May 15, 2006

Princess Louisa Bound

Hi Everyone!

We’re on our way to Princess Louisa! We should arrive there on Saturday May 20th.

Princess Louisa Inlet is reported to have the most fantastic scenery in the entire Pacific Northwest, it’s a must not miss. It’s reachable only by boat or float plane. The water in the inlet is over 1,000 feet deep and is surrounded by 5,000 to 8,000 foot mountains, carved by ancient glaciers.

Earle Stanley Gardiner wrote in his Log of a Landlubber:
“There is a calm tranquility which stretches from the smooth surface of the reflecting waters straight up to infinity. The deep calm of eternal silence is only disturbed by the muffled roar of throbbing waterfall as they plunge down from sheer cliffs. There is no scenery in the world that can beat it. Not that I’ve seen the rest of the world, I don’t need to. I’ve seen Princess Louisa Inlet.”

We’ll have our reports and photos when we get back out around the 24th or so.

For more info about Princess Louisa see: http://www.princesslouisa.bc.ca/

Today, May 15th, we’re back at the Gibson’s Landing Marina across Howe Sound from the city of Vancouver.

Yesterday, we left Ganges at 8:55 AM heading for Porlier Pass. We had an adverse current of over 2 knots so we had to increase our normal engine RPMs from 2250 to 2500 to make the pass at the 11:47 AM slack tide.

Porlier Pass is one of the more boisterous passes – particularly during Spring Tides (around the time of the full and new moons). For example, at 8:12 AM the tide would have been 5.5 knots on our nose. At 2:56 PM the tide would have been 8.6 Knots on our tail!

Up here, there appears to be a pecking order for passes. Up to fairly boisterous, their called “Passes”. The really hairy ones are called “Rapids”. Passes can have whirlpools and currents exceeding 9 knots. Rapids can also have overfalls, big standing waves and currents up to 14+ knots – they’re generally much more turbulent than Passes. These are our observations, I haven’t found specific definitions of the difference.

We traversed quite a few rapids last year and many passes. It turns our they’re really no big deal – as long as you traverse them at or close to slack current. The allowable timing varies – some rapids have a navigable window of as little as 15 minutes.

On Saturday (May 20th), we’ll be heading through Malibu Rapids, which guards the entrance to Princess Louisa. The tricky part of this one is timing your arrival as it’s 32 miles from the nearest safe place to spend the night – Egmont Marina. This is also a pretty hairy set of rapids – e.g. the sailing instructions say “Wait until the surf created by the overfall subsides entirely” before proceeding through. The rapids also have a dogleg turn in the middle, it’s narrow and you can’t see the other end when you start through – so a call on the radio announcing your intentions is a really good idea.

OK, back to our yesterday’s passage: Our timing was pretty good, we were going to arrive at the pass a few minutes early – but then the RCMP came by in a fast Zodiac and picked us to do a “Customs Check”. This is the first time we’ve been boarded in the 5+ years we’ve owned Raptor Dance. As we had been in Canada since March 24th and had our paperwork (and flags) in order, the check only took 10 minutes. The RCMP members (apparently they’re not called “officers”, at least on our copy of the “Custom Check Sheet” they left with us.

We still got to Porlier Pass within a few minutes of slack, so all was well.

We then forereached across the Straights of Georgia motor sailing with 20 knot headwinds arriving in Gibson’s Landing at 3:35 PM.

We’ll be here until tomorrow morning, then up to Pender Harbour for 2 nights, the Egmont for 2 nights then up to Princess Louisa.

I’ll wrap up for now, but I’ll send another message in a little while on what else we’ve been up to since we got back to cruising.

Warmest Regards,
Bill and Mary
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