Princess Louisa Inlet Cruising Information

  • 22 Jan 2023 7:42 AM
    Message # 13067793

    We cruised to Princess Louisa Inlet (PLI) this May, leaving from the Friday Harbor CBrats Gathering. Both Chris and I have always wanted to go to PLI, and for some reason in more than 50 years each of Inside Passage wandering, we never made it there. I suspect that we were often distracted by Desolation Sound and destinations farther north, we’ve been going to the Port Hardy area for over 40 years. Also, the idea of a 43 nm trip each way from Pender Harbour probably was discouraging. Also, we were often in slow sailboats, so the almost 90 NM round trip was daunting. Having just returned from the trip, it was completely worth the time and gas, we should have done it sooner. 

    Some of the basic facts: Boats-our 2004 Cdory 25 Raven, a 29’ Back Cove and a 32’ Eaglecraft aluminum cruiser. We all were old friends and experienced boaters. The boats were generally similar in size and speed. Our 25 was smaller and faster. 

    Route: We left Friday Harbor on Sunday: 

    Day 1: 
    FH-Anacortes to pick up Chris, cleared Customs in Sidney, spent the night at the dock in Conover Cove on Wallace Island. Wind and rain at night, good hikes on Wallace Island, but muddy. 

    Day 2: 
    Conover Cove to Nanaimo, transiting Dodd Narrows, we spent the night at the Public Wharf in Nanaimo, close to a good marine chandler and a grocery store. Raven had one battery that was showing signs of ill health, so we bought two new batteries in Nanaimo. The battery store nicely drove the batteries down to the dock for us. Fun walking around the 
    Old Town of Nanaimo. 

    Day 3/4: 
    The much anticipated crossing the the Strait of Georgia. About 30 miles and 2 hours from Nanaimo to Pender Harbour with a peek into Smugglers Cove. The Whiskey Gulf Military zone was not active. The wind was light and astern, visibility perfect. There was a forecast of gale to storm force winds for the next day, so we planned two nights at the Public dock in Madeira Park, an arm of Pender.. It is a short walk to a grocery store, bakery and small restaurants. Our dock was the commercial fishing dock for the spot prawn fleet, so lots of activity and prawns for sale on the dock. The wind started to blow in the night, bouncing the boats around despite our very protected spot. We stood on the end of the dock and watched the strong gusts blow through, strong enough to pick up water from the surface. Maybe 40+ knots of wind. Two large pleasure trawlers started to drag anchor and motored around looking for a better spot, They were heeling over 20 degrees in the gusts. We spent the day exploring Pender Harbour, beers at the Grasshopper Pub on the heights above the dock. 

    Day 5: 
    This was the big push from Pender Harbour, up Agememnon Channel and then the long trip up Jervis Inlet to Malibu Rapids and the entrance to PLI. The distance is 43 nm. We were going to go through the rapids at low slack of a big tidal exchange, slack was about 3 pm. So we knew when we needed to arrive and set our pace to arrive about 30-40 minutes early. We pushed through on the end of the ebb, after radioing a Securitie call for oncoming traffic. Four boats came through, including us, that was it for new boats at the Chatterbox Falls dock. Plenty of space. 
    As you can see in the pictures, the views were awe inspiring. Too many waterfalls to count, 3000 ‘ rock walls, fresh snowfields all around. Soon after our arrival two Kenmore float planes swept into the inlet and landed at the dock. Three generations of pilots from the family that owns Kenmore flew in with a film crew to make a video of one of Kenmore’s favorite destinations. We began to hear cracks and roars from up on the cliffs. At least 3 rock, snow and ice falls/avalanches came pouring down the steep chutes on the cliffs. 

    Day 6: 
    This was our extra rest day in PLI. We had sunny skies, no wind and warm temperatures. The sun comes to the dock late and leaves early due to the surrounding cliffs. 
    A large gas turbine float plane landed with a wedding party. They had a perfect day for the wedding on the grass lawn at the base of Chatterbox Falls. They stayed for two hours. 

    Day 7: 
    This was our day to leave on the morning high slack. This was a much easier transit of the rapids, the exchange was minimal and the tide high. About 8-10 boats left headed down Jervis Inlet on that tide. We rode the ebb tide down Jervis with glassy calm conditions, perfect for a CDory. There were tomato red slick of a phytoplankton bloom, probably a Noctiluca species. We ended this day at the public wharf in Egmont on Sechelt Inlet. This was a chance to get fuel and water. Gas was $2.55 Cn/liter, about $7.50 USD per US gallon. We also hiked the 2.5 mile hike to see Skookumchuck rapids at maximum ebb tide, very impressive, whirlpools that were 3-5 ‘ deep and large enough to fit a CDory. There were no boats trying to transit the rapids at the max current 

    Day 8: 
    Another Strait of Georgia crossing day, this time southbound from Egmont/Secret Harbour across to the Gulf Islands. We chose Porlier Pass to enter the Gulf Island, other major options would be Nanaimo and Dodd Narrows, Galiano Pass and Active Pass. The current was in our favor going through the pass and down the inside of the Gulf Islands. This was our longest day, 70 nm from Egmont to Ganges. Ganges was a good stop, convenient space at the Kanaka Wharf right at the edge of the town, nice docks with power and water, easy walking distance to shopping and eating. 

    Day 9: 
    This was a short shot from Ganges to our home port of Anacortes, it is almost a straight course from Ganges to Pole Pass between Orcas and Crane Island. We cleared into the US using the CBP Roam app on my phone, an officer called and did a video interview and then we were free to dock anywhere in the US. 

    This was a great trip, we should have done it sooner. May was a good time, the weather was variable, it has been a cool and wet spring in the northwest, but we had generally flat seas and calm water, especially in the long inlets. It was nice to have heat in the cabin, especially in the morning. There was one very windy day but it was well forecast and we were safely docked in Pender Harbor. Going in May also meant that there was always space at a dock, even for three boats traveling together. It’s nice to be at a dock to socialize between our small boats, the dock provides extra common space. Also nice to have shore power for a space heater and to run the hot water heater. After two years of being closed to US boats the Canadian docks and harbors are happy to see business improving, although some spots were still struggling with reopening. 
    We were completely happy with how our CDory 25 performed. 

    Total trip summary: Distance: 375 nm, Average speed: 11.9 knots, Fuel used: 126 gallons. Total fuel cost was about $700 with a mix of fuel prices in the US and Canada.
    4 files

Corinthian Yacht Club of Seattle
7755 Seaview Ave NW 
Seattle WA 98117
(206) 789-1919 

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