Vancouver Sail Trip Planning Advice
Hi, we are holidaying in Canada this summer, flying out to Montreal and touring Quebec, Ontaria, Toronto and Niagara before flying to Calgary and renting a car to drive from the Rockies to Vancouver via the Okenago wine region. We are in Canada for just under 6 weeks in total. We plan on arriving in Vancouver about the 12th/13th August and had hoped to charter a yacht for a week whilst there followed by time in Vancouver and touring Vancouver Island.
We need advice to help us make up our minds regarding the sailing trip planning. We originally planned to charter for a week and hopefully sail to Desolation Sound but we understand that 10 days would be the minimum time to charter to see anything of Desolation Sound.
Our other option is to plan a trip around the Gulf Islands for a week, but that may be crowded in August.
We cannot make up our minds and need to make bookings soon so as we see it our options are to:
1) delay the sailing in Canada until another trip and then plan a month of sailing around the Gulf Island and Desolation Sound to make the most of the sailing area (combined with more time in British Columbia and maybe down to Seattle) - this will give us more touring time in Quebec as we would fly to Calgary later;
2) plan a trip around the Gulf Islands only for a week, but we do not know if we would feel let down with it;
3) plan a 3 night short trip in the Gulf Island during the week to miss the weekend sailors to get a taste of the sailing area (probably chartering out of Nanaimo).
Our previous sailing experience is:
sailing a Lark and Laser (dingies), sailing a small Hunter yacht we own (lake sailing only so far), chartering in ther BVIs, Greece - Northern Ionian and Sourthern Ionian, Kornatis in Croatia, Bay of Islands (NZ), the Whitsunday's, the Channnel Islands, and the Isle of Wight and surrounding areas.
Many thanks for any advice and trip planning guidance in advance.
If your focus is to be on the Desolation Sound area you'd be best off to charter from Comox for proximity to the area. You can easily spend a week sailing to and from Desolation from Vancouver. From Comox it's an easy one day trip into Desolation, leaving you much more time for exploring than having left the Nanaimo/Vancouver area. 10 days would be a pretty good stretch using Comox as a base. You'd have plenty of time to explore the area.
A week in the Gulf Islands would be a nice taste, and if you're OK with anchoring you can avoid some of the crowds by carefully choosing your overnight spots. The only downside to the Gulf Islands, really, is that the water rarely warms up and you need to be pretty dedicated to do much swimming in the sea. That's another Desolation attraction, btw, many warm lakes within easy walking distance from good anchorages. (few of them are true 'hikes')
All the same, there's plenty to see and take in between Vancouver and Desolation too, including parts of Howe Sound, Jervis Inlet, the islands between Texada and Lasqueti mid strait - and the Hornby/Denman islands as well; Tribune bay is a fair weather jewel.
August is generally a good time for the inside waters, but foggy beyond Desolation and on the outer coasts. I have to say that in the past few years we've rarely felt 'crowded' but we do avoid some of the 'traps' like Prideaux Haven and other popular hideouts.
If you haven't seen it already, have a look a this post, laying out our itinerary last summer..
If you search around you'll find other similar reports from myself and others in this area. Also feel free to send me a PM if you'd like more info... You'll be glad you took the time to explore this amazing cruising grounds.
Desolation Sound is at least 2 long days from Vancouver. That means 4 days just getting there and back.
August is probably the busiest month and one of the least windy.
A week in the Gulf Islands will give you a flavour of the area. Try to get as far as Ganges. Using Nanaimo as a starting point will require that you go through Dodd Narrows, which can only be done twice a day (during daylight). You might also consider Sidney as a charter base. There is an airport and a ferry terminal there.
Chartering out Vancouver means a day crossing Georgia Strait each way.
Tides and currents are big issues in the area. There is a 13 foot tidal range and currents in Dodd can run 8 knots.
There are great anchorages, good marinas and some of the best topography on the planet.
Three days is not really sufficient and you may not find a charter company that has rental periods that short.
There are several of us for whom this is our stomping ground, feel free to ask for any advise.
Faster is faster. Good advise.
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