LUND, B.C. - The sun tanned locals in this beautiful British Columbia outpost offer us a complicated explanation about why they call this area of the province the “Sunshine Coast.”
The idea behind the name, they tell us, was that folks from afar would recognize it as an obvious trick. After all, anyone who knows B.C. knows it’s usually shrouded in fog and soaked in rain, especially in this area dominated by a rainforest. So visitors wouldn’t come — thus leaving this remote area, where eagles soar, bears roam and whales frolic in the gentle surf, to the locals who know only too well that most summer days are canopied by blue skies and blanketed in warm 30C days.
But they couldn’t fool us.
And for 10 glorious sun-filled days last summer we sailed from Horseshoe Bay to Desolation Sound, the southern portion of the famous Inside Passage which reaches northwards all the way to South East Alaska, and fell in love with B.C.’s “Sunshine Coast.”
Along the way we explored steep-sided fiords, enchanting channels and quiet bays where the big cruise ships cannot go; collecting oysters, trapping Dungeness crab and fishing for B.C. Spot Prawns as we sailed.
Left: A sail trip deep into British Columbia is rewarding. Right: Bald Eagles and other wildlife were remarkable.
Sidekick, our sturdy vessel, is a 34-foot Catalina single-masted sailboat owned by our good friends and travelling partners Dave and Mary Apps. Below deck she sleeps up to six adults, and her galley is fully equipped for Mary’s delicious gourmet meals. Above deck, Sidekick carries kayaks, crab pots, prawn traps and an inflatable dinghy, all systematically organized and tied down by Captain Dave. Under sail she slips elegantly through the ocean waves at a steady six knots.
Each day Sidekick delivered us to a new anchorage, typically with Bald Eagles glaring imperiously down at us from one or more of the towering Western Red Cedars, Sitka Spruce or Douglas Fir which dominate this section of B.C.’s coastal rainforest.After a day’s sail and a lazy late afternoon swim, followed by a salt cleansing fresh water shower on deck, we set the table for that day’s candlelit gourmet dinner.
We ate in the open cockpit, as stars reflected their shimmering light on the ocean’s mirrored surface.
As the sun set magnificently beyond the westernmost mountains and as the night’s calm descended, we were wrapped in layered mountain scenery — the surrounding snow capped peaks taking on a textured quilted look in the increasing dusk and afterglow.
Dave showed us how to lower the spot prawn trap 400 feet into the ocean’s depths, using Sidekick’s depth finder for guidance. The rest was simple: wait patiently, haul in the trap, clean, cook, peel and enjoy.
The method of catching Dungeness Crab was similar to trapping prawns, but simpler as we set the mesh pots at only 50 feet. The preferred bait is raw chicken legs. The caught crab meat is tender, succulent and sweet.
At each anchorage, we lowered the kayaks and the dinghy to explore the pristine marine habitat, always under the glare of the resident Bald Eagle. During one early morning kayak excursion at low tide, we played gently with the thousands of starfish which cling to the granite shoreline waiting for high tide to return.
The intertidal zone is wonderfully alive with colourful starfish, sun stars, tiny shrimp, sea anemones, sea cucumbers, mussels, goose necked barnacles, oysters, seals and otters.
Left: Laurel Rowbotham shows off her fishing skills. Right: B.C. is for the adventurous.
Friel Lake Falls at the northernmost end of Agamemnon Channel above Pender Harbour provides a glorious wilderness experience. The water drops 1,400 feet from Friel Lake high in the mountains, spreading icy melted water on the ocean’s surface.
It’s a special treat to swim at the foot of the falls, experiencing the ocean’s salty warmth at one level with the bracing cold of the fresh water on the surface.
We anchored overnight at nearby Harmony Islands where a moonless sky treated us to a stunning star show as we gazed upwards from Sidekick’s deck.
Our part of the 10 day voyage ended too soon at the tiny and perfect village of Lund, the northern terminus of Highway 101 which stretches thousands of kilometres south along the west coast of the Americas all the way to Peru.
Dave and Mary continued for another two weeks, exploring Desolation Sound; sadly we transferred to the nearest airport at Powell River to fly back to Vancouver, a flight which took only 22 minutes.
Imagine, 10 days to sail north and only 22 minutes to return home. The flight gave us an eagle’s eye review of our 10 day sailing trip in reverse — Copeland Islands, Lund, Powell River, Blind Bay, Harmony Islands, Friel Lake Falls, Agamemnon Channel, Pender Harbour, Secret Cove, Smuggler Cove, Merry Island Light, Sargeant’s Bay and Thunderbird Yacht Club, Sidekick’s home marina near the ferry terminal at Horseshoe Bay.
Our trip ended with one more glorious adventure when our friends Julie and Eric Startup met us at Vancouver Airport to take us to their home, Beachview Retreat, in Deep Cove, North Vancouver, one of the most welcoming and luxurious Bed and Breakfast homes we have ever been privileged to stay in.
So we ended our B.C. sailing adventure surrounded by Eric and Julie’s loving hospitality, magnificent home and delicious meals, a stunning view of Deep Cove right outside our bedroom window with snow capped mountains in the distance.