British Columbia Hot Springs

Reflections on the West Coast: The World According to David

Wednesday, August 14, 2013S.V. CAMBRIA

I’m not really sure how or why, but the website’s a task that’s fallen to me since its inception.  I’ve asked David to contribute here and there over the years, but it hasn’t been something that he’s been interested in doing . . . until now.  So, without further ado, I give you David:

 Solitude at anchor:  Cambria alone in Rae Basin

At anchor in Hot Springs Cove:

Reflecting on the past twenty or so days cruising the north and central sections of the west coast of Vancouver Island, it occurs that, while not as spectacular as the scenery and surroundings of the Central Coast or as kindly as the waters inside Vancouver Island, this area has a unique attraction, a rough charm all of its own.

As an unprotected coast open to the influences of the Pacific Ocean, cruising these waters is, at least, challenging.  Changes in conditions brought about by approaching and weakening weather systems, some at a considerable distance, the occurrence of frequently dense fog, and the very nature of the coast itself with its many off-lying rocks, scattered reefs and shoals, require a crew to be constantly aware and performing to their best abilities.  Couple this with the natural anxiety in rounding the major local west coast capes – Scott, Cook, the Brooks Penninsula, and Estevan Point – the dangers and difficulties of which are supported by a history littered with numerous accounts of lost ships and crews and it is clear that this is not a venture to be approached casually. Despite the challenges, the solitude found in many of the areas, the absence of noise and bustle which accompanies busy population centres, and the rugged nature of the area and its few inhabitants are, in some strange fashion, alluring; almost magnetic.  A sense which is difficult to describe in words.  It’s almost as if the locals carry with them the unspoken attitude “not only can we survive in this area, we thrive in it, and given the choice, would not wish to be anywhere else than here.”  I can understand that.

A fellow cruiser, in speaking of the Inside Passage and the cruising grounds inside Vancouver Island, commented that “the easy cruising there encourages poor seamanship.”  I entirely agree – we have witnessed many such examples first hand.  Throughout the trip thus far we have only encountered serious, skilled people, intimately familiar with and embracing the challenges of cruising this area.  No “weekend warriors” here since I suspect that attitude would be the shortcut to calamity.  Prior to spending time along this coast it was not truly apparent how much of a misnomer Desolation Sound, with its anchorages harbouring boatloads of holidaymakers packed in from shoreline to shoreline, really was.  Perhaps desolate during George Vancouver’s time but no longer.  Sharing an anchorage with float planes and water taxis coming and going, once a novelty, is now just an unwelcome intrusion; a reminder of a populace governed by time, schedule and convenience rather than the cycles of nature.  Some distant place; in attitude,a million miles from here.  There was a time when I too was one of those people.  Now I share nothing in common and can barely understand them.

We are now a little more than halfway “down” the coast and, although I am looking to the next anchorages with eager anticipation, I am already starting to mourn the passing of the “wild north coast”, its remoteness, its solitude, its tranquility, and its unabashed rugged beauty.


The rugged west coast during a southeasterly blow

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