Watching the clouds clear, Listening to the small waterfalls, Evening descends over Princess Louisa Inlet, Peace surrounds us.
Because of Covid and border restrictions it’s been two years since we have found ourselves again floating on the calm magical waters here. As those of you who have followed our boating True Love Adventures, you know that PLI is truly our happy place. We’ve never been here so late in the season but it’s still awesome. The tips of a few maple leaves are just beginning to turn yellow for Fall. The waterfalls are minimal except for Chatterbox Falls although they are still trickling at our favorite anchorage, creating the waterfall surround sound experience that we enjoy so much.
After the joyous wedding of Chad and Brittany on August 21 at Bow Lake (near Bellingham), we spent two two long cruising days to get to PLI. As predicted, the skies were overcast and we had a cool SW wind as we left Bellingham. But true to its summer name, the weather cleared as we approached the Sunshine Coast and we were able to travel on the fly deck with the top open to the sun. Although we followed the Canadian entry rules by filling out the Arrive Canada app, uploading our vaccine records and receiving our negative Covid test, we were still unsure how it would go at customs.
Because we began our cruise into Canada from Bellingham, we planned to clear customs at White Rock, which is a lovely town just north of the Canadian border near the “Peace Arch.” Unfortunately, the dock there was not suited for larger boats, especially at low tide. In fact we’ve since learned from other boaters that the big docks there were wiped out last year in a storm. So instead I called into the main phone number for Canadian Customs. It was busy initially, but after a few attempts I got through to a very helpful border official who took down all our key information over the phone and sent us on our way, just like they usually do in a normal year. Amazing!
After clearing customs, we rode a big flood tide north as we cruised past the City of Vancouver and Howe Sound, which is the beautiful fjord that takes you almost all the way to the Whistler Ski Area. Enjoying the afternoon sunshine and light winds we were able to ride the tide all the way up to Pender Harbour, where we anchored for the night.
Monday morning the Captain had a zoom conference so the First Mate took the dinghy to the public dock and walked from there to the grocery store to get some fresh fruits and veggies because you aren’t allowed to bring those (or alcohol) into Canada. And then we were off with another flood tide and favorable winds up Agamemnon Channel toward Princess Louisa Inlet.
Cruising 40 miles down the big fjord and then into the beautiful little side fjord that is PLI always feels like coming home for us. We easily set our anchor and shore tie at our favorite anchorage, about a mile away from Chatterbox Falls and the handful of boats that were anchored there or tied up to the one dock managed by the BC Parks Ranger. We still had time to explore a bit on the dinghy and the First Mate enjoyed the best paddle boarding in the universe on the calm waters, literally paddling over the reflection of the mountains. Malibu Camp at the tidal rapid entrance to PLI was almost empty, probably because of Covid and the end of the Young Life camping season. As I write this we share the four mile long fjord surrounded by tall mountains with only six other boats and the two sight seeing seaplanes that flew in today, stayed for about an hour, and then flew out.
The air is cooler in late August, not cold, but not warm either, similar to early in the summer when we usually hang out here. Still the water is 70 degrees so we plan to do some floating later. The seagulls that usually nest in the inlet have done their thing and flown the coop. We haven’t spotted any eagles yet. I’m sure they are out searching for salmon. Early in the summer we see the very new baby seals and mothers. But now there is more of a little community. When we were out paddle boarding this morning they surrounded Jim. We’ve never seen so many together here.
Although there have usually been some clouds/fog coming over the mountains during the day, the last two nights have been clear. A bright moon is rising, but it doesn’t overtake the mountain top until after 3 AM, which creates a fun star watching opportunity in the first few hours after the the sun sets and the sky turns dark.
Last night we laid out on our camp cushions on the bow and watched the Summer Triangle appear (Vega, Deneb and Altair), followed by a great collection of stars, satellites and even a few shooting stars. We always sleep well here. Although the sky lightens up with the sunrise we don’t get direct sun until late morning this time of year so its easy to sleep in.
We weren’t sure what to expect coming here so late in the season and we don’t have time to do much exploring in Canada other than our visit to PLI. But it’s still absolutely worth it. We’re here for 6 nights and then we head back to the little town of Egmont (about an hour closer than Pender Harbour but much smaller), where we will pick up Stephen and Kaysi Kushner.
Stephen and Kaysi were the “silver lining” of our Covid time. They are friends we met and spent lots of time with in Hawaii during the first months of Covid when we happened to be at our condo on Oahu. They taught us how to improve at pickle ball and we taught them how to play bridge. After leaving Oahu we’ve continued our friendship with regular zoom calls and by playing bridge online. I’m not sure our paths would have crossed for such an extended period of time, but we are now lifelong friends and we can’t wait to share our favorite place with them.
Our first two days in PLI were full of sun, star watching and very dry conditions. But as predicted a rainstorm came in Thursday, bringing the 10+ cliff side waterfalls back to life and filling the inlet with the stereo sounds of water falling everywhere. Chatterbox falls is filling nicely and the surrounding waterfalls are adding to the chorus. In early summer the smaller waterfalls flow steadily as the high mountain snow melts, but at the end of summer it takes a rainy day to ignite the surrounding smaller but very tall waterfalls that surround Chatterbox Falls at the head of the fjord, and it’s well worth a day or two of rain to see PLI in all of its waterfall glory. We had a similar experience on the hike along a river on the southern island of New Zealand that led to the Tasman Sea.
Friday night I turned on our underwater lights to attract fish and the fish came but so did a seal. What fun it was watching the seal swim and spin in the light!
Today is our last day before we head back out for a few days. It’s sunny again! But with the sun the high waterfalls diminish back to a late summer flow. This may be the first time the weather forecast was correct up here a week in advance.
Today we explored a new little trail that follows the path of one of the high waterfalls. It’s hard to believe that after 12 years coming up here we never explored the fresh water pools from the waterfall directly across from our anchorage. This is a known spot to clean off and wash clothes in fresh water if you don’t have abundant water on your boat. It’s not a necessity for us and we usually just swim in the salt water. But because of the low run off from the lack of snow melt it was easy to get to it. This late in the season the underbrush is dying back and the trail around the waterfall is obvious. So we scrambled up and got pretty far up the waterfalls. We couldn’t do this during the heavy runoff the last two days, but today it’s perfect.
I continue to take lots of photos. I don’t know which is more beautiful the mountains and the waterfalls, or the reflection of the mountains and the waterfalls in the water.
Our next blog we’ll share our Alaska Adventure from July.