Cruising Report No. 2
Lund to Port McNeill and down to Campbell River
Moorage is tight at Lund Harbour‒the gateway marina to Desolation Sound. We arrived late, and even the floating breakwater was full. One of the last slips they fill are in front of the pumpout with the requirement for a departure by 10 a.m. If you arrive late, like us, the slip spaces in front of the two pumpout stations could be the place for you.
The ownership and management of the Lund Hotel have changed. The Tla’amin Nation has taken over the lease on the hotel, and tribal members are now staffing the store, restaurant, and hotel.
On the bulletin board, we noticed there is an enterprising service‒a bright yellow antique car to shuttle you to the Laughing Oyster Restaurant in Okeover Inlet. Call the restaurant for more information, and tell them the Waggoner Guide sent you!
Turning the corner at Sarah Point on the way to Prideax Haven.
Bob Hale reported new hooks and metal plates installed in the rocks for stern-ties in this popular anchorage. I consider this a safety item and one which will increase capacity for more boats. It can be dangerous to leave your dinghy and climb up the rocks to secure a stern-line. Hooks in the rocks will solve this.
We heard from Kyle Hunter and his family at Toba Wilderness. At the beginning of the season, there was some confusion when there was a “Closed” sign on the dock. The closure was only temporary during renovations and rumors started that the resort had closed. They are open with a new landing area, and a pavilion called the Welcome House where you can sit in a covered area and enjoy the views and the company of the other guests. The docks have been expanded and now include 1400 feet of moorage on big wide concrete floats. They have great potable water and Kyle is adding 30 and 50 amp power on the dock this summer from his hydro plant up the stream.
Dave’s Garbage Barge is still there at Refuge Cove.
Refuge Cove is always a fun place to stop. Each year, I’m amazed at the variety and the range of merchandise in Refuge Cove store like fishing supplies to books, in addition to groceries and fresh produce. This year, be sure to take a look at the new gift items. All the other great businesses are still there – a good bakery at the coffee shop and an art gallery with interesting items.
Another important stop in Refuge Cove is Dave’s Garbage Barge. He now charges by the pound instead of by the bag.
The new owners at Squirrel Cove are making boater friendly changes.
In case you haven’t heard Squirrel Cove Trading Co. is under new ownership. Under their care, there have already been a few changes like a refreshed store, an expanded liquor area, and more items in the store. The new owners are excited about running a business on Cortez Island and plan to expand the facility to serve visiting boaters better like extending the dock into the bay for fuel sales at medium tide or better. When we were there, it was a very low tide and the area in front of the dock was high and dry.
Please don’t ignore our warning in the Waggoner Cruising Guide about the angle of the ramp at low tide to the dock ‒ it is very steep!
The future of Cordero Lodge is uncertain. The owner, Lorrie Tang, has medical issues. The restaurant is NOT open, even though a prominent sign gives the indication that it is. The marina IS open for moorage. We will continue to report on the future of this resort.
We ventured out onto Johnstone Strait in the late afternoon, counter to the conventional wisdom of an early morning passage up Johnstone Strait. There were strong wind warnings from Environment Canada for the day and if we needed to we were ready to turn back to Forward Harbour for the night. The conditions on Johnstone Strait were a 1-foot chop with the winds out of the southeast, and we made an easy two-hour passage to the Broken Islands and up to Port Harvey.
The barge at Port Harvey Marine Resort sunk last fall and George and Gail Cambridge have done an admirable job overcoming this setback. The new store building is framed out, and George is busy planning his vision for next season. We are happy to report that the spirit and fun of Port Harvey Marina are alive and well for moorage and happy hour.
We arrived at the tail end of happy hour, which is held under the large white tent that used to be at North Island Marina. Before that, it was the primary dining area at Pierre’s Echo Bay. The tent is in place of the Red Shoe Restaurant that was located on a barge over the store. To give it the same vibe all of the yacht club burgees are displayed (kudos to the diver that rescued them) and a few red shoes.
The owner, Jean Barber, is really enjoying this season at Lagoon Cove Marina. The resort has not sold, but there are suitors in the wings. Meanwhile, the happy hour in the tool shed is on every day at 5 p.m. A word of warning, though, I decided to do one more boat chore before heading up to happy hour and arrived at 5:15 p.m. The fresh caught prawns that are a signature treat for Lagoon Cove guests were almost all gone. Arrive on time, if you want to share the fresh prawns.
Pierre’s Echo Bay
On Saturday, we cruised to Pierre’s at Echo Bay for Pig Roast Night. This is quite a feast. Pierre starts slow roasting the pig at 5 a.m. and ten hours later when it is lifted off the grill, the meat just falls off the bones. Combine this with about 35 potluck platters and bowls with tasty items from the other guests and you have an epic meal event.
Sadly, due to some permitting issues, the wood-fired hot tub was not in use. Pierre tells us he hopes to get this resolved by next year.
Tove Landry, Pierre’s wife, wanted us to remind boaters that the store, which carries fresh produce and specialty items, is an amenity for their marina guests first. Occasionally, boaters who enjoy anchoring in the area will stop in and buy out the fresh fruit and vegetables. It’s important to note, that there are no delivery trucks or boats for grocery items. They get there by Pierre buying them on Vancouver Island, loading them into his van, transferring them from the van to the boat, and from the boat to the store. Pierre and Tove ask that boaters who stop by for services understand that their overnight marina guests get first priority.
There was quite a bit of excitement when we arrived at Sullivan Bay Marina. The day before someone caught a 51 lb. halibut in the deep water under the dock. Two days later, the day we were there, a 14-year-old boy caught a 35 lb. halibut off the dock. The next day rods with halibut hooks were over the side on many of the docked boats.
After happy hour we tried our luck at the Sullivan Bay “Golf Course.” One of our group hit the small island and got his moorage free for the night. He also got to wear the “tournament jacket” a gaudy checked number from Nordstrom’s. It is a classic. It turns out he was already there for his third night and enjoying free moorage under Sullivan Bay Marina’s “Pay for Two Nights and Get the Third Night Free” program.
Nimmo Bay Resort continues its high level of service in one of the most beautiful locations in British Columbia. On the way in, the excitement started with a bear sighting. At first, it looked like a typical “rock bear” on the shore, until it moved. It was foraging on a medium tide, not the typical low tide when you see them on the beach. We came within 25 yards and just watched it turn rocks over and have a shellfish lunch.
Improvements and renovations continue at the resort. A bar was added in the dining room and its striking dark wood finish is the result of burning the surface just right. The covered patio is a perfect place to enjoy a late afternoon beverage while reading a book or talking to one of the other guests. And, the fire pit is close at hand.
The resort has redone and added to their cabins. We know of a few Waggoner Guide readers who like to go up to Nimmo Bay Resort, rent a cabin, enjoy a fantastic dinner and even a massage in one of the new massage rooms. Hedonism at its best in a beautiful and secluded location.
When we arrived a Northwest Seaplanes floatplane was taking off, a reminder that you can be back in civilization (Seattle) in just a couple of hours, or guests can fly in to join you there. What a way to start or end a trip with an arrival or departure by floatplane!
Reservations for the rest of July and August at Nimmo Bay Resort are pretty full. Please call first if you plan to stay for dinner or more. They are so busy they are not able to give tours of the resort to unexpected guests. Nimo Bay Resort one of the most beautiful resorts on the coast. Take our word for it.
Relaxing at Jennis Bay Marina.
Allyson Major is back at Jennis Bay Marina. This time – really. She is there with Charlie (her daughter) and her youngest daughter Ellie, who will win your heart. The happy hour on the deck brings back memories of the old and on-going hospitality at Jennis Bay. This is the real thing with logging activities going on right next door. The views are gorgeous, and when guests arrive, they let out a big ahhhhhhh. No power or showers, just natural beauty, Allyson and her daughters, and lots of new friends to meet on the dock.
North Island Marina’s Wednesday night Farmers Market in Port McNeill.
For us, this is the perfect turn-around point with all services a boater needs like provisioning at two grocery stores, a B.C. or a private liquor store, restaurants and pubs, gift shops, a chandlery or an auto parts store for parts. According to Peter Nelson-Smith, the interim harbour manager at the Port McNeill Harbour Authority Marina, a full range of marine technicians and parts to fix just about anything is available in Port McNeill. Ask either of the marina offices for recommendations. While they do not have a lift or marine ways, there are many resources to fix boat problems.
North Island Marina continues to add features and amenities. The Happy Hour Pavilion continues to evolve. While we were there, the structure had a temporary covering and will soon have beautiful sails covering the dining area. Tables with stainless steel tubs for ice keep your favorites beverages cold right in front of you. There will also be a fire pit on one of the tables. Every day the 10-foot long custom stainless steel BBQ grill is started up with real charcoal and guests can cook their dinner. (It is really cool.) On Wednesdays, a farmers market with local food items and gifts appears at the pavilion from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Manager Steve Jackman is working on a few more amenities like a golf range using floating golf balls!!! What will he think of next? A few festivals perhaps?
It is always fun to see what Steve and his family are doing with their marina. The result‒the marina is often full. Call ahead for reservations during most of the summer. We barely got in, and we were glad we did.
The Peoples Drug Mart is expanding to add a large gift area. If you need something to take home to someone, this is the place to go.
Davida Hudson gives a tour of Cafe Guido and the West Coast Community Craft Shop in Port Hardy.
We made a quick trip to Port Hardy. Quarterdeck Inn & Marina Resort is still going strong. Just a reminder that they no longer have a Travel Lift or boat yard. The Port Hardy Harbour Authority docks looked like they had room for a few transient vessels. The commercial area in town looked like it had some new life with a few more stores. The Overwaitea grocery store is now a Save On Foods.
Cafe Guido, The Book Nook, and the West Coast Community Craft Shop have added Drift, a fashion store to the mix. The store also has an area called The Loft tucked upstairs and in the back, where Cafe Guido customers can enjoy their espresso in a family room type setting. Davida Hudson and her capable staff keep evolving this must-see stop in Port Hardy.
The Seagate Hotel is now the Pier Side Landing just above the dock at Seagate Summer Floats. While a little bit roll, the docks are convenient to the commercial area in Port Hardy.
This village remains a very special place to stop, relax and enjoy. Be sure to check out the Co-Op Hardware and see how things have been operating for years. It is timeless. Then, walk into town about a mile away, or see if Malcolm Islands Lions Harbour Authority Marina has a bike you can borrow. The Upper Crust Bakery is still in town across from the Co-Op grocery store. Coho Joe Cafe is new and serves fresh baked items, breakfast, and lunch. Everything looked tasty, and it’s been getting great reviews from the locals and visitors. For fresh vegetables and herbs check the “farmers market” box at the end of the Info Centre and leave payment in the honor box.
We heard a story about the Tarkenon Marine Ways where they made room for a recreational vessel this season that was taking on water and needed to repair its shaft seals. While the marine ways are typically full with fishing boats awaiting repairs, we were told they were able to work things out to pull the boat out of the water for the needed emergency work. This is good to know as it is the only alternate option between Lund and Campbell River and Shearwater to the north.
The Burger Barn, above the marina, is still the place to go. Ask for extra napkins. You will need them with their juicy burgers.
The U’mista Cultural Society continues to offer more programs. Check out their website before you go for the list of programs during your visit. The dance ceremony performed by the T’sasala Cultural Group is a meaningful and profound experience. At the end of the dance, you get to join in. Time your trip to Alert Bay for a Thursday through Saturday and the dance is 1:15 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. Then tour the museum with its excellent display of regalia and the history of the First Nations people of this area.
We timed an early morning departure on the end of the ebb down Johnstone Strait. The water was smooth, even in Race Passage. Well maybe there were a few areas of turbulence as Johnstone Strait turned to a flood, and we got a push of between 2-3 knots. This got us down to Seymour Narrows about 1.5 hours early. We picked our way through the whirlpools and turbulence for a smooth ride and arrived in Campbell River early. We transited near the middle of the lunar cycle when the exchange was lower than usual.
For almost two weeks the boat has been moored at Campbell River Harbour Authority Fisherman’s Wharf. Like many boaters, I need to tend to business at home and Campbell River is a good stopping off point with rental cars or other transportation available to get back home.
At Fisherman’s Wharf, we took the monthly rate, and our moorage will be just over $250 CDN with power (quite a bargain). We also opted for a weekly rental car rate and headed home on the Washington State Ferry at Sidney. The reason I mention this is because there are others who need to manage business and family while out cruising and being able to leave the boat someplace safe and convenient can be a creative way of making your cruising plans work.
Next, we head back into Desolation Sound, down the Sunshine Coast to Gibsons and Snug Harbour and then into the Gulf Islands. We will report about each on the way.