2022 Alaska Flotilla – Leg 1A, Day 3 – Madeira Park – Grace Harbour | NW Explorations


2022 Alaska Flotilla – Leg 1A, Day 3 – Madeira Park – Grace Harbour

With sunlight beaming through our windows, we woke to warm salons and clearing skies. Picking up our anchors we headed west out of Pender Harbour and started our adventures into Malaspina Strait.

Clouds sitting at high altitudes began burning off as the sun rose higher in the sky and with the new vantage points we were able to spot fresh snow dusting the mountain tops. It’s incredible how a lightly overcasted day can make colors pop so vivdly, and as we cruised around Nelson Island we were able to witness just how many brightly colored wildflowers speckle the local islets.

We officially entered Desolation Sound as we kept Cortez Island on our port side and came around Malspina Penninsula, flanked by both Sarah and Mary Points. These points are named after the british explorer George Vancouver’s sisters, with much of the terrain here in Desolation Sound being named after and by mariners exploring as far back as the early 1700’s. As Vancouver was exploring this area he came into the sound on such a dreary, rainy, grey day that it’s written he couldn’t have imagined these waters and neighrboring land masses having anything to offer of prospect…thus earning the name Desolation. However, many First Nation’s communities prior to both Spanish and British explorations found this area to be full of resources and abundant in life sustaining offerings.

Pulling into Grace Harbour after a 6-hour crossing, we exercised our first rafting. All went as smooth possible, working seamlessly as a team. The entire fleet was excited to witness the fruits of our labor, walking along our swim step sidewalk, greeting their new neighbors. After settling in and having a quick snack break, a group of us dinghied ashore and as the sun’s rays sent diamonds across the water, we were buzzing to stretch our sea legs.

Our 1-mile out and back romp to Black Lake gave us just a little taste of British Columbia’s beautifully lush rainforests, teeming with sword ferns and salal everywhere we turned. As the group wandered towards a small waterfall, we came across what seemed century old logging equipment, making us stop in our tracks and hypothesize the history of such an artifact.

Puddle jumping as we meandered through the forest, we all got to know each other better by chatting about some of the roads that lead us to our current experiences together. While sharing stories, we all smiled at the commonalities we found we shared. This time spent ashore navigating terrain, rather than waterways for a change, bonded us as a trekking team.

One of our favorite parts of exploring the coastlines full of such verdant life, are the multitudes of mushroom species we can find along fallen longs and moist soils. We identified Turkey Tails, Angel Wings, Red Belted Conk, and Orange Jellies all in just a few hours!

On the beach we expressed gratitude for getting out and sharing laughs, proving we had fun by comparing the muddy soles of our shoes. Heading back to the rafted vessels was an incredible sight, and once all the crew was back aboard, we started washing up, preparing dinner, and settling in for the night. Night 3 seems to be the magic number for settled in and its always a fun sight to watch the expedition jitters fade away, letting confidence take its place.


P.S. Is Alaska on your bucket list? We can take you there! Email us to reserve your spot on our 2023 Mother Goose AK Flotilla. charters@nwexplorations.com 

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