May 10, 2016

After a night at anchor in the protected confines of Madeira Park we awoke happy to find ourselves parked exactly where we’d left ourselves. It turns out that the holding in the bay is very good, and the anchors took a little extra coaxing to free themselves from the sticky mud on the bottom.

With all our ground tackle stowed the fleet steamed out of the harbor just after 0800 and turned north once more past the mouth of Agamemnon Channel which feeds the long reach of Jervis Inlet which winds northeast in a deep narrow band. At its head lies the magical Princess Louisa Inlet nestled in the heart of the mountains. Today however our objective lies elsewhere- the equally stunning Desolation Sound. Our course takes us northwest up the long low coast of Malaspina Strait, named long ago for an ill-fated Spanish adventurer whose exploits were nearly forgotten after he became entangled in the Spanish Inquisition.

Stellars sea lions bask and yowl on warm rocks west of Scotch Pine Point and we stop at a healthy distance to listen and watch. Our schedule proves more pressing than theirs however and we move on. The giant paper mill at Powell River sits nearly idle, waiting for a renaissance of the newspaper business that may never come. A solitary puff of steam rises from one of the many smokestacks and giant barges sit quietly at the pier which once churned out nearly half the world’s newsprint. But the town is far from dying. New vacation homes have begun to replace the company housing in the quiet little town, and ferries dart across the bay full of travelers soaking in the warm spring sun.

The full majesty of Desolation Sound is soon layed out before us. The high snow-capped crags of the cascades ring the eastern side of this wide basin. Myriad sun-drenched little islands sit superimposed over a shimmering calm sea where Murres and Scoters splash. We cruise through the western side of this achingly beautiful spot and into the confines of Squirrel Cove on Cortes Island. The classic red-roofed general store proves to be a draw for some of the crew, while others join Greg the naturalist for a nature walk through the airy forests to revel in the ancient trees, deep moss and freshly unfurled ferns.

The fierce tidal rapids which lie to our north dictate our schedule for tomorrow and an early start will be necessary to ensure safe passage, so its early to bed. The waxing crescent moon soon follows the sun down across the western horizon and our boats sit surrounded by the silence of the night.

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