Friday, 20 November 2015

Cruising Desolation Sound in September

Entering Desolation Sound (Mt. Denman in centre)
Coming home from Mexico, we were hankering to get back up to Desolation Sound. Beautiful protected anchorages, warm swimming (ocean and lakes), wilderness areas and unpopulated islands. Nearby, also, are the "Discovery Islands" (Quadra & Cortes Islands). The problem, however, is that in July and August, Desolation Sound and nearby areas are teaming with boats (most from the USA) and anchorages are very crowded. In August 2012, we counted at least 80 boats anchored in Tenedos Bay.

Returning to Desolation this year, we decided to give September a try -- hopefully most boats will have gone home.

We had sailing friends from our days in the Sea of Cortez join us on this trip. Lance and Jennifer from SV Kylahi (currently in La Paz) drove from Edmonton to Okeover Inlet to join us on Pelagia for 7 days. Bob and Dee Dee sailed SV Sunshine -- which was shipped home on the MV Tiberborg together with Pelagia -- from Pender Island to join us in Desolation.

Our trip up the coast, started just before Labour Day, was a calm motor; no sailing but happily no northwest winds to bash against. It was immediately obvious that there was a constant parade of boats heading South. This was a good sign. Of course, part of the reason for their heading South was the cool, cloudy (and rainy) weather.

Dark clouds over Sechelt

Our first anchorage in Desolation Sound was back to Tenedos Bay. Much to our pleasure, there were only a couple boats anchored when we arrived. After initial failed attempts to anchor without stern tying, we ended up stern-tied with perhaps 6 boats. A far cry from 80 boats!

Leaving the Tenedos Bay NW anchorage: so few boats in September!
However, the water ocean temperature was only about 17 degrees C, a far cry from 21-43 degrees in August. No swimming here this time.

We then moved over to Isabel Bay, a tiny protected anchorage off of Lancelot Inlet. The 1-2 boat small northern nook is one of our favourite anchorages -- in July/August we have often turned away as it is occupied. This September, we were the only boat.

Pelagia in Isabel Bay
Isabel Bay

After Isabel Bay, we picked up Lance and Jennifer at the dock at Okeover Landing, then motored over to the outer part of Grace harbour, behind Jean island, where we rafted-up with Bob and Dee Dee on SV Sunshine. A great reunion of La Paz cruisers ensued.

La Paz Cruisers' party time on Pelagia (in Desolation Sound)

A highlight for us was an over-1-hour show by a rambunctious family of  five orcas, off of Mink Island in Desolation Sound:


Lance and Jennifer watching Orca show
We shut down the motor and drifted as the orcas swam past us close by
 
Subsequent anchorages in the Desolation Sound area where we overnighted:

Laura Cove: Perhaps 6 boats anchored. Good oysters and clams outside of cove in Homfray Channel.

Roscoe Bay: On our 2nd night here, there were only 3 boats. Black Lake was still warm for swimming -- all six of us went for a swim. Roscoe Bay itself was 19 degrees C -- David went for a swim (changing a shaft zinc). Four of us hiked up Mt. Llanover, requiring about 1,5 hours to reach the top (as usual).

At the top of Mt Llanover

The view from Mt. Llanover (looking southeast over Desolation Sound (Black Lake below)

Squirrel Cove: The most "crowded" anchorage (perhaps 20 boats). Some were swimming -- we found it too cold.

Small Islets (Lancelot/Theodosia Inlets): A new anchorage to us. Lots of odd current.

Grace Harbour (inner harbour): Headed here after dropping off Lance and Jennifer back at Okeover Landing. Usually far too crowded, but not in September!

Cortes Bay: Some love this bay; other hate it. We generally like it due to its position (a good place to arrive from/leave to the south) and to the hiking nearby. However, to our disappointment, the best anchoring area (south of the public dock) is now taken up by a permanently moored dock (with 2 boats) and other moorings. We anchored in the north end -- alone -- which worked out well as there were no winds and only a couple transient boats anchored.

We headed back south from Cortes Bay -- unfortunately getting caught in a southeasterly resulted in about 2 hours of bashing in Malaspina Strait (not too bad, could of been worse). A last night anchored off of Camp Artaban in Howe Sound -- an old favourite of ours -- before returning home to the Vancouver Rowing Club.

All-in-all, a great trip! We were away about 2 weeks, and had six nights of socializing, with 6 of us for dinners on Pelagia. Anchorages this September were either empty or uncrowded. Weather in Desolation Sound this September was variable, including clouds, a little rain, and several sunny days. Every night was dead calm (no wind and no waves -- such a change from the Sea of Cortez). Unfortunately, ocean temperatures were mostly too cold for swimming.

Desolation Sound's hot days and warm ocean temperatures in July/August can make for a great time. However, the huge crowds of the Summer are too much for us. Desolation Sound in September works better for the crew of Pelagia.

Pelagia in Desolation Sound, September 2015

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