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Desolation Sound & the Discovery Islands

Area Overview

The blue course line extending off the "Nanaimo to Campbell River" chart comes in from the bottom center of this chart. The fragment of land just to the east of the course line there is Sarah Point, the north tip of the Malaspina Peninsula which marks the southern edge of Desolation Sound. The course line crosses Desolation Sound bending around Kinghorn Island and into Refuge Cove on the southern end of West Redonda Island. From there it proceeds northwest to the notorious Yaculta Rapids and Stuart Island, home of several luxe fishing resorts:  e.g., Sonora Island Resort and Dent Island Lodge.


Cartographically, Desolation Sound is the relatively small body of water between Cortes Island, West Redonda Island and the Masapina and Gifford Peninsulas. Most boaters, however, think of the Desolation Sound area as the much larger geography east of the blue course line on the chart below which includes the waters surrounding West Redonda and East Redonda Islands as well as Bute and Toba Inlets. 


In Desolation Sound, we get the first taste of alpine grandeur on the voyage north. The peak of Mt. Addenbroke, on East Redonda Island,for example is 5,216 feet above sea level and is only 1.6 miles from the shoreline.  Wildlife abounds, in the water and on shore.


The islands in the Desolation Sound area are part of the Discovery Islands archipelago.  Other principal islands in this group -- west of the blue course line -- are Quadra, Sonora, Maurelle, Read and Cortes.  While these islands do not have the stunning elevations of the Desolation Sound area just to the east, they do offer many delightful anchorages and picturesque channels and passages. On the west side of Quadra Island is Campbell River and Discovery Passage, the most direct route north.

From Refuge Cove to Crawford Anchorage

As shown on the chart below, from Refuge Cove, just inside the bottom edge of the chart, via the blue course line it is 26 miles to Hall Point at the northwest corner of the chart. Crawford Anchorage is 8 miles further on.  In comparison, to circumnavigate the two Redonda Islands from Refuge Cove via Homfray and Pryce Channels is a run of 40 miles.

Looking up Homfray Channel across the Paige Islets from just outside Laura Cove in Desolation Sound.

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