Join Date: Jan 2011
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You've probably got your answers by now, but if you still have not made up your mind...
San Juan Sailing is great, especially for 1st timers in the San Juans or Canadian Gulf Islands. They have a great skipper's meeting on the Friday afternoon/evening before your charter starts on Saturday. They cover in great detail all the charts, tide schedules and current charts (very important in the SJ's) and all the safe anchorages and passages. The hand out charts showing all the hazardous rocks, and there are a lot out there! They have very informational discussions about where and when to see whales and how to respectfully, and legally, view the whales. As reminders to infrequent charter boaters they also cover anchoring and docking techniques and they provide suggested itineraries around the Islands. Also, if you sign up for their Friday sleep-on-the-boat option they include a nice BBQ right after the skipper's meeting, which is a lot of fun and you get to meet the others that you will be sharing anchorages with during the week.
A couple of added advantages to Bellingham, IMO...easy access from I-5, very convenient and close provisioning grocery stores, free and accessible parking at SJS. Very, very convenient.