British Columbia Fitz Hugh Sound

Pruth Bay, Calvert Island

Thursday, August 16, 2012S.V. CAMBRIA

The Hakai Institute, Pruth Bay

We got up early Wednesday morning and went into Shearwater to fill the propane tanks, buy some groceries and take Sally for a well-deserved walk before upping anchor and moving on – the sooner the better as far as we’re both concerned.  The place holds no character, or characters, and simply isn’t for us.  But Sea Otter Inlet is, so we motored for a while before hoisting the sails in Lama Passage and entering Dean Channel where we were treated to another really nice sail … this time, up wind. 

It was a long day of tacking back and forth across the channel, but we both had a great time doing it.  I had the helm to start but made the mistake of handing it over to David for a short break.  I really should have known better because that was the last I saw of the helm for the day.  David was having such a good time pushing the boat as close to the wind as he could and trimming the sails that I didn’t have the heart to ask for it back – that man loves to sail and we see so few opportunities to do it up here.

Along the way, we dropped below 52° N … a very sad day indeed.  But it’s time.  It’s getting late in the season for such high latitudes.  But all’s not lost.  The forecast for the next week is really good so we decided to compromise a bit and take a look at a few new anchorages along the outer islands on our way south. 

I normally do the preliminary research and chose our anchorages. Sometimes I hit and sometimes I miss: Today was a miss … at least to start.  I chose a couple of spots in a group of islands called The Spider Anchorage in the Hakai Recreation Area, the largest provincial marine park on the coast of BC.  According to the cruising guides, you can find some of the most varied and scenic coastline here – from lagoons, sandy beaches to all-weather anchorages.  Sounds perfect, right?  But pristine comes at a price and that price is the area isn’t particularly well-charted and houses a lot of hazards in the form of rocks and reefs. 

So we left Sea Otter Inlet this morning and made our way down to Nalua Passage, which separates Hunter Island from Stirling and leads to Queens Sound and the Hakai Recreation Area.  From studying the chart, I’d expected some protection from the outer islands. But once through the passage, we were in a one metre westerly swell with breaking waves.  We didn’t like what we saw so we got into clear water, turned around and made our way back to Fitz Hugh Sound.  Whether we liked it or not, we were going south and moved on to our final anchorage along the Central Coast for the season – Pruth Bay on Calvert Island. 

At the head of the bay there’s a former fishing lodge and resort that was sold three years ago and is now the Hakai Institute, a non-profit social enterprise that works in partnership with area universities, First Nations, BC parks and others to offer research opportunities (everything from environmental law to archeology) and is studying the area’s geological and ecological history, particularly over the15,000 years since the last ice age. There’s really nothing special about Pruth Bay itself as far as anchorages go.  It’s a popular stop and there are several other boats here which is always a negative for us.  But it’s what lies on the western side of the bay that we’re here to see – a white, sandy beach rumoured to be as beautiful as any you’d find in the South Pacific.  But after having had enough excitement for one day, we opted to save the exploration for tomorrow.

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