Desolation Sound, British Columbia, Canada

114ft / 34.7m / 5 Crew / 8-12 Guests / 4 Staterooms

Pacific Yellowfin

Pacific Yellowfin – Sample Itinerary

By Captain Colin Griffinson

Desolation Sound (LAT 50º 5.0’N LONG 124º 48.7’W)

Desolation Sound, the largest and perhaps best known marine park in British Columbia, is considered by many boaters to be one of the top three cruising grounds in the worlds-along with Fiji and New Zealand’s Bay of Islands. The waters of Desolation Sound are calm, sheltered and warm with lots of protected anchorages, and plentiful oysters, clams, prawns and salmon. The park consists of more than 14,000 acres of high land and 6,350 acres of shoreline and water. There are also four lakes and one waterfall in Desolation Sound Marine Park, and the warmest salt water north of Mexico (82 degrees Fahrenheit!) awaits swimmers in Pendrell Sound.

The area was named Desolation Sound by Captain George Vancouver who first sailed here in 1792 and saw a silent and remote coast. The shoreline varies from low rolling hills to 4.500 foot peaks with many protected anchorages tucked into bays, coves and inlets. The sheltered waters, islands and bays of Desolation Sound are suitable for exploration by small boats, kayaks and canoes with many opportunities to enjoy swimming, fishing, picnicking and hiking. Valid BC fresh water and or tidal water sport fishing licenses are required for fishing and shellfish collection in the park.

Pacific Yellowfin shoreside

Quadra Island, Rebecca Spit, Taku Resort Marina

This is the perfect spot to begin or end a voyage while cruising Desolation Sound and the Discovery Islands. But, before you start your cruise on the Pacific Yellowfin don’t forget to set your watch to “island time” and then relax and enjoy a glorious time in the islands and beyond.

Rebecca Spit provides well-maintained trails for running, cycling, walking the dog or just taking a leisurely stroll, and suitably placed benches welcome you to relax and enjoy the breathtaking view. The sand and shingle beaches on either side of the spit are wonderful to explore, and they offer safe warm-water swimming on the inside and a log-strewn beachcombing paradise on the outside.

Pacific Yellowfin fun-adventures

DAY 1: Depart Taku and head to Manson’s Landing

Walking in Manson’s Landing Park is more of an exploration than a vigorous hike, for there are several different environments to enjoy. From the government wharf in the park, you can walk south along the fine sandy beach of the foreshore, where loons and a variety of waterfowl swim along the offshore kelp beds. Sand dollars and the occasional moon snail shell lie among the debris at high tide line. About a 25 minute walk from the government dock, watch for a huge granite boulder, where a petrogliph of a fish, almost 3 meters long, has been pecked into the rock. The walk to Hague Lake, about 1 kilometer from the wharf, that skirts the lagoon and passes through an old growth forest.

We also take to the tenders and explore neighboring Gorge Harbor. This harbor is almost completely enclosed and has many coves and islands to explore by small boat. It is protected from most winds, although westerly’s blowing over the low-lying west arm of the harbor can produce a chop. There are pictographs on the high cliffs at the narrow entrance to the harbor. They are best viewed at high water when the current is slack, as the tidal current runs at up to 4 knots through the shallow opening. It is thought that the pictographs, about half way down the cliff wall, were made by lowering native artists on cedar ropes from the top of the cliff. Stories tell of how Gorge Harbor Indians ambushed a hostile band by balancing huge rocks on the edge of the cliff and releasing them as the invaders passed through the gorge. This is also an excellent, safe location for one to start up and learn how to drive a kayak.

We trip through Uganda Passage to Whaletown where one of the oldest Post Offices in BC is still in use. This town came into existence in 1867 when Governor Sir James Douglas selected the site as the location where whales caught in the Gulf of Georgia could be rendered, flensed and the products shipped to market. By 1870 the whales had been virtually eliminated in the Gulf and the Dawson Whaling Company moved on leaving nothing but the town’s name. And of course, one has to visit the General Store to visit with Cockney George to buy some local smoked oysters and to see his English garden. George and his wife came from London to run the store, but she couldn’t stand the isolation. She gave George an ultimatum, me or the store. She now lives in England. The privy shown in November edition of Boat International is next to George’s General Store.

Pacific Yellowfin dining-options

Day 2: Manson’s Landing to Squirrel Cove

Next we move the Pacific Yellowfin to Squirrel Cove, setting our own prawn traps at Cortes Bay on the way. Here at Squirrel Cove we can put the mountain bikes and motor scooters ashore if one wishes to explore the interior of Cortes Island, as this will be our last chance to do this as there will be no more roads. Lots of room here for water skiing, wake boarding, and shooting the tidal streams in and out of the lagoons. There is also a nice 30 min walking trail to Von Donup Inlet. From here we can visit our last touch of civilization before we go deep into Desolation Sound called Refuge Cove.

Welcoming Refuge Cove is cooperatively owned and operated and certainly lives up to its name. This friendly enterprising community happily accommodates many visiting boats in the summer months and then leads a quiet, secluded life the rest of the year. It also houses a B.C. Liquor Store outlet and post office (mail drop and pick up on Monday, Wednesday and Friday). Open June 1- Sept. 15, 9am to 5pm (9-6 July and August). Seaplanes operate regular chartered and scheduled flights to and from Vancouver and Campbell River. Note: Fuel is available after Sept. 15 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays 1pm-3pm. Thought you would get a chuckle at our West Coast business hours.

Pacific Yellowfin cabins-1

Day 3-4: Teakerne Arm

The main attractions of Teakerne Arm Marine Park on West Redonda Island include the invitingly warm waters of Cassel Lake and its spectacular, cascading falls. This is the perfect place to picnic and treat yourself to a freshwater wash and brush up. A full-pressure shower under “Cassel Lake Falls” is for the adventurous only. For an energetic hike and more relaxing bath, we follow the well-worn trail that leads from the dingy dock to a ledge of smooth clean bathing rocks on the lakes southern shore. A helpful haul-out rope has also been placed here for your convenience. The southern shoreline of Teakerne Arm affords splendid sunsets and rafting alongside a log boom is always acceptable.
At Teakerne Arm, we use the kayaks, water sports, fishing, hiking and a special excursion to an oyster farm, our very, very own oyster lady, “the female version of Crocodile Dundee” gives us a talk and tour of her float house and adjacent farm. We always leave with clams and oysters. She is also featured on a raft in Boat International November Edition. The captain has a special fishing hole here, always catches big lingcod but we release all.

Pacific Yellowfin cabins-2

Day 5-6: Von Dunop Inlet

Von Donup Inlet is almost 5 km (3mi) in length and rather narrow in spots as it twists and turns, almost dividing Cortes Island. B.C. Parks, in partnership with the Klahoose First Nations, declared the inlet and surrounding lands a marine park in 1994 and preserved this magical spot for all to enjoy. It still offers a rich variety of nooks and crannies to anchor in as well as peaceful lagoons to explore and forested trails to hike.
The Pacific Yellowfin can only enter and leave on high tide, as there is a large rock in the entrance. We haven’t touched it yet. In Von Donup, we enjoy lots of water sports, as the water is very warm. We always set up our floating water trampoline. A 2 hour hike through old growth forest ends at a majestic swimming hole at Robertson Lake. This place is not well known and the captain makes you swear to secrecy, or else ‘keel hauling’. At night we set up a campfire on our favorite headland. Have a singsong using the Pacific Yellowfin’s own songbook. In Ireland they say that if you know the words of the song you are a good singer. So, there is no shortage of great singers onboard the Pacific Yellowfin. We roast marshmallows, drink some wine, gaze at the stars or watch the Pacific Yellowfin at anchor.

If the tides are right we make trips to either Surge Narrows or Arran Rapids where we shoot the rapids flowing at 6-8 knots and watch the bald eagles diving for unfortunate fish tumbled up from the depths by the turbulence. If we’re really lucky the killer whales or “Orcas” will join in the feast also. A trip to an old hippy commune once full of Vietnam conscientious objectors is a treat for it is just like a scene from Harry Potter, “tumbled down rickety houses”.

Pacific Yellowfin gourmet-cuisine

DAY 7: Return to Taku Resort

On the way back to Taku, one can explore the trails and logging roads of Read Island or portage the kayaks and rowing skiffs from Carrington Bay over the driftwood pile and into Carrington Lagoon, then go and explore an old deserted farmstead with over hanging grape arbors in an orchard that over looks the head of the lagoon. Bird enthusiasts can make a visit to our famous Mitlenatch Island. Northwest Bay of Mitlenatch Island has a beautiful shingle beach with easy access to the island’s designated trails and wooden observation blind on East Hill. From here, the patient observer can view glaucous-winged gull’s family life, including its fascinating feeding ritual. Spring and summer flowers abound on Mitlenatch Island from late April onward, and, because it is home to the largest seabird colony in the Strait of Georgia, be prepared for a high level of noise.

Then back to Taku Lodge and unfortunately the end of the cruise. Guests will be asked to reset their watches back to city time. By the way, all the clocks on the Pacific Yellowfin, one in each room, do not work, as island time is watching the tide!

Toys to enjoy onboard the Pacific Yellowfin

• One 24ft runabout tender
• One 24ft landing craft tender
• Three 50CC cross country scooters
• Three person 1750CC Sea-Doo
• Six mountain bikes
• Two double ocean kayaks
• Two single ocean kayaks
• One 14ft rigid hull inflatable
• One 14ft clinker sailing/rowing dinghy
• Golf driving range
• Air target rifles
• Water trampoline
• Log and launcher
• Three person ‘hot dog’
• Three water tubes
• Water skis
• Wake boards
• Wetsuits
• Snorkeling Gear
• Fishing Rods and Gear
• Prawn and Crab traps