After our first official day exploring in Desolation Sound, the soft golden warmth of another blue bird fall morning has us all feeling that we may be starting to push our luck! Grace Harbour is a traditional village site of the Tla’amin First Nation originally name k’ak’ik’i, translating to “camp overnight”, believed to have come from k’iymtan, meaning “camping place.” Both names refer to the harbor being a major winter village site where ceremonies were held between the now Klahoose, Homalco, and Sliammon groups who all originated as one band before being separated into different communities by force of colonization.
Saying our goodbyes to the calm welcoming harbor, we passed by a small islet offshore from the village site that acted as a speaking podium for the First Nation ceremonies during their winter settlements. There are many archaeological sites and trails that are still used today by the Tla’amin community for food gathering and plants for traditional medicines.
Near the end of our 2-hour cruise we all slowed down and prepared ourselves for a tight crossing between Otter Island and the mainland of British Columbia. Utilizing this pass at a low tide keeps for any rough water movement to hinder navigation, and rather the calm low waters call for a rock watch of crew on deck and a patient captain. This pass is dabbled with stunning red Madrone trees and plush lichens, making for a beautiful viewing after the narrows were conquered with grace.
During the fall and winter months, the parks throughout Desolation Sound clear out of high number visitors, and as our fleet moved into Melanie Cove, we made neighbors with one other sailboat and tucked our raft well into the anchorage. Greeted by graceful Blue Herons and plump Harbor Seals, we cozied into our new homebases for the next two days, ate a quick lunch, and took a hiking crew over to shore for a quick jaunt from Melanie Cove over to the paralleled Laura Cove.
Prideaux Haven is full of interesting history, as the first non-native settler was a man by the name of Mike Shuttler, who originated from Minnesota and from 1884 to his death in 1931, called Laura Cove home. Mike grew his own fruits and vegetables, planting trees and other non-native plants to sustain his life on the shoreline. However, he would take the time to sell his excess to nearby logging camps and was known to share his own with the First Nations who tended to clam gardens in Melanie Cove, sharing their findings with him in trade.
As these two coves hold both native and non-native settlement history, you can see the remnants of a shell midden in Melanie cove as you start the trail and ending in an opening into Laura Cove you walk through bright green fields of English Ivy and can catch glimpses of non-native fruit trees scattered along the shoreline.
After a lovely dip in the warm ocean waters, we all cleaned up nicely for a deck party on Deception. Each vessel prepared a quaint snack to share and as each platter showed up, we ate delicious appetizers and shared stories over a cold libation. It’s exciting to know that we will be spending tomorrow tucked into Prideaux Haven for another night, spending tonight close to our crews and getting to know one another better.
On our first night in Prideaux Haven:
Seabirds take flight
Everyone tucks in at night
Jupiter is bright
– Captain Annie
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. firstname.lastname@example.org