Best kept Secret Bay
This is one of those anchorages where we find ourselves again and again, at the crossroads of routes to so many places.
Secret Bay, not to be confused with Secret Cove off Georgia Strait about 12 miles south as the crow flies, sits on Skookumchuck Narrows, convenient to both Sechelt Inlet to the southwest and Princess Louisa Inlet, some five hours to the north at six knots up Jervis Inlet and officially one of the most beautiful places on Earth.
And last week, we were having coffee at the bakery about a block along the Doriston Highway, a grand name for a bit of gravel road, when Lynne wonders why I had left the bakery off the map to the Sechelt Rapids that is in our Georgia Strait cruising guide.
“OOPS,” was about all I could muster because the bakery has been here for many years, an institution for those who love caffeine and sweet rolls, sandwiches and on and on.
So “OOPS,” I said, and made a note to rectify the oversight.
Then it was off on the four-kilometre hike to again view the Sechelt Rapids at high flow, hoping there would be paddlers or surfers to watch as they played in the whirlpools and standing waves. These are the second fastest tidal rapids in the world, reaching 17.7 knots, trailing only Norway’s Saltstraumen waterway which peaks at an amazing 20 knots.
The rapids attract whitewater kayakers and surfers from around the world, but that day there were only moderate flows and midweek, as well, and no enthusiasts showed up to entertain us.
But it was nice just to watch the water, be hypnotized by a whirlpool.
It had been a crazy few days, a mad flurry of fixing things which always seem to break just before you cast off, anxious as we were to make it to a reunion with old friends at Ballet Bay, off Nelson Island.
Then is was a quick run north to Princess Louisa Inlet, so nice to sail most of the way, riding an inflow with a headsail. Normally we are staring upward, marvelling at the beauty. But on this trip low, dark clouds and mists of rain cast Jervis Inlet in an ominous gloom. Lynne put a positive spin on it, saying it was beautiful in a different sort of way. And it was.
We stern tied in a favourite spot, looking across at Chatterbox Falls with the soaring rock wall as a backdrop, but we cut our visit short since Lynne had elsewhere sliced open a couple toes in an argument with broken glass and we were unable to make our planned trek up to the trapper’s cabin.
A jammed anchor roller delayed our departure and it wasn’t until after the turn to flood that we entered Malibu Rapids and that is not something we would recommend.
The other departing vessels had left well before us and for once we were not part of a convoy heading south from Princess Louisa.
We planned to dock in Skookumchuck Narrows to attend to our damaged anchor roller, but both Backeddy Marina and the public dock at Egmont were full, so we anchored in our usual spot just south of the rocky islet in Secret Bay, swinging in the flow.
Ashore here is Bathgate Marina, with its well-stocked general store, liquor agency, showers and fuel docks. It has recently changed hands. A couple years ago, when I confessed to the then owner a romantic vision of one day owning a small marina like this, she looked me up and down and said it might be a good idea if I was 20 years younger.
I was a little hurt, but it was probably good advice.