Desolation Sound 2022: Day 3: Pender Harbour to Grace Harbour | NW Explorations


Desolation Sound 2022: Day 3: Pender Harbour to Grace Harbour

Watching the sun rise before we all readied to pull up our anchors was enjoyed over a warm cup of coffee and soft chatter amongst our crew, sharing company over cozy fall morning breakfasts. To say leaving Pender Harbour to a rising sun and crystal-clear skies was a lovely way to start our day is an understatement.

One by one our fleet puttered out of the harbor and reentered the Strait of Georgia. Keeping Texada Island on our port side, we discussed some of the island’s geological composition as we cruised passed the bright whites of the Van Anda limestone quarry. There are three major limestone quarries on Texada, all formed due to the island’s prehistoric presence of once being underwater, where shelled marine organisms died and settled on the submerged island, hardening into the limestone rock we see being excavated today.

An hour into our adventure over to Prideaux Haven we spot a pair of humpback whales cruising slowly and close to the surface, making their blows and dark grey complexions easier to spot amongst the calm blue ocean. When humpbacks are traversing long distances, the most impressive part isn’t their cruising speed of three to ten miles per hour, but rather the observation that as they are moving most of 24 hours in a day this means that even at their slow speeds, they can be traveling upwards of 100 miles a day!

During the months of September through November, humpback whales are traveling south towards their warm water breeding grounds, leading us to cross our fingers that we will see more navigating south as we continue north.

Throttling back and making our way through the Copeland Islands, we set up camp on our decks with binoculars in hand and determined to find the pictographs that many have heard and read about, but few have seen. Sure enough, after panning the walls up and down and side to side, we excitedly spot the three beautiful pictographs halfway down the channel walls. Faded yet still so vividly red, the images were painted about 30 feet above the waterline along the granite slabs we kept to our portside, standing out in ways quite hard to miss after we initially spotted them. Differing from rock carvings, known as petroglyphs, First Nation communities here in B.C. were able to isolate a red ochre paint like substance to leave such stunning pieces of art, essentially staining the grey granite a bright red coloration from iron rich material that has impressively sustained hundreds to thousands of years of weathering.

On our way into Grace Harbour, we were greeted by a herd of our noisy Stellar sea lion friends that spent little time observing our ten vessels weave through the anchorage’s islets, sending a few huffs and puffs our way and diving off.

Settling in was a quick feat, and after anchors were in place and our raft was secured for the evening, a few of us meandered up a local trail to Black Lake. We found smiles spreading across our faces as we stopped every now and then to admire the picturesque flora and fauna among us. Leaping frogs caught our eyes along the creek beds and once we found ourselves standing at the lake edge, we all sat together and soaked in the quiet, watching the Blue Dasher dragonflies dance around us.

It was an incredible fall day here in British Columbia and the anticipation for the beauty to continue with us as we explore more of Desolation Sound has the entire fleet buzzing with glee.


And now a daily Haiku from Captain Annie:

Graceful moves we make

Sitting quite by the lake

Peaceful moment take


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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