Desolation Sound Marine Park
In 1973, the government of British Columbia established Desolation Sound Marine Park. This park consists of more than 14,000 acres of land and 6,350 acres of shoreline and is the largest Marine Park in British Columbia, as well as the only major park of any kind on the Pacific mainland coast of Canada.
The topography of the park varies from relatively low rolling hills of Gifford Peninsula to the Unwin Range rising over 1,600 meters directly behind Prideaux Haven. There are many safe anchorages, most of which are either totally or partially enclosed by low shoreline or high cliffs, islands or mountain sides.
Many experienced yachtsman regard the Desolation Sound area as not only the most beautiful and varied cruising area in British Columbia, but equal to, if not better than, any other area in the world. This coastal haven of majestic fiords, towering peaks, cascading waterfalls and pristine lakes provides countless well protected anchorages scattered throughout its spectacular cruising grounds. The almost complete absence of development or settlement results in a superlative "wilderness" feeling. This quality, which led Captain Vancouver to name the area "Desolation Sound", is the quality that many people today wish to experience. Sea lions and seals can be found sunning on the rocks, dolphins are often sighted and occasionally Orcas (killer whales) will also visit the Sound. Enjoy hiking ashore or swim in one of the many warm fresh water mountain lakes. Warm summer temperatures cause the Comox-Desolation Sound region to enjoy the mildest climate, richest sea life and warmest water on the British Columbia coast. This phenomenon is just one example of the uniqueness of Desolation Sound. Oysters grow in abundance in these warm water areas. Water temperatures in the Sound often exceed 20ºC from June through September and opportunities for saltwater swimming are numerous.
Warm, dry weather conditions dominate in the Desolation Sound area from May through September. Mean temperatures are 72ºF (22ºC) to 78ºF (25ºC) and rainfall averages are: May 1.5"; June 1.4"; July 1.1"; August 1.7"; September 1.8". Fog is uncommon in the Strait of Georgia in the summer months. The sun shines up to 18 hours a day in late June and warm water temperatures extend well into the month of September.
The coastal mountains encompassing Desolation Sound rise to over 1,500 meters and are an impressive sight in this premier cruising area. There are no roads beyond Lund on the Sunshine Coast, so to get here requires a boat and this helps to make it so special. Desolation Sound was named by Captain George Vancouver in 1792 on his exploratory journey to this region, and the only thing desolate he found here were his own brooding thoughts!
Much is the same as Captain Vancouver found it so long ago. There are many islands and bays to explore, and hikes to fresh water lakes to go swimming. There are small settlements to visit, beaches and wildlife. Cruising in this well protected area means spectacular scenery and a wilderness environment.
Most yachtsmen regard Desolation Sound Provincial Marine Park as the most beautiful cruising ground in British Columbia, and one of the premier sailing playgrounds in the world. Sixty miles of breathtaking coastline, intricate waterways, small islands and numerous attractive bays and coves, nooks and crannies - enough to delight even the most demanding of adventurers. Only your time and imagination will limit the endless variety of places to discover and activities to pursue in this unforgettable marine park, the largest in BC. One of the prime attractions of these waters is their warmth in summer months, which makes them ideal for swimming and snorkelling.
Camping areas ashore abound, and the forested parkland comprises extensive trails and small lakes. Desolation Sound is a fantastic area for sea kayaking. Set back from the park to the north, east and south are the snowcapped peaks of the Coast Mountains that soar from the tideline to heights of 2,400 metres. A virtual absence of development in the 8,256-hectare park area provides visitors with almost total isolation in this protected, wilderness environment. Visitors should be well prepared and self-sufficient.
A long and narrow sheltered bay located on Gifford Peninsula in Malaspina Inlet. The inner part of Grace Harbour is completely protected from all winds and seas. There are a few wilderness camping spots at the end of the bay, and a series of hiking trails. Follow the trail at the northern end of the harbour to a small, peaceful, freshwater beaver lake.
Galley Bay and Isabel Bay or other bays provide anchorage for cruising boats and landing spots for kayakers wishing to explore ashore.
The current runs quite quickly through the narrow twisting channel which opens up inside Theodosia. Theodosia Inlet is almost a lagoon - good anchorage is available throughout the Inlet as well as behind this islet.
Mink Island is outside the park boundaries but is still a very popular anchorages in Desolation Sound. The outer anchorage is fairly deep and completely open to the east. Shallower, more protected anchorage is possible behind a small islet near the head of the cove.
Bold Head shelters this beautiful bay south of Prideaux Haven, in Homfray Channel. Favoured anchorages in Tenedos Bay are inside the island on the bay's northern shore, or at the head of the bay, near Unwin Lake. A pleasant stroll along a trail leads to Unwin Lake, an ideal fresh and warm water swimming spot. Kayakers and campers can explore nearby Mink, Curme and Otter Islands.
Strategically located as a base for boaters to explore the Sound, this anchorage is an elongated bay dotted with islands, small coves and passageways. Prideaux Haven is one of the most beautiful anchorages in Desolation Sound. This is a marvelous place to explore by kayak, paddling among small coves, inlets and islands. Ashore, interesting tidal pools and marshes will enthral you with an abundance of marine organisms, birds and waterfowl. Melanie Cove and Laura Cove are favoured anchorages for boaters, although anchorage is available at a number of locations along the shoreline.
The beautiful 128-hectare Teakerne Arm Provincial Marine Park is located on Teakerne Arm off Lewis Channel on the west side of West Redonda Island in Desolation Sound.
The park features forested uplands and, the highlight for visitors, the 30-metre high Cassel Falls. Follow the hiking trails to Cassel Lake, perfect for a picnic and a swim in one of the best swimming spots on the Sunshine Coast. Most boaters anchor in the bay immediately to the west of the falls, with plenty of anchor rode out in the deep bay and a stern line fastened ashore. Teakerne Arm Provincial Marine Park has a dinghy landing dock.
Teakerne Arm Provincial Marine Park is located in Desolation Sound, north of British Columbia's Sunshine Coast. No access is available by road. Boat access to Teakerne Arm Provincial Marine Park and Desolation Sound Provincial Marine Park is from Lund on the Sunshine Coast, or from Squirrel Cove on Cortes Island.
This small 85-hectare sheltered anchorage at Walsh Cove Provincial Marine Park, a favourite among Desolation Sound yachtsmen, is located on the east side of West Redonda Island, off Waddington Channel. The Gorges Islands are incorporated in the park, providing protection in the bay from the wakes of passing marine traffic plying Waddington Channel.
After anchoring in the secure and compact little cove, boaters can take their dinghy and explore the undeveloped shoreline, hike the trails and look for ancient Indian pictographs on the rock cliffs at Doctor Bay. Walsh Cove Provincial Marine Park is located north of Desolation Sound. There is no access by road. Boat access to the park and Desolation Sound Provincial Marine Park is from Lund on the Sunshine Coast, or from Squirrel Cove on Cortes Island.
Boaters and paddlers will discover an environment nearer in spirit to the protected waters of the southern Strait of Georgia. What Desolation Sound Provincial Marine Park provides that the Southern Gulf Islands don't, is an astonishing breeding ground for shellfish, principally oysters. Whoever penned the time-honoured expression "When the tide is out, the table is spread" must have been inspired by these nutrient-rich waters. Many yachtsmen regard the Desolation Sound area as not only the most beautiful and varied cruising area in BC, but equal to, if not better than any other area in the rest of the world. In the variety of spectacular scenery, warm summer climate, abundance of shelter and anchorages, this area is a microcosm of all that is best about salt water cruising in British Columbia.
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