Friday, June 12, 2009

Coastal BC Cruising - Day 1

Lund is our home port for the summer. It’s a great jumping off point for Coastal BC boating adventures, so we headed out for a short cruise this week. Our route took us through Thulin Passage, Desolation Sound and Homfray Channel on our way north. In windy conditions, swells can build pretty high in this exposed area, but today there was merely a light chop.

Turning up Lewis Channel we watched Cortes Island with its popular Squirrel Cove pass off our port side and historic Refuge Cove off our starboard. Since we left Lund with our tanks full, we didn’t need to make a stop at Refuge. But it's a good refueling and shopping location for boaters remaining in the Desolation Sound area.

From Lewis Channel we angled into Calm Channel, and today it lived up to its name. So far all of the waterways have been wide and deep, so they haven’t been greatly affected by tidal influences. But all of that was about to change. Our destination for the night was Big Bay and it would require us to pass through the Yacultas Rapids at slack water. We arrived about an hour early, so we slowed to idle to troll a bit. Alas, no salmon for dinner.

For a landlubber like me, it was a huge surprise to learn that the ocean can create whitewater rapids to rival many rivers. But when the tides change, the waters calm in even the most violent runs and allow boats to pass. You just have to know when (thanks to the tide tables) and be quick about it. Slack water doesn’t last for long before the tide turns and starts running in the opposite direction.

At the northeast end of the Yacultas is Big Bay on Stuart Island. There’s no fuel, but you will find dock space at the public wharf. During summer months, there’s also a store and restaurant. We were too early for that, but had lots of dock space and only three other boats to share it with. Before we fixed a simple supper, we hiked the road towards the head of the bay. Even though there are quite a few residences, all was still quiet. Just the way we like it.

At about midnight we could hear tug engines. They were using the low-water slack to get through the rapids. The waterways up here are active 24/7 for tugs pulling all kinds of loads, including booms of logs. When we got up to take a look, the resort across the bay was lit up like a cruise ship. It’s huge, fancy, with a stable of brand new fishing boats ready to cater to the big buck adventure tourists. Thank you very much, I’ll take my 24’ Bayliner any day. -- Margy


  1. I really enjoyed reading this, Margy. The photos illustrate your journey well!

    It is interesting to read of such travels, our lake being 2 km long, and my only transportation a fiberglass canoe we bought second hand when I was a teen.

    /landlubber :-)

  2. This sounds like a great trip. Art and I have not explored the ocean at all because our boat is not very good in the ocean unless it's really calm. And, I'm sure you know the ocean can change from calm to nasty very quickly.