The Sailing Vessel Apropos

Desolation Sound Trip

Aug. 28 - Sept. 18, 2010

Destination: Desolation Sound

Crew: Jim, Karen, Jacintha

Since we had 3 weeks for this year's trip, we decided to go as far north as Desolation Sound.  The plan was to make lots of stops along the way and spend about 5 days in Desolation Sound, then make the return trip to Seattle (about 250 miles) in 5 days.  We planned to visit some new ports including Victoria, Vancouver and Nanaimo.  Most of the sailing will be in more remote areas such as Jervis Inlet and Desolation Sound.  Crew is Karen and Jacintha (who is 3-1/2 and has been sailing since she was 4 months old) from Seattle to Victoria, then picking up Sherman and Kim (Karens parents) for the Victoria to Nanaimo leg, then just the three of us from there to Desolation Sound and back.  The total trip will be almost 700nm, about twice as far as we have ever been on Apropos.  

Day 1: Lake Union to Port Townsend (47nm)Red Spinaker 

Departed Lake Union at 7:30am and topped off the tanks with 32 gallons of diesel at Ballard Oil.  We had about a 45 minute wait at the Ballard Locks and tied up to a pier while waiting.  High tide was at noon so we had positive current most of the day.  It was a chilly sail into a 15 knot northerly with mostly cloudy skies.  Motor-sailed most of the way and reached Port Townsend around 7pm and anchored out in the bay.      

Day 2: Port Townsend to Victoria (32nm)

Up-anchored and got an early start to take advantage of the ebb tide, which wasAutoPilot 5Red Spinakerknts flowing out of Admiralty Inlet.  Motored across the Strait of Juan de Fuca on flat water (we would find out about a week later that some boats were lost crossing this strait when bad weather went through the area).  After clearing customs in Victoria Harbor, we docked at the marina right in front of the Empress Hotel.  Met up with Sherman and Kim, who were visiting us from Australia and came up from Seattle aboard the Victoria Clipper (a fast hydroplane that takes about 3 hours).  We actually waved to them as they passed us somewhere between Seattle and Port Townsend.  After getting their luggage on board, we walked around town where Jacintha met a friendly bear, then went out for dinner.    .

Day 3: Victoria to Saltspring Island (46nm)

AutoPilotAutoPilotAutoPilotAutoPilotWith a long day ahead of us, we got a 7am start to catch positive currents up Haro Strait.  Winds were light so we motored north along San Juan Island.  As we  reached the north end of San JAutoPilotuan Island, a couple of whale watching boats sped by--a positive sign that whales were spotted north of us.  When we caught up to them, we were treated to the best whale show we had ever seen.  For about 2 hours, we drifted along side of several pods of Orca Whales, some getting as close as 25 yards (we promptly shut down the engine and drifted with the current).  It was a real treat for Sherman and Kim, who had never sailed before.  We saw so many whales that Jacintha became disinterested after awhile (oh, just another whale...).  Continued north and eventually docked at a marina at Ganges on Saltspring Island where we would stay for two days before  heading further north.

Day 4: Saltspring Island (Ganges)

It rained overnight and most of the day.  Jacintha had fun feeding the white swan who was haAutoPilotnging around the dock along with a couple of ducks.  Had a relaxing day walking around Ganges, drinking coffee, and shopping.  Got out the new folding bike and rode it around town.  Had a nice dinner at Auntie Pestos near the marina.  Re-provisioned the boat at the Ganges grocery store, a short walk from the marina.  


Day 5: Saltspring Island to Thetis Island (20nm)

Another day of motoring since the wind was light.  Kim entertainAutoPiloted Jacintha and drAutoPilotew AutoPilota little flower on her cheek with a marker and was a good sport when Jacintha insisted on returning the favor!  We anchored in Clam Bay on the north side of Thetis Island, then took the dinghy to a pub on the opposite side via a narrow channel that divides the island in two. Back at the boat, Karen made fantastic blueberry scones while Sherman relaxed in the halyard chair and Cap'n 'Shiny Brass' polished the brass ports and binnacle.  Set the new and improved crab trap, which folds up into an 18" diameter bag, near the boat in 50' of water.  There was only 1 other boat in the bay.  


Day 6: Thetis Island to Nanaimo (17nm)

Pulled the crab pot up after we up-anchored and drifted along side the floating buoy.  Caught 3 crabs but all were too small to keep.  The weather was sunny and warm as we continued sailing north.  We read a lot about Dodd Narrows, where currents can exceed 15 knots, and you have to time your arrival near slack tide.  We arrived a bit ahead of schedule and waited at the south entrance for about 30 minutes before motoring through with about 2 knots of positive current.  The narrows is a dogleg right followed by a dogleg left and boats entering either end are supposed to broadcast a Securite on VHF channel 16, which we did.  Cap'n 'White Knuckles' proceeded cautiously  and for a second could have sworn he spotted a long barge approaching from the other end, but turned out to be something on the shore!  From there it was a short distance to Nanaimo.  We radioed ahead and got a moorage slip at the city marina.  As we approached the slip, two people on shore called out my name.  They were a couple I had met 6 months earlier in Seattle who were lookingAutoPilot for AutoPilota Hans Christian AutoPilotand wanted to see AutoPilotApropos to get an idea what they are like.  Lance and Carol just happened to live along the water side of Nanaimo and just happened to be home as we were approaching and just happened to look out the window at the right time to spot us!  After tying up, we made plans to go to their condo later for dinner (they even insisted we bring our laundry over and use their washer/dryer).  It was hot and sunny so we walked along the waterfront, had ice cream, and then found a huge playground where Jacintha had a lot of fun climbing, swinging and spinning.  Later that evening we went to the condo where Lance and Carol lived (just a 5 minute walk from the marina) and had a lovely evening and a great steak dinner with a bottle of Syrah wine.  Note--Lance and Carol have since bought their Hans Christian (aptly named s/v Syrah) .


Day 7: Nanaimo to Pender Harbor (40nm)

Sherman and Kim had reservations to take a bus from Nanaimo to Victoria, then the Victoria Clipper back to Seattle where they would fly out to get back to Australia.  Since the bus didn't leave until 1pm, I invited Lance and Carol to go for a sail around Nanaimo harbor.  Unfortunately, there was little wind but we did manage to get three sails up and ghost along before motoring back to the marina.  After re-provisioning at a local grocery store, we said our goodbyes  and Lance and Carol drove them to the bus depot.  We had a long sail ahead of us and didn't want to be out in the Strait of Georgia at dark, so we quickly untied the boat and motored north-east.  There was a strong wind advisory for the Strait of Georgia, but we saw only light wind and motor-sailed for the next 7 hours.  We spotted Pender Harbor at sunset AutoPilotand by the time we reached the anchorage well inside the harbor it was dark.  Choosing the right spot to anchor is always a bit tricky because you have to take into consideration tidal changes (don't want to end up on the rocks after the tide goes out), scope (how much chain you let out vs the depth of the water), wind & current (full keel sailboats sometimes swing with respect to the currents vs the wind), and of course, location (don't want to bump into another anchored boat in the middle of the night).  It's this last one that usually causes Cap'n 'I think this is a good spot' and Co-Cap'n 'No you moron, we're too close to that boat' to argue.  Throw in the wild card of Darkness, and it can get very exciting (or entertaining if you happen to hear us from a near-by boat).  So we ended up anchoring, then up-anchoring, then re-anchoring in  what was believed to be a better spot, only to find out it was similar to where we were the first time!  Fortunately there was no mutiny that night (and the anchorage was fine).


Day 8: Pender Harbor to Secret Bay (14nm)

Motored and motor-sailed through Agamemnon Channel.  Was very choppy and gusty at the entrance to the channel, but settled down somewhat further into the long channel.  At the end of Agamemnon Channel is Sachelt Inlet to the south, and Jervis Inlet to the east.  We sailed about a mile  down Sachelt Inlet to Secret Bay and docked at Backeddy Marina.  After tying up, we drove the dinghy south for about another mile, then got ouAutoPilott and AutoPilothiked for 1 houAutoPilotr to SkookumchucAutoPilotk Narrows.  We arrived there during max flood to see the kayakers surfing the 5' standing wave.  The wave is created by water rushing past a submerged boulder near the shore to form a back-eddy.  Kayakers enter the water upstream a bit, then drift backwards until they enter the standing wave, then they paddle just the right amount to keep them pointing forward and atop the standing wave.  The better ones could stay there for a long minute before tiring out and letting the current take them beyond the wave to where they could paddle to shore and hike back up to do it again.  There were also tour boats that took people there to see the standing wave and kayakers.  Even though the tour boat is away from the standing wave, they have to point upstream and run their huge engine full throttle just to stay stationary.  The mile hike back to the dinghy took a long time since Jacintha and I like to explore things like tree stumps.  Back at the marina, we ate the famous Skookumchuck Burgers at the marina pub.  Jacintha collected a purple starfish in a bucket.  We heard the water at this marina was excellent so we took the opportunity to fill the water tanks as well as the gas can used in the dinghy.


Day 9: Secret Bay to Princess Louisa Inlet (41nm)

Departed at 10am in order to time the arrival at Malibu Rapids during high slack tide.  This was our firstAutoPilot really GREAT day of sailing with a 10-20 knot wiAutoPilotnd astern.  MuAutoPilotstAutoPilot have been due to Jacintha and I performing the Schookumchuck Dance in the cockpit.  If I had to pick my best single day of sailing ever, this would have to be it.  The scenery in Jervis Inlet was amazing with the long, winding fjord that seemed to go on forever.  We were lucky to have the wind blowing up the inlet and not down.  Apropos was well balanced with the jib and main going wing and wing much of the way.  We jibed a bit to keep the wind about 20 degrees off the stern and reached speeds of 8.5 knots.  The geography was amazing with the huge steep cliffs continuing down for a mile underwater.  We arrived at Malibu Rapids ahead of schedule so we got some extra sailing in just going back AutoPilotand forth along theAutoPilot AutoPilotentrance.  Malibu Rapids entrance is somewhat tricky because it is very shallow and windy.  High slack gives you a few extra feet of depth with minimal current, so it's worth waiting for.  (Note:  Captain George Vancouver sailed all the way up Jarvis Inlet and saw the small entrance at Malibu Rapids and thought is was just a creek flowing out so he didn't bother entering and therefore never got to see Princess Louisa Inlet).  The depth sounder was showing depths of 5 feet (that means 5 feet below the bottom of the keel) at the entrance.  Seeing that can make any captain a bit nervous!  The channel is well marked with buoys and we also zoomed way in on the chartplotter for some assurance we were turning at the correct points.  After a few winding turns, it opens up into a wide channel of water called Princess Louisa Inlet and continues for about 5 miles.  This is also a very steep and high walled inlet but is protected in all directions from severe weather so is normally calm.  We motored to the end where there is a beautiful waterfall and a long wooden dock.  When we arrived there were only 2 other boats there, so we tied up on the dock, then explored the shoreline.


Day 10: Princess Louisa InletAutoPilotAutoPilotAutoPilot

Rained overnight and mostly cloudy weather today.  Spent the day hiking around the shoreline, viewing the waterfalls (tallest waterfall in N. America is here), examining snails, drinking coffee, and just relaxing.  Tried a hand at balancing rocks ruk shuk style at the base of Chatterbox Falls.  Had to explain to Jacintha that it was not nice to knock them over for fun.  A park ranger is stationed here and is very friendly, as is other boaters tied to the dock.  A seaplane from Kenmore Air flew in to drop off passengers next to a mega-yacht that was anchored.AutoPilot  AutoPilotAutoPilotAutoPilot


Day 11: Princess Louisa Inlet to Thunder Bay (47nm)

Motored 8 hours in mostly sunny skies, no wind, and flat water.  To think that 2 days ago a steady 15 knot wind blew up Jarvis Inlet and motoring against that would not have beAutoPilotAutoPiloten fun.  Other than enjoying the scenery, not much to do in the cockpit.  On long passages Karen and Jacintha spend a lot of time in the cabin--preparing meals, relaxing, napping, reading.  Karen relieves me at the helm for short spells so I can go below and she can get some fresh air.  Our plan is to now get to Desolation Sound as quickly as we can, so todays 47nm to Thunder Bay would put us half way there.  Thunder Bay is near the entrance where Jervis Inlet joins Georgia Strait.  We anchored in the small cove with summer cabins along the shore at dusk, and had roast lamb, potatoes, and salad.  


Day 12: Thunder Bay to Redonda Island (42nm)AutoPilot

Woke up early to a thick fog.  Upanchored and motored along using GPS and Radar to "see" the shoreline.  Once out into Georgia Strait, the fog lifted and we motor-sailed another 42nm to Desolation Sound.  The wind picked up as we neared Redonda Island.  Decided to stay at Refuge Cove on the south-west side of the island.  There's a small grocery store and a cafe along the shore.  Spent the rest of the day relaxing in the swing chair on the main halyard and doing miscellaneous boat chores.  Lamb leftovers for dinner.

Day 13: Redonda Island to Prideaux Haven (16nm)

Ate fried bacon & egg breakfast sandwiches at the cafe while talking with another couple who


were cruising with their 3 year old also.  They were on a 29' boat and lived at a campground on a nearby island.  Departed late morning for a sail to an area called Prideaux Haven, which is on the British Columbia mainland.  It's a couple of long, narrow channels of water that are protected by long, narrow  islands.  Had a nice sail getting there with 10-15 knot winds.  Dropped anchor inside Prideaux Cove, then went for a dinghy ride between rain showers.  After taking 2 or 3 pictures of Jacintha in the dinghy where she either blinked or was looking down at the water, I told her to keep her eyes open for the next picture which resulted in this picture!  Our plan is to spend several days here exploring, hiking, and relaxing.  We heard this place is very popular (and crowded) in August, but only a few boat here this time of year.


Day 14: Prideaux Haven

Went for a dinghy ride and spotted another Hans Christian anchored about a half mileAutoPilot away.  We saw aAutoPilot man aboard and pulled along-side to chat.  We were invited on board to take a look at his boat.  His name was Klaus and he was in his early 70s.  He bought his boat on Lake Union new back in 1981 and sailed it to the South Pacific and back.   He told us he lived on Quadra Island and sails by himself every year for about a month.  As we were talking, he suddenly became confused and dis0riented and didn't know where he was or how he got here.  We brought him back to Apropos in our dinghy and gave him some hot tea and scones and discussed taking him back to Quadra, about a full day away.  After about 30 minutes, Klaus got his memory back and felt better and no longer wanted to go back home.  Karen's diagnosis was a TIA or mini-stroke and we recommended he get to a hospital asap.  Since he didn't want to go, we told him we would sail along-side him for the next couple of days and eventually see that he makes it to his home on Quadra Island.  Since it was only noon, I took him back to his boat and we planned on meeting in a few hours to go hiking.  A few hours later between rain showers, we met Klaus at Melanie Cove and hiked to Laura Cove, about an hour away.  This was not an easy hike for an adult and especially for a 3 year old, and became a scramble over logs and steep, muddy terrain.  Captain 'pack horse' ended up carrying Jacintha most of the way there and all of the way back since she fell asleep at the half way mark.  Klaus was definitely back to his old self and said he felt great.  We went back to the boat with plans on departing early the next morning with Klaus on s/v Meriposa along-side.


Day 15: Prideaux Haven to E. Redonda Island (10nm)


AutoPilotBy the time we up-anchored, s/v Mariposa was waiting for us at the channel entrance and Klaus said "I'm all better" with a big smile on his face.  Sailing was clearly his passion.  We had a short sail to Walsh Cove on East Redonda Island.  We dropped anchor in 75' of water and put out 200' of chain.  It was raining so we put on rain gear and dingheyed to a small islet where Jacintha insisted on going in the water .  We had heard that water temperatures are warm enough for swimming around Desolation Sound because the water doesn't move much with tidal changes.  Compared to the water around the San Juan Islands, it is warmer in Desolation Sound, but on a chilly & rainy September day, not very comfortable for swimming.  Nonetheless, Jacintha put on her swim suite and life jacket and waded in up to her waist while we watched from a safe distance.  Karen took her back to the boat for a hot shower when she started turning blue.  I had read about some Indian pictographs in the area so Klaus and I went exploring and found some high up on a rock wall overlooking the channel.  We invited Klaus over for spaghetti carbonara and red wine.  It was very rainy and windy overnight and became apparent that our anchor was sitting on a rock bottom.  The sound of the chain scraping the rock bottom traveled up to the boat and made it hard to sleep.  We always snubber the chain rode to take the pressure off the windlass, but it would have been better to snub it from the bowsprit to slacken the chain completely.  Another problem we had was getting the diesel stove to stay lit due to the wind.  A different stove-pipe end (H shaped) is supposed to be better on windy days.

Day 16: E. Redonda Island to Cortes Island (25nm)Red Spinaker

Red Spinaker

AutoPilotUp anchored and motor-sailed along with s/v Mariposa on a cool, rainy day.  Karen supplied me with hot coffee and clam chowder that helped keep me warm.  Since Klaus was single-handed, we pulled along side him and used a long extended boat hook to hand him a hot bowl of chowder that we put inside a sealed bowl and placed in a bag.  After 5 hours, we reached Cortes Island. Gorge Marina was a very nice marina that had recently been updated with new docks, swimming pool, and hot tub.  There was also a general store, restaurant, and laundry facilities.  Jacintha had a lot of fun jumping in the pool with her floatie suite on and the hot tub overlooking the harbor was fantastic.  Had a nice dinner at the dockside restaurant but Jacintha fell asleep before the food arrived.

Day 17: Cortes Island to Quadra Island (11nm)AutoPilot

Red Spinaker

Red SpinakerAutoPilot

Nice sunny day, but not enough wind for sailing as we departed Cortes Island.  We followed Klaus to a protected bay on Quadra Island and tied along-side s/v Mariposa.  Klaus uses a mooring ball with 2 stern ties to shore to secure his boat, then takes his dinghy to shore and walks a short distance to his house.  Since Jacintha just went down for a nap, Klaus gave us directions for getting to his house and we would meet there later.  Once we got to his house, Klaus took me around his property which has breathtaking views of Hoskyn Channel.  Karen and Jacintha stayed behind with Mita, Klaus's wife, who was preparing dinner. Klaus was a master stone mason and did most of the construction of the house including a two-story, 5-sided brick fireplace hearth and outside a stone arched gate entrance.  After a wonderful meal, we hiked back to the boat with departing gifts of banana bread, plums, Chanterell mushrooms, and toys for Jacintha.  Klaus had promised to see a doctor the following day.  [note--we keep in touch with Klaus and Mita and they are both in good health.  His doctors agreed that he probably had a TIA while we were with him on his boat.]

Day 18: Quadra Island to Lasqueti Island (63nm)AutoPilot


Red SpinakerWith 250 miles to get back to Seattle over 5 days, we planned on averaging 50nm per day.  Winds were light again today but we managed to motor all the way to Lasqueti Island, right next door to Texado Island.  Not much to do along the way aside from keeping watch for other boats and enjoying the scenery.  After 10 hours of motoring, we dropped anchor in Boho Cove, which was quiet and well-protected.  Grilled steaks and corn for dinner--Jacintha and I shared the last ear!  Later we went ashore and explored.


Day 19: Lasqueti Island to Vancouver (58nm)


Up-anchored at 7:30am and got under way with the motor until the wind picked up in the middle of Georgia Strait.  Got a bit too close to area WG (Whiskey Gulf is a military exercise area that is active on certain days) and a Canadian Coast Guard inflatable sped towards us .  Captain 'Don't Fire Unless Fired Upon' slowed the boat and waited for them to come along-side.  Turns out they were friendlies and just wanted to make sure we knew that WG was active.  Fact is we heard the VHF broadcast earlier and were still outside WG and getting ready to tack.  They sped away as fast they approached with their 300HP outboards.  The next tack put us on a course for Vancouver, another place we haven't been to before.  We anchored inside a very crowded area of False Creek, then drove the dinghy to Granville Island where we met James, Katherine, and kids for dinner.  Dinghied back to Apropos in the dark and got to sleep early so we could get another early start the next day.


Day 20: Vancouver to Jones Island (60nm)

Red Spinaker

Red Spinaker

Red Spinaker



AutoPilotMotored all day today since winds were very light.  We followed the BC coastline south to Point Roberts, where we cleared customs.  Along the way we went through an area that's supposed to be one of the best for salmon fishing.  There were hundreds of small fishing boats near the mouth of the Frazer River. On long passages, Jacintha finds ways to pass the time.  Watching videos, building "tents", coloring, playing with Cheerios, and sometimes just making us laugh at the things she comes up with.  By the time we cleared customs, it was 4pm but we decided to keep going south since it was past high tide and the current would be flowing south for the next few hours.  My initial plan was to get to Sucia Island, but a strong current down Presidents Channel made it more advantageous to go to Jones Island.  The last 2 hours were in light rain, thick fog, and total darkness (the darkness didn't really matter since the fog was so thick).  We had the foghorn sounding a loud bleep every 2 minutes, GPS at the helm, Radar overlayed on GPS at the nav. station, and 2 sets of fingers crossed.  Karen did a great job tracking the big ships on radar and telling me where they were.  Had to navigate blindly around some partially submerged islets just to the north of Jones Island.  This was definitely putting faith in electronic charts and a lot of technology.  We were relieved to get into the north bay of Jones Island at about 11pm, but still not home free.  Even though it was mid-October, it was a Friday night and the perimeter of the bay was full of anchor lights.  Our only choice was to anchor in the middle of the bay in deep water.  We dropped the hook with 200' of chain and a 3:1 scope.  Before going to bed, we determined the best time to leave to avoid fighting a strong flood current in the San Juan Channel would be 4am!


Day 21: Jones Island to Port Townsend (35nm)




AutoPilotGot up at 4am and up-anchored in the dark.  The fog was still very thick.  Just like last night, we used radar and GPS to feel our way down San Juan Channel.  Heard the ferry foghorns as we neared Friday Harbor and passed within a hundred yards without making visual contact.  The fog dissipated and it was getting light by the time we reached Cattle Point, the entrance to the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  We timed it perfectly, riding the current down San Juan Channel and reaching Cattle Point at slack.  The fog thickened again out in the strait and didn't lift until we were near Port Townsend.  Karen monitored the radar during the 4 hour crossing and let me know when ships were approaching.  There were some tense moments where we had to decide which way to go to avoid getting too close.  Ships in the strait travel at over 30 knots so there isn't a lot of time to get out of their way.  At one point there was an eastbound ship coming towards us and on the other side there was a southbound ship coming from Georgia Strait, both sounding their foghorns.  We were glad to get to Port Townsend and anchored near the ferry terminal, then took the dinghy ashore and had pizza and ice cream.  The Lady Washington was docked nearby.  This boat was used in the Pirates of the Caribbean as the Black Perl.


Day 22: Port Townsend to Lake Union (36nm)Red Spinaker

There was no need to leave early since low tide was around noon.  We fueled up with 66 gallons of diesel.  As we motored from the fuel dock, we saw a man rowing his sailboat with long oars and all sails up.  The wind started out light so we motored down Puget Sound taking advantage of a nice flood current.   The wind picked up about half way and we were able to get a few hours of sailing in.  A short wait at the locks, then motored the final couple of miles to Lake Union to end a fantastic trip.


Trip Statistics
Ports visited 18
Nautical miles 660
Engine hours 110
Whales spotted >20