Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Princess Louisa Inlet

Jervis Inlet, on the way to Princess Louisa Inlet
We are surrounded by steep glacial walls, most with streams of water coursing down them. From our mooring at MacDonald Island, we stare up at a snowfield, seemingly just above our heads. It is as if Pelagia is anchored in the alpine.

After 17 years of cruising British Columbia waters, we have finally come to Princess Louisa Inlet. Avoided in the past because of the long motor required to get here (this proved to be true) and to the expected crowds (this proved not to be the case).

On the way, we stopped for a night at the Harmony Islands (another first visit for us). They were quite nice, but the anchoring not great. We were fortunate to be the only boat to go into "Kipling Cove" -- one USA sailboat tried but didn't like it and couldn't get their anchor to grab (we think they were reversing too fast) -- so we had it to ourselves. Lucky thing, because it was tiny, filled with rocks and surrounded by unfriendly "Private Island" "No stern ties" signs. A pox on that owner! [Note: private or not, in Canada below the high tide line is public.] We would not have gone in if another boat were anchored. We stern tied to the tiny park-owned islet, and prayed that the sharp rocks and sharp oysters would not cut our line. [As it turns out, the larger southern island is also Park-owned and has several stern-tie rings installed.]

No need to have worried, as the night was still and we didn't budge. Great stars, and great phosphorescence with schools of fish darting around. And yes, we could hear the falls a mile away.

Next day, we up anchored by 6am and headed out to catch slack at Malibu Rapids at 1:26pm. Jervis Inlet was windless and glassy, and we had to slow ourselves down. The views were beautiful. We arrived 45 minutes early, and after several boats went through and saying it was fine, we ventured through, with about 1.5 knots flooding but no turbulence.

The views in Princess Louisa Inlet, as noted at the beginning, are stunning.

Looking up towards Chatterbox Falls, at the head of Princess Louisa Inlet

There was lots of room at the dock* next to Chatterbox Falls, but we opted for the quiet of a mooring buoy at MacDonald Island. (The dock was a bit too "social".) We enjoyed kayaking the inlet -- filled with huge schools of small fish (herring?), many many seals, mergansers and gulls, and at least one otter. On our second day, we hiked up to the "Trapper's Cabin". There were signs posted by B.C. Parks NOT recommending the hike, warning it was challenging and potentially hazardous. We agree -- and we're used to hiking! A rooty, slippery, nasty trail, leading to the ruins of what once was a cabin, with a waterfall beside it. The view from the waterfall was indeed a good view down the inlet to Malibu Rapids, but it was a dicey spot due to the danger of falling rocks (which the trees bore ample evidence of, having being hit by large rocks). We did this hike once; it is not worth it to do again. If you're not used to strenuous hiking or are not sure-footed, you might want to give it a pass. [Signs say the hike requires 2 hrs each way; we required 1.5 hrs up and 1.4 hrs down (with a couple of falls included).]

View down Princess Louisa Inlet (from "Trappers Cabin")

Rockfall hazard: check out the scars on the trees

Arriving back at the bottom of the trail: the signs are correct

Tonight will be our 3rd night at Princess Louisa Inlet. Each night so far has be quiet, both wind and noise wise. Today, though, has been a rainy day. More water coming down from the mountains. Weather depending++, we will head back down tomorrow. Another 7 hours of motoring.**

After the rains, more waterfalls appear (Princess Louisa Inlet)
It is worth the effort (at least once)!

*During our time, as it was very early in the season, neither the mooring buoys nor the dock filled up. Nevertheless, it certainly wasn't "empty". About 2/3rds of the boats were from the USA.

++ FYI, There is NO weather info by VHF radio available in Princess Louisa Inlet (and, of course, no cell service). It was a perfect example of how our Marine/HAM SSB radio and Pactor modem was able to provide us with full weather forecasts (as well as voice contact with other boats via the morning and evening HAM Nets).

**Turns out it took 8.5 hrs of motoring. we had a 1-2 knot current against us all the way down Jervis Inlet to Hardy Island. TIP: If possible, exit Malibu Rapids at High Water Slack, then one will have a favourable current on trip back down (south) Jervis Inlet! 

[Sent by Winlink (HAM) email]

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