Circle Route in 14 Days
Based on early boarding and a 13-day charter, a boat capable of a minimum of 7 knots.
We suggest taking advantage of early boarding to familiarize yourself with your yacht, become completely comfortable with the vessel and have time to ask questions of the knowledgeable DSYC staff and be well rested for your first day of travel. You can also do any last-minute shopping and provisioning.
Depart Comox early, on flood tide if possible, with destination Quadra Island, either anchoring in Rebecca Spit or on the dock at Heriot Bay Marina.
Transit Beasley Passage on Ebb tide (north) and carry on through Upper and Lower Rapids to Okisollo Channel and down to Johnstone Strait. Head north for Port Neville and either tie up at the small government wharf or go into the inlet and anchor. Explore the Port Neville store and post office/museum. There is a caretaker on-site in the summer. This is bear country and private property.
Leave Port Neville on an early Ebb tide and head toward the Broken Islands at the mouth of Havannah Channel. Continue up the Channel and transit Chatham Channel. Keep the range markers ahead and astern in line to transit easily and successfully. Keep an eye out for bears often seen on the shores looking for shellfish.
You’ll head to the Blow Hole at Minstrel island and through to Lagoon Cove. Negotiate the Blow Hole carefully and dead slow. Lagoon Cove Marina is a full-service marina, offering fuel, water, gifts, garbage, hikes, propane, power, washrooms, showers and Internet.
In normal years, the marina offers a great happy hour with free prawns; you bring the snacks and your favourite bevy.
Leave Lagoon Cove Marina on the earliest Ebb tide and proceed down Clio Channel to Beware Passage. Once through Beware Passage navigate to the anchorage at Mound Islet taking care to observe the line of rocks that are underwater at high tide. Good anchoring with a muddy bottom is available here.
You can dinghy ashore to the kayak landing and hike the island. This is a sacred burial island of the local First Nations people. Please take only pictures and leave nothing but footprints. The large depressions in the ground are the remnants of early longhouses. This was an important village for the early people of this area. If you encounter a local First Nations person, ask permission to walk on their land.
Leaving Mound Islet anchorage early makes for a pleasant island-studded cruise on your way up to the now-abandoned village of Mamalilaculla. The remains of an old TB hospital are there as well as the remnants of ancient totems on the shore. They tell the history of this cherished land, which is the site of the last great Potlatch before the government made them illegal.
If you encounter the caretaker, please ask permission to walk on this ground. This is also a bear and cougar country so be noisy when walking or hiking. After exploring for an hour or so, up anchor and head north to Echo Bay Marina about 12 nautical miles away. In normal years, the marina hosts a happy hour event each day. On special days, there are additional events such as pig roasts and pasta nights.
Make sure you phone ahead to see what is available and reserve your dock space.
This is a planned layover day as Echo Bay is your turnaround spot. Spend time enjoying local cruising returning to Echo Bay for the night or dinghy into nearby Shoal Harbour. Billy Proctor’s World-Famous Museum and logging display is nearby and it’s a good hike from Echo Bay.
Rest early, tomorrow you begin your trip south.
You have a few nautical miles to travel today so leave Echo Bay early.
As you leave Echo Bay, turn to starboard and navigate around the top of Gilford Island through Tribune Channel. As you navigate this channel you’ll pass the exciting Lacy Falls. You can get close enough to feel the spray and marvel at this delicate waterfall.
Further along, Tribune is the entrance to Kwatzi Bay and the marina there. This is an ideal location to take time for morning coffee and dinghy over to the hidden waterfall in the forest, a short but lovely walk in moss-draped ancient trees. The marina offers showers, water, moorage and Internet. In normal years, a small café is also open.
When underway again continue around Gilford Island and down to Minstrel Island, back through Chatham Channel, remembering to keep the range markers fore and aft in line for safe navigation. Once through the channel carry on to anchor off the beach at Matilpi. This is an ancient First Nations settlement with an incredible shell beach. Or you may choose to continue a mile or so to the foot of Boughey Bay for a calm and sheltered anchorage. Cell service may be available here. Ashore you can hike the remains of several old houses and a paved road that belonged to a highly active and long-lived logging camp.
Another early departure today for your heading for Forward Harbour about 30 nautical miles away. Head back down Havannah Channel to Johnstone Strait, to Sunderland Channel and up to Forward Harbour.
Take care entering and do not to cut the corners as rocks abound here. Once inside, Douglas Bay is a great anchorage with good holding in mud. There are several hikes onshore but be aware of this too is bear and cougar country. At the far end of Forward Harbour is a small settlement that’s all that remains of a large logging operation and railway.
As you exit Forward Harbour, you are immediately into Whirlpool Rapids in Wellbore Channel. There are large rocks coming out of Forward Harbour so DO NOT CUT THE CORNER. Make sure you transit Whirlpool Rapids at slack tide then carry on and pass through Greene Point Rapids on the same tide.
Here you can make the choice to stay at either Blind Channel Resort or Shoal Bay. Blind Channel is a full-service resort with fuel, moorage, water, restaurant and hiking trails. Shoal Bay is a government wharf with no services but has a pub, showers, toilets, laundry, internet and a great hike up to an old Gold Mine. There is also an anchorage off the end of the wharf at Shoal Bay.
It is important that you meet slack tide at Dent and Yuculta Rapids in the morning. This is a short distance from Shoal Bay. There is plenty of room above the rapids to circle waiting for slack. Negotiate Gillard Passage only after reading the notes about this challenging stretch of water. Make sure you know the times for Ebb and Flood events, so you can navigate without problems. Once you are through, your destination is the quiet and lovely Squirrel Cove on the east side of Cortes Island.
Anchoring in Squirrel Cove gives you the option to stern to or swing free. The tidal stream and lake are good places to explore by dinghy.
Do not attempt to navigate White Rock Passage. This is a no-go zone for DSYC vessels.
Today you can choose where to anchor for the night. Refuge Cove is a few miles away, Laura Cove, Prideaux Haven, Gorge Harbour are all within short cruising distance. You could also travel to Toba Wildernest Resort. All of these destinations are wonderful.
Today you make a big move from Desolation Sound over to the Vancouver Island side of the Salish Sea. Cruising south through Thulin Passage and the Copeland Islands, you’ll pass Lund. The Pan American Highway that goes all the way to Tierra Del Fuego in the south of Chile ends here. There are also great coffees and cinnamon buns available here.
Continue south to Mystery Reef and then make a course for the Comox Bar. Once over the bar, you will turn to Port and anchor in pristine Henry Bay. Henry Bay points due west and sunsets are spectacular. You can also dinghy ashore for some nice walks along the seashore.
It’s an early start over to Comox to fuel up at the Marina dock. Call DSYC base and advise them of your time of arrival at the fuel dock and a skipper will meet you and take you back to your slip. You must be off the vessel by 0900hrs. Make sure all your personal gear is accounted for.
We hope you had a great time and look forward to your next adventure with Desolation Sound Yacht Charters.