Desolation Sound – Summer ’07

Desolation Sound, Part 1: Boat watching.

Desolation Sound has numerous protected anchorages, wonderful mountain views, and relatively warm water (we saw 73F in Penderel Sound in early August). And, if you arrange your schedule to be here prior to July or after August, you’ll have this area mainly to yourselves.

Squirrel Cove, British Columbia

One of the benefits is boat watching, which is one of our favorite pastimes. So we’ll start this report with some interesting photos.

Coracle sailing in Toba I nlet

This boat caught our eye as she was beating up Toba Inlet.


We have no idea of the provenance of Coracle, but she is well set up for this part of the world. Note the enclosed steering station, yet there is a seat aft for those nice days to allow the crew to take a bit of sun.


The pulpit sports a remotely adjustable spotlight and a drum-style anchor rode windlass. This is a good location for the spotlight, as it will not reflect on any rigging, and it is close to the water, optimal for spotting debris.

Gulfstar 44, Antares

Antares is one of the many South Pacific veterans in this part of the world. Her owners are pilots, so we did a lot of chatting about flying. She is a Gulfstar 44, a breakthrough design from the last century. The Gulfstar 44 was one of the first high interior volume production boats that also sailed reasonably well. When this design first hit the water a lot of sailors, ourselves included, thought it was awful – too big and bulky. We had no idea what was coming! Today, it makes a very nice cruising boat, and looks svelte. The pilot house on Antares was added in New Zealand (the front window opens so it ventilates well in the tropics).


This is really stinkpot country. Five out of six boats we see are in this category (ourselves included).

Biadarka, Nordhavn 40

Reanne and Don Douglas’s Baidarka has thousands of coastal miles on its little hull. They are ex-sailors, who have published a series of excellent cruising guides for this part of the world. Reanne and Don have worked their Nordhavn 40 into some amazingly tight anchorages, almost all of which were unsurveyed before their arrival.

We understand the reasoning for all of these fizz boats – there is little wind hereabouts and when it does blow, you have either a dead beat or a dead run up/down the channels. And the weather is typically wet and cold. Still, we prefer to look at sailboats, even if we’ve gone to the dark side ourselves.


We saw these folks at a local waterfall. They then unrolled their sails and began a long, slow beat up Toba Inlet. But look at the surroundings they have to enjoy. The slower they go, the longer they can view the scenery.


Most sailboats in this area are under power 90% or more of the time.


Raceaway has a nice combination of windshield, dodger, and cockpit awning. There is also an added boarding platform. We’d prefer to see the boarding platform as part of the hull shape, where it would add to waterline length and speed potential.

bimini and dodger combination

A different approach to protection here – a bimini awning (which folds aft) and dodger. Good protection with this system from rain and sun. The gap between the two gives you air flow and a clear view ahead. Not as much protection as the boat above, but this will work better in warm weather.

27 foot open whaleboat, Cornerstone Adventures

This may be our favorite sailboat of the summer. A 27-foot (8m) open former Canadian Navy training gig. Designed and built in 1957, this is one of the first fiberglass hulls in this part of the world.


These boats are used by Cornerstone Adventures ( during ten-day summer sailing adventures for teenagers.


And the kids we met seemed to be really enjoying themselves!

Air Chair, desolation Sound

This gets the prize as the most interesting water toy of the summer.


A combination slalom ski and hydrofoil, called an "Air Chair".


The speeds appear slower than what is required for a slalom ski on its own, and the loads are bound to be much lower. Maybe we should fit foils to Wind Horse

Posted by Steve Dashew  (August 9, 2007)

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