The HOLY GRAIL of cruising in the Pacific Northwest

So says the Wagoner about cruising to the Princess Louisa Inlet. Another says “No man can be at the Princess Louisa Inlet and remain an atheist”. Well, we are about to find out if the lady is worthy of such high praise.

29th Jul 0600hrs, We chose to leave at early dawn as it is already daylight and we want a boost from that south bound current. This will be a long day with 2 detours planned, still we hope to be anchored at Pender Harbor around 1700hrs so that I can row in for groceries before they close for the day. According to Wagoner, there are 2 well stocked grocery stores within 5 min walk from the public dock at Pender Harbor… we are desperate for fresh meats and vegs… some stuff are hard to get on Cortes and what we brought with the car from Campbell is gone by now. Island life… sigh… there is a price to pay to live in paradise.

Ads on the public dock at Pender Harbor

Ads on the public dock at Pender Harbor

0800hrs, Made it to Lund, just a quick turn and we are out. A historic village with nice eating places, but I don’t think we are attracted to visit it anytime soon.

1100hrs, Made it to Powell River, a sprawling town built on significant upward slope. This is a interesting view. And there is such a thing as a breakwater of ferro-cement ships… Doug and I was just gawking. 1130hrs, impromptu decision to turn in at the public marina, hoping that I could go in and get some brochures. Wagoner says that its a great place from re-provisioning so I must check it out for future use. I am impressed by the friendliness of the staff and the facilities, so I think we would come back in a weeks time to provision before we return to the isolation of Cortes Bay. 1200hrs, underway again.

1600hrs, carefully navigated around the rocks going into Pender Harbor. Busy place, lots of boating activity everywhere. 1700hrs, was hard to find a good anchoring spot that is not too deep and not too far from the public dock. We found 1 just 0.3nm NE of the dock, phew! Launch 1 kayak, only me going to town while Captain Doug rest.

The roaring rapids at Malibu. See the white line of water?

The roaring rapids at Malibu. See the white line of water? It says, “thou shalt not pass”

I visited both grocery stores and both were well stocked… IGA was the bigger store and has a bigger selection of everything. I being the lazy shopper, always like to buy from 1 store only so that I am not standing in line twice, so I got everything from IGA despite the higher prices than the other store… and after the check out, I was told that I could just roll the cart to the dock. Wow, that’s great. I bought so much that it would be a struggle to carry them and walk 0.5km.

1900hrs, back on board and cant wait to whip up a feast for us!

Rapids no more... looks clear to me, but there is still a strong current

Rapids no more… looks clear to me, but there is still a strong current

30th Jul 1000hrs, anchor up and away we go. We are following a strict tide schedule here, we must arrive at Malibu rapids +/- 15 mins of the high slack at 1920hrs. So we have 9 hrs and 20 mins to make 45nm with a friendly current as we are heading in for the high slack. Got Doug to slow the engine to lowest rpm that he could tolerate (low rpm kills diesel engines IHO), still we are making above 5.5kns…

The famous beauty, Princess Louisa inlet

The famous beauty, Princess Louisa inlet

1300hrs, we went from a place full of boats to this winding water ways with no boats, and we begin to wonder if we are making a mistake here… is this a bad time to head up to Princess Louisa? Did I misread the tide tables? Why is nobody else cruising to the Holy Grail of PNW cruising? In the meantime, we are enjoying views of the Rockies and fresh foods 🙂

1730hrs, yup that’s when we got to the Malibu Rapids, almost 2hrs ahead of time. Good for me to get a snap of the rapids going, and then we did circles around the outside… we are still the only boat going in…

Full moon shining through our meshed hatch.

Full moon shining through our meshed hatch.

Malibu Rapids is the entrance to the Princess Louisa and there is a nice resort facility… I think its YMCA or something like that. Its nice to see human activity at the resort, some kind of assurance that we are not the only people here at a major cruising destination.

Shore party and Calliste at Princess Louisa's

Shore party and Calliste at Princess Louisa’s

1830hrs, a sailboat appears to be heading our way. 1840hrs, a powerboat overtook the sailboat and head straight in thru the rapids… while it is ahead of the slack, the rapids appear to have calm down a lot. The white line of water is gone, that’s the 1st sign that its possible to cross. 1845hrs, a sailboat heads out from inside. 1850hrs, here we go, its early so expect some turbulence. We manage to clear the twisty narrow parts with no problems, only to be swept by a strong force as it opens up. It figures, current is still coming in so turbulence is on the inside. Anyways, this is nothing compared to our experiences in Japan Inland sea.

Landing party having fun at the Chatterbox outlet rapids.

Landing party having fun at the Chatterbox outlet rapids.

1930hrs, inside the Princess Louisa inlet on a beautiful summer day is gorgeous. Look, snap! Lots of pictures of bald mountains, some with a bit of ice. 1950hrs, no space for us on the public dock again. Surprise that so many boats are here, they must have come in on previous slack tides and stayed longer. Ok, so our planning was right and timing was almost perfect. 2000hrs, anchored at 50ft depth. Was hard to find a shallow spot on this steep bank to anchor at all. We were the closest boat to the Chatterbox falls, like front row seat 🙂 and hear it all night long.

My turn for the fun of feeling the rapidly moving water around me.

My turn for the fun of feeling the rapidly moving water around me.

31st Jul 0200hrs, I woke up to a bright light in the cabin. It was the moon shining thru our meshed hatch and shining on me. Went to the hatch to enjoy the moonlit view of Princess Louisa’s. She’s pretty by night too, and the Chatterbox kept going. This is a special place, we are here at the right time and anchored in the right spot to have this experience. Those boats at the dock were in the moon shadow.

The never stopped chattering chatterbox. Very reliable it has been

The never stopped chattering chatterbox. Very reliable it has been

1000hrs, launched kayaks. We sure are going to explore the coast and walk to the falls.

Lots of fun pictures taken here. Us in our kayaks playing with fast moving waters.

A Zen hobbyist work of art, standing pebbles.

A Zen hobbyist work of art, standing pebbles.

1200hrs, tied up to the dinghy finger at the public dock. Did a short trail walk to the falls. There is a wardens residence, campsites, bathrooms and community firepit. A well manage dock and facilities to cater to us tourist (“pilgrims”, as some people say).

Me! At the Chatterbox falls in Princess Louisa, BC.

Me! At the Chatterbox falls in Princess Louisa, BC.

That’s me at the Chatterbox falls, Princess Louisa inlet, BC Canada. Yep, I had a good time coming here and hope to return again and again.

1st Aug 0630hrs, woke up suddenly…  its daylight and we should be at the Malibu Rapids at 0710hrs and its 4nm away. I thought we are never gonna make it, but no harm trying anyway. In record speed, Doug pulled the anchor and we powered away at full speed.

0740hrs, at the rapids, we are definitely the last boat leaving at this slack, but we made it. Again, since we were late, there was some turbulence, but nothing Doug and Calliste cant handle.

1500hrs, anchored at Saltery Bay. We couldn’t make it all the way to Powell River in daylight, so this is a good rest spot. There is a weather system going through the area, not a really severe one, but we are appreciative that we experience none of it in this bay overnight.

2nd Aug 1000hrs, anchors up, ready to handle the great weather with residue wave action from the day before. Just a little uncomfy for about 2hrs.

1300hrs, we are in Westview Marina, Powell River. This is a very tight marina, so it was a little scary going in and not knowing where we can turn around, but we made it ok and found an empty spot just right for us. Stopping here. To be continued.





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Sailing 2015: Port Townsend(WA, US) -> Costes Island (BC, Canada)

Sailing 2013: Singapore -> Okinawa -> Kobe

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