Granite, Water, and Ice
THE PASSAGE NORTH
-----The Passage north from Washington through coastal British Columbia to Southeast Alaska is one of the finest wilderness voyages possible in a small boat. These tales record a few experiences to give a flavor of this marvelous trip to the north.
PRINCESS LOUISA INLET
------There are some places that are special -- Princess Louisa is one. Inaccessibility adds to appeal, and this area can only be reached by air or boat. When you make the journey in your own boat it becomes 'yours.' There is an added challenge to visit the Princess -- danger. For most traveling to the Inlet, one must first cross the Strait of Georgia. This is a notoriously challenging crossing, with strong tides often opposing equally strong winds.
------Our crossing was from Nanaimo to Halfmoon Bay, -- but more specifically, and romantically, from Protection Island, past the Merry Island Lighthouse, to Welcome Passage (alternatively, one can cruise from Pirates Cove to Grief Point, but who would want to do that?)
------A prudent cruiser waits -- and waits -- and waits -- until the tide and winds are right for a comfortable crossing. Those who are either impatient or on a time schedule (are those the same?) must go regardless and they often get their sterns kicked. We were fortunate -- we arrived in time to have a sundowner at the Dinghy Dock Pub at Mark Bay, have a nice sleep in the calm anchorage, and leave at oh-dark-thirty with calm seas.
------There is a large military testing area for submarine warfare, termed Whisky Gulf, in the middle of the Strait. When the site is active, it is patrolled by helicopter, planes, and ships to secure the area. To avoid the test area requires a rather lengthy detour, an unhappy route if the seas are rough. On our crossing, both Poseidon and Mars were kind -- the sea and test area were both inactive.
The Dawn Totem at Newcastle Island Marine Park; the calm Strait at Sunrise; and the Merry Island Light
------We dropped a breakfast hook in Smugglers Cove and munched the outstanding sweet rolls from the bakery in Ganges Harbor. A fine celebration after an easy crossing.
Breakfast in Smuggler Cove - Casey and George
------ The cruise deep into the interior mountains, up the Queen Charlotte Channel and into Howe Sound is a kaleidoscopic experience of shades of color and verticality. The Coast Range rises sheer into the sky from its sea level reflections, making the cruise a dizzying passage.
Shades of Blue, Black and White. And the Trees Possess More Tones of Green Than Seems Possible
You Shrink Beneath Towering Mountains; Soda Falls Lives up to its Name
------Sometimes, before achieving the highest honors, you must be tested. Malibu Rapids lies between the outside world and Princess Louisa. The narrow constriction can flow eight knots of swirling water during the middle of a moon tide, dashing boats out of control against the rocks that line the passage. The answer to the exam is simple: read the tide table. In this area, there are usually two high and two low tides every 24 hours - so there are four times (often very short times, indeed) when the tide is turning and the water in the narrow slot is still. We were somewhat rebellious as students, and still are -- we came through a few hours after slack high and had a wonderful ride down the chute (remember, El and I ran [and still run] whitewater rivers for many years and lived for rapids in those days. So, we passed the test and had a bit of a sleighride also -- just what we wished.
Lining Up on the Slot; Coming Through Dry Side Up
------The kids at church camp at the rapids have erected a totem pole to recognize your initiation into successfully passing the test and joining the club.
------Princess Louisa is a Provincial Marine Park, one of many along the coast designed to preserve and protect some of the natural treasures endowed on the Province. Any of their marine parks, in our opinion, have world status and are some of the finest parklands we have visited anywhere on earth -- and we have visited many, on all the continents. Our hats are off to British Columbia and the fine job they are doing. Our only suggestion: add a few more of your treasures.
--------Every tiara has its crown jewel. The Princess has Chatterbox Falls as the bejeweled focus, in one of Earth's most marvelous settings.
------The Province has provided fine facilities for visiting boats, with a long convenient and well-maintained dock, a pavilion for rainy days, and trails to enjoy the rain forest.
Springtime in Princess Louisa Provincial Park
Sharing the Princess
(05 - 06)
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