Desolation Sound Marine Park

Solace anchored in Desolation Sound Park

Solace anchored up in Desolation Sound Marine Park.

The northwest wind was heavy and steady at 15 to 20 knots. It had been like that for three days with no end in the forecast. My engine appeared to be running well, so I shoved off the dock and carefully dodged the other boats transiting the Lund Marina. As I rounded the most northern point of mainland before Desolation Sound Marine Park, my engine began to sputter. I throttled down to just above idle, hoping I could limp in. No dice. With a half mile to go until I rounded the point, the engine gave a quick cough and died. I sighed. I’m really glad I found that aerosol can of engine degreaser at the Lund General Store this morning. It looks like I’ll need it. I’m getting really tired of taking the carburetor apart.

I already had the reefed main raised for motor sailing. I quickly adjusted the direction of the boat so that I was on a beam reach. I raised the jib and tacked into the now light but steady northwest wind. After getting around the corner, the wind was at my back and I sailed into the park.

The wind began to subside as I got deeper into Malaspina Arm. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to use the engine to anchor, so I figured I better sail into an anchorage while I still had wind. Abruptly, a cove opened up on the starboard side and I siezed the opportunity. I quickly sailed the boat into a total 180. I ran forward and dropped the jib. I ran back and the depth finder said 40 feet. I dropped the mainsail, raced forward, and threw the anchor over the side. Solace came to rest, gently tugging at her anchor in 20 feet of water. I made it!

Canned Seafood

Several different types of canned seafood, dated, labeled, and ready for storage.

That evening and morning I contemplated my situation. I made the conscious choice to slow down. The last week has been rough, and the engine trouble of the last couple days has been exhausting. I’m ready to kick back and get my can on. I did four cans of oysters and two jars of sea beans that first night in the park. One jar of sea beans didn’t seal, so I ate it today. Delicious! On all levels: visual, taste, and texture, they were just like homegrown green beans. Canning them in fresh water attenuated their natural salty taste.

After rebuilding the carburetor for the upteenth time and replacing the filters, the engine ran great for 20 minutes and then died again, at the worst possible moment. I had just raised anchor and the light breeze began to slowly blow me onto shore. Distracted with trying to get the engine to run, I noticed my impending grounding when I was in 5 feet of water. In a panic I grabbed the anchor and walked it back to the aft end of the boat that was in the deepest water. I threw it as far as I could into the deep water and used it to tow myself back into deeper water. Whew!

Cockle Clam

A Cockle clam burying itself into the sand at low tide.

The new filter had more gunk in it. From this, I can only conclude the problem is my fuel and not the engine. The heavy weather over the last couple days must be making old varnish slough off the side of the tank. I switched to my backup 3 gallon tank. I’ll run through one of my 5 gallon jerry jugs then filter the fuel in the 20 gallon tank into it through a coffee filter. This is the best idea I have for now. At least I’ve identified the source of the issue, even if dealing with it may not be strait forward.

Since I needed to burn fuel to get an empty 5 gallon jug, I decided to cruise around Desolation Sound to look for Emily and Alan. I went up and down Desolation Sound, poking my nose into every anchorage I came across. No sign of them, but the engine ran flawlessly once I switched gas tanks. Since I had sampled all the anchorages past Malaspina Inlet, I doubled back to the best one and dropped anchor.

I spent the next several days canning clams, fish, crab, oysters, and sea beans. Thirty-six half-pint jars in all. But I didn’t work too hard. Collecting food was just part of my daily explorations. I canned the food while playing video games and huddling inside the cabin to escape the punishing afternoon sun.

Locations Mentioned In This Post:

Related posts:

Foraging for Wild Food: Fennel Fronds
Cruising the San Juan Islands: Eliza, Vendovi, Cypress, and Jack Islands.
Cat Tails Plant: Plants You Can Eat in the Wild
4 Responses to “Desolation Sound Marine Park”
  1. Mom says:

    WOW!!! So good to hear your voice! So beautiful, Chris! I can only plan to come to the beautiful San Juan Islands to see you for now when you get back. I am so happy that you were able to make this trip, for yourself. I miss you so much and I love you, my baby. Be safe, get home safe. I can’t wait to meet up with you. So many stories.

  2. Bryan Klassen says:

    Hi Chris. So glad you are enjoying our beautiful area. One concern – you do know that you are in a Marine Park, right. Self sufficiency does not superceed government regulations re the harvesting of marine life within park boundaries. The same rules apply in Canada and the U.S.please respect our marine parks so that we all may enjoy them.

    • Chris says:

      Of course! I obtained a fishing license as soon as I crossed the border and with the exception of the Cockle Clams, I was careful to stay within the legal harvest limits. My understanding with the Cockles was that they were closed due to their ability to retain biotoxins, not due to conservation. I was careful not to harvest too many at my location, given the population I could immediately observe on the beach.

  3. TC says:

    Regarding the engine problem: If you can, use non ethanol fuel. Dollars to doughnuts, the ethanol is probably tearing up the seals, hoses etc.

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