2013 Desolation Sound Cruise Highlights

Posted by: pat 10 years, 10 months ago


This is a highlights and summary post.  I intend to publish some additional posts on specific locations.  All of these posts are made after the fact.  I took some notes on the cruise but didn't want to spend that precious time pecking away on the keyboard for hours every day.

Summer Cruise 2013, destination Desolation Sound, was a big success overall and achieved all primary objectives. Northbound strait crossings were all uneventful, we had plenty of ideal weather, crowds were manageable, no major equipment failures, no docking mishaps, and Desolation Sound lived up to its reputation as a cruising mecca. There were some low points.  The weather was mostly perfect, but did leave us cooped up in rain for several days. We had one rough crossing of the Strait of Georgia on the return delivery. We all learned things about how long we can spend happily eating, pooping, and sleeping all together within a 10 foot radius. But overall we experienced some unique and beautiful places together as a family. Everyone appreciated the natural beauty of the setting, the wildlife, and most of all the warm water and swimming.

Cruise Itinerary

Aug 1: Point Hudson
Aug 2: Deer Harbor
Aug 3: Poet's Cove
Aug 4 and 5: Nanaimo
Aug 6: Pender Harbor, Garden Bay Hotel Pub and Restaurant
Aug 7: Lund
Aug 8 and 9: Tenedos Bay
Aug 10: Refuge Cove
Aug 11: Melanie Cove
Aug 12: Toba Wildernest Resort
Aug 13: Teakerne Arm
Aug 14 and 15: Lund (visiting Okell family and waiting out rain)
Aug 16: Grace Harbor
Aug 17: Squirrel Cove
Aug 18, 19, 20: Gorge Harbor. Crew Change: Kim and the girls fly home, Greg and Katherine fly in for the return delivery
Aug 21: Tenedos Bay
Aug 22: Pender Harbor, Fisherman's Resort
Aug 23: Pirate Cove
Aug 24: Roche Harbor
Aug 25: Mackaye Harbor
Aug 26: Point Hudson
Aug 27: Shilshole!

August crowds

I harbored some concerns over planning a trip during the peak month for visitors.  Family and school schedules and other summer time commitments pretty much boxed us into August.  With that said, the crowds were really not so bad.  I had a "plan B" for every stop, but never had to implement any of them.  Prideaux Haven was by far the most crowded, but even then we really didn't have any trouble finding a nice stern tie spot to anchor in Melanie Cove.  Docks rarely filled at night.  Part of our success has to be attributed to my "depart early and arrive just as others are leaving" strategy.

Favorite anchorage

Tenedos Bay for the combo of 70 degree salt water swimming and even warmer lake swimming, and low crowd factor/good privacy.

Food Highlights

Best Desserts: Nanaimo bars, Beartooth Pie (ice cream pie) at the Shingle Mill in Powell River, Chocolate Lava Cake at Lund Hotel

Best Chowder: Clam chowder at the fancy restaurant at Gorge Harbor

Biggest Pleasant Surprise:  The mexican restaurant on the dock at Nanaimo.  First ever Canadian mexican food sans cheddar.

Showers and Washrooms

Port of Nanaimo gets honorable mention for having the most non-obvious but mind-blowing and unique design approach: no spigots or water control of any kind, just a pure blast of hot high pressure water. Downside is that 3 minutes is a bit short.

Refuge Cove's $5 no time limit shower was the best shower of all. So much water pressure I couldn't run it on full. No time limit. No line. Just pure awesome. The price is at the high end but it is not like these guys are just plugged into some municipal plumbing system.

Point Hudson should always get a shout-out for the always clean showers that start for a single quarter, enabling a perfectly adequate "navy-style" shower for a total of $0.50

Living the Dream

The "living the dream" award goes to Kyle and family who run the Toba Wildernest Resort at the entrance to Toba Inlet.  Completely off the grid, self sufficient on power with custom hydroelectric and water from a beautiful waterfall. Deep waters mean there is no place to anchor anywhere nearby, and these guys can only accomodate 6 - 7 boats on their docks.  It is a beautiful setting with nobody else around for miles and miles.  It is easy to romanticize this lifestyle, but I'm sure there are dark days during October - April!

Favorite dock

Cathy's favorite was Lund (because that's where the lava cake is, duh!)  

Elizabeth's favorite was Refuge Cove for the unusual setting, shower, and great wifi.

Pat and Kim's favorite was Toba Wildernest Resort for its truly unique and rugged setting, and the entertaining opinions on marine guidebooks from Kyle the proprietor.

Best Marina Value

No question, Lund wins this one hands down.

Great showers, wide well-maintained docks, helpful staff focused on the needs of the summer cruising crowd, and the price couldn't be beat.  $33 including power!  The one area where they seriously fall short is wifi.  Fortunately there are enough business on shore filling this gap, plus I got a solid signal on the Koodo Mobile prepaid SIM I bought for the trip so we could have data in situations like this.

Equipment Failures

Not much. The main cabin Caframo ventilation fan failed, but the failure was just in the speed controller. A soldering iron, some spare wire, and a switch allowed me to bypass the controller and get it running again.

The Jabsco freshwater plumbing pump failed, but...I had a spare! I enjoyed that special feeling you get when a mint in box spare you tucked away 3 years ago pays off.

I regretted not changing the head's joker valve before we left. We saw about 8 ounces of "backwash" throughout the trip. Not a huge deal as long as everyone remembered to finish the flush with a few cups of water, but apparently that is too much to ask! I wanted to get a replacement in Nanaimo, but the chandlery was closed for the BC Day Holiday during our visit.

Equipment Success

Pretty much everything else worked flawlessly, including the most critical components such as ground tackle and windlass and most of all, the mighty Volvo D1-30 Diesel Auxiliary Engine.

The new wifi system with a Bullet M2 antenna/access point coupled with an onboard router worked very well to share wifi across all of our devices.

Navigation planning with the open source OpenCPN software was a huge time saver. I uploaded routes directly to my Garmin chartplotter using a USB to serial adapter.

Projects and Upgrades Under Consideration

New sunshade. I've come to accept that the sunshade that came with the boat is not all that well designed.  We saw some nice sinple designs for mounting from the boom to the backstay.

Shorter holding tank discharge to a new deck pumpout location. Eliminating some low points in the current discharge hose routing should eliminate the last vestiges of "head smell."

New fridge and fridge box insulation: the fridge remains our biggest amp hour sucker, and it seemed to be feebing out on us a bit during some of our hot days, necesitating ice block supplemental cooling. And it makes annoying noises. I will be checking out keel coolers vs. holding plate technologies.

Stay tuned for more detailed location-specific posts!

Current rating: 4