In Search of Sand

As the parents of young children, we’ve spent much of the last six years in search of beaches. At the start of the 4:00 crazy hour(s), we sought out beaches. On what-should-we do-today weekend days, we sought out beaches. On short boat trips, we anchored and immediately went ashore to explore the beaches. When we traveled to the UK and Iceland two years ago, we wisely booked our rooms on beaches. And when we started on this new boat adventure, we expected to be going from beach to beach with our sand-crazy kids. But expectations are meant to be dashed, I suppose, and we have found it difficult to find that elusive sand.

After heading north from our San Juan Islands backyard, we found no end to oyster strewn beaches, kelp-covered rocks, and expansive low tide mud flats covered in bivalves. We would see a light strip of land from afar, point Tinker in its direction, and then feel our faces drop as the light color was yet more oyster and barnacle shells, crammed in so tightly together that they looked like white sand from a distance.

The kids, to their credit, learned to walk carefully on those rocky oyster beaches, and they are becoming more adept at at navigating slippery kelp covered rocks (not without some falls along the way). But mud flats are now avoided, as we have had to retrieve one too many shoes from the mud and had to carry overwhelmed kids one too many sticky steps back to real land. And so we are willing to drive our little Tinker around every inch of an anchorage to find any hidden strip of sand.

One of the great joys of the west coast of Vancouver Island – other than its stunning desolate beauty – has been the reappearance of sand. Real sand. Sand castle sand. Sink-your-toes-into-the-softness sand. I never realized sand could be stunning. The joy on Dylan’s face as doffed his shoes and ran around on a strip of silk in the Bunsby Islands was priceless. “Mommy, this is the best sand in the whole world!” he joyfully declared. Absence makes the heart grow fonder – and more appreciative.

Rugged Point Marine Provincial Park at the entrance to Kyuquot Sound was a child’s heaven. A long, powdery gray beach stretched for a mile in front of our wavy-but-worth-it anchorage. Dylan happily rolled in the powder and ran down the beach in utter amazement. A short half mile hike to the ocean side of the park opened up a wild playground for the boys. Beach after beach of “rainbow sand” (Dylan’s term) extended for miles upon this shore, separated only by small volcanic peninsulas covered by low-tide abundance.

“Rainbow Sand”

And as a friend drove us back to Ucluelet from Tofino yesterday evening, we got a glimpse of the extensive sands of Long Beach. Crowds spread out over the sand and the rows of low waves. It was heartbreaking to have to say no to Dylan, who wanted so badly to run down the precious sand and leap into the low surf.

The kids aren’t yet wondering about the geologic reasons why a watery terrain so dotted with rocky reefs and pillars can also be home to the softest, sandiest beaches. They aren’t yet wondering why some beaches are white, some are gray, and some are mottled rainbow. They might later. For now, they are simply experiencing the pure joy of a resource whose value we used to take for granted.

Beaches are likely to be more common along our route as we head south to Mexico and hopefully across the South Pacific, but I hope none of us will ever forget the happiness that these beautiful strips of sand have provided us on this too-brief shakedown cruise around Vancouver Island.

No place to land on Lasqueti Island.
A rocky landing in Desolation Sound.
A strip of white shell beach on Minstrel Island, the closest thing we could get to sand in Desolation Sound.
Appreciating the sand at Rugged Point Marine Park!
A sanddollar at Rugged Point Marine Park
Low tide color at Rugged Point Marine Park.
Sailing down the west coast of Vancouver Island.


7 thoughts on “In Search of Sand”

  1. You never appreciate what you have until you don’t have it anymore. Glad you are finding some sand on this part of the trip. Mexico will have tons.

    1. Yes, mom, it’s been wonderful to have sand! We haven’t been able to stay very long in any one place, though, because we’re on a tight schedule to get back to Anacortes now!

    1. Yes, Cheryl, the sea creatures are amazing here. Our friend in Tofino, whose dad is a naturalist by profession, said that this area of the world has the healthiest low tide life she has ever seen. It’s quite beautiful.

  2. Hi Sandi. Gill told me about your amazing adventure when I caught up with her a couple of weeks ago. I am loving reading the updates and seeing the videos, you absolutely need to keep these up throughout the trip! Whilst it is clearly not without its challenges, you seem to be having an amazing time and you can only guess at the adventures and experiences that await you. Us landlubbers will just have to live vicariously through you! xx

    1. Thanks, Nick! Yes, there are challenges, but the daily ones aren’t much different than the daily ones on land, actually. I will definitely continue the blog and the videos. One challenge is finding the time to do them, but the other is actually finding internet to upload them! We knew we were remote out here, but we didn’t cell reception or data connection for weeks. Thanks for following! I hope you’re well.

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