Log #57i Up to Princess Louisa Inlet

December 8, 2013 in Log Series 50-59, Logs by Series, Series 57, The Logs, Uncategorized

Panama City, Florida

Nov. 17, 2013

Hi Folks,

We are enjoying the warmer weather of Florida, having visited sailing friends in Chiefland and Fort Pierce, and Judy’s sister here in Panama City. Our leisurely trip from Toronto down here was uneventful, allowing us to spend a day in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park en route.

Our friends in Fort Pierce were staying in a lovely modular home in Golden Ponds, a retirement community in which the low price of several of the homes blew me away. For $3,000 to $5,000 one could buy one of these most comfortable homes (with at least two bedrooms and two baths, plus car port) and the maintenance fee would be only about $4800 to $5,000 a year. It would include maintenance, garbage collection, taxes, and membership in the development association, including a large community clubhouse complete with a crafts room (including a ceramic kiln), game rooms, community meeting and dance floor equipped social room, a large kitchen, borrowing library, and a large outside deck with big kidney shaped pool and a hot tub. These homes cost five to ten times as much originally, but they are the products of the housing crash in the U.S. and estate sales of deceased residents. 

Here in Panama City we are enjoying St. Andrews State Park with its glorious sandy beaches and sand dune walking and nature trails. From our trailer I can see several small sailboats anchored off the park, some apparently are there long term in this semi tropical paradise along the Gulf coast. We were past here in Veleda in 1998 after coming down the Mississippi and the Ten Tom Waterway on our way to the Florida Keys, Cuba and the Bahamas. Judy wonders how I talked her into going to the northern west coast where it is considerably cooler, even in the summer time. For Judy the ideal climate is when getting up in the morning one has only to put on a bathing suit.

Next week we head to Louisiana and Texas.

All the best,

Aubrey

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Log #57i Up to Princess Louisa Inlet

Chiefland, Florida1

Nov. 10, 2103

Aug. 14 we left Howe Sound, adjacent to the city of Vancouver, and went 23 miles up the mainland coast to the well protected Smugglers Cove, anchoring in the compact inner bay with a bow anchor and a line tied ashore to prevent our swinging in this small but picturesque cove (49 30.751N, 123 57.744W). This cove has several connected bays which provide good shelter , thus being used by smugglers in various time periods (especially during the U.S. Prohibition era) to hide from the authorities.

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There were several boats in each bay, most with stern lines secured to metal rings on embedded in the rocks ashore, thoughtfully place by the Marine Park. We wended our way to the innermost bay and tied a line ashore.

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                                                                                                                                        Veleda with stern line ashore

Many paths allowed walkers to explore the shoreline and the woods and marshes inland. We dinghied around several of the bays, some of which would be inaccessible at low tides. This is another idyllic anchorage where one could spend days or weeks, with Pender Harbour a short ten mile trip away for any supplies needed.

Next day grey and drizzly, we tied up at Madeira Park Public Wharf (49 37.393N, 124 01.538W) in Pender Harbour. This very pleasant community is on the mainland (not on North or South Pender Island) and has daily bus service to Vancouver.  Judy Johnson our guest, and I went to a musical concert just 100 yards from the marina. Most enjoyable! There is much community activity in this community. There is a shopping centre across from a school yard, easy walking distance from the marina. Carts from the large grocery store are allowed to be taken and left at the marina, another small consideration appreciated by transient boaters. Also along the dock was Kiskadee, a boat belonging to the harbour master at the Canadian Forces Sailing Association (which we had joined) giving us a chance to let him know of our interests in hauling out for the winter at Equimalt. It would be ideal if it could be worked out. Our friend Judy caught a bus from Pender Harbour back to Vancouver, and we left next day.

After going to the pump out dock, we headed up the coast and into the Agamemnon Channel which leads into the 20 mile long Jervis Inlet. There are mist shrouded mountains on both sides of this wide fjord, and a couple of lumber mills and gravel quarries, but fewer and fewer private cottages as we went up, further from civilization. We were able to motor sail for three hours going up until we came to Queens Reach near the end of the inlet.

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(In the above maplet, Pender Harbour is at the bottom, Smugglers Cove is just a few miles south, and Princess Louisa Inlet at the top.)

We entered to starboard into the narrow tide-surged cut opening into the glorious Princess Louisa Inlet, a five mile long fjord, maybe as much as a half mile wide, fringed with towering snow topped mountains, with several picturesque waterfalls cascading hundreds of feet down the steep tree clad slopes. We timed our entrance near slack high water to avoid the turbulence that could be created by a nine knot current.  There is a large church sponsored camp at the entrance with all kinds of water sports and hiking trails for their many guests. We noticed the rails of the residence balconies lined with towels and other wet clothing from hikes through the rain shrouded forests.

We went around the low lying MacDonald Island near the end of the fjord where we took a mooring ball for three nights. We could have gone right up to the end and anchored off Chaterbox Falls, or gone alongside the Marine Park dock. However, we wanted the isolation of this location (50 11.192N, 123 48.265W), as there were no other boats around. The distance from Pender Harbour was 47 nautical miles. Fortunately with good planning we had the tide with us most of the way. 

From Veleda we could see up a mountain valley to a blue/white glacier atop which was often shrouded by cloud cover. Looking across the channel we could see a high waterfall cascading down over the cliff, and through a treed escarpment before merging into the cool waters of Princess Louisa Inlet.

       Log #57i Velda's mooring                                                             


        

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          Veleda’s mooring                                                              Glacier above Veleda’s mooring                                                                                                                               

                                                                    Log #57i Waterfalls across the channel from Veleda

                                                         Waterfall across from Veleda’s mooring

The lofty mountain views on all sides were spectacular. Any boats passing up or down the fjord were like miniature toys beneath the towering mountains.

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                                 (In the above picture, Veleda is in the centre beside MacDonalds Island

                                                           and dwarfed by the mountains behind.)

I was eager to get in the dinghy for a more intimate experience along the dramatic shorelines, and down to the end where the energetic Chatterbox Falls plunges into the end waters of the fjord.

Puttering down the last mile or so of the fjord in the dinghy, I took many pictures of the scenic waterfalls, frequently stopping the outboard motor to just quietly drink in the tranquility and magnificence of this mountainous wonderland. Along the shoreline we could not see the tops of the mountains, but had intimate views of the plunging waterfalls and their small streams as they babbled into the open waters of the fjord.

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                                                                      Waterfalls of Princess Louisa Inlet

On the opposite shores we could see to the tops of the mountains, several of which were snow-capped, or cloud shrouded. We found the weather in the fjord frequently cloudy or partially cloudy, but did not experience clear sunny days as we did across the Strait of Georgia in the Gulf Islands.

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             Clouds below mountain tops                                           Looking up Princess Louisa Inlet

As we approached Chatterbox Falls we could see the mists generated by the plunging torrents. There was one power boat anchored just off the falls with a spectacular view of the roaring waters. With the outflow current the boat was always anchored with its stern to the open water. To the right of the falls was the long government dock with about a dozen boats along both sides, and a ramp going up into the trails of the park. Water was available on the dock, but no electricity for the boats moored there.

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                Boat anchored off Chatterbox Falls                             Marine Park dock at Chatterbox Falls

The main trail above the dock is a verdant green wonderland with cool damp breezes and wisps of mist generated from the roaring waterfalls. The tree trunks and branches were heavy with moss, the ground soft and moist, the many exposed roots glistening wet in the damp rain forest atmosphere. This enchanting misty wonderland around Chatterbox Falls looks as if it would be home to Leprechauns or Hobbits.

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                                         The misty wonderland around Chatterbox Falls

There is an advisory sign to not climb to the top of the falls due to the slippery rocks, with the ominous statement that, “12 people have lost their lives by not observing this warning.”

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               The torrent of Chatterbox Falls                                   Warning notice at Chatterbox Falls

We dinghied up to the narrow entrance to get a better look at the church camp and to experience the  turbulent current at mid flood. We played around in the currents for a few minutes, aware that Veleda could have handled them if necessary.

There is a small charge for the docks or the mooring buoys, but we elected to make a more major donation to the park with the mail in envelopes available. A pleasant surprise was that any donation could be a tax credit for either Canada or the U.S., depending whether the envelope was delivered to a Canadian or U.S. address.

We left early the third morning to catch an ebb tide going out Princess Louisa Inlet and down the Jervis Inlet, 42 miles to another provincial marine park on Musket Island along the B.C. coast.