The Sunshine Coast

Sailing Laundry

Solace at anchor in the Harmony Islands, proudly flying my laundry in the hot sut.

From Nanaimo, I sailed due north, up to Welcome Passage. On the back side of the peninsula that houses Smuggler’s Cove, is another, mush lesser known anchorage called Frenchman’s Cove. It’s a crazy tight anchorage. I accidentally (fortunately?) arrived at low tide and idled through a passage that was only twice the width of my boat. At one point a huge boulder loomed in front of my boat, only a foot underwater. I threw the boat into reverse, then forward again, slowly creeping by it with inches to spare. Finally at the head of the anchorage, I was able to drop the hook in 10 feet of water. There is only room for my small, 27 foot boat. If I was much bigger or drew much more water, I couldn’t anchor here. The tide change is close to 15 feet!

The next morning I set out and caught three fish in about an hour. Two greenling and one Lingcod. One Greenling was huge and one was barely big enough to eat. I threw the small one back. After that I picked a bucketful of oysters and mussels. It took about 10 minutes to fill the bucket. Foraging for food is getting easier and easier as I go north, just like everyone said it would.

Trappers Cabin

The remains of the Trapper’s Cabin and the waterfall behind it. This is a heart-pumping 2-hour up hill hike from Chatterbox Falls in Princess Louisa Inlet.

After securing dinner, I stripped off my clothes and jumped over the side of the boat. Wearing nothing but my goggles, I snorkeled around the anchorage. I peeped at two crabs embracing one another, mating missionary style. I also saw the cutest fish I’ve ever seen. It looked like a catfish, but I’ve never heard of salt water catfish in this area. It was a light blue and kept playing peek-a-boo, sticking it’s head into the rocks. I reached down, ticked it, and heard it croak in sheer panic through the water as it swam for all it was worth to get away. I washed up with fresh water afterward. My solar shower was on the verge of being scalding hot. I’ll have to be careful now that hot, sunny days are here to stay.

The mosquitos are the worse yet that I’ve seen on the water. I discovered a swamp just past the shore of Frenchman’s cove. Both nights I’ve been here, I’ve had to close up every hatch on the boat and kill the small swarm that made it into the cabin before I go to bed. I’ve had similar mosquito experiences all the way up to Princess Louisa Inlet and back. Some sailing friends I met gave me a piece of netting to put over my hatches at night. Now the boat isn’t so stifling.

Sailing Friends

Some sailor friends from Quadra Island that I met at Princess Louisa. Turns out we all play instruments, so we had a fireside jam session.

The further north I push, I’m becoming increasingly confident in my ability to complete the journey. I’m prepared. I’ve got this! The greater challenge, looming in the background, is money and Autumn. What am I going to do this winter? Will I be able to support myself with freelance, telecommuting work or do I need to seek a paycheck in a cubical somewhere? I have faith the right path will unfold as I approach it.

From Frenchman’s Cove, I pushed north towards Princess Louisa Inlet. I resupplied in Pender Harbor where I ran into the crew of Xanadu, who recognized me from this blog. They were incredibly helpful with advice to get up Jervis and Princess Louisa Inlet. On their tip, I took off the next day for the Harmony Islands in Hotham Sound. They also told me about a waterfall in front of the islands.

Harmony Islands Waterfall

The Friel Lake waterfall near the Harmony Islands.

The waterfall was breathtaking. It’s huge! There is a logging road in Granville Bay and I’m wondering if it would take me to Friel Lake, the source of the waterfall. This is bear country though, and I don’t have bear spray. The water is so clear in the Harmony Islands, I can see 40 feet down to where my anchor is. I think it’s the presence of all the fresh water and the proliferation of filter feeders like oysters and mussels. The bald eagles are thick up here too. In Pender Harbor I accidentally anchored under a nest. Bald eagles are normally quiet birds, but these two communicated with the ferocity of an old married couple. Here in the Harmony Islands I can hear and see Eagles all around me. Yesterday I saw an eagle perched just behind a ‘for sale’ sign on one of the islands. It would have made a great satirical picture, but I couldn’t get the sailboat close enough.

Having all this indescribable beauty: these mountains, these islands, this waterfall, all to myself makes me feel as though I should be doing something with it. I should be taking pictures, or hiking, or fishing. I have to take it all in! …but no, none of it really matters. I am the transient element in this moment. All this scenery was here long before me and it will be here long after I’m gone. So I sit and admire the views. Every day out here seems to last forever. I’ve written about this phenomenon before. I contemplate how long this summer feels and then think about how quick it seems last year went by.

Free Range Family

I rendezvoused with the Free Range Family at Princess Louisa Inlet.

The trip to Princess Louisa Inlet was so overwhelmingly scenic that I feel desensitized. I stare dazedly around me as my poor brain tries in vain to scale such gargantuan perspective into something it can gauge. Starring at the glaciers is like a close up view of mars – just as real and just as far away. I think part of what makes the inlet feel surreal in size is the sky. How high is the sky? How big is a cloud? We’re easily able to avoid these inane questions in other places, but all of sudden, here, you get an automatic sense of scale. The clouds here aren’t much bigger or higher than the cliffs, and by relations, that makes you feel very, very small.

I caught a morning breeze that got stiffer with the day and sailed over 30 miles up Jervis Inlet. After leaving Princess Louisa, the same wind kept me trapped just south of Malibu Rapids for a day until it calmed enough for me to bravely beat into steady 20 knot winds with the 50% storm jib and single reefed main.

I’ve finished resupplying in Pender Harbor and will continue my way north up to Powel River, Lund, and then Desolation Sound.

Related posts:

James Island Marine State Park
Adventures in Alaska
Debt Freedom (original post)
5 Responses to “The Sunshine Coast”
  1. Kevin says:

    Dude, you’re doing it!
    I can sense the rhythm change as you get deeper into living with nature.
    I am so happy for you.
    We just about have the boat ready to take off for the summer ourselves.
    Keep posting!

  2. Alan says:

    Thanks for taking the time to write about your trip. It’s been really entertaining and inspiring. Great information as well.

  3. ShaunaB says:

    Ive followed your blog for a while, it’s such a great read!!

    I had a smile on my face reading this post. I can feel the excitement and I’m envious!!

  4. Chris says:

    Thanks for the well wishes everyone! Keep em coming and keep reading!

  5. Awesome Chris! I can smell that lingcod and those mussels cooking up and I’m smiling for you! Enjoy!

    Katie and Mark

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