Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sidney to Campbell River

We arrived in Campbell River last night after 5 wonderful days working our way up British Columbia’s mainland west coast from Sidney B.C. Last Wednesday night was spent peacefully anchored in Pender Islands Port Browning. We arrived there in the afternoon and kayaked ashore where we visited the local bookstore, market and bakery. The bakery offered wonderful whole wheat artisan bread that was impossible to pass up. It also featured an assortment of imported British food items that Anne remembered fondly from her childhood. On Thursday we continued northeast across the Strait of Georgia past the city of Vancouver heading for Secret Cove where we planned to rendezvous with our friends Doug & Patricia who were sailing southbound from Desolation Sound. When they arrived we were pleased to celebrate their anniversary over dinner aboard our boat. Doug & Patricia spoke so highly of the scenery at famous Chatterbox Falls that we made the 50 mile trip through beautiful Jervis Inlet and Princess Louisa inlet the next day, timing our arrival at Malibu Rapids at the slack water period that evening. The rapids are so narrow that only one boat can pass through at a time and care must be taken to avoid transiting the area during anytime but slack water. At peak flow the current can flow at up to 15 knots, which is faster than most large boats can motor. We’ve been told that numerous boats have been wrecked on the rocks there when they failed to correctly follow the narrow channel. Once inside Princess Louisa Inlet we motored through the majestic fjord to the numerous waterfalls at the end. Mark describes it like sailing into Yosemite Valley. At about 8:30 pm we joined about 7 other boats at the public dock, managed by Canada’s park service and within minutes were making new friends, sharing sailing stories and giving folks a tour of ”Blue Rodeo”. We had been underway for over 8 hours but were able to sail a large portion of the way with a light, warm breeze from astern and the time seemed to go by quickly. The scenery was absolutely majestic. The next day was spent hiking, paddle boarding and traveling by dinghy to the “Malibu Club” located at Malibu Rapids. The club is a summer camp operated by the Young Life organization for city kids from the U.S. who have never had the opportunity to experience the great outdoors and to challenge themselves in healthy, physical ways. Although in-between groups of guests, normally 300 at a time, a few camp staff was on the premises and one of them was nice enough to give us a very interesting tour. Our guide explained that the property was originally purchased by Tom Hamilton, inventor of the constant speed propeller for aircraft and used as a personal retreat for his family and Hollywood socialites including some famous actors. It was eventually sold due to the inconvenience of its location to the present association. The lodge buildings and facilities were amazing and the location was breathtaking. There was a full size swimming pool carved into the rock adjacent to the rapids and the dining room had a great view overlooking the entire area. We can only imagine what impact this camp and its healthy activities has on the many less fortunate inner city kids that visit. That evening and the next day was spent getting to know our new friends and restowing hundreds of pounds of hastily stored provisions aboard “Blue Rodeo”. Our final night there featured a pot luck dinner on the dock with great food, lots of laughter and music provided by David and James on their guitars. The group couldn’t help but sing along to many of our old favorites from the Beatles and Bob Dylan. Considering the magnificent surroundings and the great camaraderie, we found the evening magical. It served to reinforce what we have heard from other cruisers, and already experienced ourselves, that aside from the memories of the beautiful places visited, it's the new friendships made that will be treasured for a lifetime.

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