Porter and I landed the kayak on a rocky beach, climbed out and pulled it up away from the incoming tide. As I tossed his life jacket onto the seat, he raced off into the woods and with a holler of, “Let’s run dad!” I did too.

Up a short hill we went, over rocks, through mud, pushing past leafy tree branches. At the trail’s head, Unwin Lake stretched out before us. Across the glassy water, green mountains climbed high into the sky and at our feet, large, weathered logs created an uneven raft.

After working our way to the water’s edge we sat on a log together and looked out across the lake. We were the only people around that evening and the decision to jump in for a swim was easy. Off came our clothes and in just our sandals, we leapt into the cool, fresh water.

Laughing and splashing, we paddled around before climbing up onto the log and into our underwear. And as we worked our way back down the trail, Porter said, “Dad, that was so much fun. I’m glad we did that.” I was too. It was great to be back in Desolation Sound.

Desolation Found

Our trip to Desolation Sound started shortly after leaving Princess Louisa. We had a favorable tide and good weather, and with a 5 a.m. start, we kept figuring, “why not keep going?” as the day wore on. We were helped immensely by a fresh southwesterly breeze funneling up Malaspina Strait and we flew the spinnaker for hours in the afternoon sun. At one point, we passed a pod of orca slowly moving northward as well.

Seventy three miles after leaving Princess Louisa, we pulled into the tiny village of Lund at happy hour and with that, we were knocking on the door to Desolation Sound. This was our first time in Lund — which lies at the end/beginning of Highway 101 that stretches all the way to Chile — and we were mainly there to get fuel and provisions before heading into the sound for a week. Of course, we found the famous blackberry cinnamon rolls at Nancy’s Bakery, too.

A Different Sound

Last year we spent 3.5 weeks at the height of summer in the sound and to say we had an amazing time would be an understatement. But the solitary swim Porter and I enjoyed in Unwin Lake probably wouldn’t have happened. Instead of Yahtzee being anchored alone near the trailhead in Tenedos Bay, last year many other boats would have occupied the space with us, which would mean that other people would have been at the lake too. It was nice to have it all to ourselves.

Don’t get me wrong, we certainly don’t mind sharing anchorages with other boaters or even crowds once in a while. But to find ourselves in such a popular cruising destination such as Desolation Sound with so few boats after being here with the crowds of summer provides a whole different feel and perspective.

This distinct sense of solitude was amplified when we wove our way into the coves of Prideaux Haven and found just three other boats. Three! For those who’ve never been to this popular destination in the summer, the place can be so jam packed with boats that even finding a spot to stern tie can be difficult. So it was actually a slight comfort when a flotilla of doctors from Calgary came in on their annual cruise and anchored near us.

Life Goes On

But no matter if there are lots of boats or none, our daily Desolation Sound rituals haven’t changed. The weather and water are already warm so we’ve been swimming from the boat and just yesterday I dove the bottom to check everything out — you may remember that we ran into a log a little over a week ago while finishing the Oregon Offshore Race. All seems well.

Porter has picked up right where he left off in the fall and has been jumping off of Yahtzee, swimming around the boat and to nearby rocks. His interest in all things boating continues and he either wants to be out paddling or rowing by himself or getting a lesson on how to do it better. Also, his touch on the tiller of the sailing dinghy is getting better. And Magnus isn’t far behind.

As is typical, I’ve been able to get my fair share of work done during the day while Jill, Donna and the boys head to shore for hiking and swimming or out on the kayak and dinghy to explore. Meals are always a highlight for the crew, as are the down times when the boys play on deck like it’s a jungle gym, read or work on art projects.

Overall, our time in Desolation Sound continues to be special. Crowds or no crowds, this is truly an amazing cruising ground that even though we know it well, we feel we’ve only begun to explore its many anchorages, lakes and hiking trails.