British Columbia the Discovery Islands

Shoal Bay, East Thurlow Island

Friday, July 06, 2012S.V. CAMBRIA

David enjoying another beautiful Shoal Bay evening on the deck.

Octopus Islands Marine Park is another of our favourite places to stop, but some visits are better than others and this one was lacking for one reason or another.  Maybe it was the full moon.  Maybe it was the tides.  Maybe it was the pressure we feel to get north.  Or maybe it was the group of eleven boats (yes, eleven) rafted together.  Whatever the reason, we were both ready to move on so we upped anchor early this morning to time our passage through the next set of rapids, Upper and Lower, and made our way through the labyrinth of inland waterways – Okisollo Channel, Discovery Passage, Nodales and Cordero Channels – that lead to our next destination: Shoal Bay.

Shoal Bay is a unique spot.  In the late 1800s it was the most populated town on the coast (including the city of Vancouver) but, over the years, industry in the area died out taking the town along with it.  Eventually a fourteen room resort was built on the property which Mark MacDonald bought in 2000.  Within weeks of moving everything he owned in, the lodge caught fire and burned to the ground – destroying everything in the process.  He stuck with it and over the years has been rebuilding his dream in the form of a pub and cottages with the help of friends, strangers and, most recently, his new bride, Cynthia. 

But it’s named Shoal Bay for good reason … because it shoals very quickly.  And today, for the first time out of many visits, we nearly went aground.  David was approaching too quickly and misjudged our position.  I was standing at the bow ready to anchor when I realized he was going to hit.  Ishould have yelled for him to back up, but I pointed and yelled, “shoal!” instead.  And before the alarm on the depth sounder had a chance to go off, we were aground.  He threw the motor in reverse and was able to power off the soft sand and mud before we got stuck, giving everyone on the dock a bit of morning’s entertainment and saving us from what would have been a very long day: the tide was still going out and it would have been another six hours or more before there was enough water in the bay to float the boat. 

We set the anchor (in thirty metres of water) and went to shore where we found Mark and Cynthia at the house along with their dog, Fannie.  A couple of friends we met two years ago in Princess Louisa Inlet, Annie and Craig, are also here and tied to the dock along with summer-resident, Roger.  After a quick hello to everyone we went back to the boat for the afternoon where David took a well-deserved nap while I floated around the shore in the kayak: it seems he haunted the boat again last night and only got two hours of sleep before I drug him out of bed this morning.

Annie’s a great organizer and made plans to have a Vietnamese Spring Roll dinner at the pub for several “regulars”, including Les, an“old-timer” who’s been cruising these waters for over thirty-five years and always has a colourful tale to tell.  Like most of the nights we’ve spent in Shoal Bay over the past three seasons, it was a wonderful evening and, before we knew it, it was time to say goodnight and go home.   

Unfortunately, Annie and Craig will be leaving early in the morning and are making their way back to Seattle, so we won’t see them again this season.  Our departure won’t be long after theirs though.  We’ll spend one more night here and then continue north through the final set of rapids, Green Point and Whirlpool, Sunday morning. 

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