Von Donup Intet
Desolation Sound Vacation 7/30/2019 - 08/01/2019 🍒
Von Donup Inlet 🌛
Today we leave the RT factory boats and begin the next phase of our Desolation Sound exploring. Our plan is to go to Von Donup Inlet (VDI). I have been told that it is very pretty (it is) and that it is very protected. That appealed to me because this will be our first night ever sleeping at anchor. Protected sounded like great thing. The night before, we realized our friends from the boats Doghouse 2 and Motion Granted (Both RT 27ob’s ) wanted to try VDI with us. Together we devised a plan to all go to VDI for our first night on the hook.
We woke up to rain. That wasn’t the reason, but after filling the water and getting the boat all ready to go, we were running late. We told the others that we would just meet them at VDI and agreed on a VHF channel to monitor for each other. We got fuel and began the trip to VDI.
About Von Donup Inlet
VDI is only about 13 miles away from Gorge Harbor. Gorge is on the south western side of Cortes Island and VDI in around the corner on the north east portion of the same island. VDI is a 3-mile-long inlet with lots of places to anchor. It is a little narrow, but certainly passable. The guide books all warn about a hidden rock mid channel on the way in and to favor the western side of the channel. Our plan was to go all the way in to where it opened up into a pretty large anchorage. There are also hiking trailheads in this part of the inlet.
Outside of Gorge harbor entrance the water was glassy smooth. The combination of the clouds, and the occasional rain and the smooth water made us feel like we were living in black and white. It was beautiful and surreal to be headed off into the unknown. Just north of the Gorge harbor entrance is a short pass called Uganda Passage. The charts all make it narrow and winding flanked by very shallow areas. For some reason, this area in real life is not what I expected from studying the charts. Once I located the markers, the route was easy to follow. The whole passage was maybe ¼ mile long. It seemed longer.
Once through Uganda Passage, the trip became more “as expected.” It is beautiful. The gray skies and rain still had a surreal feel, but it is spectacular. There were a few other boats but none of them were a concern. We cruised slow, only about 8 knots. We didn’t want to miss anything. Tracy donned her life jacket and went out on the bow to take pictures. The smoothness of the water and the slow speed made this safe. Cerise also has some lockers on the bow deck that can be opened to make pretty comfortable seating.
Arriving Von Donop Inlet
The entrance to VDI is beautiful ,straight, narrow, steep sides as described. Now where is that rock. The rock is charted and when we passed it, favoring the west side of the channel, my depth sounder showed 12 feet and we were about mid tide. That is not even close to being an issue for Cerise. Apparently, everyone reads the books. Every boat we saw in that area favored the western side of the channel. I am sure that the sailboat skippers have a little more stress about it.
We contacted our friends and they were both just getting anchored. They must have gone slow too. The 3 of us anchored in the south west corner of the anchorage. There were several other boats, but plenty of room for everyone. It took Tracy and I three tries at anchoring. The anchor hooked well each time, but I misjudged our distances and ended up close to DH2 twice. Third time was a charm. We are anchored for the night.
After I was confident in our anchoring, and lunch, I took the dinghy out for some exploring. I went around the outside looking for the trail heads. I saw a couple Deer that didn’t seem to care about some guy in a little boat. And I heard violin music. It sounded like live violin music. I looked at the other boats, I didn’t see anyone with a violin. Maybe it was from a boat stereo? Maybe it was just the soundtrack to this surreal experience? I really didn’t know. When I got back to Cerise, I asked Tracy if she heard it. She looked at me like I was crazy. Apparently she hadn’t heard it….while she napped.
Having Dinner with Friends
A bit later we were having a drink and just relaxing in this beautiful place. Our friends from DH2 asked if we (and the friends from MG) wanted to come to their boat for dinner. They would try out their new BBQ with Salmon and Prawns and we would bring something else to contribute. That sounded great! We put together some BBQ pork and Pot stickers for appetizers. Grabbed a bottle of wine and dinghied over to their boat at dinner time. What a great meal! We all talked and snacked while the Salmon and Prawns cooked. Later in the evening we learned something about the crew from MG. She is a concert violinist and was practicing earlier that afternoon in the cockpit of their boat. We dinghied home in the dark and went to bed.
Hike to Squirrel Cove -- butt burning uphill both ways!
The next morning, we decided to stay at VDI one more night and go on our hike. Our friends both left VDI that morning to continue their individual DS adventures.
We dinghied over to the trailhead for Squirrel Cove. There was a sign that said the Squirrel cove store was 5km. That was our destination. Shortly after we started walking, there was another sign that the trailhead (other end) was 3 km away.
We began the trail and the first several hundred yards were pretty flat around the end of the inlet. Then the trail turned uphill. Up a steep hill. The trail was still a very nice trail, but it continued to go up hill through the forest. The trail did flatten out for a while before it went up hill again. At this point, I am really beginning to look forward to the hike back, that should be mostly downhill. We reached the trailhead only to find a sign that said “Squirrel Cove Store <-----". We needed the store for water and band aids (I got a blister from my wet shoes with no socks). So, we begin walking on the road toward the store. Ahhhh Downhill. And more downhill. Steep downhill – for the 2km discrepancy on the signs. All downhill. We FINALLY made it to the store. We bought water, souvenirs, band aids, and a pair of flip flops for me to wear walking up that hill to the trailhead. This is the only place we bought souvenir shirts and we never even brought the boat. Tracy said this is a good souvenir to remember the butt burning hike! We rested looking out at Squirrel Cove for a bit before we began the hike back.
As expected, the walk back up hill from the store was a butt burner, but we made it. I put my shoes back on and the rest of the hike back was uneventful until we got back to the dinghy.
Wading For The Dinghy
I had tied it off in preparation for the tide to come in. The dinghy was resting about 50ft offshore as planned with my “Anchor Buddy” holding it in place. However, I tied it too close to a tree that was lying on the beach. When I went to pull the dinghy in, I realized my rope had become tangled in the tree as the tide rose. I had to walk up to my chest to untangle the rope and get the dinghy to shore. Good times!! At least the water in desolation sound is as warm as advertised!! Per my Trails app, we only walked 7.4 miles with 6000 feet of vertical total. I talk about this hike as being “uphill both ways.” We are glad we did it. Now we are safely back to the boat for drinks, dinner and sleep.
Rain Storm is coming
The next day was rainy had some wind predicted for later in the afternoon. So our plan was to go to Refuge Cove and try to find some dock space. Refuge cove is about 15 miles away and has a guest docks, fuel, water, a store and most of the amenities that you could want. We pulled anchor and headed to Refuge Cove (RC). We got there and the place was packed. We drifted around waiting for a spot to open up on one of the docks. It became apparent that was not going to happen. Our back up plan was to go back to VDI because of the protection and our confidence anchoring there. Back we go and we anchored in just about the same place and settled in for the day. The rain had really settled in now, too. The wind didn’t seem as bad as predicted, or we were just very protected. The rain never stopped for all afternoon and overnight. The next morning was clear and sunny. Our dinghy had about 8” of water in it. I heard later that this was the worst summer rain storm in that area for 10 years. As a test, Cerise’s cabin didn’t leak!
We are back again
We spent 3 nights at VDI. This anchorage is beautiful. It does offer, plenty of room, good holding and great protection. I counted 14 boats on our fist night and 20 boats on the 3rd night. This was only in our part of the inlet. There are places to anchor all the way down the inlet.
Tomorrow, the plan is to try and stern tie at Teakerne Arm. Another popular place in Desolation Sound.
More pictures of Von Donop Inlet and Squirrel Bay