This cruise report starts on dry land. I mention this because it demonstrates the versatility of cruising the Inside Passage. With floatplane services, ferry systems, rental cars and even shuttle buses, there are many ways to get to and from your boat.

I left my boat in Campbell River at Fisherman’s Wharf and rented a car to drive up to Port Hardy and Port McNeill for meetings. Then I continued to our office in Nanaimo, and then the 3:15 pm ferry to Tsawwassen. Next, I drove down to Anacortes, only to turn around and drive to Flathead Lake, Montana a day later to surprise my son for his birthday. My son, MJ, is teaching sailing at BSA Camp Melita, a little slice of heaven on an island in warm Flathead Lake. This somewhat unexpected change in plans opened up a few other opportunities and was a good lesson in remaining open to changing plans when cruising.

I ended up on dry land for two weeks and got a lot done in Anacortes. I extended the rental car, which turned out to be about $500. Moorage grew to the monthly rate, which was actually quite reasonable. The rental car allowed me to bring crew back to the boat with me, an expensive proposition if I had flown by floatplane.

For many who cruise, life interrupts. Business, family, and events like weddings are reasons why long term cruises are cancelled or postponed. With a little forethought you can get back to civilization, take care of business and then get back to boating!

While cruising down from Port Harvey to Campbell River I got to know Jeremy and Yael Horwitz, a couple that I first met in Echo Bay. Together we survived the perils of Fanny Island on Johnstone Strait with its confused seas. I showed them one of my tricks to find back eddies and a calmer ride by cruising down Johnstone Strait just 25 yards off the beach, in deep and flat water. Jeremy and Yael Horwitz are now fast friends after our adventure together. When they invited me to their home on Bowen Island for a special party with friends and live jazz two weeks later, I did not think it would fit into my cruising itinerary.

But things change and you go with the flow. My work in Anacortes had been extended. I’d be taking the ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo. Suddenly I’d be very close to Bowen Island just in time for the Horwitz’s party. I could park in Horseshoe Bay, walk-on the ferry to Bowen Island, and stay at the Union Steamship Company. Not only that, but Saturday night was the Snug Cove “Rock-the-Dock” dance celebration.

Next season, if you are near Snug Cove, on the first Saturday in August, make a dock reservation for the Rock-the-Dock party. Great band, great dancing and a fun group of people. Highly recommended. The $20 entry and the beer and wine profits go to the Bowen Island volunteer fire department. The place was packed and the music went on until 2am. Fun, Fun, Fun.

The next day I was off to Turnstall Bay, a very pretty beach on the northwest side of Bowen Island, for a Sunday afternoon party and live jazz. The sunset view and great music with Jeremy and Yael (and their friends) will be a highpoint for this summer’s cruise.  

August 6 – Port Alberni

Okay, we did not cruise there by boat, but we did a full review for the Waggoner Guide. For the 2014 Edition, Managing Editor Sam Landsman covered the entire west coast of Vancouver Island in his 22’ C-Dory. Yes, it can be done in a small boat, and he has covered it extensively in his cruise reports. But he did not take the 21-mile trip from Barkley Sound to Port Alberni.

Is it worth the trip? Yes – it qualifies as a very good cruising destination. It has a good marina at Harbor Quay with a variety of restaurants within walking distance. Plenty of shops in town to explore and even an interesting maritime museum. If you own a trailer boat and want to explore the West Coast of Vancouver Island, this is the place to go. If you live on the mainland or in the US, you can take your trailered boat on the BC Ferry to Vancouver Island, then drive across. The fare is not cheap, but it is probably cheaper than running the boat out the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Put the boat in at Clutesi Haven or China Creek Marina and start exploring. Continue out to Barkley Sound. If the conditions get to be more than you want, stay inside the Broken Group and see an area rich in whales and other animal life. There are even a few salmon that might jump on your hook, too. Port Alberni was more than I expected and a worthwhile cruising destination.

Port Alberni

Port Alberni

Next, on to Qualicum Beach, and then back to the boat in Campbell River. Finally, on August 8th the car was returned, provisions were packed, the boat was fueled and new crew on board. Time to un-stick from the dock.

The low-cost rental car from Budget in Campbell River turned this break from cruising into a very different experience.

August 8 – Campbell River to the Octopus Islands

The original plan was to work our way south, but the schedule for slack at Seymour Narrows indicated that a trip up to the Octopus Islands would work. I have to admit, I had never been there. The timing for slack in Okisollo Rapids or Hole-in-the-Wall had never worked on any of my prior trips.

For this trip, we left Campbell River and hit the 12:30 pm slack, headed up Discovery Passage and into Okisollo Channel. We planned to stop in Barnes Bay, but the Upper Rapids looked passable for the next section and we continued on to Owen Bay, where we relaxed and waited for slack on the Lower Rapids. Shortly after 6:00 pm we entered the beautiful Octopus Islands in evening light. We cruised Waiatt Bay to find a good place to anchor for the night and encountered our good friends and business partner on Pacific Nor’West Boating, Chuck Gould and his wife Jan. Later, after we anchored, we could heard the song “Amazing Grace” on bagpipes echoing across the bay from Chuck. A fitting end to a wonderful day’s cruising.

Octopus Islands

Entering the Octopus Islands

Port Alberni

Out for a sail in Waiatt Bay

August 9 – Waiatt Bay to Blind Channel

Plans were to head south at noon on the slack through Beazley Passage. A look at our Waggoner Guide showed that this was the weekend of the Shoal Bay International Music Festival. Shoal Bay’s own mayor and harbor wharfinger Mark McDonald had invited me a number of times to this now annual event. Also, a trip north would allow me to stop at the Blind Channel Resort. I had missed stopping in to say high to Phil Richter and his family on my trip north in June due to the timing at Greene Point Rapids.

This year will go down as one of the sunniest summers in memory. The cruise up Discovery Passage and Johnstone Strait were under sunny skies with moderate winds and a light chop. Blind Channel was as good as ever, full of a lot of big boats. A hike to the Big Cedar got rid of the guilt for dinner at the Cedar Post Inn. Dinner was excellent, the wait staff pleasant and attentive, and the dining room was full of cruising friends, many who I crossed wakes with in the Broughtons and up in Ocean Falls.

Blind Channel

Blind Channel is busy!

August 10 – Blind Channel to Shoal Bay

We made a short stop at Cordero Lodge. New owner, Lorrie Tangway is in the process of adding his own flavor to this venerable stop on Cordero Channel. The buildings are newly painted and we heard about plans for dock improvements for next year. The kitchen is open and they have retained some of Doris Kuppers’ German favorites. It is great to see that this resort will continue forward.


Cordero Lodge


Catch of the day at Cordero Lodge.

The Shoal Bay International Music Festival is quite the event. The docks were full, rafted 3 deep in some places. Even the bay anchorage was pretty full. While the Waggoner characterizes this event as a jamb session, it really is more like separate acts and the musicians are quite good. Around 5:00 pm, a roasted pig came off the spit and dinner was available with many salads and side dishes for $10. Cold beer and wine were available in the pub and the sunny weather made it a perfect day. This event is destined to grow in popularity and we congratulate Mark McDonald, his wife Cynthia, and the many volunteers that made this event a big success.

Shoal Bay

Enjoying the Shoal Bay Music Festival

Shoal Bay

Shoal Bay Music Festival

One side note – early in the day, while sitting at anchor in Shoal Bay, we were listening to the music across the bay when we heard a woman singing a few sea shanties. She had a beautiful voice that carried and echoed off the hillside. For her third song she announced she would sing a song she wrote called “Local Knowledge”, inspired by the book “Local Knowledge” by Kevin Monahan. She said this book was a great help for her when she solo sailed her Pearson 26 to Alert Bay. It was amazing that she took a reference book and turned it into a song. Later on I went and introduced myself to Martha Cutting and recognized her from meeting her at the Seattle Boat Show. We will try to get a copy of her song to post – “Local Knowledge.”

August 11 – Shoal Bay to Prideaux Haven

My daughter had a request for the captain – she wanted warm water for swimming! We departed in time for the 8:05a slack at Dent Rapids and proceeded down Calm Channel to Desolation Sound. We poked into Laura Cove looking for some good photo opportunities. It was packed. Tenedos Bay might have to be our back up. We carefully proceeded into Prideaux Haven – it was packed. I have a special little indent on the western side of the cove that I like to stern-tie in. It was open and we had a beautiful anchorage in the rocks with 80-degree water for swimming. For as many boats as there were in Prideaux Haven, it was still quiet and restful.

Prideaux Haven

Prideaux Haven

August 12 – Desolation Sound to Texada Island’s Sturt Bay and Jeddidiah Island

Early in the morning, I slipped off the stern-tie and quietly pulled up the anchor to depart Prideaux Haven without rousing any of the many other boats. Underway, I could see quite a few other boats working their way out for the day’s cruise. Lund and Nancy’s Bakery would be our first destination. Not only does Nancy’s have good coffee, but the bakery just keeps getting better every year. Eight types of cinnamon buns. focaccia bread for later, savory and sweet scones – the list goes on! But I was there mainly to focus on the 510 emails, mostly spam, sitting in my inbox, waiting to be cleared. One item on the checklist is to get a better spam filter for my email.

From Nancy’s and Lund it was time to get underway and explore Texada Island. We stopped in Blubber Bay and surprisingly interesting Sturt Bay, with its nice hotel, historic town and the very pleasant and welcoming Texada Boat Club docks. This is a unique marina where a local organization owns and runs the docks. We walked the small town and picked up a few things in the grocery store, noting that they deliver. Who should we see walking down the street? Chuck Gould and his wife Jan. This was the second time our wakes crossed without planning. From Sturt Bay it as time for the long slog down 26 mile Texada Island, the island that never quits… But there was some excitement on Malaspina Strait – a pod of Orca whales on a parallel course just a couple of hundred yards off the port side.

We explored the southern end of Jedediah Island, then tucked into the notch across from Paul Island, named Deep Bay, just off the real Deep Bay. There were 8 chains for stern-ties in the rock, remnants from the time when this little cove was used for log booming. Sheer rock walls on both sides dropped to a depth of about 40 feet. We could see the starfish just a few feet behind our stern. Eight boats shared this scenic anchorage.

August 13  – Jedediah, Lasqueti and Nanaimo

Time to explore a few more locations. Just around the corner from our notch anchorage there were quite a few boats in Deep Bay and Long Bay. A few more tucked into Boho Bay, our backup anchorage in case the Deep Bay notch was full. We continued to explore Lasqueti, visiting Lindberg Bay and Scottie Bay around the windswept top of the island and down to the False Bay dock. On shore we looked at the Lasqueti Hotel, noted the music acts, and checked out the store and the fresh baked goods at MaryJanes. A walk up the hill took us to the Art Centre, well known for its Thursday afternoon art events and Saturday markets. Lasqueti has a laid back vibe, typified by the honor-box bakery stand with bins of incredible delights waiting behind plexi-glass doors. Total your bill and leave the money in the box!


Honor box bakery on Lasqueti Island

After a long slog to Squitty Bay we started toward Nanaimo. The torpedo test range at area Whiskey Golf was active – and boy was it.

Entering the Nanaimo Harbour area through Departure Bay marked a return to civilization. As you wind down Newcastle Island Passage, you realize that some of the wonderful B.C. experiences for 2013 are now behind you. Next up: the Gulf Islands.

– Mark

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