Canadian cruiser, Ruth Brown, shares stories of her visits to the small, charming marina communities of British Columbia. It remains bittersweet reading for American cruisers — we have to live vicariously until the border reopens, but hopefully that can happen soon.

Step into the magic of Lagoon Cove. This special place is nestled on West Cracroft Island, between Farquharson Island and Minstrel Island in Clio Channel, right next door is the Broughton Archipelago. OMOO arrived via Chatham Channel to the welcoming of the wharfinger coming out to catch our lines on approach to the dock. Friendly and helpful is an understatement when we met Dan and Kelley, the new owners of this quaint marina. Along with their crew — Kristoff and Cameo — they made us feel instantly at home and cared for.

As views go, it doesn’t get much better.

No sooner had we settled in when the dock filled up with five large yachts, the cruisers spilling out to greet one another. As the last 60-foot boat docked beside us, I called out, “There goes the neighborhood!” They responded to this with friendly socially-distanced “hellos” and explained they were all cousins. Well, I’d trade that family for mine any day! I’m from the prairies and no one in my family can fathom why all I want to do is sail around on a boat.

The sounds and smells of our neighbors laughing and barbecuing together on their stern decks reverberated from the “crab shack” and the “workshop” — which in a non-Covid-year would host morning coffee and evening happy hour and potlucks. Normally, these gatherings would be treated to the “prawn catch” of the day. For decades, this atmosphere has drawn boaters from all over the west coast of Canada and the USA, as well as international visitors.

Lagoon Cove's famous Crab Shack, hope of the fresh prawn happy hour.
Lagoon Cove’s famous Crab Shack, home of the fresh prawn happy hour.

I was dying of curiosity about Dan and Kelly, and the transition from the previous owners — the infamous Bill and Jean were a huge part of the visitor experience and local boating community in these parts. I also hoped to learn how the pandemic was impacting their business — visiting boaters during the high season represent the biggest part of marinas’ income in these remote locations. We sat down together and they graciously told me their story.

A few years ago, Kelley’s dad visited Lagoon Cove after retiring and taking a boat trip to Alaska with family. He had a background in commercial woodworking and when he saw the marina’s historical work shop he fell in love. He started dreaming of being able to come back again and again. At the time, the marina was for sale and he learned that a logging company had been interested in acquiring it. He went home and told his wife he wanted to buy it, if by chance the deal with the logging company fell through. The family — including Dan and Kelley — discussed the possibility, which was about a 10% chance of it actually happening. Kelley’s Mom, agreed to making an offer “sight unseen”.

They eventually learned the offer from the loggers wasn’t moving forward. At this point, Dan and Kelley paid a visit to Lagoon Cove and agreed to manage the marina if family ownership became a reality. The rest is history! From what the crew of OMOO experienced during our visit, Lagoon Cove is very lucky to have them.

Kelley and her husband Dan (not pictured) are at home as the generous and capable new managers of Lagoon Cove.

Dan and Kelley’s background comes in handy; they worked for twenty years at a summer camp in the States, near Minneapolis, and Dan has expertise in IT. They visualized a “kinship” to that experience here in the Pacific Northwest. Since taking over the marina, they went to work upgrading the docks, expanding the WiFi service, transitioning the paper books to a computerized business system, and completing extensive maintenance of the walking trails and general upkeep of the property in a harsh marine environment. They accomplished all of this since arriving in 2016, while also wading through mountains of paperwork applying for immigration.

I had to ask, “What have your biggest challenges been?” They answered, “the first winter in the house, which hadn’t been lived in over the winter for some time.” They went on to list the issues with frozen pipes, isolation, getting groceries in a small run-about that was not suited for the conditions on the Johnstone Strait, and what to do if someone had an accident and wound up hurt. This has not happened yet, other than Dan gashing his hand on broken glass. He regretted not having a gruesome chainsaw or bear attack story to tell visitors when they asked about his bandaged hand, but coincidentally had numerous retired doctors arrive on their boats, eager to provide personal medical attention.

The torch has passed, but the Lagoon Cove tradition of hospitality and personality remains as strong as ever.

When speaking about Covid-19 and the slow summer for boating, they expressed how pleased they were that Canadian boaters seem to be making an extra effort to support them this year. Since OMOO has been cruising since last May, we know Canadian boaters are taking advantage of safe distancing, which is easy to do on the water. OMOO and crew are so appreciative of Lagoon Cove‘s respectful adherence of restrictions and distancing guidelines. They’ve kept their sense of humor about it, making light of “Lagoon Cove-id” and creating a homemade sign for the “Foreign Quarantine Shack.”

OMOO and crew wish Dan and Kelly all the best in the years ahead, and are very grateful that you have landed in Lagoon Cove.