Desolation Sound Cruise: Desolation Sound and Prideaux Haven

On Tuesday we finally arrived in Desolation Sound, after about 5 hours cruising northwest from Pender Harbor. While Glenn usually handles the boat in close quarters at the marinas, I skippered for most of the passages, which involved little more than an occasional change of direction at waypoints on the route. I was also the navigator so I plotted the route. Much trust on the part of my crew mates! It was an easy passage overall, but you needed to keep your eye out for logs and patches of eel grass, which would clog the engine intakes.

Making the turn into Desolation around Sarah Point was quite spectacular. The mountain ranges, which up until then were tall but rounded and tree-covered, were suddenly replaced with a range far more vertical and bare. There was not a lot of snow to be seen, but it was clear that in winter these are dramatic ranges in white.


I brought us to anchor at Prideaux Haven, a small cove just off the entrance to Desolation Sound, where Glenn and Tom dropped anchor while I maneuvered the wheel. A few minutes later one of the Seattle Yacht Club boats sidled up alongside and rafted on our starboard side. Much of the rest of the NYYC and Seattle fleets were here, but others were in various small coves nearby. Those who anchored near shore ran a long line up to the nearest tree to reinforce their position and prevent drifting.

Glenn and Tom assembled the charter boat’s crab trap and dinghied out a hundred feet or so to drop it. After resting a bit, we drove the dinghy out to Komokwa, a 132-motoryacht owned by Brian O’Sullivan, a former commodore of Royal Vancouver YC, and met most of the rest of the sailors and yachtsmen for a docktail party, which is very much like what I call patio picnics in Palm Beach: everyone brings booze, their own glasses, and some hors d’oeuvres, which are then pooled on the afterdeck table as a mixed buffet (not enough for dinner, but a start).

After socializing, eating, and drinking adequately, we hopped into our dinghy to return while still twilight, but Glenn, who is mayor of every anchorage, ran us instead to say goodnight to the Dockerys and other guests aboard Surfbird, a 115-foot expedition yacht anchored nearby to us. Barging aboard as they were finishing dinner, we all collected on the afterdeck for, yes, more wine and more socializing. Well after dark we at last clambered into our dinghy once more, identified which of the many anchor lights belonged our vessel Escape, and motored home. Of course, we still had not had dinner! So I made a quick batch of mushroom and broccoli risotto which fortunately Glenn and Tom felt was sufficient.

We’d been seeing seals on occasion, but at up to that point no whales or bears (though others had). It was cool to cold in the shade, with a cool breeze early in the day; but the sun was warm and by late afternoon it could be hot enough to change into shorts and abandon jackets and sweaters. Glenn and Tom continually and wishfully checked our crabtrap, without success; and Glenn took a bracing dip off our swim platform, which I knew he wouldn’t repeat. The water was 65 degrees.

At some point the next day we decided we would cut loose our rafting partner, weigh anchor, and move around into Grace Harbor, another local favorite. There were so many to choose from that we didn’t know which to pick. Tom and I continue to seek good fishing spots, but the guidebooks were silent about it so we thought we would simply cast where we could – and hoped we didn’t hook an orca.