Have you ever thought about how a remote marina like Refuge Cove can have such a well-stocked store with fresh produce Boaters who come to cruise the Desolation Sound region know that the store at Refuge Cove will be ready for them, stocked with all the basics and even fresh produce. But how is it done? We discovered how on a recent visit to this cove of refuge, tucked along the western shore of West Redonda Island.

We stopped at the store in late May, hoping to resupply our galley with tomatoes and other fresh fruit. The storekeeper informed us that a shipment would be arriving that afternoon. Loading boxes of canned goods, along with breads and fresh produce can be a day-long task, especially with the added logistics of transporting supplies to an island. This realization prompted our questions – “Where do the supplies come from and how do you get them here?”

We got the full story that went something like this — We must first motor our barge across Lewis Channel to the public wharf at Squirrel Cove on Cortes Island, where a truck with a load of fresh supplies will be ready to meet us. The truck, of course, had to take the ferry from Campbell River on Vancouver Island to Quathiaski Cove on Quadra Island, then drive across Quadra Island to Heriot Bay to get on another ferry to Whaletown on Cortes Island, and then drive across Cortes Island to Squirrel Cove. Once we arrive at the public wharf at Squirrel Cove, we unload the truck and start stacking a makeshift sled with a yoke and rope that is used to carefully lower the sled, as it slides down the ramp to the dock below. We then start loading the barge, carefully stacking the boxes onto pallets for weight and balance. The process is repeated over and over again until all the boxes and produce have been unloaded from the truck. Then we are off once again, motoring across Lewis Channel in the hopes that the weather will hold for a safe crossing. Back at Refuge Cove, we pull the barge alongside the dock underneath a hoist, where the pallets of supplies are lifted up to the storefront. But we’re not done yet, everything must be stacked neatly on the store shelves and arranged in baskets for that added customer appeal.

After hearing their story, we came to more fully appreciate the effort it takes to keep a remote island store stocked with goods throughout the busy cruising season. So next time you bite into that perfectly ripe tomato at Refuge Cove, think about how far that tomato traveled to get there – then slice, dice and enjoy.