Desolation Sound, Here We Come!

Sunset from Lund Marina (a previous trip)
May 17, 2015

Leaving Powell River was a departure of some import. We had had two very nice social encounters - one at Jedediah, the second as beneficiaries of Alane's dinner table, and these fed the soul as well as the body, salve to the wounds to my confidence of the dipstick screw-up.  I had been to Desolation Sound and on up to the Broughton Islands in previous years, crewing for Terry on SailMates.  But this was new territory for Ripple, Powell River having been the northern-most excursion under my hand.  It was with some eagerness that we started the short trip north to Desolation Sound.

We had scarcely begun when the chartplotter, newly purchased for this trip, began to act strangely, refusing to zoom properly, and on a couple of occasions displaying the Blue Screen of Death! Rebooting is about the limit of my diagnostic competence, which I had to do several times. After a bit, it smoothed out, however.  In any case, we had no navigational difficulties -- we had back-ups, paper charts, and good weather prevailed.  But yet-another-glitch had me wondering if each of the long string of days ahead would be framed in anxiety.  What next?

Roscoe Cove was our destination in Desolation. It is a wonderful anchorage that one enters over a drying bar, so tide matters, and the timing was propitious both for our arrival and our departure the next day.

We stopped in at Refuge Cove on the way to top off fuel and pick up a few sundries.  Refuge is extremely busy in the summer, being the central fuel stop for Desolation Sound, and the first provisioning point beyond roads end in Lund.  We didn't have any difficulty getting into the fuel dock in Mid May... they were still stocking the store for the opening of the season.

The trip around to the entrance to Roscoe on the other side of West Redonda Island is but a few miles, and we got there with plenty of light and a chance to amble up the trail a bit.  It is a perfectly protected anchorage with a freshwater lake just above, and there are campgrounds there as well.

Lund is the northernmost point of one of the longest highways in the world -- locally, Highway 101. In its many incarnations, the highway runs down the west coast, through central America, and deep into South America.  Above Lund, there is no highway access to most of the Inside Passage until Prince Rupert, some 400 miles to the north.   Crow miles, not boat miles.


Desolation is thence the beginning of isolation.  Vancouver found it a place of perplexing tides and currents, and overbearing, inhospitable mountains, and so named it.  Visitors now generally find it majestically beautiful, and the steady, sunny weather of the summer (with comfortably swimmable water!) make it perhaps the most popular cruising destination in the Salish Sea.  Its sheer visual majesty is difficult to surpass along the entire Inside Passage.  Its major defect is also a virtue... it is relatively easy to get there, so people... lots of people... do.

Another area worthy of relaxed exploration, but not for us, not this trip.  We wanted to get north quickly.  The first major crux move -- Cape Caution -- was still 150 miles north.  Before we left Seattle, I had read a blog from a sailing vessel far more capable than Ripple (s/v Cambria, a 43 foot sloop) that had been stuck in Blunden Harbor for 9 days before a weather window permitted safe passage around Cape Caution. Though we left Seattle five weeks prior to the first crew change in Ketchikan, we had two major crux moves to go (Cape Caution and the Dixon Entrance), and even paranoids have real enemies.

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