Destinations Hot Springs

Destination: Europa Bay (Gardner Canal)

Saturday, August 30, 2014S.V. CAMBRIA

Entrance:           53°26.835’N, 128°33.613’W
Moorings:           53°26.970’N, 128°33.566’W  (approximate)
                        53°26.977’N, 128°33.408’W  (approximate)
Hot Springs:       53°26.996’N, 128°33.675’W  (approximate)
Cabin:               53°26.962’N, 128°33.154’W  (approximate)

Disclaimer:  This blog article is not to be used for navigation.  It is purely an account of our personal experience in Gardner Canal, a remote wilderness location, during calm weather conditions.  There are no services or VHF reception and any boat that enters should be self-sufficient.

We fell in love with natural hot springs on our first visit to the Central Coast in 2012 and that love affair has only grown over the last two years.  For us, there’s not much that can top the experience of taking a long, hot soak in the middle of nowhere, washing away the stress of the day and then going home, clean and refreshed.  Not to a hotel room surrounded by other tourists, but home.  Our home.  It’s heaven on earth by any definition, especially ours.  And it was our quest for hot springs that first brought our attention to Gardner Canal

After spending six years in the Pacific Northwest (mostly in British Columbia), we’ve come to take the descriptions listed in local cruising guides (in this case, Douglass’ “Exploring the North Coast of British Columbia”) with a dose of skepticism – let’s face it, not every anchorage can be the most beautiful in the world.  But we are equal opportunity cruisers, so when Douglass described the pools in Europa as “by far the most pleasant hot-spring experience on the North Coast” we were ready to put their words to the test.  And we’ve got to say . . . they failed. 

The hot springs in Europa Bay.  The upper level of the structure has a picnic table and overlooks the bay,
making it a nice place for lunch (if they bugs aren't out).

First, in all fairness, I should tell you that we were there on a hot, sunny day and the deer flies were out in full-force so I’m not sure our visit is the best judge.  Not only are these vicious biting machines pests, but David’s a complete lunatic when it comes to killing them.  Listening to him rant and rave for hours while he runs around killing every single one that he can while claiming victory for future generations really wears on my nerves and can make even the best of circumstances (i.e. hanging on the hook in the middle of nowhere) a real drag.  And secondly, we (stupidly) chose to visit the pools around 10 or 11 in the morning when the sun was blazing rather than going in the cooler hours of the evening like reasonable people.

The two hot spring pools in Europa Bay.  As you can see, the whole area is a little cramped.

So, while we aren’t big fans of Europa the pools really are very nice.  The rock work is beautiful, giving the tubs a more natural feel, and they overlook the bay with a nice view out to the canal.  But that doesn’t change the fact that the water’s way too hot.  A thermometer in the main tub says it’s 40°C (105°F), but we think it’s stuck because it feels much warmer than that and after 10 minutes we were both lightheaded and had to get out.  The temperature in the smaller pool is a more practical 37°C (98°F), but it’s small (really small) and only a couple of feet deep – not what you’d call “soaking” depth.   

Cambria tied to one of the moorings in Europa Bay.

The anchorage itself isn’t particularly beautiful or interesting:  The surrounding hills are low in comparison and, in have been heavily logged in the past.  The bay is open to inflow winds and sees a slight chop in the afternoons.  The holding is reported to be poor in rock in depths of 33 metres (109 feet).  But BC Parks has set up two mooring buoys in the bay for public use (despite being marked “Private”), making it a good option in settled weather. 

And although Europa Bay doesn’t rank high on our list of hot springs at the moment, it’s easy to see that under the right conditions it could.  I only hope we have the opportunity to improve on our experience in the future . . . the sooner, the better in my opinion.

Things to Do:

  • Soak in the hot springs.
  • Explore by kayak.
  • If you go to shore near the cabin or venture up stream, be bear aware.

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