One of several pleasant surprises about Backeddy Resort & Marina was its walkable proximity to witness the raw power of the tidal exchange at Skookumchuck Narrows.

We sat on our boat on a Friday in mid-July, dejectedly eyeing the weather forecast.

The weather had been perfect for the three weeks we’d spent in the Gulf and San Juan islands since leaving Bainbridge Island in late June, so the forecast of heavy rain the following Monday was an unpleasant surprise. Our plan for that day, and the main goal of our five-week cruise, was to finally get to a place we’d never seen but had heard so much about — Princess Louisa Inlet.

Our 20 years of sailing the Pacific Northwest together had taken us from Olympia to Alaska, many points in between, and on a circumnavigation of Vancouver Island last summer. But somehow, we’d never made it to Princess Louisa Inlet, a fabled fjord flanked by sheer granite cliffs plunging into the sea and forested mountains stretching up to 7,000 feet high. This summer, it was time.

Anchored in Pender Harbour on British Columbia’s Sunshine Coast, we briefly considered foregoing the Princess Louisa trip and heading back down to the islands, but ultimately decided to stick with our plan. I’d taken the week off work specifically to go to Princess Louisa, and if we didn’t go then, who knew when we might be able to again. Life is capricious, and the clock is always ticking.

That afternoon, we headed for Backeddy Resort & Marina in Egmont. We needed to refill our water tanks and do laundry, and figured it was a good stopping point to break up the otherwise long trip to Princess Louisa. But what was intended as simply a practical stop turned out to be one of the best surprises of our cruise.

Backeddy has a small, rustic marina with rickety old wooden docks, a friendly staff, and a low-key pub with a deck offering stunning views of Sechelt Inlet and the surrounding mountains. The place felt like a charming throwback to boating of decades past. There were no megayachts in sight. Power on the linear dock was via cobbled-together combinations of extension cords leading to the one set of outlets down the dock. Laundry (one washer, two dryers) was in an old but clean room in a cinderblock building at the back of the site. We ate at the pub both nights, enjoying the live music and the vibe of what was clearly a favorite spot for locals, along with some tasty food.

And there was another pleasant surprise in store. The marina is about an hour’s walk from Skookumchuck Narrows, where around 200 billion gallons of water flow through the narrow strait connecting Sechelt and Jervis inlets twice daily, creating a mesmerizing display of roiling whirlpools and rushing waves. The very busy 2.4-mile trail to the narrows is along a relatively flat route in Skookumchuck Provincial Park through lush rainforest and leads to two viewpoints. Near the trailhead is Skookumchuck Bakery & Café, nestled into the woods in a charming wooden building with a covered wraparound deck and a stylish interior, so improbably located and perfectly picturesque it’s almost hard to believe it exists.

We left Backeddy at 4:30 a.m. Sunday to arrive at Malibu Rapids, at the entrance to Princess Louisa, at high slack tide. Morning dawned as we headed north, coloring the mountainsides pink and revealing an increasingly dramatic landscape of ever-taller peaks. The entrance to the rapids — marked on the northwest side by Malibu Club, a Christian camp and retreat facility — requires a turn to port, then to starboard, before crossing through a narrow gap that feels like passing into another realm.

The entrance at Malibu Rapids must be timed right, and isn’t for the faint of heart; but once you’re in, Princess Louisa Inlet is spectacular.

From the rapids, it’s nearly four miles to the head of the inlet and the famous Chatterbox Falls. Under overcast skies, we looked up at the soaring cliffs and steep forests, searching for the landmarks M. Wylie Blanchet describes in The Curve of Time, a memoir about her experiences as a widowed mother cruising the Salish Sea with her five children in a small boat in the 1920s and ‘30s. We reached the falls to discover the nearby linear dock, which holds about a dozen boats, completely full. We’d hoped the bad weather forecast might have discouraged other boaters, but no dice.

Instead, we tied up to one of five mooring balls just east of the falls. We’d been a little anxious about finding a suitable moorage, but we needn’t have worried — there were several places in the inlet where we could have safely dropped a hook. We dinghied ashore for some exploring, walking the short trail to Chatterbox Falls, which is accessible from the dock, and exploring another short trail on MacDonald Island, a little south down the inlet, where there were several more mooring balls.

Afterward, we headed back to the boat to relax and enjoy the beauty of our surroundings, our serenity occasionally interrupted by the growl of float planes and the drone of voices over loudspeakers on tour boats, instructing passengers about what time to return to the dock. Not surprisingly, Princess Louisa Inlet is popular. It’s comparable to places we’ve visited in Alaska and on the west coast of Vancouver, but its location on B.C.’s mainland makes it much more accessible — and therefore, busier.

As forecast, rain was pattering on the hatch above our bunk when we awoke the next morning. We’d prepared for a cozy day hunkered down below, with downloaded movies to watch, books to read, and food to cook. In mid-afternoon, when there was a break in the downpour, we stepped out on deck and found a place magically transformed. Low-hanging clouds blanketed the inlet, drifting gently past the boats. Chatterbox roared, and close to a dozen other waterfalls had emerged around the bay. Our sailboat was now moored between two of them, one of which cascaded down into the inlet. We pulled on our foulies and dinghied over to the waterfall, putting our hands in the streaming water as spray misted our faces. That night, the rain tapered off and a bright moon glowed through broken clouds.

We left Princess Louisa the next morning, glad we hadn’t let the forecast ruin our plans. Our visit wasn’t the sun-dazzled experience we’d anticipated but was equally beautiful in a different way. It was a reminder that some of the best experiences, in cruising as in life, come from a willingness to keep an open mind and embrace the unexpected.

Deborah Bach is the co-founder of Three Sheets Northwest and a former newspaper reporter. She and her husband can often be found sailing with

their boat kitty on their Passport 40, Rounder.