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Walt Drechsler

Malibu Rapids and Chatterbox Falls May 28 – 30

Malibu Rapids. What can I say that hasn’t already been said except that I was extremely anxious about this part of our journey. It’s a narrow “S” shaped channel that if not negotiated properly and at the correct time in the tide cycle can put you on the rocks.

The morning dawned overcast with low clouds and not much wind. So we motored.

Heading up Jervis Inlet Early in the AM

We had about a 30 mile run with really no options to duck into should the weather turn bad. This is normally a 5 hour run for us so to catch the 1047 slack we needed to leave no later than 0530. We pulled off the dock and out into Jarvis Inlet. We realized early on this was going to be 5 hours of motoring up the channel as we had a schedule to keep.

The skies remained overcast and the mountains surrounding Jarvis Inlet honestly lost a little of their magic in the cover.

We continued up the inlet but as we neared our objective I soon realized we were not going to make it for slack tide. We were running about 20 to 30 minutes late. Not sure at this point exactly what that meant in regards to our entering the rapids I was a bit concerned. As we approached the entrance I heard a securite message as is custom with anyone entering or exiting Malibu Rapids. The entrance is very tight so it good to give notice to other mariners trying to use the channel. Boats going with the current have the priority. Three other vessels were taking advantage of the ebb slack to transit outbound. As we crossed paths in Jervis Inlet I radioed one of them to see how the current was running. As this was mid term in the lunar cycle the volume of water was much less and our window was a little wider at this time of the month. The boat I radioed felt we would have no issues as a result of our tardiness. That helped my anxiety a little…. Not so much!

We radioed our boat information and direction through the rapids as a securite on channel 16 and with Damon and Linda on the bow as watch we entered the Malibu Rapids………

Linda getting ready for bow watch as we approach Malibu Rapids

Here we go!

Actually it was uneventful. That is exactly what we were hoping for.

We just cleared the rapids

But as you enter the Princess Louisa “Cathedral” your jaw drops. You can scaresly take it all in. Now mind you, we are still under cloud cover so the scene is a bit muted but even at that it is awe Inspiring!

We continued up the inlet, past MacDonald Island and on to the falls. We kept our speed down as I read the wakes bounce back from the canyons not only disturbing the tranquility of the area but to lessen the damage these wakes cause to the area in general. It is almost impossible to describe the emotions that overcome you as you transit this “cathedral”. Mountains rising thousands of feet above you and depths so deep the sounder gave up long ago. And the waterfalls! Their are numerous waterfalls on the way in. In their own way they seem to be preparing you for the grand finale at the end!

We drew the lucky straw! There was a spot on “the falls” end of the dock. We slid the boat into position and tied off the lines. Amazing. If the wind was just right we could feel a little mist from the falls. Just enough but not too much. Perfect!

The dock is first come first serve. Suggested “donation” is $10.00 per night on the bouys and $20.00 per night for the dock. Ming has been the park ranger at Chatter Box Falls for the last 16 seasons. She takes care of both the Chatter Box Falls and MacDonald Island Parks. Both are in tip top shape.

Until this year bouys were available at MacDonald Island only. This year they have added 5 new bouys right in front of the falls lying South of the Chatter Box Falls. They will accomodate boats up to 70′!

By the time the weekend rolled around all of these new bouys were full but there was still lots of opportunities to secure a vessel. I’m not sure I would want to be here in the height of the season!

Being at the dock was nice. We could come and go as we pleased and explore as the moment grabbed us.

We woke the next morning to find Damon busy in the galley!

He had prepared a magnificent breakfast for the hungry crew. He even went so far as to make fresh biscuts!

Following beakfast and galley clean up we loaded into the “Dingy Boat” as our grandson calls it and headed down the inlet to MacDonald Island. James F MacDonald was largely reponsible for preserving Chatterbox Falls and Princess Louisa Islet for many generations to enjoy. There is a lot written about his contribution and they document his involvement much better than I can. The 2019 Waggoner Guide has a good write up on page 298. I would also encourage you to pick up a copy of the Curve in Time. Fastinating reading about this area of British Columbia.

The morning broke with clear blue sky and silky glass water with mirror like reflections. It was absolutly beautiful out.

The way the mountains leap up out of the inlet and reach for the sky is remarkable. And to think they plumet just as far into the sea is mind boggling!

Captured on film… tying up to the wrong float!

We arrived at what we thought was the park float only to be told by Ming when she greated us we were on the wrong dock. The dock we were at was private but we were probably ok for a little bit.

Ming is everywhere! As we walked up to the trail head she was arming herself with clippers and weedeater to groom the trail. Busy gal!

The trail is a very easy walk with very little change in elevation and about 1/2 mile once you get to the loop. Directions are not very clear however!

I think this means you can go either way. We did not get lost!

Here is a picture of the crew preparing to do the loop trail.

The trail was a very nice walk with a blend of forest and water views. It’s nice to get off the boat and stretch the ole limbs a bit!

The forest was alive with birds. They yapped the entire time we walked. Linda (Dr. Doolittle) tried to communicate but was not very successful.

After our walk we took a slow dingy ride back along the Southern shore. Once we arrived at the dock we started preparations for a very early departure. Highwater slack was at 0430 and it takes us about an hour from the dock to the rapids.

To be continued…………

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