Following our post about overnight trip preparation, we thought it was a great opportunity to put that info to the test with a post about a recent trip to Desolation Sound that some of our staff took. With thanks to Frazer Slack (whose family you will be familiar with after this previous post) for the inspiration – Amy and two friends headed up the Sunshine Coast to Desolation Sound for the Victoria Day weekend.

First things first – if you’re heading to Horseshoe Bay on a long weekend, MAKE A FERRY RESERVATION!!!! We planned our trip kinda late, so reservations weren’t available and we had to wait two ferry sailings and four hours before we were even on our way. Luckily the delights of Horseshoe Bay in the form of Baskin Robbins and Subway were distracting enough, along with the excitement of our impending trip, to keep our spirits up.

We used our time well, reviewing the marine chart of Desolation Sound (#3538 if you’re wondering) and the designated camping spots to plan where we were heading. After successfully making the following ferry from Earl’s Cove to Saltery Bay (surely one of the most picturesque ferries in the world!) we finally arrived at our launch site at Okeover Provincial Park at dusk, set up camp and hit the sack early. We picked Okeover over Lund because it was closer to our destination, and also because it is a pretty narrow channel so we predicted it would be more protected from conditions which turned out to be a good forecast – you couldn’t get calmer waters than we had as we set off at 7.30am.

Put in at Okeover Inlet

After 3 ½ hours paddling we reached Desolation Sound itself, and as it opened up in front of us you could really sense the scale of how far the area stretches. It was just water and forest-cloaked mountains as far as you could see – which I guess is what we were expecting but it was just overwhelming in its vast beauty. We turned our kayaks northeast towards distant snow covered peaks and our campsite at the Curme Islands.

Amy paddling towards Curme Islands

One of the best things about the trip was that we were totally flexible. Having originally planned to just make it to Curme the first day, then move camp the next night to Sarah Point, we amended that plan as we arrived at Curme before lunch! We set up our camp and decided to make that our base for the next two nights and explore from there.

The first afternoon was then what we coined a ‘learning experience’ for all of us! We headed out to explore Tenedos Bay and to find a hike to Unwin Lake there, but somehow paddled past the bay and ended up way down the coast before we realised where we were. Our misreading of the chart, not using a compass while paddling and following a bearing meant we added about 2 hours onto our chill afternoon paddle. Luckily we had plenty of time and energy, but it really brought home to us how important it is to be prepared (I didn’t take nearly enough provisions or warm clothing if conditions had changed) and to constantly orient yourself accurately on your chart.

The second day started off in spectacular fashion as we were treated to a family of orcas ‘fly by’ our small island while we drank tea. It was probably 6.30am, and no-one else seemed to be awake but we heard the unmistakeable ‘whoof’ of the blow holes and ran to a viewpoint. Three of the great black and white sea pandas swam by, one even seeming to chase a bird on the surface of the water right into our small cove. They were just enchanting, but they passed by pretty quick and we lost sight of them, feeling very lucky to have seen them.

Then, following the lesson of the first day, our second day was navigationally more successful. We set off early to take advantage of the calm water and explored the islands to the North of Curme. With names such as Otter Island, Sky Pilot Rock and Melanie Cove it sounded pretty, but the sea life in amongst the islands totally surpassed our expectations as the clear, shallow water allowed us to see bizarre looking sea cucumbers and sea stars aplenty, drifting feather boa kelp, so many fish, so many crabs, curious seals, sharp oysters, fascinating moon snail nests…and the list could go on.

Clear water of Desolation Sound

Our destination for the afternoon was another lake, this time the Black Lake in Roscoe Bay, which is another marine park within Desolation Sound. Cue more sea life and constant exclamations from one of our party who rather enjoys those things. The lake was lovely, and a refreshing swim was just the thing before heading back across our longest crossing of the trip back to our islands.

It is always a more downbeat experience to pack up and head for home when you’ve had a fantastic vacation however long it has been, but our crossing back changed that when three orcas – looking like the same ones from the previous day’s breakfast visit – travelled past us in the middle of the Sound. Again, we heard them before we saw them, and when we did see them there was slight panic (for me anyway) as it looked like they were heading straight for us! They actually crossed about 50 ft away from us, and this time we were able to watch them for about 10 minutes. It really is amazing to encounter such incredible wildlife close up, and we were all exhilarated for a long time after they’d passed out of sight.

Landing back at Okeover, our pack up was pretty quick (mainly because all the bags could just get thrown in any which way) and while the first ferry from Earl’s Cove was full we made the second one and headed back to the mainland. The Sunshine Coast certainly earned its name over our trip, but we concluded that Desolation Sound was a total misnomer, as we found it anything but desolate. Perhaps the guy who named it so was hoping for more, but for us it was everything and more that we hoped it would be. For next time we’re planning a longer trip and going from Lund through the Copeland Islands. You can rent kayaks from us for multi-day trips – just call to reserve at 604.929.2268.

Gear we took:

Kayaks: Sterling Reflection, Atlantis Spartan VI, Current Designs Nomad

Paddles: Werner Cyprus, Saltwood Grasshopper, Aquabound Sting Ray

PFDs: Kokatat Guide, Kokatat MsFit Tour, Salus Gjoa

Safety Gear: North Water throw bags and paddle floats, Aquabound bilge pumps

Water: MSR Dromedary packs for washing water, Reliance clear plastic jug 20L for drinking

Dry Bags: Sealline Ecosee, Sealline Baja, selection of others