Princess Louisa Inlet
There is more written about the beauty, dangers and history of Princess Louisa Inlet than I can list, from near misses by Captain George Vancouver to modern boaters and writers. I believe most northwest boaters have in their boating library a tattered and much read copy of “The Curve of Time” by M. Wylie Blanchet describing her many summers spent aboard a cramped 25’ power boat, “Caprice”, with her five children and one dog. Her adventures began in the later 1920’s and after reading the book and her accounts of travels to Princess Louisa Inlet, you, with your depth sounders, chartplotters, modern charts and tidal knowledge, should not feel apprehensive about venturing into this wonderland.
Our first visit was approximately 30 years ago and I can remember the angst we suffered in the planning stage. Malibu Rapids had to be the most daunting bit of Nature found anywhere on Earth. Blind luck led us to the opening from Queens Reach on Jervis Inlet at optimum time where we (my brother-in-law knew less than I did about what was ahead) waited for quite a while for any other boat to come through Malibu so we could see how it was done. Nobody showed. There was no turbulent white water rushing at us. No boat-bones lying on the rocks. We finally bit the bullet and went through at a high slack tide and actually felt a huge letdown once inside. We cruised the next five miles and set a tenuous anchor southeast of that splendid waterfall and opened a few bottles of wine! The boat was Yellow Bird. Study your intended passage and don’t follow anyone else too closely in case they make a wrong turn.
Once we understood the Malibu Rapids stigma we visited many times. Two boats ago had a nasty habit of multiple, major engine breakdowns each time we left the dock. For some enchanted reason we made it as far as Macdonald Island in a spectacular rain, thunder and lightning storm before we died! I dropped anchor just east of Macdonald on a gravel spit so that I could remove the exhaust manifolds, wade ashore and do some repair work. I cut off a length of wire clothes hanger, and with a rechargeable hand drill, proceeded to ream out the tiny holes inside the manifold so the water and exhaust gasses could properly mix. All the while the rain is torrential, the lightning was spectacularly and frequently blasting away, fully enclosed within the mile high walls of the Inlet. The innumerable waterfalls cascading into Princess Louisa were beyond the imagination. I could barely hear the wailing cords of Carlos Nakai’s Native American flute blasting from the sound system of our boat filling the Inlet over the crashing reports of echoing thunder. Hard to do messy work like this when the hair on the back of your neck stands up and you’re so wet you may as well be underwater. Next day the engine ran with minimal overheating.
We haven’t been to Princess Louisa Inlet for a number of years, but even with the vast number of boating visitors she receives, I do believe the shear magical scenery of this five- by half-mile canyon will not be matched in many places. As with any boating adventure weather plays a significant part of your enjoyment. We can attest to all weather conditions being great, and when it rains there is no place on Earth with so many, so tall and so stunning waterfalls. I’m sure that very few have names of their own. If you have not crossed the threshold called Malibu Rapids it’s about time. Go experience Chatterbox Falls. A camera is mandatory here. Maybe it’s time we returned, too.
Have a wonderful cruising summer,
Don and Carolyn Bloye
M.V. Island Spirit