Desolation Sound 2022: Day 2: Sidney to Madeira Park | NW Explorations


Desolation Sound 2022: Day 2: Sidney to Madeira Park

Waking up before the sun crossed over the horizon was a true treat, after coffee and a few moments to process the wakeup call that is! The fleet then readied themselves and their vessels to be out of the marina and under way by 7am sharp, preparing for a little over an 8-hour crossing into Pender Harbour.

It was all smiles and bubbles of excitement as we visited each crew and helped them off the dock in a steady flow. Today’s venture of 72 nautical miles will be a gorgeous trek, one that both our experienced mariners and novice mariners alike are looking forward to adding to their resume.

Just as we left the breakwater of Port Sidney Marina and dialed our headings north, the vessels warmed with a golden sun kiss, and we arranged ourselves in a single file line to cross through Johns passage. Beautiful seabirds in their newly worn non-breeding plumage floated passed us lightly and curious Harbor Seals popped up left and right, checking us all out.

With the sun rising higher in the sky, shifting from golden oranges to light blues, we made way through the calm seas of Gabriola Passage and into the Strait of Georgia with great timing. Interestingly enough, ‘Gabriola’ was a misprint by a British cartographer in the mid-19th century. The name was derived from ‘Punta de Gaviola’, where a ‘v’ was changed to a ‘b’ amongst translation, and without precise attention to detail, an ‘r’ was added in transcription.

The Strait of Georgia is a 150-mile-long arm of the Salish Sea between Vancouver Island and the mainland of British Columbia, varying in widths of 12 to 36 miles and at its maximum depth, 1,380 feet deep. Coast Salish communities have occupied the strait for 5,000 to 10,000 years, and it wasn’t until the late 1700s that non-native settlers explored its extensive coastlines.

Throttling back, we all trickled into Pender Harbor as a well-organized gaggle of geese. We joined a beautiful anchoring of sailboats, powerboats, and resident homes peppering the rocks around us, settling in nicely as we found our safe sites to drop the hook. Pender Harbour is an incredibly special place, once a winter village site for a band of the Shishalh Nation, Sechelt in an English pronunciation. Although Pender Harbour was named in 1860 by Captain G. H. Richards in honor of Daniel Pender, Pender Harbour was home to a clan of Native peoples called ‘Klay-ah-Kwoss’, who shared the same blood and kinship as the Sechelt Indian Band but governed their own territory, hunting, gathering, and fishing grounds.

Soaking in the warm breezes as crew tucked themselves in to their vessels for the evening, our long day left us all happy to feel the soft lulling of our floating homes. Some went up to enjoy a drink and a bite at Pender Harbour’s local pubs and restaurants, finding themselves headed back home under a beautiful golden pink sunset.

Our longest cruise was accomplished swimmingly, and with the setting sun dipping below the mountains earlier and earlier each evening, the fall colors welcome us to rest. With an 8am departure tomorrow morning, identifying the flow of what our day-to-day routine looks like is findings its balance in our fleet. It’s one of our favorite parts of being on the water with such passionate mariners, watching the confidence and familiarity hit the ground running.

And now a daily Haiku from Captain Annie:

Sunrise in our eyes

Across the water we go

Enjoying fall sun

P.S. Is Desolation Sound on your bucket list? We can take you there! Email us to reserve your spot on our 2023 Desolation Sound Flotilla. 

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