After spending 3 wonderful days at Princess Louisa Inlet, we decided that it was time to move on to explore some other areas and on August 24th we released the ropes to our mooring buoy and travelled down the Jervis Inlet reaches to Dark Cove our next stop.
We initially decided to get up very early to try to catch the first predicted slack waters at Malibu Rapids for the day and to also travel with the tide instead of against it (suggested by Orca III). When we got up, we both agreed that 5 o’clock in the morning was a wee bit too early to start sailing and on a practical side it was still too dark out which would make it difficult and potentially hazardous to navigate through the rapids. We decided to wait until the next predicted slack waters which was to be at 12:20 pm. Our neighbours, Orca III, who suggested the early rise, also decided against going and ended up travelling with us later in the day through the rapids.
We left MacDonald Island round 11:30 am and slowly travelled the 2 nautical miles (NM) to the rapids. As we got closer to the rapids, there was a whole line-up of boats on both sides waiting to cross and coordinating the crossing on the VHF radio – only one boat at a time can go through the rapids as it is a dog-leg and boats cannot see each other on both sides. We also had to avoid kids waterskiing and tubing on our side of the rapids making it a bit more stressful than it should have been. The rapids still had some eddies and current as we crossed but nothing that our boat could not handle.
We ended up motoring down the reaches instead of sailing as we were fighting both the tide that was coming in and some interesting and weird up-inlet winds that were not favourable for sailing. We also quickly found out that our boat, though comfortable in the water, is very slow. We were travelling at a maximum speed of 4.5 knots (usually we can do 5 to 6 knots) and all the boats that transited before or after us left us in their wake with us bringing up the rear ….and eventually the only boat in Jervis Inlet.
Our initial plan was to try to get as far down the reaches and anchor for a few nights in Harmony Islands marine park located in Hotham Sound, a branch to the northeast off the lower portion of Jervis Inlet, but by early evening we both agreed that we needed to stop for the night and we needed to find an anchorage before it got dark. We ended up anchoring in Dark Cove (49°48.915’N/125°57.794’W) one of the few decent overnight anchorages available along Princess Royal Reach.
Dark Cove earned its name because of the very few hours of sunlight it receives each day. It is a good place to anchor for a night in settled weather as long as you have enough rode to put out. We were anchored in about 100 feet of water with less than ideal amount of rode (about 275 feet only) out for the night making it a restless night. We ended up checking the rode and anchor a few times during the night and also got up whenever there was a bump in the night. But the anchor held and we never moved. We did however have an interesting time bringing up the anchor in morning with our manual windless. We were pulling in 95 feet of 3/8 chain straight from the bottom and it was heavy as can be, about 1.4 pounds/foot. It felt more like 3 pounds/foot! Once the anchor was on board, it took about 2 hours of motoring to get to Harmony Islands Marine Park. Even if we wanted to sail, there was no wind!
At Harmony Islands, there is not a lot of room to swing on your anchor and it is pretty deep in the middle channel. So the best way to anchor is to use the technique called stern tying which basically means that you drop your anchor and sufficient rode and then you take your stern line and tie it to a tree, rock or stern cleat put in by the park. This sounds easier than it actually is. This was our first attempt at stern tying and we were fighting both a current and wind when we tried to tie our stern to the shoreline. We ended up getting pushed towards another boat and came very, very close to touching it – luckily the owners of the boat were not around to see how ‘close’ we came to their boat. We aborted our first try and with help from another boater, we dropped our anchor in another spot and tied our stern to the shore with two lines. We were still being pushed around a lot and ended up drifting with the tide as it came in and out while we were there. Once we got the boat tied down in a semblance of what looked like proper stern tie (49°51.760’N/124°00.861’W) , we dropped the dinghy overboard and motored over to Freil Lake Falls located about a mile south from Harmony Islands. We saw the falls on our way in and were also informed about these waterfalls by Steve and Dionne on Orca III as they were leaving Harmony Islands and as we were coming in (they made it to the islands in one day from Princess Louisa on their sailboat). The waterfall plunges a total of 444 metres into the Sound and someone or somebody took the time to build three pools at the base of the waterfalls. These pools can be used for dipping, swimming or bathing. We were very excited and once there took advantage of the pools. The water was a bit chilly but worth going in.
We spent 2 nights at Harmony Islands swimming/bathing at the falls, snorkeling, fishing and enjoying the beautiful scenery and Mount Calder towering over Hotham Sound. ~Sophia & Rob