The Unparalleled Beauty of Cruising

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Sheer cliffs shot from the water’s edge straight up thousands of feet. Mere boat lengths from their craggy faces, the water depths dropped to 500 then 1,000 feet. Above it all, jagged, snowcapped mountain peaks dangled and broke the clouds to reveal a beautiful blue sky  (published September 2016)

We were just hours up Jervis Inlet on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast and the farther we went, the more dramatic and wild the scenery became. Everywhere we looked there was something new to see: a waterfall cascading seaward, cloud formations swirling through green valleys and bald eagles effortlessly soaring down from the treetops to catch a meal. It was hard to believe we were motorsailing through such a spectacular area of wilderness at sea level.

Near the head of the 40-plus mile inlet, we found Malibu Rapids, a narrow opening in the rock between mountain peaks that, when passable at slack water, allows for entry to stunning Princess Louisa Inlet. We arrived about an hour before slack and decided to sail back and forth across the inlet on a gentle breeze to wait and enjoy the views, as only one boat can pass through at a time. While reaching away from the swift-moving rapids and then back, a few boats lined up to make the pass and when vessels on the other side put out the call on the VHF radio that they were outbound, it meant we were ready to go in.

Princess Louisa Inlet’s beauty is that of legend to cruisers from the Pacific Northwest and around the world. And while untying our dock lines just days before, a lady at the marina remarked with a smile on her face and a twinkle in her eye, “I don’t know what heaven’s going to look like, but I hope it’s Princess Louisa.”

Motoring the three miles into Princess Louisa to the famed Chatterbox Falls at its head was a feast for the eyes. Breathtaking mountain walls, just half a mile a part, funneled us up the narrow fjord and we soon found the falls bursting from an electric green forest.

kayaking   We spent the next two days exploring the park’s hiking trails, playing on the beaches and paddling to the many waterfalls tumbling down from the snowfields high above. It was as if time was standing still. The park is so remote that only boaters or those flying in on a float plane can visit, and it has been kept in an incredibly gorgeous natural state by visitors.

With the grill going that first evening, I stood in Yahtzee’s cockpit listening to the immense rush of Chatterbox Falls, looking up at the mountains and scanning the glassy water of the inlet. The scene was perfect. It was what cruising is all about—the discovery of new places and finding what the lady on the dock so aptly described as heaven on earth. She was right.

Andrew, along with wife Jill and sons Porter and Magnus, are currently cruising the Pacific Northwest aboard their Grand Soleil 39 Yahtzee. Follow their adventures at threesheetsnw.com/yahtzee.