THE ICONICALLY CANA­DIAN SUN­SHINE COAST

Suncruiser West Coast - - Contents - BY PERRY MACK

Start­ing in 1972, the west coast of Canada streamed into homes across the na­tion in

the form of the images of the iconic tele­vi­sion se­ries the Beach­combers, where Nick Adonidas (Bruno Gerussi), a Greek-cana­dian log sal­vager cruised the wa­ter­ways of the Sun­shine Coast in search of er­rant logs. While your op­por­tu­nity to earn a spot in the se­ries passed with the se­ries end in 1990, you can live the dream cruis­ing into Nick’s home­town of Gib­son and en­ter­ing his favourite diner, Molly’s Reach.

Lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion, lo­ca­tion. You’ll re­peat this mantra as your eyes fol­low the spires of trees up­ward along the ver­tig­i­nous spine of moun­tain peaks. Deep fjords dis­ap­pear around rocky crags se­duc­tively beck­on­ing their ex­plo­ration. Rag­ing rapids and surg­ing tidal waters guard se­cluded beaches and iso­lated wa­ter­falls.

Here, the Coast Moun­tains are guardians of the re­gion and bar your en­try by

land. Sail your boat, board a ferry, wa­ter taxi or sea­plane to be en­thralled with this ex­cep­tional re­gion.

Your quest aptly be­gins at Gib­sons, the first com­mu­nity north of Van­cou­ver and the Gib­sons Ma­rina can pro­vide all the boat­ing ser­vices and ameni­ties needed to pre­pare for your ad­ven­ture. Although you may de­cide to jour­ney farther north and make port at Se­cret Cove Ma­rina at Chart 3512, roughly half­way be­tween Sechelt and Pen­der Har­bour, on the way to Deso­la­tion Sound and Princess Louisa In­let. It has a fuel dock, a restau­rant, and stores where you can get the es­sen­tials as well as cloth­ing and liquor.

Your es­sen­tials should in­clude what­ever gear you need to ful­fill your pas­sion as the re­gion is an out­door en­thu­si­asts’ Shangri-la. Or­cas dip into and out of view as Har­bour Seals and Steller Sea Lions war­ily fish the waters only re­lax­ing to sun them­selves on rocky shelves or break­wa­ters. Bald ea­gles and a plethora of marine birds soar and dart through the sky weav­ing their in­tri­cate dance of life against the back­ground of a deep blue sky. That’s the long ver­sion of bring a cam­era and binoc­u­lars to get the most of this 180 km (110 mi) stretch of marine life.

The fish­ing is spec­tac­u­lar, and the kayak­ing as peace­ful or as heart-pound­ing as you can han­dle. Con­tin­u­ing north along the coast you’ll dis­cover Pen­der Har­bour. A small pop­u­la­tion of 3,000 makes up the res­i­dents of sev­eral small vil­lages here in­clud­ing Madeira Park, Irvine’s Land­ing, Gar­den Bay and Klein­dale. A land­scape and peo­ple as unique as this must have a dis­tinc­tive event or two, and they do. At­tack of Dan­ger Bay is the long­est-run­ning down­hill long­board race in Canada. This vi­brant com­mu­nity buzzes with boat­ing, fish­ing, hik­ing, wildlife view­ing, golf, mu­sic fes­ti­vals, art gal­leries, swim­ming, car shows, camp­ing, pa­rades, and fes­ti­vals.

Although dive va­ca­tion videos of­ten show scant­ily clad bod­ies in trop­i­cal waters, BC’S West­coast pro­vides true div­ing di­ver­sity. Dive sites in the Eg­mont area in­clude the HMCS Chaudiere, a WWII sub tracker sit­ting on its side in deep wa­ter, and the Tuwanek Marine Park will have you be­liev­ing you are div­ing in an aquar­ium.

Leav­ing Eg­mont, the moun­tains open jaw-like, tan­ta­liz­ingly east­ward, the Strait of Ge­or­gia un­lock­ing the se­cret world of Jervis In­let, the deep­est fjord in Bri­tish Columbia with a max depth of 732 m (2400 ft), which stretches 77 km (48 mi) to its head at the Sk­wakwa River. Be­fore you reach the head­wa­ters is the ac­cess point to the Holy Grail of Jervis In­let – Princess Louisa In­let and the Princess Louisa Marine Pro­vin­cial Park. Only at­tempt to en­ter at or near slack wa­ter as the Mal­ibu Rapids form in the nar­rows to the in­let. Or bet­ter yet, take some time off from be­ing cap­tain of your own ves­sel and ex­pe­ri­ence the area with Sun­shine Coast Tours. www.sun­shinecoast­tours.ca

Although only a mere 8 km (5 mi) long, the sheer cliffs rise an as­tound­ing two kilo­me­tres up from the sea, teem­ing with dozens of wa­ter­falls in early spring as the moun­tain melt wa­ter makes its icy plunge to the in­let below. The in­fa­mous Chat­ter­box Falls, at the head of the In­let, also gath­ers wa­ter from the glaciers and moun­tain mead­ows, crash­ing and cas­cad­ing over the cliff through­out the year. Thick emer­ald coloured moss cov­ers the trees and rocks.

The Beach Gar­dens Re­sort and Ma­rina is your next stop at Grief Point (Lat­i­tude 49°48’00” Lon­gi­tude 124°31’00”), in Pow­ell River. Its shel­tered 45-slip ma­rina is the per­fect overnight where you can en­joy a deluxe room, leisurely re­lax­ing on your deck soak­ing in the panoramic view of Malaspina Strait, the en­trance to Deso­la­tion Sound.

Stop in at their Savoury Bight Sea­side Restau­rant and Pub, swim in the in­door pool or work out in the gym be­fore tak­ing the free shut­tle to the Pow­ell River Town

Cen­tre dur­ing July and Au­gust for some shop­ping and en­ter­tain­ment.

Or stop in at the Westview Har­bour Govern­ment Dock with guest moor­age, wash­rooms, show­ers, laun­dry, In­ter­net ac­cess, launch ramp, garbage dis­posal, gas, diesel, propane and ice. Reach them at VHF Chan­nel: 68, 66A.

The 10th An­nual Lund Shell­fish Fes­ti­val will be held the last week­end in May along the shores of Lund Har­bour, BC. This is a ‘can’t miss’ event for any­one who loves fresh-cooked seafood, live mu­sic, cook­ing demon­stra­tions, shop­ping craft booths, and sam­pling spe­cial menu items from the lo­cal restau­rants. And best of all, ad­mis­sion is al­ways free!

Deso­la­tion Sound is BC’S largest Marine Park at 8.449 ha and more im­por­tantly over 60 km of wind­ing shore­line in­clud­ing sev­eral is­lands. Kayak rentals are avail­able in Pow­ell River or you can pad­dle with a guided tour.

The three ma­jor an­chor­ages are Prideaux Haven, Tenedo’s Bay and Grace Har­bour. The area has long been a favourite of boaters. In sum­mer the waters are per­fect for swim­ming and scuba div­ing, and many of the rus­tic camp­grounds and back­coun­try trails pro­vide hik­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties lead­ing up to small, se­cluded lakes.

Im­merse your­self in lo­cal cul­ture at some of the Sun­shine Coast’s year round events, from marathons to arts fes­ti­vals, pa­rades to bike races. Go to sun­shinecoast­canada.com and click on events for more events and ex­act dates.

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