Thursday, May 25, 2017

Chatterbox Falls the Easy Way

Lorena - “I sure would like to see Chatterbox Falls again in Princess Louisa Inlet.”  Leonard - “Are you sure?  It’s 10 nautical miles up Agamemnon Channel, then another 30 nautical miles to Malibu Rapids which becomes a timing issue, and another 4 miles to Chatterbox Falls, plus the time to get back, that’s a 2-3 day commitment.”  After contemplating our options, we decided to do it the easy way and book the one-day tour with Sunshine Coast Tours (800-870-9055), which departs from Backeddy Marina.  
Prince of Wales Reach
We said our Goodbye’s at Pender Harbour and made the 10-mile journey up Agamemnon Channel to Backeddy Marina, located at the north end of Sechelt Peninsula, a convenient place to leave the boat and spend the night after returning from our tour.  
Soda Creek Falls, Prince of Wales Reach
Having secured our boat at Backeddy Marina, we boarded the high-speed tour boat at 10:30am, ready to sit back and enjoy the sights.  Rice, our captain and tour guide, did an excellent job of sharing interesting facts about the fishing industry, logging industry, and Native culture, as well as sea life, geology, and local vegetation.  Stops made along the way included several waterfalls and two historic pictographs (northwesterly shore of Princess Royal Reach).  
Historic Native Pictograph, Princess Royal Reach
tories from the Native culture tied-in nicely with these sites – five tribes at the beginning of creation were each given a different skill or power so that the tribes would cooperate with one another; the story of three wise women who carried fire inside clam shells; and other Native stories and traditions.  We soon reached Malibu Rapids, also the site of Young Life’s Malibu Club, a Christian summer camp overlooking the rapids.  
Malibu Rapids and Young Life Malibu Club
Malibu Rapids can run at 9 knots, our tour captain took us through on a 2-knot current with ease.  
Approaching Chatterbox Falls
The approach to Chatterbox Falls is gorgeous, showcasing the entire run of the falls surrounded by granite peaks and bowls; just as beautiful as we had remembered.  
Park Dock in front of Chatterbox Falls
Being early in the boating season, only a few boats were tied-up at the Park’s 650-foot guest dock with plenty of room for additional arrivals.  Moorage at the dock is limited to 72 hours so everyone can enjoy this beautiful spot.  Given more than an hour stay by our tour guide, we had ample time to see the falls and relax over lunch at one of the Park’s picnic tables.  Everyone seemed to have a great time and shared their enthusiasm as we made the return trip to Backeddy Marina.  Running at 23 knots, we arrived back at 3:30pm.  “What an easy way to see Princess Louisa Inlet.”  We highly recommend this option for boaters who may want to save some extra days of travel. 

Skookumchuck Trail to Sechelt Rapids
And we still had time left in the day to see other sights near Backeddy Marina, including hiking the Skookumchuck Trail which ends at the Skookuchuck/Sechelt Rapids, a popular destination for hikers who want to see the rapids at full boil.  The marina posts the best viewing times for the rapids, just check the board located in the office.  It’s a mile walk from Backeddy Marina to the trail-head parking lot, and another 2 ¼ mile hike out to Sechelt Rapids.  For a faster, less strenuous trip, you can rent bicycles at the Marina; most of the trail, except for the last quarter mile, is suitable for bicycles.  
Skookumchuck/Sechelt Rapids with a 12-knot Current
Peter, owner of Backeddy Marina, was most gracious and gave us a ride in his truck to the trail head, we were on our own for the walk back.  Boaters can also access the trail from Egmont (Egmont Public Wharf or Bathgate Marina), eliminating a mile of walking.  Skoomkumchuck/Sechelt Rapids are quite a sight to behold when running at full boil (14 knots).  We arrived during a 12-knot flood and saw standing waves!  These were the same rapids we transited at slack when visiting the town of Sechelt a few days earlier, interesting to witness the importance of timing the rapids.  We were glad we made the hike to see these impressive rapids.  
Backeddy Marina & Resort
We were also impressed with the Backeddy Marina.  The pub/restaurant has good food and great views with attractive interior spaces.  
Luxury Camping in a Geodesic dome at Backeddy Marina
If you have guests aboard who would like some time on land, they can enjoy luxury-style camping in one of the five geodesic domes, or rent one of the attractively decorated older cabins.  
Views from the pub at Backeddy Marina
Don’t let the more rustic exterior of the pub and other buildings fool you, it’s a nice stop!  The West Coast Wilderness Lodge is a short walk up the hill from  Backeddy Marina and offers fine dining with similar outstanding views.

Bicycle Rentals at Backeddy Marina and tour departure location for Sunshine Coast Tours

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Pender Harbour Delights

John Henry's Marina & Resort, Pender Harbour
Colorful Charm and John Henry's
Retracing our steps, we departed Sechelt Inlet via Sechelt Rapids and then south down Agamemnon Channel and entered Pender Harbour on the west side of Sechelt Peninsula.  A collection of multiple bays and coves make up this large Harbour offering several marinas, public wharfs, and various areas for anchoring.  Mark Bunzel, owner and editor of the Waggoner Cruising Guide, arrived at John Henry’s Marina in Pender Harbour; we were looking forward to joining the group at their evening dinner meeting.  We found John Henry’s Marina & Resort to be a delight; the new owners have refurbished the store and added a restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating.  Warm colors chosen for the buildings, picnic tables, and lawn chairs create a special charm, and the grounds are nicely kept.  
Boats of the Waggoner Flotilla docked at John Henry's
The store is much improved from what we remembered in years past, modern shelving for food stuffs and displays for gift items make John Henry’s a convenient and pleasant stop.  Joining the flotilla group for dinner at John Henry’s restaurant was a real treat.  The flotilla is made up of both sail and power vessels of various makes and sizes.  Everyone seemed enthusiastic about their adventure and appreciated Mark’s help and expertise.  Mark presented a weather briefing and gave the schedule for departure; they would be departing at 18:00 the following morning for Prideaux Haven, a seven-hour journey.  We would continue our travels to other destinations for photos and research.  
Docks below the Grasshopper Pub
While in Pender Harbour, we learned that The Grasshopper Pub is a local’s favorite and so we motored the dinghy over to their docks to check it out.  The Grasshopper Pub is located inside the Pender Harbour Hotel which also owns a small marina for permanent moorage; however, visitors may moor their dinghy or small craft at the docks while dining at the Pub.  
A steep climb by foot or car to the Grasshopper Pub
The only challenge is hiking the very steep road to the top of the hill where the hotel sits perched high above the Harbour.  We were told it was quite steep and it’s definitely true, my face was nearly plastered against the pavement; the road is at least a 40 percent grade. 
Great Views from the Grasshopper Pub
If you aren’t up for this kind of punishment, you can simply call The Grasshopper Pub (604-883-9013) about 10 minutes prior to your arrival, and they will come pick you up by car at their docks.  It’s worth the trip, the views are fabulous and the food is very satisfying. 
Sunshine Coast Resort
After lunch, we motored next door to visit the Sunshine Coast Resort, tucked in a cove at the northeast corner of Pender Harbour.  The marina offers transient moorage and the lodge is accessed by a set of stairs through decks and gardens.  
Sunshine Coast Resort Marina, a lovely spot
Guests may make use of the hot tub and other facilities.  This resort has a very peaceful appeal and is a good choice if you just want to relax.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Rough Cut Diamond

Beautiful 'Sea Walk' at Sechelt
When we arrived at Sechelt by boat, we had the mistaken impression that the town might not have much to offer.  Porpoise Bay at the end of Sechelt Inlet provides plenty of space to anchor and has a good mud bottom for holding, but there are several derelict boats in the bay giving a wrong first impression.  We were looking forward to visiting the main part of town and seeing the west side (Strait of Georgia side) of Sechelt, but weren’t expecting anything special.   Our fold-up bicycles were loaded into the dinghy and we motored to shore.  After tying-up the dinghy at the Lighthouse Pub & Marina, we headed south along Wharf Street for the short half-mile bike ride into town.  
West Side Sechelt, great beaches and expansive views
Once in town we turned west towards the Strait and found the seawall or ‘sea walk’ which was surprisingly beautiful.  A low-profile seawall runs for several miles along the beach with a wide ‘sea walk' above, adorned with lovely plantings and park benches.  The expansive views are stupendous overlooking Trail Islands, Trail Bay, and across the Strait of Georgia.  On the north end of the sea walk, new modern-style condominiums follow the shoreline.  It seems that a building boom is beginning at Sechelt; we saw evidence of new apartments and condos being constructed in other areas of the city as well.  Perhaps homes have become too expensive for retirees in the town of Gibsons to the south, so new retirees are moving further north to Sechelt; not a bad choice for a small town with beautiful views and ample shopping.  
Totems of the Shishalh Nation overlooking the ocean beach
As we rode our bikes south along the seawall, we discovered a collection of totems standing over the beach honoring the First Nations of the Shishalh (Sechelt) of the area.  Other totems can be found in various spots throughout town (a map is available at the tourist office).  Various placards along the sea walk describe the importance of Sechelt in earlier times.  The Union Steamship Co., which provided water transportation along the ‘Sunshine Coast’ to various communities of the early 1920’s, promoted Sechelt as a tourist destination, describing the area as the ‘Gulf Coast Riviera.’  Much earlier in
Placard honoring early Explorers of the Sunshine Coast
the late 1700’s, Spanish explorers, including Jose Narvaez, Dionisio Galiano, and Cayetano Valdes in addition to British explorer George Vancouver explored along the Sunshine Coast of today’s British Columbia.  It was Jose Narvaez, Captain of the Saturnina, who was the first European to land at present day Vancouver B.C. and the first European to explore the Sunshine Coast, landing at present day Davis Bay, a small community on the southwest end of Sechelt.  
Davis Bay 'Sea Walk'
We wanted to see this section of the seawall and the location where Narvaez landed.  Unfortunately, the two sections of the seawall or 'sea walk' are interrupted by a busy road.  Determined, we made the three-mile bike trek to Davis Bay and discovered another beautiful sea walk with fabulous views.  It reminded us of California or Alki Point in Seattle; people were out strolling the sea walk and playing on the beach, while cars cruised the strip lined with shops and cafes.  
Placard honoring Jose Narvaez
At the end of the sea walk, near the tide flats, we found the placard describing the importance of Narvaez’ explorations.  Narvaez made a survey of the area incorporated into a chart showing southern Vancouver Island, Juan de Fuca Strait, and the San Juan Islands.  This was the chart shown to Captain Vancouver by Galiano and Valdes the following summer; Vancouver was shocked to find that others had already explored the area.  
Davis Bay 'Sea Walk' and beaches
We were glad we had made the trek to Davis Bay; although probably easier done by Taxi (604-885-3666).  We enjoyed the beautiful afternoon which was fast drawing to a close.  As we rode our bikes back to the dinghy, I couldn’t help but contemplate the courage of the early explorers.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Reefs and Rapids

Egmont on Skookumchuck Narrows
Got d' Fever at Egmont Public Wharf
Departing Green Bay anchorage, we continued up Agamemnon Channel, reaching the northern tip of Sechelt Peninsula.  Turning south, we entered Skookumchuck Narrows, which becomes Sechelt Inlet once you pass the rapids.  Before heading through Sechelt Rapids, we decided to spend a little time at the village of Egmont so as to arrive at the rapids during slack water.  We found space at the Egmont Public Wharf for our short stay.  Boaters can also find transient moorage at the adjacent ‘Bathgate Store, Resort & Marina.’  Both facilities are tucked inside Secret Bay.  
Unfortunate sailboat on the reef in front of Egmont
Sadly, a
sailboat lying on the reef in front of Secret Bay was a somber reminder to use caution and keep track of where you are at all times.  The unfortunate event was cited in the local Harbour Spiel.  Apparently two guys were headed through the Skookumchuck, and when it started to get dark, they turned around and got too close to the reef.  The article was posted at the Bathgate Store where locals and visitors tend to congregate.  The store is well-stocked and has recently been refurbished; gas pumps at the docks have been extensively upgraded. 
Approaching Sechelt Rapids
After a short visit, we departed Egmont Public Wharf and headed for the Sechelt Rapids, also referred to as the Skookumchuck Rapids.  A series of islets nearly extends across the Skookumchuck, creating a choke point, passing through the rapids is the only water access to the town of Sechelt at the end of Sechelt Inlet.  
Sechelt Rapids at Slack
Navigating can be a challenge as the passageway through the rapids twists and turns, you don’t want to be there when the rapids are running 7.4 knots.  We had timed our arrival at slack water and were surprised to see a significant movement even at slack; nothing dangerous, just a note in the logbook that this is one of those rapids where you don’t want to cheat on the timing.  
Lighthouse Pub at Sechelt
We were now in Sechelt Inlet and motored for another two hours before reaching the community of Sechelt.  
Fun Times at the Lighthouse Pub, Sechelt
After setting the hook, it was time to dinghy ashore for drink and dinner at the popular Lighthouse Pub.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Remote Island Living

False Bay on Lasqueti Island
False Bay Anchorage, Lasqueti Island
At anchor in the northwest corner of False Bay on Lasqueti Island, we were greeted by blue sky and a warm sun-lit morning.  After a leisurely breakfast, we lowered the dinghy and motored to the southeast side of the bay to visit the tiny village of Lasqueti.  The public float, located on the south side of the passenger ferry landing, can accommodate dinghies and small water craft.  
Ferry Landing at Lasqueti Village
The cove on the north side of the ferry landing is filled with private buoys and no longer available for anchorage.  After securing the dinghy at the public float, we walked ashore to visit the small store; they always seem to have in-house baked goodies and island jams for sale. 
We purchased a jar of ‘Lemon And Local Kiwi Marmalade with a Splash of Grand Marnier;’ who could resist such a tempting combination?!  After a visit to the store, guests can make use of the picnic tables overlooking the bay and village pier.  
Lasqueti Island residents disembark with supplies
It is always fun to watch the passenger ferry arrive at Lasqueti, disgorging people and supplies, everything from food stuffs to large appliances.  There is no car ferry to the island so everything has to be carried on and off by foot.  If you want to get a taste of simple, remote-island living, this is the place to visit.  
A creative way to carry supplies
An open-air market is held from mid-June to September, located at the ‘art centre’ about a quarter-mile up the road from the ferry landing.  
Lasqueti Village on Lasqueti Island
Wanting to make the most of the beautiful weather, we took the dinghy back to the mother ship and continued our journey around the north end of Lasqueti Island, following Sabine Channel.  We passed along Jedediah Island, a marine park which we visited last year; Jedediah is one of our favorite places (see article entitled ‘Paradise Found on Jedediah Island,’ page 240 in the 2017 Waggoner Guide).  
Boats stern-tied at Jedediah Island
Remote island-living was a scene played out on Jedediah Island in the late 1800’s.  From Jedediah we rounded the south end of Texada Island and headed north across Malaspina Strait.  
Malaspina Strait
The flat seas, blue sky, and snow-covered mountain peaks made for a beautiful crossing.  
Agamemnon Channel
We chose Green Bay for our night’s anchorage, located a few miles up Agamemnon Channel off Malaspina Strait. 


Friday, May 19, 2017

Rare Flowers, Rare Find


Pulpstone Column on Newcastle Island intended for notable buildings such as the U.S. San Francisco Mint
After arriving at Nanaimo in the evening via Gabriola and Commodore Passages, we moored at Newcastle Island, a fascinating Provincial Park.  A detailed description of the island’s history can be found in the Waggoner Guide and in our blogs from previous years; those visiting for the first time won’t want to miss the pulpstone quarry left over from the late 1800’s which operated until the early 1930’s.  Our dog, Java, loves the open fields, trails, and beach walks.  Visiting the Dinghy Dock Pub on adjacent Protection Island is another unique experience.  During nesting season, walk onto the island via the ramp behind the pub and turn right to see the numerous Herons nesting in the trees.  A quiet walk helps to preserve these nesting areas from human disturbance.  
Port of Nanaimo docks
The following morning we moved the boat across the bay to Port Nanaimo.  
Walkways around the Harbour, a nice afternoon stroll
The city has much to offer including shops, good restaurants, museums, and performing arts.  A shopping mall with a grocery store and housewares is located within easy walking distance of the marina docks.  After gathering a few provisions, we headed across the Strait of Georgia with flat, calm seas and overcast skies.  Just north of Nanaimo we approached a group of small islands and islets called the Ballenas-Winchelsea Archipelago, a collection of 19 islands. 
While motoring past the islets, we were surprised to discover a small boat tucked between the islands at the north end of South Winchelsea Island.  Upon closer inspection, the boat had tied-up at an old dock and was getting ready to depart so we pulled in, wanting to investigate further.  
Got d' Fever and a fishing boat at S. Winchelsea Island
Clearly, the dock had not been maintained in a number of years and had rusty cleats and moss covered decking with a few rotten boards.  The posted sign indicated that the island belonged to The Nature Conservancy (TLC) of B.C. (250-479-8053); No camping, campfires, or pets allowed ashore. 

This 25-acrea ecological preserve has a number of rare plant species, including Garry Oak, Arbutus, Oceanspray, Camas Lilly and Chocolate Lilly.  This is also the site for nesting and resting bird species; Steller Sea Lions haul out on the banks of the adjacent North Winchelsea Island. 
According the TLC web site, visitors can stop here but should stay on the trail to protect the fragile plants; the trail starts at the west end of the house (once used by kayak tour groups) and is marked with posts; the first part of the trail is a little overgrown and may be hard to find. 
A sport fishing boat soon arrived and tied-up at the dock, a convenient stop for them to clean their catch off the stern of the boat, providing discarded pieces to the seagulls and sea lions.  Perhaps this dock on South Winchelsea Island is a local’s best kept secret. 
It’s a lovely place to visit; the rare wildflowers and shrubs are interspersed among the rock outcroppings, creating some nice opportunities for photos.  
Guest Dock at South Winchelsea Island
Continuing across the Strait of Georgia, we arrived at False Bay on Lasqueti Island to spend the evening at anchor.