While the name, Desolation Sound may sound less than idyllic, this truly is a beautiful part of the Canadian coastline. This deep water sound is at the northern end of the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia, Canada. Flanked by Cortes Island and West Redonda Island, it has spectacular fjords, mountains and wildlife which make it a popular boating and sea kayaking destination.
Desolation Sound was inhabited by tribes of the Mainland Comox prior to the arrival of Europeans. In the summer of 1792, two expeditions led by Captains George Vancouver, Dionisio Alcalá Galiano and Cayetano Valdés y Flores arrived and cooperated in mapping the sound. Vancouver named it Desolation Sound, cryptically claiming that “there was not a single prospect that was pleasing to the eye”.
Personally, I couldn’t disagree more with Captain Vancouver…but who knows, maybe he was out of grogg, had scurvy or was feeling particularly grumpy when he decided on that name. I do believe that the area would have been quite desolate and wild with some crazy areas of currents, whirlpools and rapids that would have made early explorers have sphincter palpitations.
This video is just a small tidal rapid near Dent Island Lodge. Luckily, we did not have to traverse it so it was just fun to watch from shore.
Thankfully, the Government of British Columbia created the Desolation Sound Provincial Marine Park in 1973, to help protect this spectacular area from over development. The marine Park area comprises over 32 sq miles and over 37 miles of shoreline. Its many beautiful inlets, islets, coves and bays attract recreational boaters like us each summer. This amazing beauty coupled with the warm summer weather brings hundred boats here to share the numerous small anchorages.
After spending a month further north in the Broughton Islands, the Desolation Sound area was really busy and crowded in comparison. It felt a bit like driving into Seattle! It was also so much warmer, shorts and bathing suits made an extended appearance, YAY! Seems we motored down about the time the summer heat wave hit the entire west coast. I recorded a 93 degree day inside the boat. Truly, the temperature difference was like going from North America to South America.
That said, we had a great two weeks there exploring some new anchorages, meeting up with fellow boating friends from Anacortes and hosting friends onboard the Beach House for a week. Fishing, exploring, relaxing, hiking, cooking amazing meals, drinking wine, kayaking and stargazing filled our days and nights. We even happened into a great floating concert in beautiful Prideaux Haven.
Our friends Dave and Tanya joined us for a week and arrived via float plane at Dent Island Lodge. It was so exciting to see the plane touch down on the water as we sat waiting for them in the marina. They had a great flight from Seattle, low over the water with amazing visibility all the way up the coastline. What a beautiful setting to touch down and on a private island none the less!
We enjoyed a fabulous meal and exploring the hiking trails the next day. It would have been way to easy to have stayed a few more days but we had places to go, fish to catch and things to see.
Fishing and shrimping are a great way to fill the coffers with fresh seafood. If you look closely at Wally’s fish (on the right) in the picture below, it has a turquoise hue. Most lingcod are light beige or whitish gray with pinkish bellies. However, about 20 percent of lingcod have florescent green or blue flesh. No one seems to know precisely what causes this but biologists believe the strange green or blue hues indicate that the lingcod have consumed a diet rich in chlorophyll, eating more plant matter—green algae through small crustaceans—than the rest. Regardless of its initial coloring, all lingcod meat turns bright white when cooked and is a dense, mild fish. We ate them both and honestly I can’t tell you that they tasted any different.
The great thing about Desolation Sound is that there are actually plenty of places to get off the boat and enjoy having someone else cook and do the dishes. As much as I love cooking, sometimes shore leave keeps the whole crew happy!
Speaking of shore leave, many of the anchorages in Desolation Sound have great hikes. Fresh water lakes are plentiful with the high mountains and winter snowpack so swimming in the cool, fresh water is a great way to cool off on a hot day.
Bentley didn’t go full in swimming but he definitely likes wading! He’s always a happy boy when we get out the harness and leash – shore leave…why yes, I will go exploring too!!
There were no shortage of amazing sunsets and one night we were all treated to a dark sky dripping with stars. No light pollution, no wildfire haze and no moon makes for spectacular stargazing. The perfect place to take it all in… stretched out on the bow of the boat with a glass of wine in hand. So quiet and peaceful…
We saw plenty of wildlife on our two weeks in Desolation Sound. Eagles, Orca Whales, Humpback Whales, Osprey, Herons, Cormorants, Kingfishers, Seals, and Porpoise just to name a few.
We really did get up close and personal with the humpbacks in the videos below one night when we went out to check our prawn pot. Check out the link above to read about that exciting evening!
It has taken me awhile to sort through all the pictures from this short two week part of our cruise north. I gotta admit that I was a bit tuckered out by the time we pulled into our slip at Anchor Cove Marina in Anacortes. We have had such a great season on the boat exploring the Canadian Coastline and once we catch our breath, I think we will head out for a few four days trips in the San Juan Island! This gal’s not that tuckered out or ready to put the Beach House away for the winter!!!
5 thoughts on “Cruising in Delightful Desolation Sound”
If you suddenly realize you’ve taken on a stowaway next summer, and that stowaway happens to be ME, it’s because of this post. My lord – you have had the most incredible summer ever! I could not be more jealous. Fishing, hiking, paddle-boarding, eating, drinking, music, friends, sunsets… and no crazy heat and no smoke.. Wow… Talk about summer perfection!!! I can see why you’re not quite ready to put the boat away.
Also, that Vancouver guy was a moron.
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Hey Laura… you are so right, Vancouver need a do over on Desolation. Hey, wondering if you have firmed up your winter plans and where you will be?
As of now, Tucson late December to end of January and then Phoenix February and March…. but that could possibly change as we have some family stuff going on on the east coast…. hopefully it won’t though…. You?
Headed to Albuquerque for the Balloon Festival in early October. Then on to Sedona and AZ for a few weeks. Will spend most of the winter in Palm Springs. Hope everyone is okay.
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