August in Desolation Sound, British Columbia

In Seattle, everyone in the boat world talks about Desolation Sound.  “Oh you know, last summer, when we were in Desolation…. what what?  You haven’t been there?”  Followed by a gasp, silence and skeptical looks.  We lacked street, well really, dock cred.  I mean, we had been up the west coast, took the outside route to Alaska.  But… we had not been to Desolation Sound.  Something was obviously wrong.  We were not REALLY Seattle boaters.

So we had to go.  Without question.  We needed to earn the Desolation Sound badge to maintain our Scout/Explorer/Seattle Boat Owner status.  It wasn’t that we hadn’t wanted to go.  We just had not made it there.  Time to fix that problem.

All of that said, our main goal in visiting Desolation Sound was to take advantage of the good weather and warm water it is known for.  As such, we did a lot more relaxing and a lot less moving about. This extremely late blog post reflects our laziness, as it is a month overdue and offers a somewhat less wordy-than-normal format.

Enough with the disclaimers. Back to Desolation Sound.

Embedded in the Seattle boat community Desolation Sound lore is a famous annual event.  A concert on the back of an 80 foot Ocean Alexander, in the Prideaux Haven anchorage.  This seemed like the perfect way to kick-off a month in Desolation Sound.  We heard that it would be crowded.  That it would be a party.  That people would be having… FUN.  Yes!!!  Count us in.  After a quick vegetable provisioning stop at the general store at Refuge Cove, we made our way to Prideaux Haven to secure our spot in the very crowded anchorage.

Poster for the big concert in Refuge Cove
Floating party!
No, no fun at all…


The band


Now they were into it

We spent five fun nights in Prideaux Haven and attended the famous concert (which was amazing).  A few highlights:  1) We reconnected with our neighbors from Shilshole, the sailing vessel Samadhi V.  They had been hanging out in Prideaux for a bit, swimming and hiking with their two kids and Ranger, the German Shepherd.  Ashley, Dan and the kids are headed out around the world for 8-10 years.  We’re on a similar course for the first fall and winter, so it is fun to see them as we roll along.  2) Our friends Digby and Pam caught back up with us, rafted Rubenesque onto Red Rover, and we all took our cocktails and apps out to the floating dinghy raft-up to enjoy two hours of awesome music at the annual concert.  3) We had a crazy windstorm one night which involved many hours of excitement watching the entire anchorage shuck and jive.  And which reminded us of how much we love our Rocna anchor. 4) We enjoyed adult beverages with the Towery’s on their still brand new Hampton Endurance, Mahalo, after they arrived in the anchorage.  5) And of course, we met fellow Nordhavn owners.  It was fantastic to meet Paul and Barbara of N5501, Encore!

Red Rover and Rubenesque
Aliens are taking over Zoe’s brain


From Prideaux Haven we cruised to Toba Wilderness Marina to meet Leo and Mamie on N60 Paradise Found AND a return engagement of Digby and Pam.  Toba Wilderness was our favorite destination in Desolation Sound.  We reserved two nights, stayed three and almost remained for a fourth night.  The views were outstanding.  The dinghy cruising to waterfalls and unpopulated beaches was spectacular.  The hiking was vertical, but that was great too!  I’ll let the photos tell the story.

On the way to Toba Inlet
Hiking with Dig and Pam (and Leo and Mamie too – but not in the photo)
View from the summit of the hike
Hunky hiker
Waterfall that provides water for the marina
Dig and Pam and the waterfall


View from the stern of our boat at the dock
Sun worshippers


Standing in our cockpit
Musical accompaniment by Leo and Mamie’s awesome teenage guest (his parents were amazing too!)
Toba inlet dinghy ride
Tired dogs on the flybridge

Feeling all relaxed and lazy, we decided it was time to stop pretending that “real life” didn’t exist.  We needed cell service.  So… off to Squirrel Cove to check some items off of our list, the largest of which was a decision to haul Red Rover out in Seattle upon our return in late August.  This decision required a series of phone calls, arrangements and confirmations.  We spent a few days in Squirrel Cove, working through our to do list, taking Zoe swimming and dinghy cruising.  And of course we again met more Nordhavn owners, connecting with Frank and Gail of N46 Carolina.  Fun!  One pretty evening, our friends Gwen and Larry, with their daughter Miranda, came through the entry channel on their boat, N50 Miss Miranda, on their way home from Alaska.  Stories were then shared aboard Miss Miranda, with wine, of course.

Swimming run
Junior explorer
Red, looking good at anchor

Upon perusing Marine Traffic the next day, we noticed that our friends Laura, Kevin and Sam from the Slowboat crew were just around the corner in Von Donop Inlet.  What to do?  Pull the anchor of course and go say hello!

We were many, many miles from Seattle yet we had never had a more social summer.

In the morning, we were excited to check a big wish off of our bucket list.  We were headed to Dent Island Lodge, a place we had heard about for years, but had never visited. Outside of its culinary prowess, stunning scenery and intimate feel, Dent Island is known for its difficult-to-reach location between a few sets of rapids.  You can only get there at slack current.  We arrived at the Gillard and Yuculta rapids a bit early and circled while we watched the water begin to lie down.  A few minutes before slack current, Red Rover inched into the channel, still pushing some current, and safely transited to the docks at Dent Island.  The first boat we saw?  Ghost, a stunning Nordhavn 63.  It was great fun to meet them in person and enjoy happy hour together.  We had dinner on the deck overlooking the rapids and celebrated the 19th anniversary of our engagement (I know, a little corny, but we celebrate all the special days.  Why not?) It was a lovely, magical evening.

Dent Island deck
Canoe rapids
Hmm… water?
Walking at Dent
Dent Island Lodge


Fresh wildflowers at our table settings
Misty morning

While we enjoyed our time at Dent Island, the price was a little steep to stay longer, and in the morning we cruised back through the rapids (at slack of course!) and over to Rebecca Spit.  We were in need of groceries! And a place to toss our trash.  Garbage, again, had become a concern.  I was somewhat amazed that Dent charged for garbage removal on top of the $4.50/foot/night.  Being a stubborn person, I wasn’t going to pay it.

Who was at Rebecca Spit?  The crew of Sailing Samadhi of course!  Reunion once more!  We spent three nights at Rebecca Spit, swimming from the long beach, hiking the spit, exploring the driftwood piles, shrimping and relaxing.  One of the nights was also spent at Taku Resort’s docks where we did loads of laundry while connected to shore power, filled the water tanks without running the generator, and enjoyed the quite lovely grounds.


Taku resort


Gimme all your shrimp
Max who is a shrimp, meets the shrimp
Gorgeous sunset at Rebecca Spit
Moonrise over Red Rover

When we are alone, while we try to eat really well, once in a while we run out of components for meals that make sense.  So we just wing it.  For instance, shrimp potstickers served with tamales and carrot sticks.  Asian-Mexican-Rabbit-Food fusion?  But when we have guests, we have to do a little better than that.  And we were about to have guests!  Hence the importance of the grocery store just up the hill from Taku Resort.  The kind manager there drove us back to the marina with our many recycled bags of vegetables, meats, snacks and um, booze.

With a fully stocked fridge and clean laundry, we scooted over to Refuge Cove to pick up our friends Maria and Jan, who joined us for a super lovely extended long weekend, flying in from Seattle on a Kenmore Air seaplane.  Being great friends, they used a portion of their precious 25 lb luggage allotment to bring us some important mail as well as two bottles of happy hour happiness.  Wahoo!

With Maria and Jan smiling on board, we did a multi-day cruise of Desolation, re-visiting Prideaux Haven, exploring Pendrell Sound, taking a peek at the waterfall at the end of Teakerne Arm, and finally resting back in Squirrel Cove.  There was a lot of dinghy cruising, a kayak ride where we boarded a yacht to check out their happy hour (we were invited by a former colleague of mine on the yacht), lots of story telling, and really, simply, wonderful time with wonderful friends.  We had spent our summer among boat friends, but it was truly special to share our watery world with friends from the other parts of our lives.  Thank you Maria and Jan for coming to stay with us – we loved it!

Stern tied at Pendrell Sound


Jan and Deb Towery
Maria and Max
Red peeking out at Pendrell Sound


Swimming Zoe


Bye Maria and Jan, we’ll miss you!

After dropping Maria and Jan off at Refuge Cove to catch their seaplane ride home, we returned to Squirrel Cove to prep for our trip south to Seattle.  Originally we had thought we might leave directly after the ladies did, but after some consideration, we decided to relax for the evening, re-organize the boat a bit for the Strait of Georgia and leave early in the morning.

Our goal was to get to Seattle quickly and have as much time as possible to prep for our Big Left Turn trip down the west coast, which was rapidly approaching (and which we are actually currently experiencing since I am so slow in writing this post).  We left early in the morning, noting that a gale warning was posted for the Strait of Georgia.  Our goal was to cruise as far south as we could before the seas came up significantly.

We made it to Pender Harbour and tied up at John Henry’s Resort and Marina for a quiet afternoon including a long walk (and a swim for Zoe) around a local lake.  The next day we waited to see if the sea state would come down, prior to heading out.  It did, maybe a little bit.  Maybe.  After a quick lunch we continued our trip south, with improving conditions as we approached the Vancouver, B.C. area.  Pulling into the Union Steamship Marina on Bowen Island, we were greeted by Lionel, of N40 Chinook who caught our lines, provided restaurant recommendations and then joined us for fajitas and burgers at the local pub.  Nice!  Love the Nordhavn community!


After a fast night of sleep on Bowen Island we pushed south, working hard on our goal to get to Seattle quickly.  The seas were lumpy rounding Vancouver, but eventually smoothed out as we entered US waters. Which was good, as Kevin and I were shopping til we dropped with two computers working, Fisheries Supply and Crate and Barrel.  After 8 weeks without shopping we had created quite a wish list!  That evening, we arrived safely at Cap Sante in Anacortes, walked the dogs, ate fish & chips and fell happily asleep. In the morning we were first in line to re-fuel ol’ Red who had enjoyed sipping diesel over the summer.  While we still had over 1500 gallons remaining, it was time to fill the tanks in preparation for Mexico!  With a full belly we were off to Seattle!  Seven-ish hours later we happily pulled back into Shilshole, greeted first by an excited Lisa (our neighbor) and then the whole team at Windworks Sailing, our former landlords.  It was good to be home.  🙂

Bowen Island



2 thoughts on “August in Desolation Sound, British Columbia

  1. So very glad you had such a fantastic time on this adventure! Toba Inlet and Marina are just the best. Pretty sure I took the exact same pic off my stern LOL. And of course Snug Cove on Bowen Is. is so great. Hope you don’t mind our stalking you and Epoch on your journey South! Take good care all!!! 😉

Leave a Reply