Desolation Sound the Discovery Islands

Favourite Places Along the Way

Monday, June 10, 2013S.V. CAMBRIA

Cambria at anchor in Rebecca Spit.

We all have our favourite anchorages along the way:  Places we’ve visited over the years and have formed a special affection for.  Places we feel at home.  Rebecca Spit Marine Park on southern Quadra Island would have to be Sally's.

For a dog, she has good taste.  It’s a beautiful spot with a view of the Coastal Mountains from its eastern shore that seems to go on forever.  But it’s not the view that she likes; it’s the trails.  Though her enthusiasm has dwindled over the years, she still loves to walk them, stopping to sniff every bush along the way. 

North of Rebecca Spit and past Surge Narrows, the first set of rapids we have to transit, on the northern end of Quadra Island lies one of my favourite anchorages: Octopus Islands Marine Park.  I like it because it’s quiet, has access to good hiking trails and plenty of rocks, islets and islands to make kayaking interesting.  But unfortunately, the weather wasn’t the best during our stay, so we moved on to one of David’s favourite anchorages after only two nights:  Shoal Bay at the northern end of East Thurlow Island.   

A cloudy morning in Octopus Islands.

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 his wife, Cynthia.

Cambria at anchor in Shoal Bay.

We’ve been coming here for four years now and every visit is different, depending on who’s tied to the government dock for the night.  This year, our timing was perfect and, even though it’s still early in the season, all the regulars were around:  Kelly, Linda, Roger and, of course, Mark and Cynthia.  We had a really nice time:  David was able to spend hours at the “pub” playing the guitar with whomever would join him while I hiked to a clearing that overlooks neighbouring Phillips Arm and the anchorage.  You couldn’t ask for anything better.
David playing guitar at the pub.

But all good things must end and we needed to move on after three nights.  At this stage, we’ve only navigated half way through the maze of islands that make up the Discovery group with plans to transit the final set of rapids later this morning.  For the next several days, it’s passage-making as we work our way through the final set of rapids and up Johnstone Strait to Port McNeill where we’ll prepare the boat and ourselves to go beyond Vancouver Island and back to the Central Coast.  

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  1. I love the fact that you included one of Sally's favorite anchorages - it isn't just humans that have their favorite spots! Cruising in the Northwest is on our list of things to do so I appreciate the tips on potential anchorages to visit when we make it up there. Cheers - Ellen

    1. There are plenty more suggestions where that came from, Ellen! The weather's been really nice up here lately and we're starting to get excited about taking off again! It looks like you guys had a good summer as well. I can't remember if I left any comments on your blog, but you made me a little homesick for our former "neighbourhood." I especially liked you post about Happy Jacks . . . David, Sally and I spent the afternoon there on our honeymoon (the weather wasn't quite good enough to overnight it).

    2. We had a great summer cruising in NZ. I only wish we could have spent more time up in the BOI and rest of Northland...I guess we'll just have to sail back to NZ one day!