Desolation Sound Teakerne Arm by boat
Another must see! Marine Park is located just north of Refuge Cove. Teakerne Arm is the site of one of the best swimming spots on the South Coast. There is a fabulous 90 foot waterfall cascading right out of Cassel Lake down into the bay. Most boaters anchor at the bight west of the falls with plenty of rode and a stern tie line to shore. There is a dinghy dock and an easy 1 km trail that leads past the falls to the best swimming spot on the shore of Cassel Lake. The water in Cassel Lake can reach over 74°F. Swimming and diving off the rocks is a lot of fun. Old logging artifacts, such as a donkey engine, can be found in the surrounding forest. Unfortunately you cannot stay overnight at this anchorage. You will be dropping the hook in 45 to 65 feet of water with a stern line ashore. Your stern will not be far from the shore, the holding is very poor and there is no room for error. A southeasterly drives a fair size sea right into this corner and moving anchorage in the middle of a dark night with no navigational aids is nobody’s idea of a fun, or safe time. Stern-to anchoring is very common in the Sound. If you have never done it before, the following is one of the best methods to do it with minimum problems. Before you actually drop the anchor, have someone go ashore with the stern line, tie it securely to a tree or rock (above high water mark), then row the line out to approximately where you want your stern. Anchor the boat and back up towards the person in the dingy. It is much easier for the dingy to maneuver than the boat with a hook down. Once secure, if the bottom is not quite visible, make up some sort of lead line to check the depth of water at the stern. The bottom drops off quickly here and the sounder may read 30' where it is, but you may have only 10' at the stern. With as much as 18' of tidal range you can drop as fast as 3' an hour!
Squirrel Cove is the closest and best anchorage to Teakerne Arm. There are not a lot of marine facilities in the area, but government docks and an excellent general store can be found at Squirrel Cove. There is good holding ground in the Squirrel Cove anchorage as well as lots of swinging room. In the NE corner of the bay drying rapids lead to a saltwater lagoon. The entrance to this lagoon is known as the “Reversing Rapids”. Salt water flows in on a rising tide, then out again on a falling tide and all at quite a fast rate. A fun thing to do in Squirrel Cove is to take your dinghy into this tidewater lagoon. The lagoon is very beautiful and the ride in or out is always exciting (so long as you have enough water).
Although there is so much to do and see, Desolation Sound is not a huge area. Even slow boats can go from one end to the other in a day. The Sound offers a wilderness setting, generally easy waters, hundreds of bays and coves to explore and anchor in, and marinas where fuel and supplies are available. Navigation is straightforward with few hazards and everything easily visible. Closer to shore is a different story, but the rocks and reefs are charted and diligent attention to the charts is absolute necessity. Great care must be taken when navigating and choosing overnight anchorages. In reference to the colouring on your chart, it is simply said “Sail on the white bits; anchor on the blue bits; drink on the yellow bits”.
It seems the most popular time to cruise Desolation Sound is from mid July to the end of August, when the prospects for sunny warm weather are best. It’s also when the anchorages and facilities are most crowded. However in late May, June and early July the days are longer and crowds are not a problem and the winds are fresh. The waterfalls are the most awesome and the resorts and businesses, while open and fully stocked, are least harried. This being noted, many people consider the very best time to cruise Desolation Sound is September. By then the high season crowds have departed yet summer hangs on for a last and glorious finale. Stock in stores may be thin and summertime help back in school, but the low slanting sunlight paints the hills and mountains with new drama, and the first colours of autumn make each day a new experience. Fall storm patterns don’t usually begin until October. The Strait is protected from rainstorms by the Vancouver Island mountain range, which deflects precipitation and causes a rain shadow throughout the area. The average rainfall is minimal from May to September. May 1.5”; June 1.4”; July 1.1”; August 1.7”; September 2.0”. Many charterers take advantage of the low season to enjoy the peace, solitude and low charter rates.
The closet full service bareboat yacht charter operation to the Desolation Sound cruising area is Desolation Sound Yacht Charters in Comox on Vancouver Island. They run a fleet of modern sail and power yachts, and offer both bareboat and skippered charters, as well as training in sail and power yacht handling. They provide fully outfitted yachts including holding tanks and heaters. You are the skipper, decide which yacht suits you best, supply the provisions and you decide where you want to go and when.
To ensure that your charter vacation is relaxed, enjoyable and safe, you and your crew have to know how to handle the yacht you have chosen. Upon booking your charter you will be asked to complete an Experience Resume outlining your qualifications. You must have experience on a comparable size and type of boat in tidal waters to bareboat charter in BC. If your experience falls short, then chose from several programs that assist charterers to meet the requirements. Desolation Sound Yacht Charters offers special training programs designed for individuals who have limited skills in boat handling and coastal navigation. These include ‘hands-on’ training courses covering topics such as seamanship, navigation, boating safety, proper use of electronics and can lead to international certification at the end of the course. Also offered are the services of a skipper. These professional skippers can pilot your yacht while you sit back and enjoy the scenery.
Departing from the charter base in Comox means you are only 24 miles from your destination and once safely around the Comox Bar off Cape Lazo it is clear sailing across Georgia Strait to Desolation Sound. The smoke stacks in Powell River are clearly seen and it is a broad reach no matter if it is a northwesterly or southeasterly wind. Depending on whether you are sailing or powering the first anchorage in the Sound is just a morning away.
Someone once said that the purpose of life is to build up a store of happy memories. Cruising through Desolation Sound, whether on a sailing yacht or power yacht, should be on the top of every boaters ‘to do’ list. Bareboat chartering makes this easy to achieve. It just takes a little planning and a little help from someone in the business of helping create these memories such as Desolation Sound Yacht Charters. Just think of eating an early summer evening dinner of fresh oysters, prawns and crab (dipped in garlic butter of course) while snugly anchored in a quiet cove with eagles, otters and seals as your only company. What memory would you like to create?