Make the Passage to Desolation Sound.

Soon after we began boating in the Pacific Northwest we started hearing stories of warm waters and beautiful scenery in Desolation Sound. After hearing these tales , we wanted (needed) to explore Desolation Sound. I had previously taken a trip on a friend’s boat to Princess Louisa Inlet. Malibu Rapids, the fjord, the waterfalls—they left an impression. But it was the lure of warm water—being able to swim in the salt water and hike to fresh water lakes—that inspired us to take that first trip to Desolation Sound, 86 nautical miles north of Vancouver, B.C.

Exploring Desolation Sound

In the past 15 years, we haven’t missed an annual visit to these enchanted waters. We spent time with our son every summer visiting this magical area, along with other awesome destinations such as the Broughtons and Southeast Alaska, but Desolation Sound remains our favorite.

When I first left Nanaimo, as crew, and headed to Princess Louisa about 20 years ago, I was nervous about the weather and rough seas on the Strait of Georgia. This fear might have been because we did not have any modern navigation equipment. I was on a vessel entirely new to me, and it was so foggy I couldn’t see land on the other side of the strait.

My mentor and captain gave me a compass course and then disappeared down below for a bath and to make breakfast. As he left said, “Nothing to worry about. Whiskey Golf isn’t active today, no torpedoes.” What? Torpedoes? But he was gone, and I was left staring at the compass and engine gauges as we motored along at 7-knots–trusting we’d find our way once I could see land on the other side. Our 4 a.m. departure meant we’d be across well before lunch and miss the afternoon winds that were in the forecast. I was thrilled when I finally saw the coastline on the other side.

So often it’s the “what ifs” or “too far” excuse that stop others from doing this trip. There’s never enough time off, the boat is never perfect, etc.

There are plenty of reasons to go, and over the years, this is what we’ve learned.

Reasons to make the passage to Desolation Sound:

  • You can get there and back from Anacortes in a two-week vacation. If you have three weeks or more, you have a chance to really relax.
  • At 7-knots, you will motor for approximately 24 hours to get to Desolation Sound from Anacortes
  • Kenmore Air, NW Seaplanes, and other small airlines connect Desolation Sound with Seattle and Vancouver.
  • Crew or guests can drive to the town of Lund, leave their car there and join you for a cruise through Desolation Sound.
  • Splitting the trip with another couple can save time. One cruises up and enjoys the area. Then, the other couple arrives, enjoys the area and brings the boat back home.
  • Other than crossing the Strait of Georgia, a cruise to Desolation Sound is in protected waters.
  • People make this trip in kayaks and other paddle craft.
  • We routinely see sub-20 foot power and sailboats cruising the area.
  • While anchoring out is a must, you are never more than a few nights from a marina and supplies.
  • ‘Stern tying’ is helpful in some areas, but you can get by without it.
  • Crabbing, shrimping, oysters & fishing are all better the further north you go! A fishing license for B.C. can be obtained online.

If you are interested in exploring Desolation Sound, the crew at the Waggoner Cruising Guide can help. Every year, we present a full day seminar about cruising to Desolation Sound with information on how to get there, what to expect, where to provision, proven routes, weather, and much more. Then in the month of June, take a guided Flotilla to Desolation Sound with the Waggoner Guide. Find out more about our seminar by visiting Seminars on this website and check out our Flotillas here.