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Princess Louisa Inlet Cruise Report

PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 3:44 pm
by jeffd
This is a cruise that I took a long time ago - Labor Day weekend, 1986 (!). I've been meaning to get back up to Princess Louisa Inlet for a while, but it seems there are so many good new places to explore, so I haven't been back yet. One big advantage of having a trailerable sailboat is you can tow your boat up to Egmont BC, and launch, saving the long passage up the Strait of Georgia and Malaspina Strait. But it isn't all free - Trailering to Egmont BC is a bit of a task, which involves driving to Horseshoe Bay BC (with Greater Vancouver and North Vancouver traffic to contend with), paying the ferry fee (about $200 round trip), waiting in line for the next ferry (maybe make a reservation), riding the BC ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Langdale (actually a very pleasant ride, especially if the weather is nice), then driving from Langdale to Egmont (about 55 miles, on a somewhat twisty, up and down road). Egmont has a nice marina and store, but when I was there, the launch ramp was kind of crude - not very steep, not well paved, and no dock, but quite usable. I took this trip with my buddy, Mr. Jon, a fellow adventurer and sailor.


Chatterbox falls, and Princess Louisa Provincial Park are about 34 nautical miles from Egmont. There is no gas available, no stores, and some say no anchorages between Egmont and Malibu Rapids. So I planned for worst case and took along enough gas to motor the entire 68 miles. And it is important to time your arrival at Malibu Rapids to be BEFORE slack tide, so you don't get caught fighting the tide. Malibu Rapids can run 15 knots, so it is very important to transit the rapids at slack, and most of the time, you are not the only boat going through.

Here is the chart that we used for our trip - notice the contour lines showing the canyons that the reaches go through, and the very high mountains that surround them. The scenery on the way is fantastic.

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The drive to Egmont was uneventful. We left home extra early, to make sure we'd make the ferry, and have enough time to make it up the reaches to arrive at Malibu Rapids by slack, that afternoon. Launching at Egmont took a bit of effort. I wasn't as experienced at launching the boat back then (I'd had the boat in the water at a marina in Tacoma for the previous 2 years), and the boat sat higher on the trailer I had at that time. So I had to back pretty far in - almost had the tow vehicle's rear tires in the water, but managed to get the boat off. It was a cool, overcast day. As I rounded Egmont point, I noticed a tailwind! So up comes the spinnaker. I did not have an instruments to measure speed, but I can remember that it was a great ride. The overcast had settled in so we could not see the tops of the mountains. I remember seeing a Beaver floatplane flying over us - he was flying pretty low. We had a great tailwind all the way to just before Malibu Rapids. We got there before slack, and waited outside. Just before slack, we motored through Malibu Rapids. Once inside Princess Louisa Inlet, the water was very calm, and we slowly motored up to Chatterbox falls. I had heard reports that it was typical that the dock at the park was full. But to our surprise, when we got to the dock, there were only a few boats.

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So we tied up, and went ashore to see Chatterbox falls and take photos. We found out after talking with others that we were early and beat the crowd. The dock was full the next day.

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Chatterbox falls did not disappoint us. Excuse the mediocre quality of these photos - they are converted from Ektachrome slides, and I haven't figured out the best color balance. Even with the overcast and fog, the falls and scenery at Princess Louisa is beautiful. No wonder this is such a popular place and people keep coming back.

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The next day, we decided to try to take the hike up to the famous "trapper's cabin". It was an overcast, foggy, and sometimes rainy day. We hiked and climbed up quite far and got some breathtaking views of the upper falls.

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We never made it to the trapper's cabin, but the scenery was fantastic, and it was a great workout.

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The changing weather and clouds just helped make the scenery even more beautiful.

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Back at the dock, well, it looks like the crowd finally showed up.

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Finally, the time arrived for us to leave. Looking back, I hoped someday to make it back for another visit.

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As we motored out toward Malibu Rapids, the clouds rolled in. Looks like it'll be a wet trip back.

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Even with the clouds, Princess Louisa Inlet is beautiful.

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We got to Malibu Rapids early, so we decided to take quick tour of Malibu Camp - the Young Life camp, which is right at Malibu Rapids. It turned out that the guy that came to meet us at the dock was my buddy's former roommate! Small world! He gave us a quick tour, and we did some catching up.

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Oops, we'd better get going - don't want to miss the slack. So we say our goodbyes, and jump back in the boat. We are a bit late, but my old 6hp Johnson manages to crank out the horses to get us through the beginnings of the flood tide. After we are through, we noticed there is wind! Up go the sails. It is a headwind, but we are sailors, so we beat up the reaches. Toward the end of the day, I do some quick calculations, and we decide to anchor out in Vancouver Bay, which is about 12 miles from Egmont. The chart indicates a logging camp, but things look pretty deserted. The bay is pretty deep, but gets shallow very fast. I am glad to have a swing keel, so we put the boat in shallow draft mode, and anchor out pretty close to shore. After a good night's sleep, we motor back to Egmont, pull the boat out of the water, and start the drive home. Too bad I pre-mixed all the outboard gas - I didn't use much. It could have been used in the tow vehicle if I hadn't mixed it with 50:1 outboard oil. Lesson learned. Now I have a 4 stroke outboard so no premixing needed. The drive back to Langdale is uneventful, except when we arrive, we see lots and lots of cars waiting for the ferry. I recall this is Labor Day weekend, so we just have to wait. At least the sun is coming out! We finally got to board the third ferry. Next time, maybe make a reservation? Or don't travel on a 3 day weekend. Still, it was a great trip - we got to do lots of sailing, saw the spectacular scenery, got a spot at the dock, took a nice hike, and nothing broke! I still haven't made it back up there, but maybe someday.

Re: Princess Louisa Inlet Cruise Report

PostPosted: Mon Nov 28, 2011 2:11 pm
by kuriti
Excellent write-ups. I am in NC, so don't have much to say, just words of encouragement to keep doing it. I will try to do the same as i get some additional adventures to share.