April found Jupiter’s crew eager to return to remote British Columbia.
We departed our winter port of Bellingham for Semiahmoo Marina in Blaine, Washington, in view of the busy US-Canada I-5 border crossing with Peace Arch, traffic congestion, and other trappings of a trust-but-verify neighborhood.
“The United States and Canada are exactly the same – except entirely different.”Borders and Boundaries, Potter C. Wells
The following day Jupiter proceeded across the breezy international sea boundary, then around the enormous and inconveniently positioned Fraser River Delta into Vancouver to clear Canadian customs.
- Phone Canada Border Services less than 4 hours prior to landing.
- Declare intent to land at 11:30 hours at Vancouver’s Fisherman’s Wharf.
- Answer a few questions, although you know that they know everything that you know about boat and crew.
- Tie up at courtesy customs dock, avoid goose attack, and wait for officers to arrive and inspect, or when inspection period expires proceed to berth.
Fisherman’s Wharf lies proximate to Granville Public Market with its superb fresh farm vendors meeting every victualing intention. We enjoyed a superb supper at one of Vancouver’s abundant chef-owned bistros.
A sunrise start and cloudy cruise along B.C.’s “Sunshine Coast” reinforced the notion that this sanguine moniker conveys irrational exuberance more than certainty.
The 60nm journey became more remote as the day aged, finally bearing Jupiter up the narrowing Agamemnon Channel to Back Eddy Marina where we were alarmed to see the main float nearly destroyed by a winter weather event. Enough of the float remained for our overnight tie largely because Jupiter served as a splice between two broken sections of dock.
Our distant objective, Princess Louisa Inlet lies 30nm from our fragmented moorage. Departing Back Eddy at 08:30, running at 8 knots for the distance will position us at the legendary Malibu Rapids some minutes in advance of scheduled slack water.
Traveling along the spectacle of Jervis Inlet with snow-swathed mountains ascending 5,000ft and water depths often exceeding 2,000ft, compressing the vast space between seabed and sky. It is as though Jupiter is climbing a wet winding road to some undefined Shangri-La.
Of course, the boat is not heading uphill, just northward at sea level in the snaking fjord with cascades of hard-hewn lichen rocks, fragrant evergreens, and just-leafing trees clawed onto impossible perches. Thin watercourses tumble into the sea along every shore.
On arrival outside Malibu’s fierce rapids which guard the inlet’s entrance, a Christian youth camp has a substantial presence. We note that the narrow outbound flow is markedly decreasing, confirming the calculation for low slack water, yet building apprehension for a transit through such a narrow dog-legged channel which Jupiter will fully occupy.
Here, at low tide, the rocks alongside are steeply covered in mussels and present a danger to any error of pilotage. But, in a few minutes we are through, breathing out, and breathing in the magnificence of Princess Louisa Inlet.
Abruptly we are wrapped by the vertiginous complexity of immense granite massifs surrounding a sea lake whose calm waters reflect the dark minerality rather than the sky.
The quiet calmness is disrupted only by scores of thin white waterfalls, and at the inlets head, the immense crushing cascade of Chatterbox Falls performing as a massive hydraulic machine, producing a perpetual visceral rumble and a remarkable eruption of fog.
Princess Louisa, in her sublime isolation inspires wonder, but also presents an atmosphere of the transcendant supernatural, unconscious of the noise of human disorder.
“There is no use describing that inlet. Perhaps an atheist could view it and remain an atheist, but I doubt it.”Log of a Landlubber, Erle Stanley Gardner