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.
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.
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.
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.