Destination: Princess Louisa Inlet

We left Egmont early in the morning on August 21 after checking, re-checking and checking again the tides for Point Atkinson which gave us an approximate time to cross the Malibu Rapids near Princess Louisa Inlet. We decided based on 5 knot motor speed, we would be able to make the run to Malibu Rapids in about 6 hours and 24 minutes covering 32 nautical miles (NM) in total. We did not plan on sailing up Jervis Inlet to Malibu Rapids as the wind forecast was predicting light winds and most of the reading we did indicated that sailing the inlet and the reaches where not great. We soon discovered though that we left at the right time; we were going with the flood and getting an up-inlet breeze that we sailed all the way to the entrance of Malibu Rapids.

Leaving Egmont:

We left Egmont and the Sechelt Inlet at 9 am and motored into the first of three long, sinuous reaches that make up Jervis Inlet. Prince of Whale Reach runs due north and after about an hour motoring, we decided to replace our jib/genoa sail with our drifter sail and motored-sailed with it on for another hour. As soon as we passed Vancouver Bay, we had all our sails up and were sailing at an average of 5 knots northward. Prince of Wales Reach switches eastward at the magnificent Moorsam Bluff to become the Princess Royal Reach. This reach ended up being windier and we were able to sail at 6 or more knots. At one point, we were healing too much and decided to bring down the drifter sail (which does not do well in windy conditions) and were able to keep on sailing at 4 to 5 knots with only our main and staysail on. At Patrick Point, the inlet turns northwest and becomes known as Queens Reach. By this point, we lost our up-inlet winds and puttered around waiting for the right time to transit Malibu Rapids.

Sailing Jervis Inlet to Malibu Rapids:

While we were sailing in Princess Royal Reach, Rob was at the helm sailing on a beautiful starboard broad reach when we were cut off by a large motorboat coming within 40 feet of our bowsprit and Rob had to jibe to get out of their way. The person on deck never looked up as they motored by us and never changed course (we think they were playing on their phone). It was a very dangerous situation for us as we were going 6 knots downwind with only our two sails up and they had no regard for our safety. We tried to hail them a few times but there was no response as well.

Rob did find the boat (not the owner) tied up nicely to the dock at Princess Louisa, just in time for cocktail hour.

The Boat

The Boat

The scenery all the way up the reaches where breathtaking and amazing. The inlet is hemmed in on both sides by mountains, rising from almost perpendicular shores to heights reaching almost 2100 metres or more. The inlet waters itself ranged from 300 to 600 metres deep.  The area was explored, surveyed and charted by Captain Vancouver and every area was named by him. Unfortunately, he did not seem to be as impressed by the mountains as we were but then again he was searching for a channel to the trade routes and not necessarily concerned with the beauty of the mountains  (Curve of Time by M. Wylie Blanchet).

Sailing Prince of Wales Reach:

With the winds and tide being in our favour, we ended up in Queens Reach and near Malibu Rapids about an hour earlier than the planned transit time. We puttered around, brought the sails down and lowered our dinghy in case we had to stern-tie when we reached the other side. As we were doing this, we were listening to the radio and the conversations between the motorboats and sailboats that arrived before us.  They were getting restless and as soon as one motorboat started to cross, the sailboats requested information on the current strength and eddies in the rapids. From the reports we were getting, it appeared that it was not too bad and some sailboats started to cross earlier than the predicted slack time. We were listening intently and based on their reports decided to cross as well. We ended up transiting the rapids about 35 minutes before the official slack time and only encountered a few eddies and a small current pushing us in. After we transited, a 109 foot motorboat went through and we were amazed that they were able to do so. The rapids are narrow and dogleg-shaped and the inlet is guarded by steep mountains (about 2000 metres high) obscuring Princess Louisa Inlet and the mountains beyond. Even Captain Vancouver and his crew did not transit the rapids as they mistook it for a creek during their surveys (Curve of Time by M. Wylie Blanchett).

Transitting Malibu Rapids:

Once through the rapids, we were amazed by the inlet and the mountains that flanked the inlet on both sides. We could not see Chatterbox Falls and would not see it until the next day as we decided to try our luck halfway through the inlet and see if there were any mooring buoys available at MacDonald Island or we needed to anchor. We were lucky and we were able to grab the last of five mooring buoys for the night while all the other boats screamed past us and rushed over to the falls to try to get a docking spot at the park dock or anchor near the falls.

As soon as we were tied to the mooring buoy and the boat was secured for the night, I changed into my bathing suit and was the first one to jump into the water. Rob followed very quickly!  The water was wonderful and warm which was great since it was my first swim since we started sailing!

Morning view of our anchorage in Princess Louisa Inlet

Morning view of our anchorage in Princess Louisa Inlet

The next morning we were woken up early by singing by the “Young Life Beyond Malibu” campers preparing breakfast on shore.  After our own breakfast, we got the dinghy ready and motored the 2 NM to the falls. As we got closer, we could hear the falls but we could not see it. As we approached, we started to see a long white line starting at the top of the mountain that slashed across and then disappeared into the dark-green background of the trees. The closer we got, the more white could be seen in the mountains and the louder the falls became.  But it was not until you turned the last corner that you were suddenly presented with Chatterbox Falls; tumbling and roaring down over vast granite boulders into Princess Louisa Inlet. Unfortunately, because of the low snow fall this past winter, the run-off of water was not as spectacular or loud as normal. We spent some time taking photos of the falls from our dinghy and then made our way over to the dock (which was full of boats) to tie-up. We then took the trail to the waterfalls and found a nice little spot to wade into and for a quick chilly dip. After enjoying sometime exploring around the waterfalls, we made our way back to the dock and met another set of sailors (Steve, Dionne and three kids on Orca III) who also belong to the Bluewater Cruising Association; same as us. They live full-time on their boat along with their three teen-age kids.  They are a very nice family and provided us with some valuable sailing trip ideas and places to see along the coast.

Chatterbox Falls:

We ended up staying three nights at Princess Louisa Inlet swimming and exploring the area with our dinghy and overall enjoying the beauty of the area.~Sophia & Rob

Wildlife around our boat:

Exploring the area:

 

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