I think I have Sandy talked into going to Barkley Sound next summer, 2009. We really like anchorages with warm water lakes within walking distance to swim in. Are there places like that in Barkley Sound? We're accustom to warm water and air temperatures in Desolation Sound. What's the climate like in Barkley Sound? Any anchorages that one "must see" while they are there?
Desolation Sound's fresh water swimming opportunities are one of our favourite things about that area too.. but you'll not find such treasures in Barkley Sound unfortunately. You may well give up "summer" for the duration of your stay (not always, but odds are......) Lots of marine cloud and fog can obscure the sun and keep things coolish even when Georgia Strait and other inside areas are enjoying clear warm sunshine. We were there the first 2 weeks in July and that was our experience - others have had nice weather, almost warm, but swimming is extremely rare except for the hardiest sorts. Apparently August (aka FOGUST) is worse still.
That said, the area has attractions that make up for all of that. Highlights for us were:
Bamfield - original terminus of the first Trans Pacific cable, quaint village with supplies and fuel, two towns, really, an isolated side and one at the "end of the road". The isolated side has a waterfront boardwalk that is quite famous and the walk to Brady's Beach is well worthwhile.
Port Alberni Yacht Club outstation - good moorage, welcoming people, showers make this a nice stop, good kayaking in the area too.
Numerous anchorages available, the bonus is you're often on your own once you're away from the supply ports of Bamfield and Uclulet. Busier anchorages include Effingham and the Turtle group, but we were often able to find one boat hideyholes here and there.
"Lucky Creek" near the mouth of Pipestem inlet was a treat.. a nice paddle/row up an estuary takes you to a series of small waterfalls with swimming holes - they'd be very tempting on a hot day.
The outer islands (Clarke, Benson and others) are not really good overnight stays but in the right conditions are fascinating day stops as long as the swell isn't too severe. Effingham is a good base to explore these islands from. The hike/bushwack from Effingham to the aborignal village site is another good excursion.
The rugged harsh outer island shores are in stark contrast to the rounded sandstone we see so much of in the Gulf Islands.
Ucluclet is a good provisioning spot but very busy with fish charters, not our fave but pretty much a necessary stopover if you're there for any time at all. The highlight there was an incredible breakfast at the local bowling alley
Getting there and back we did a couple of marathons - Victoria to Bamfield in 17 hours, coming back we had better conditions and did Bamfield to Sidney Spit in a pre-dawn to dusk day. We chose not to try to overnight in San Juan harbour - too many stories of lack of space and excessive swell.
I'd highly recommend having kayaks on board.. these will greatly enhance your experience here.. paddling close to these rugged islands in the residual swell is really neat, there are plenty of lagoons and shallow areas you'd otherwise not see.
Don't be too discouraged by our tales of cold weather/conditions.. it was still well worth it and we'll do it again - but not every year.