After our trip to Lake Powell in 2005 we decided our next adventure would take us to the "Inside Passage" of the Pacific Northwest in the summer of 2006.
We began the trip at Deception Pass State Park on Whidbey Island after a two day, 1300 mile drive from San Diego County. The road trip was uneventful which is what you aspire to and we put in on Monday July 24th under warm sunny skies.
We had read about the tides and about how Deception Pass could be pretty tricky during the tide swing so we were cautious and planned to launch as close to slack tide as possible. The morning before we launched I spoke with a gentleman who was checking out the Jumbo and asked him just how critical it was to launch at slack tide. He assured me that with my boat that we could run the narrows at any time and shouldn't have any problem. Soooooo.... that's what we did.
Coming from an area were tidal swings are non existent I was quite surprised when I was trying to get the boat up on plane in the middle of the current. I was pushing 5200rpm and moving about 12mph when I yelled to my wife to see if the ladder was down on the swimstep. She said no and I yelled for her to check the bilge for water as it felt like I had a ton of extra weight on the boat. She reported back that the bilge was dry and before she finished we finally popped up on plane.
We shot through the narrows, skipping across whitewater and past three or four whirlpools, before we finally came out the other side where the water was inky calm. Needless to say our first 5 minutes of the trip were very exciting as we had never experienced anything like that before and we gained newfound respect for timing of the tides. We looked back at the tide table for that day and found that we had run Deception Pass at the height of the tidal swing. That was quite a welcome to the Pacific Northwest...
In the water and ready to go
Launch Ramp at Deception Pass State Park
Heading Into The Current
Deception Pass Bridge
Joining us on our trip were our friends George and Molly in their 20ft Nautica Catamaran. Avid outrigger canoe enthusiast, they brought two canoes on the trip strapped to the roof of their boat.
We traveled from Whidbey Island and stayed our first night on Orcas Island after cruising through Lopez pass and exploring the southern shoreline of Orcas. We spent our first night in the East Sound at the Rosario Resort Marina and had a nice relaxing day after the two day drive.
The next day we cruised around the east side of Orcas and slowly motored past Sucia Island on our way to South Pender Island and the Canadian Customs at Bedwell Harbor. Check in was by phone at the dock and only took about 15 minutes. Very easy.
From there we took off for Nanaimo as we would be crossing the Straits of Georgia the next day on our way up to Desolation Sound. We wanted to get as far north as possible early in the trip because of the excellent weather and sea conditions. We would spend time on the islands on our way back down.
Crossing the Straits of Georgia
The Mainland in the Distance
The run across the Straits of Georgia was non-eventful. We had a bit of wind coming out of Nanaimo harbor as we turned north to skirt the coast. The Naval Weapon Test Area known as "Whiskey Gulf" was active that day and we had to go around it to get to Pender Harbor.
We decided to go north on the inside of the test area until we passed Ballena Island and then made the run across the southern tip of Texada Island and up to Pender. Conditions could not have been better. Once we got about 10 miles north of Nanaimo the water flattened out and you could have waterskied across, the conditions were so flat.
Princess Louisa Inlet
Heading up Agamemnon Channel
Who said wood boats don't last...
Prince of Wales Reach
Christian Youth Camp and the Malibu Rapids
Inbound Malibu Rapids
Onwards to Chatterbox Falls
From Pender Harbor we made the run up to Chatterbox Falls in Princess Louisa Inlet- a distance of about 50 miles. We timed it so we would run the Malibu Rapids at "slack" tide and got there with about 20 minutes to spare. There were probably 20 other boats making the run that day and once it died down enough, we fell into the que with seven other boats.
The rapids were actually pretty exciting as people were lined up on the patio watching the parade pass through the narrow "S" shaped entrance. You have to announce on the radio that you are entering the rapids so you don't meet up with an outbound vessel inside the narrows. It's not that wide and with the washing machine rapids I could see it getting pretty dicey if two vessels had to pass side to side. Once inside, you find yourself in a huge box canyon as you work your way to the end and Chatterbox Falls.