This article is the last entry for 2018.......
August-Vancouver BC-the whole family on board for two weeks!
We were putting our hopes to the test with this trip. After last summer, we realized we needed a larger boat if we were going to be able to host the kids and grandkids for vacations. With some strategically placed air mattresses, we were able to sleep, and more importantly feed, a seven person crew for two weeks. Plus, we had enough spaces so that everyone could find a quiet place if they needed it. A full height 27” SubZero, a small fridge on the fly bridge, two freezer drawers, a chest freezer and our trusty Jura Capresso coffee maker with plenty of 5# bags of coffee beans kept everyone fueled and caffeinated! We have three heads, two showers (one with a bathtub that kept the grandchildren happy), a 600 gallon water tank, and (ahem!) a 120 gallon black tank. We love this boat. It’s truly our home.
The Canadian Kollers (Carson, Meghann, Isla and Zepha) came August 8th. Just a short flight from Winnipeg to Vancouver and a ride on the sky train from Vancouver Airport and they were there, at Coal Harbour Marina in the heart of downtown. We explored the city, went to the science museum, Stanley Park, the aquarium, and the playgrounds. Meghann and I made a huge shopping trip to Safeway for a week of cruising to remote places, and we dragged our massive load of groceries on a wagon through the crowded hilly streets of Vancouver to provision for the trip. I should say Meghann dragged the wagon-the advantages of old age. Jeff joined us early Saturday morning and we took off for locations north as soon as he got settled.i
Meghann had picked an extraordinary destination for us. She chose Princess Louisa Inlet on the Sunshine Coast, a bit north of Vancouver. It has been called “the holy grail” of cruising. It is an inlet surrounded by 3000 foot high granite mountains that plunge 600 feet below the water line. Waterfalls stream down in every direction. It is truly remarkable. It is also very protected and somewhat difficult to enter. We had the following things to consider when planning the trip:
We have a slow boat, the cruising speed is 7 knots, max 9 knots. We had children on board that can only handle so much cruising at a time (actually, the water was rough when we left and I think we were all glad to break up the trip). We had to go through Malibu Rapids, where the current runs 9 knots and creates heavy over falls, requiring us to time our passage through at slack tide which only occurs twice a day. Our boat cannot outrun a 9 knot current, and over falls just don’t sound good! We stayed the night in Pender Harbor, a nice 6 hour cruise from Vancouver with a charming marina, a beach and wonderful blackberry bushes that provided a yummy breakfast. We left the next day for the inlet and Malibu Rapids. The optimal slack tide was around 5:30 p.m. We got to the entrance early. We scouted the rapids with our binoculars. There were whitecaps. We waited. We cruised in circles. We checked again-whitecaps. We waited more, we waited over an hour past the golden moment, still, some whitecaps although things looked to be slowing down. We wanted to see flat water!!! It was getting dark. It was getting harder to see the current through the binoculars. We checked again. It seemed that the water had only a hint of whitecaps, so we decided to go through. We were nervous. Everything seemed to be going OK, we were in a small current, then WHAM! The bow reached flat water and stopped, but the stern was still caught in the current. The boat spun 60 degrees to left and all of a sudden we were facing a large wall of rocks! Carson yelled out REVERSE REVERSE REVERSE and we backed away from the wall. We had exited the current by that time and were able to safely turn the boat back on course. When the boat makes a rapid turn like that, the keel drags in the water and the top side of the boat heels out. It’s very upsetting. You hear all the loose objects in the boat slowly crash into the starboard side of the boat. All of us were really shaken up and we realized that we had to go back through to leave the inlet. It was also dark by now, and we knew we had to anchor in this place unknown to us. We were all fine, but unsettled. Most of all, we didn’t understand why there was no slack tide when we had read every chart and table we could get our hands on. Obviously, something was askew.
We had another 4 miles to go once we were in the inlet, so we had a few moments to breathe before our next challenge-anchoring. So what’s the big deal? You drop your anchor and voila!
Not really. It’s easy if you are dropping your anchor in a nice large area away from rocks and other boats, into a sandy bottom that allows the anchor to easily dig in. The center of the inlet was over 600 ft deep and we only have 400 ft of anchor chain. We had to anchor near the shore which was a rocky cliff. Near the cliff below the water was a shallow ledge of rock that the anchor could rest on, but not dig into. The boat can swing into the cliff unless you put out a stern anchor. We needed something solid to attach to. We have a 600 ft. roll of line attached to the stern. We lowered our dinghy and Carson gamely rowed to the shore (in the dark) and found a metal stake in the granite to wrap the line around, then rowed back to the boat with the end of the line. We secured the line to the boat and hoped we were secure for the night. We were concerned that the forward anchor would travel because it was only resting on, not dug into, the bottom. There was nothing we could do to assure us that the boat wouldn’t float back into the rock cliff. Needless to say, it was not a great night for sleeping. Too much adrenaline and uncertainty.
Morning found us in the same spot! It was a glorious, beautiful morning. The inlet is truly spectacular, as promised. There is a public dock at the base of Chatterbox Falls. It was full overnight, but boats were clearing out and we quickly pulled up anchor to claim a space. We spent two nights in the inlet, hiking and exploring the shore in our dinghy and kayaks. It was lovely to relax after our adventurous entrance. Our only negative was the blanketing smoke from the British Columbia fires. We asked everyone we saw how their experience was entering the inlet, and how did they time it? The consensus was that it is a significant crossing, and that it is easier for fast boats because they can overcome and ride the current, but our most important finding was that the current and tide information was given in Pacific Standard Time, and we went through on Pacific Daylight Time. Although we waited, we were still too early. We made a much more informed decision on our way out and I can say that we had a completely uneventful crossing. Whew!
We had a memorable trip indeed. The rest of the visit was markedly more peaceful. We made it back to Vancouver, spent some time at Granville Island, and enjoyed a visit with Meghann’s brother Dustin and his family. Isla and Zepha were able to see their cousins. We learned a lot on this trip and we look forward to planning another one next year