A Love Story — The Sea, A Man, An Inlet
At eleven or twelve years old, a little girl found her passion for sailing. It was the mid-1930’s, in Long Beach, California when Betty and her younger sister discovered they were meant to be sailors. It happened when their mother signed them up for sailing lessons at a Junior Sailing Club in Alamitos Bay.
This was the beginning of a lifetime of boating —Betty’s first love.
In her high school years, Betty raced an 8-foot pram, after years of learning to sail on Sabots. But she gave that up for her second love — a high school boy, her future soul-mate and husband.
They met at a Junior Yacht Club, Jim was the Commodore and Betty was the Secretary. She gave up her small sailboat and joined his crew on his 17-foot National One Design, racing the waters of Newport Beach, Long Beach and Los Angeles Harbor.
“We enjoyed boating together from the beginning,” Betty Wright
At the end of High School, Jim went off to war. He spent four-years during
World War II in the Pacific Northwest on small Navy ships, mostly the PCE
893. It was then that Jim fell in love with the area.
After the close of the war, they married. Betty taught school while Jim attended University of Southern California for two-years to complete his degree in transportation. The summer before graduation, Jim asked Betty if she would like to move to the Pacific Northwest. They came for a visit and that was all it took to convince Betty that this area was a boaters’ paradise. They settled in Portland, Oregon where an old Navy buddy of Jim’s resided.
Betty taught school, later becoming Principal at a private school, while Jim worked at I.T.T. Grinnell Co. in Portland, Oregon. Their weekends were often spent on the water. With their help, a small craft club was formed in Portland for boaters who wanted to cruise together — The Trailer Sailors.
In 1956, the call to discover waters further north become so strong, they longed to visit the Canadian Gulf Islands and Princess Louisa Inlet. Their 16-foot Mansfield boat had a 25-horsepower motor, the largest motor available in those days and they felt confident they could make it.
“Why not expand our adventures into new territory?”
Their Mansfield was advertised as a 16-foot boat and normally the Coast Guard officially recognizes a 16-foot boat as a real boat and will provide official Coast Guard numbers for that size. They were disappointed when the Coast Guard inspected the boat and informed them it was really only a 14-foot boat with a two foot “well” on the stern for the outboard motor. This did not meet the requirements for a 16-foot hull and they were refused a number, one they wanted for safety! They were now truly a small boat — a small boat with a BIG adventure planned.
In the winter of 1956–57, with the use of charts and navigational books, they planned their proposed route. In the process, they realized they might need more fuel to travel up the three reaches leading to Princess Louisa Inlet: Prince of Wales Reach, Princess Royal Reach, and Queen’s Reach. Once at the entrance to Princess Louisa Inlet, it would be yet another four-miles to reach the magnificent head of the inlet.
On Saturday, July 13th, the boat was packed, ready for the seven-hour trailer journey from Portland to Anacortes, Washington, where they would launch the next day.
Thursday, July 18, five days later, they arrived at Irving’s Landing at the mouth of Pender Harbour for gas and supplies. Leaving Pender Harbour at 10:50 A.M., they soon arrived in Egmont, the last stop. After lunch, they headed out, only 80 miles left until they reached their final destination.
As they approached the last four-miles of their destination, the pristine scenery beckoned them to slow down and enjoy nature’s magnificent wonder. Granite walls towered over the inlet, cut out by an ice-glacier millenniums ago. The snow topped mountains rose sharply from the sea’s edge to heights of up to a mile. When the snow melts and the water is running, there can be up to 60 waterfalls flowing down the sides of these enormous rugged mountains.
The mountains along side us are so high. We felt small and insignificant.
Then we rounded the last corner at the head of the inlet and came upon the spectacular Chatterbox Falls. We were speechless. What God has created here is truly one of the most beautiful places on earth.
It is here, that Betty discovered her third love in life — Princess Louisa Inlet.
Since this time, Betty had visited the Inlet nine times before she left this earth. Her passion for this beautiful location remained strong till the end. Her greatest hope was that it would remain as God intended it and never be developed or ruined.
This is a love story of how a young girl fell in love with boating, as a young woman fell in love with a man, and as a woman fell in love with an inlet.
Everyone who visits Princess Louisa must leave with a divine feeling for the spirit of the Inlet. It’s an experience that will last forever.
Resume of the Original 1957 Trip
• Traveled 438 miles
• Traveled 36 hours with motor
• Used 86 gallons of gas
• Used 13 quarts of oil
• Traveled 14 days