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The Other Princess Louisa

Back in my working days, Larry was the chief of our Spokane office for many years, and he remains one of my all-time favorite clients. He's got a big sense of humor, an even bigger heart, he can tell a big story, and perhaps more than anything except his wife, Kathy, I remember that Larry LOVED his boat. He would travel from Spokane after work on Friday night to spend the weekend on board in Tacoma, where his boat was moored, and then head back to Spokane on Sunday night. For those of you unfamiliar with Washington state geography, he was traveling from the nearly our eastern board to nearly our western boarder. That's how much Larry loved his boat. And of course, he'd take longer trips when his schedule allowed.


Somewhere in the early 2000's, when my Louisa was an infant, or maybe a toddler, but certainly no older than that, Larry told me that he was heading to Canada on his beloved boat later that summer to see "the land of a thousand waterfalls"--Princess Louisa Inlet. He described it as a fantastical place that all boaters the world over dream of experiencing, a fjord with soaring mountain faces several thousand feet tall coming right down to the deep water's edge, and waterfalls cascading down around you as you traverse the deep but narrow passage until you are rewarded at the end by the sight and sound of the biggest waterfall of them all--Chatterbox Falls. He said it could only be reached by boat, and that it was an arduous trip. When he returned from his trip to Princess Louisa, he had a pocketful of stories about the magnificent sites he had seen. With no inkling that I would ever have a boat of my own, I thought about how amazing it would be to see this magical place aboard *Larry's* boat.



Larry retired many years ago, and as coworkers often do when jobs end and we move on with our lives, we have lost touch. I hope that he and Kathy are still boating. He left his mark on our workplace, and certainly on my heart, and I have never forgotten his stories of Princess Louisa Inlet. When John and I were planning our trip to Canada, of course I insisted that we spend some time there. While I wish that my Louisa had been able to experience it with us, I was nevertheless thrilled to make my own magical journey aboard my own well-loved boat. It was to be the highlight of our Canadian adventure.


One of the reasons that Princess Louisa is a special place to visit is its remoteness, traveling up Jervis Inlet, the deepest fjord in British Columbia, more than 2000 feet deep in places. Deep water meets the faces of mountains, right at the shoreline, just as Larry said. For a 40' sailboat, this means that there are very few places to anchor. The night before we made our approach to Princess Louisa, we dropped the hook in 75' of water at what my Grandma Foreman would call "just a wide spot in the road". It was isolated, deep and dark--called Dark Cove, actually--and I was glad that Moon Dancer 2, one of our buddy boats, anchored there with us. If our anchor didn't hold in that deep water, it would be good to be able to hail a friend on the VHF radio as we went drifting up the fjord.


Of course, our trusty anchor held, and we had a restful but short night, rising at 5am for departure at first light in order to make the 26 nautical mile trip up Queens Reach to Malibu Rapids. You see, the challenge of Princess Louisa is the arrival and departure. One must transit Malibu Rapids at slack water, meaning the tide is neither ebbing nor flooding, in order to avoid being swept onto the rocks by white water in this narrow passage. We had calculated, recalculated, consulted, and second-guessed ourselves for days before settling on a plan for when we would leave Dark Cove in order to be sure that we arrived in plenty of time for slack water. If we missed it, we would have to go all the way back to Dark Cove because there wasn't anywhere between here and there that was shallow enough to anchor in.


It was a gorgeous morning, as we anticipating the sun rising over those magnificent rock faces springing out of the clear, deep water. Old Sol didn't disappoint. Before we knew it, we were at the mouth of Malibu Rapids with more than an hour to spare. We tooled around enjoying the scenery, and then it was time to traverse. There is a fancy lodge on the shore that was built in the 1940s as a glamorous retreat. Visitors included John Wayne, John F. Kennedy, Barbara Stanwyck, Bing Crosby, and Bob Hope. Now, it's a Young Life Christian Camp, and as we traversed the rapids at 11am, the campers were chanting a camp cheer as they assembled on the quad. It only SEEMED like they were cheering us on, but it just added to the thrill of the experience. Side note: this is one heck of a place for lucky kids to go to summer camp.


Once we passed the Rapids, I was spellbound to meet The Other Princess Louisa. I couldn't help but think of Larry and just smile. He was right: this is truly majestic place. Calm clear water with granite rock faces springing out of the water's edge to heights of 7000 feet. It is indescribable, and I understood Larry's excitement as he told me about this place all those years ago. The only thing I know to say is that it is awe-inspiring, and overwhelming to take in that much beauty. The inlet dead ends at Chatterbox Falls, and there's a dock there where we tied up for a few nights. We swam in the waterfall. We enjoyed our friends. We said, "Wowwwwwww" a lot. And I remembered Larry.



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