. We were settled in by 10:30 in the morning so we kicked back to read or nap as the case may be, before the four of us in the dinghy during the afternoon for a tour of the shoreline. We had left the RIB on Focused deflated and stowed, since it was easier to travel that way, and use Helios’ dinghy at anchor. I haven’t pointed out that we have had excellent weather the whole trip, not much wind, so it has been “iron sails” to get from point to point. It has been a case of finding shade in order to comfortable. After almost a week at anchor we had decided to travel down Taku Resort and Marina on Quadra Island, via Surge Narrows and Beazley Passage. We raised anchors and motored through Beazley before putting the sails up and heading to Taku. Helios had the main and the Code 0, and was running at 5 to 7 knots in 7 to 10 knots of wind. The wind died as we left Hoskyn Channel and entered the northern part of the Strait of Georgia, but we furled the sails and motored to the marina which was only a couple of miles away. This was the first time at Taku and it is an excellent stopping and provisioning point. The store is about 15 minutes walking, uphill going – downhill coming back. It is a store that the Quadra Island residents use, along with the liquor store, so it is well supplied with what boaters need. We visited in the evening and decided that we would head into Desolation Sound tomorrow and anchor in Grace Harbour, which is an offshoot from Malaspina Inlet. We left the dock at 6:30 to get an early start, and as we were going around the Twin Islands after going around the bottom of Cortez Island, we saw the plume of a whale. I got my camera with the zoom lens and went forward to take some pictures while Linda stayed at the helm. We saw it dive headed away from us on our port side, and after waiting a few minutes I started walking back to the cockpit when Linda told me to turn around and take a picture. It was a Minke whale and it surfaced about 25 feet in front of Helios and as we just missed it the wake from its tail moved Helios about 3 feet to the starboard. Joe was able to get a picture with his cell phone showing the exhale plume reaching the spreaders on Helios as it came up from its dive. I got some more pictures before moving on to Grace Harbour.


 The anchorage was fairly crowded compared to what we were used to in the Discovery Islands. We were able to anchor towards the center and take a dinghy ride around the shoreline out to Malaspina Inlet and back. The next day’s travel was only 11 miles over to Laura Cove in the Prideaux Haven area of Desolation Sound. We motored over and Helios went in first to check out the situation. We were getting ready to leave because it was too crowded when a group of four boats, 2 power-2 sail, hailed us and said they were leaving in a few minutes. I called Focused and told them to wait, until we were anchored and stern tied. Focused came in and dropped anchored and backed up to Helios’ starboard side and we rafted together. I took Joe to shore with his stern line and we had a four point attachment to hold both boats in place. We decided to spend 3 nights and leave Saturday morning for Pender Harbour. We were all settled in and took a dinghy ride through Prideaux and Melanie Cove, and Prideaux looked like we had gone to a Boatshow. I’m not sure that there was room to add any more boats without blocking the entrance to Prideaux and Melanie. There was room for a few more boats in Melanie Cove, but not very many big boats. We were able to each sit in our cockpits and visit upon our return. The next morning Joe and I sat in our cockpits and had coffee and then I took him out in the dinghy into the middle of Homfray Channel so we could get a line of sight on a cell tower and he could contact the office and do a little supervising. We decided that it was time for a swim that afternoon and spent two hours paddling around the rocks, while some, Joe & Linda, cleaned the waterline of the boats. The water was cool at entry but comfortable once you were in for a while. We all showered afterwards and spent time in the shade of the cockpits visiting. We had been handed a flyer as we were taking our initial dinghy ride, and it was for a concert to be given in Prideaux on the stern of an 85’ Ocean Alexander. The concert was from 6 to 7:30 and we tied up with 135 other dinghies. The singer was Robin Landry and she is from Maple Valley, Washington. The monies from the sale of her CDs go towards a scholarship established in remembrance of her son at Arizona State University. The next morning we disconnected the stern ties and raised anchors then left Desolation Sound on our way to Ballet Bay.


 When we arrived at Musket Cove, which is part of Ballet Bay Provincial Park there were no easy anchorages, so we decided to head over to Pender Harbour and anchor in Garden Bay. It was only 8 miles and I told Joe on the VHF that I was going to stop by the fuel dock to top off first. When I went by Fisherman’s Marina the entire outside dock was empty, accept for one boat, I called Joe and he called the marina and we were at the dock for the night. We were crossing over to Nanaimo the next day and we left around 8 to calm seas. Linda was at the helm so I took a shower during the crossing and got bounced around a little as the northwest wind picked up toward the end of the crossing. I just speeded up rather than deal with the sails for a short time. It was a difficult docking as the Wharfinger had me backing down 250' between the docks in 15 knots of wind to the area for Helios to tie up. Focused had a harder time and the Wharfinger said to come around to the other side opposite Helios and tie up, which they did. Joe and Cheryl were off to explore some stores while Linda and I walked over to make reservations for dinner and then to the large market near the marina to do a little shopping. The Focused crew was back by our return and we visited for a while before walking over to the restaurant. We walked the docks after dinner and talked with Jack Vander Waal, a TYC member. He and a couple of friends were heading north for a three week fishing trip. We headed out around 10 for the Dodd Narrows and a motor down the Gulf Islands to Winter Cove, where we were both anchored and settled in by 3:30. This is one of our favorite anchorages, as you can use the dinghy to go through the “boat cut” out into the Strait of Georgia and the Belle Islets. We go to one end and drift along with the wind or current looking at all the birds and seals. The seals were unafraid and slightly curious, with the “teenagers” stalking us to see what we were doing.


The next day we raised anchor and crossed over Boundary Passage and back into the United States, once again using our Nexus cards to clear U.S. Customs. We had made reservations at Roche Harbor, but they seemed to have lost them when we arrived. They found a slip for Focused and had Helios side tie on the main promenade dock between two slips. I checked in with the person on the dock, a young lady working for the summer, and she informed me that they charged a premium for catamarans. I asked why I was being charged when I wasn’t in a slip, and was told no exceptions. I said we would only be there one night. We had Joe and Cheryl come over and we walked up with them to do some window shopping and then stopped at the store for some groceries. I explained that we were thinking of going over to Garrison Bay and dropping anchor for the next night and then sailing around the southern end of San Juan Island to Deception Pass and the Coronet Bay Outstation. Focused is going to spend another night at Roche. The following morning we could hear the rain hitting the deck as we got up, and decided against going around the outside. We were going to go over to Hunter Bay on Lopez Island and anchor, but changed our minds again in San Juan Channel. We thought we would check out the TYC Outstation at Deer Harbor, and there was only one boat there, so we tied up for the night having free moorage. We talked with Joe and Cheryl and they said they would motor over in the morning. I got a call from Joe at 6 in the morning, asking whether we should wait for the fog to lift and try for the 7 PM slack at Deception Pass. I explained that we were going to leave this morning, since there was no guaranty that the fog would lift. He said they would meet us over by the mouth of Pole Pass. The fog was thick and visibility was down to less than 100’, so it was a little tense going through Pole Pass. The fog did not lighten during our travels and actually seemed to get thicker as we approached Deception Pass. Helios was using radar and AIS. Focused could see Helios on AIS and radar and followed about a ¼ mile off our stern. The scene at slack at Deception Pass was busy, as boats were traveling both directions, and no one could see one another. I got Helios lined up to enter and Linda noticed enough break in the fog to see the bridge, so I applied power and we were quickly through and waiting for Focused, who was 10 minutes behind us. We went into the marina, and there were no TYC boats at the outstation, so we tied up and told Focused to come in, and we helped them tie up. We each cooked dinner and then visited until dark, agreeing on a reasonable morning start time to reach Everett. We left the dock at 9 and had the current against us until Oak Harbor, and then it helped all the way to Everett. We were tied up at the guest moorage by 2 in the afternoon. Joe and I decided to walk over to the West Marine store, while Linda and Cheryl were going to see what window shopping was available. We did make reservations at Anthony’s before going on our walk. It was good to get out and stretch our legs. The marina was having some type of Farmer’s Market, as there were numerous tents being put up for the weekend, but we would be gone. We had a very good dinner at Anthony’s and a quiet night’s sleep. We left at 8 next morning for Eagle Harbor on flat water and no wind. We were tied up a little after noon, and agreed to head over to Winslow in the dinghy around 3. Joe made dinner reservations at the San Carlos restaurant. Joe and I wandered around looking at stores we were interested in, while Linda and Cheryl were helping the economy at Heart. We met up at the restaurant a little after 5 and had our usual good dinner. We motored through the marinas looking at boats on our way back. We visited until dark not wanting the evening to end as we had to go home tomorrow. Focused was off the dock first and Helios about 5 minutes later. Helios went down Colvos Passage, while Focused traveled down East Channel to their slip in the Foss waterway. We had Helios tied up in her slip by 3 and spent an hour filling two carts to haul clothes and food home. It was a great vacation, but we were a little rushed moving from point to point, so there wasn’t much time to sail. We are hoping to sail more next year.