2003 Cruise to Desolation Sound and the Discovery Islands

Desolation Sound and Discovery Islands

Sailing log of our cruise in September 2003 traveling in British Columbia in Desolation Sound and among Discovery Islands


We arrived at the boat around 9:00 with a cartload of perishable food, cameras, some remaining clothing.  I got the pilot light going on the hot water heater, and the computer set up while Linda stowed the remaining groceries.  We are looking to head out around 7 or 7:30 for the 32 mile run to Bedwell Harbor and going through customs.  After customs it is our intention to go up to Selby Cove on the Northwest side of Prevost Island and anchor for the evening.


We left Bellingham a little after 8:00 and are heading across Bellingham Bay to go up Hale Passage and around the top of Lummi.  It is then a pretty straight shot across the top of Orcas and Waldron to South Pender and the customs dock.


We were anchored in Selby Cove around 4:00 after a wonderful day of travel.  It was a slow start when we forgot the port bow line trying to leave Bellingham, but no harm - no foul. We got into Bedwell Harbour at 2:00 and had to wait for a spot to open up on the customs dock.  One of the other couples helped us tie up and I was off to the Custom's Office.  We had no problem with proof of documentation for Fjaera, passports for us, and no forbidden foods. We started the second leg of our day's journey winding ourselves around all of the fishing boats along side of North Pender Island.  The wind started to come up from the SE and was blowing around 10-12 knots. Only one other boat anchored in Selby Cove when we arrived and after trying to anchor to close to the shore we found a good spot in the middle of the inlet.  The anchor got a good bite, holding while Linda put Fjaera in reverse.  We read until six and then had dinner of hotdogs and chips.  The both of us are a little tired and I would expect that we will be asleep early this evening The travel tomorrow will only be 25 miles and we have to go through Gabriola Pass with the current.  The slack is somewhere between 3 and 4 in the afternoon, so it will be a slow morning with us leaving probably around 10 or 11.


Left Selby Cove at 8:30 and there was no wind to speak of, maybe 2 or 3 from behind us.  We went up next to Saltspring Island instead of Tricomali Channel, so we could see the lagoons, harbours and coves on Wallace and Connover Islands.  The wind switched around from the Northwest and built up to around 12 to 15 knots about 20 to 30 degrees off the bow on the port side.  We arrived at Gabriola Pass about a half hour before slack, 1:45 pm, and decided to go through, and on in to Silva Bay.  The bay is pretty crowded, but we found a place to anchor, off the NW corner of the RV outstation.  We put out about 80 feet of line to go with the 25 feet of chain on the bruce anchor and have a good bite.  Things have settled a little, but the forecast is for small craft warnings on the Strait of Georgia tonight decreasing to 10 to 20 late tomorrow morning with seas expected to be in the 2 to 3 foot range.  I have made up the route from Silva Bay to Ballet Bay and it is about 40 miles, but only about 20 of it in open      water, until we get some protection from the Thormsby Island group below Pender Harbour.  I had planned on going to Ballet Bay, but if we get to beat up crossing we will probably go into Pender Harbour for the night.  We are thinking about leaving between 7:00 or 8:00 in the morning.  I have put up the small head sail and hoping that the wind will have enough of a western component to help with the crossing.

 Our anchorage in Silva Bay

     Silva Bay in Gulf Islands  Silva Bay entrance around rocks  Royal Vancouver YC - Outstation Silva Bay


We decided to leave Silva Bay and head over to Nanaimo for a place to stay that would give us more options than were available if we stayed in Silva Bay.  The anchor was lifted is 20+ knots of breeze and we managed not to hit anyone or even scare some of the boats around us.  We motored against the flow through Gabriola Passage and downwind to the gap between Ruxton and DeCourcy Islands and then back against the wind to Dodd Narrows, where we had about 1.5 knots of help.  As we entered Nanaimo proper Linda telephoned the marina and there was no room at the inn, and we were directed to the anchorage area between Protection and Newcastle Islands with about a 100 of our closest friends.  It appears that there are a lot of folks waiting for the northwesterly to die down a little. While we were waiting to leave Silva Bay we watched quite a few boats slip into their foul weather gear for the crossing to Vancouver.  The reported winds in the Strait of Georgia were supposed to be 20 to 30 knots with 3 to 4 foot seas, which was the reason that we decided to take the longer way around.  It took us two tries to anchor, as I didn't really have enough scope out when I had Linda back down on the anchor to see if it set, and it pulled loose.  We lifted the chain to the bowsprit, which means the anchor was 15 feet below the surface; however, we were in 30 feet of water.  We motored back up to our dropping spot, got a good bite and let out 100 feet of rode to go with the 25 feet of chain.  We checked all afternoon and early evening but there was no dragging and the wind lightened a little. Tomorrow the winds are supposed to drop to 5 to 15 knots in the Strait so we are planning on making our run to Ballet Bay starting around 8 in the morning.


The anchorage at Nanaimo was quite an improvement over the one in Silva Bay.  Linda corrected me that the boat was not dragging anchor, and when we went to raise anchor in the morning there was no doubt.  We will probably stop at Nanaimo on the way back down, as it is one of Linda's favorite spots.  We took the sail covers off the mizzen and stay sails and got them ready to hoist, while the engine was warming up.  We raised the anchor and motored out around 9:00 am and set a course for the southern tip of Texada Island rather than go up along the island coast to the Balenas Islands and broad reach across.  Our course ended up saving us about an hour of travel time.  I was pretty sloppy for the first half of the crossing with the wind at 15 to 20 knots and the seas close to 3 feet.  The salt water sprayed the whole deck and everything now has a nice film to it.  The wind was about 30 degrees off our port bow so every so often we would hit a wave just right and wet the deck down.  The crossing is close to 18 miles and by the time we had 10 or 11 miles done the seas started to flatten because of the protection offered by Lasquiti Island and the wind begin to die down.  By the time we were in Malispina Strait the water was flat with no wind so we furled the sails and motored up to Musket Cove Marine Park on Hardy Island at the mouth of Jervis Inlet.  We were the first boat in and had our pick of the available anchorages, took the mouth of a small one off the port as you enter. The water is flat with barely enough wind to ripple the surface.  Two other boats came in followed by two more after dinner, but we remain by ourselves in our own little niche.  We put the kayak in the water and paddled around the park to check things out.  One of the best things was the showers to wash the salt off.  We have plotted our course to Gorge Harbour tomorrow and it will be a long run, almost 43 miles, which translates into about 7+ hours, however, that is our last long run for a while as we begin to nose around the Discovery Islands and Desolation Sound.

Musket Cove Provincial Marine Park

  Musket Cove now Ballet Bay Provincial Park   


It was a long uneventful day with beautiful weather and flat water.  We were tied up to the dock by 3:30 after leaving our anchorage at 8:30.  We motored the whole way as what wind, 5 to 7 knots, was on the nose.  We went shopping at the store and had dinner at the restaurant.  We will head to the Octopus Islands tomorrow.  


We left Gorge Harbour at 8:30 and went through Uganda Passage, which was an educational experience, as it is very tight as to the channel at the tip of Sharks Spit, after we got by that it was pretty easy traveling.  We arrived at the Settlers Island group around 11:00 and had to wait in Hoskyn Channel until about quarter to noon when we started through, just after a tug and barge got done coming from the other side.  Slack was for 12:07 so we were a little early into Beazley Pass, but the current was other about a knot against us.  We got through with no problems and were at the Octopus Islands within the hour.  We watched a large powerboat go through the southern entrance, but decided to stick with our plan to come in from the north side and it worked well.  There were a number of boats in the first two small inlets so we went down to the west end of Waiatt Bay to anchor by ourselves.  There was a little afternoon breeze to cool us off, as the temperature had to be in the mid 80's, with a little high cloud cover later in the afternoon the temperature became much friendlier.  We read and enjoyed the scenery from the cockpit until 6:30 when I barbequed some chicken and Linda prepared potatoes and gravy to go with it.  After dinner we sat in the cockpit and watched the bay looking for various wildlife.  We have spotted some ravens; they are easy to spot with their size being so much larger than crows, and their distinctive cry.  Ravens make a rasping sound when they fly, that makes it easy to spot them.  Well, time for showers and then a day of no travel, before headed further north to Cordero Lodge for a German dinner.

 [Linda comments]

I can't believe how quiet it is here.  There are only four other boats in this huge bay and there is no noise at all.  The hills extend right into the water and are still very green with lush trees.  We have only seen a few fish, seals, and various birds.  I'm still very hopeful for more eagles, dolphins, and whales.  This will be a great place to rest for a day-like we have worked so hard.  I do find that I am tired after a long run and outside most of the day. We are both trying to perfect our farmers tans complete with raccoon eyes. I'm sure we'll explore the anchorage tomorrow and check out the other two bays.  They seemed small to me and were already occupied by several boats.  I sure didn't come all this way to be anchored 30 feet from a powerboat running their generator for their TV. I think each year I enjoy our solitude more and more.  Our next leg or two will include more rapids and narrows so I'm sure Bruce is excited about that.  I prefer my water flat thank you.

 Wiatt Bay and Octopus Islands Provincial Marine Park 

Wiaitt Bay - Octopus Islands Provincial Park   



After having a great weather day and a medium weather day in the Octopus Islands, Saturday was poor as the rain trapped us inside for the entire day.  We decided to skip going any further northward and drop back down to Gorge Harbour to tie up to the dock and power and dry out.  The diesel heater wouldn't work as the gravity fed fuel line had an air bubble in it so no fuel got to the furnace.  There was a small pump made to be driven by an electric drill on board and that was able to pull a stream of diesel through the line so the heater will work when we head out to Laura Cove tomorrow.  Linda was able to call Jan and the kids, although we did call back later to talk with the Grandkids.  We had dinner at the restaurant, The Floathouse, and it was excellent, again.  The weather report looks like it will be unsettled for the next few days, so we are considering leaving Laura Cove a day early to start our trip south, in case the weather makes it nasty for long travel days.  Although it rained for 24 hours, it was not really cold but damp which is almost as bad.  Our trip today from the Octopus Islands to Gorge Harbor was flat with very little wind.  We'll keep our eye on the weather, which will dictate our trip stops on the way home. We can't complain with seven days of pure sunshine with no clouds.  It is still very nice to be out on the water and so calm and peaceful.  We don't miss work at all.


It was a little breezy from the southern end of Cortes Island to the entrance of Desolation Sound, but it made for fun sailing with the stay sail and mizzen. The wind continued to drop as we headed towards Laura Cove. We had the anchorage to ourselves and dropped the anchor in the middle of the cove and then used the stern line to pull Fjaera back. We tied the stern line around a tree on shore, that could be reached at both high and low tide.

 Laura Cove - The entrance from Homfray Channel and the head of the cove

Laura Cove entrance  Head of cove

Late arriving neighbors and a view of shore while anchored and stern tied



The trip from Laura Cove to Pender Harbour was a ten-hour ride against the wind the whole time.  The wind varied from 10 to 20 with gusts higher at times.  The seas ranged from flat in Desolation Sound and Pender Harbour to 3 to 4 feet sometimes.  We also had rain along most of the way.  It is a 50-mile run that we are happy to have behind us.  We missed seeing a chunk of wood and it hit the rudder for the wind vane, knocking the bottom attachment pin loose.  We couldn't fix it here so we took it off and stowed it beneath the kayak for the trip home.  The run to Nanaimo will be about 35 miles because area "Whiskey Golf" is active so we have to go around, and are going to skirt the northern edge by Texada and Lasquiti Islands. We had a great meal here at the Garden Bay Marina, and there was live jazz entertainment from a group that will be performing at the Jazz Festival (third weekend in September annually) this coming weekend.  It’s about 7:00 and we will leave around 9 or 10 hopefully with little wind or the wind behind us.


We were anchored in Nanaimo by 3:00 PM with a very calm passage from Pender Harbour.  The Garden Bay Marina was a wonderful choice by accident for us last night.  They had an excellent restaurant and a live jazz quartet.  We walked Fjaera to the back edge of the dock and then backed her up enough to spin around and head out of the bay.  The torpedo range, Whiskey Golf, was being used so we had to go across the northern edge until we reached Balenas Islands and could make a "left turn" towards Nanaimo.  The anchorage was about half empty compared to the last time, so we had an easy time finding an area to park in, and not have anyone close at hand.  We took the dingy over to the Dingy Dock Pub for a pizza for dinner and then came back to tuck in everything in for the evening.  We are planning on watching movie this evening.

 Garden Bay Marina in Pender Harbour 

Pender Harbour   


Time to update the log as we forgot to make an entry in Montague Harbour.  We had to dawdle at the entrance to Dodd Narrows to let the current slow down to under 3 knots, but it was no problem getting through.  We then went over to the end of Mudge Island to take some pictures of the houses, assuming that one of them will be Wayne and Janine's, friends of ours who live in Nanaimo most of the time.  There wasn't enough wind behind us to sail Fjaera, so we motored down to Montague.  We weren't the smoothest team in hooking up to the park mooring buoy, but did manage to finally get attached, and then ran a line through so we could just untie one end in the morning when we left.  We lowered the dingy and went over to the park to pay 10 Canadian dollars for the night’s moorage, and then we motored over to the marina and store to walk around and have some ice cream.  It was dead calm all night, and we left around 10:00 am for the border crossing and the San Juan Islands.  We had no trouble clearing Homeland Security via the cell phone, although, we were informed that our new PIN was now our ten digit home telephone number.  We thought about grabbing a buoy in the north side of Jones Island but it had more boats than we have ever seen in there.  The sky was blue with the temp around 70 degrees with minimal wind.  We decided to go over to Blind Bay on Shaw Island and anchor, which would shorten the travel time home on Sunday, today.  We tried to use the salon heater but it developed another fuel stoppage problem after running for about 20 minutes, oh well another project.  We watched MI-2 in bed and then went to sleep around 11:00 pm.  This morning we could here the rain falling on the deck, but there is no wind so we will try to be on our way within 30 minutes.

It was an uneventful motor home for 4 hours with a little fog here and there.  It was nice to have Fjaera tied up at home.

Fjaera's galley, sink and stove, Our bunk with spring coil mattress from HMC, Galley table, chart on wall, taken from inside steering area, Our diesel stove for heat and our library

Fjaera Galley  Bunk  Fjaera Salon  Fjaera Heater and Library