Into the Fjord: 0800, Prince of Wales Reach

Into the Fjord: 0800 hours (click on photos to enlarge)

I knew Princess Louisa Inlet would be gorgeous, since I’ve been hearing about its virtues pretty much all my life. But what I didn’t know or expect was the incredible beauty of the three long arms of water that lead up Jervis Inlet to Princess Louisa.

It’s a long journey in a slow boat, and your timing has to be right to safely navigate the narrow tidal pass that leads into Princess Louisa (more on that in another post, later). We had calculated when we’d need to reach the pass, and left the dock at Egmont at 0600 hours, giving ourselves lots of extra time, to allow for some dawdling along the way.

Once you enter Prince of Wales Reach, the first of the three arms, you’re travelling deep into the Coast Mountain Range. It’s a change in perspective for those of us who usually cruise north and south along the coast, parallel to the mountains.

a point with high mountains beyond

0920 hours: almost to Princess Royal

Eventually Prince of Wales Reach takes you to Princess Royal Reach. Repeatedly, you find yourself at the back side of a mountain you’d been approaching from the front for the past few miles – with another snowy peak towering overhead.

Closeup of snowy mountain peak above

1115 hours: at the feet of the giants

At the top of Princess Royal Reach, the fjord takes a decisive change in direction to become Queens Reach, and at this junction lies Deserted Bay: a wide indentation that’s more visible on the chart than from the water. We thought it worth checking out.

Tsonai (Deserted Bay)

1200 hours: Tsonai (Deserted Bay)

For centuries the Sechelt (shishalh) Nation’s Tsonai people lived here at the mouth of the Deserted River, where clams, salmon and slate for spear points were plentiful, and a trail connected Sechelt and Squamish territories, enabling regular trading. After smallpox epidemics hit the area in the 1860s, the village was abandoned, which led to its English name.

Captain Vancouver gave Tsonai a miss in 1792 when he passed by – as do most boaters today, for it’s not a great anchorage, and adds a bit more distance to the trip to Princess Louisa. But we took time for a closer look, and as we slowly cruised the shores of this now quiet site, we felt an almost palpable sense of history.


“Tsonai” (the photo above) was one of the 39 prints on display in my recent solo show, Coastal Journeys: 2000 to 2016. The show also included several others from our Princess Louisa trip. If you weren’t able to see the show (or want a second look), all of the images are now online.

About Laurie MacBride, Eye on Environment

Photographer and writer focusing on nature and the environment

8 responses »

  1. Sherry Galey says:

    You are driving me crazy with these beauties, Laurie. The combination of water and mountains is so breathtaking. I just have to see this area in the next decade! And thank you for including the link to your show images. Wow, wow, wow! I am blown away. They are so great.

  2. paul1933 says:

    Hi Laurie

    You’ve certainly captured the beauty of our west coast and whetted my appetite to see more of it. Wonderful pix and a great show too.
    Cheers
    Paul

  3. Wonderful photos of a very magical place Laurie – thanks!

  4. kimmanleyort says:

    Incredible, incredible images, Laurie. I was on the island recently and wanted to go see your show on Gabriola Island so badly. But, I was travelling with family and it wasn’t to be. A trip to Tofino Hot Springs by boat gave me a glimpse of what life on the island is like. Thank you for sharing your wonderful work.

    • Thanks so much, Kim, for this comment & for your tweet about the post! Glad you like the images. Wow, how I wish you had been able to make it to Gabriola – would have been lovely to finally meet in person! Ah well…perhaps someday. As for the Gabriola show, I’ve put the images online, so you can see them – the link is at the end of the post. You won’t see the maps and stories that went with the prints, but all the images themselves are there.

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