Copeland Islands are grand
Our northward journeys are almost always broken by overnight stops in the lovely Copeland Islands, on the brink of Desolation Sound.
When Lynne and I slog north to the sound, first sight of the islands triggers something in our psychological charting that tells us, yes, it’s now okay to begin thinking of ourselves as being on a holiday.
Everywhere to the south, when this is our goal, our synapses continue snapping “relax at your own risk”.
We are not alone; Copeland Islands Marine Park, it seems, is a popular spot for cruisers to rethink hasty packing strategies they made hours or days before when pushing off from their home dock in the south. It’s not so unusual to see boxes in the cockpit and on cabin roofs, spilling over with tangled winter apparel and other bits.
On our first visit, in late fall years ago, it seemed to us so remote, northerly, lonely, desolate in the way it was when Captain Vancouver named the sound. On our next visit, in mid-summer, it was more like a leafy rest area next to a superhighway.
That’s because Thulin Passage, separating the islands from Malaspina Peninsula, is a main thoroughfare north to Desolation Sound and beyond, so well trafficked during the high season. Along the peninsula shore are concrete dolphins to which log booms are often tied.
But there a number of anchorages on both sides of the islands offering peaceful secure moorage, either swinging on anchor or stern tied.
Even the popular cove midway up the island chain that faces Thulin Passage is protected by the happenstance positioning of tiny islands and rocky points. We have sat here several times, swinging or stern-tied, and felt only the slightest roll as boats passed to and fro in the passage.
The islands are a delight to explore, with a few informal trails leading to anchorages on the other side of whatever island you find yourself, or to an old kayakers camp before overnighting ashore was restricted to sites on tiny Nuxwum or North Copeland islands.
Rowing past Nuxwum Island on a recent visit, we were hailed ashore and offered coffee by four eager young men with wiry facial growths and blazing cheeks.
They were from Spain, and had collectively discovered the word “grand” and everything was, the islands, the water, Lynne’s smile and the distant mountains. Everything was grand.
We had to agree.
(Copeland Islands Marine Park is covered in Salish Sea Pilot’s Cruising Guide to Desolation Sound.)