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Gulfislander 06-21-2007 12:05 PM

Gulf Island Trip
Hi All,
My wife and I are heading out on the maiden voyage of our new boat. We are heading from Point Roberts, WA, to Bedwell Harbour on Pender Island. We are interested in hearing others opinion on the best route. Should we go South through Boundry Pass or through Active Pass. Any thoughts and or advice. Thanks. :D

Flyboy22 06-21-2007 12:13 PM

I strongly recommend to stay away from Active Pass, BC Ferries is transititing through that place, and the currents are pretty strong.

have a good trip!

FrankLanger 06-21-2007 12:53 PM

Just a couple things to think about....we crossed the Strait of Georgia just last week in pretty rough conditions (though the return sail was much easier), so unless you are quite experienced, check the marine forecasts before you leave. And keep watch for logs and debris even in mid-Strait, as this year seems especially bad for that perhaps due to the flooding in that area. You mentioned this being your inaugural sail on the new boat--have you considered an afternoon sailing closer to land in the Vancouver area to make sure everything is working well before you head across the Strait?
As to your question about the route, I would also avoid Active pass because of ferries and currents, and would prefer Porlier Pass, even though it's not quite as direct a route from Point Roberts. For any of these passes, make sure you have the right paper charts with you, and keep your VHF radio on to listen for traffic coming through the passes or any other updates.

Good luck on your trip. The Gulf Islands are a great destination!


Gulfislander 06-21-2007 02:22 PM

Thanks for the tips. Its actually the first holiday trip. The boat has checked out and is ready. We have some experience (1 week charter each year for 10 years), however, this is the first time from Point Roberts and with our first boat (Niagara 31). We had been leaning towards the South Saturna route as others at the dock had recommended this route. But an article in the March 2007 Pacific Yachting -"Navigating BC's Narrow Passes" got us thinking about trying Active Pass.

magnusmurphy 06-21-2007 03:47 PM

I don't agree with the warning about Active Pass at all. It is probably the safest of the passes around and there is lots of room for ferries and sailboats to pass. Just stay to the right hand side of the channel, look in front and behind you and listen for the whistles. The currents are only a problem if you can't read tables. I've also frequently seen orcas coming through the pass and that is usually a highlight of our trips if that happens.

Personally I love going through Active Pass.

Magnus Murphy

DGS555 06-21-2007 03:57 PM

Pt Roberts to Bedwell Hr
you may want to look at the current charts to see the expected direction of currents for the time you intend to either transit active pass, or round the south end of Saturna and Pender enroute to Bedwell Hr, there can be some quite interesting sights on either route

Faster 06-21-2007 07:35 PM

In either route, be sure that you DO NOT UNDERESTIMATE THE EFFECT OF THE TIDAL CURRENTS! Be sure you are able to read the tide and current tables properly, target for within 30 mins of slack for any pass you intend to use. Boundary pass does not have its own tables in the government books, IIRC, but the currents there can be substantial, and because it's not a narrow "pass", can definitely catch you off guard.

Other than that the boundary pass route is the most straightforward if you're going to Bedwell from PR. and btw don't be tempted to use the canal between the Penders - you won't fit!

Agree that active pass is not really a problem, the ferries announce their entry on VHF, and it's quite possible to transit outside the ferry schedule if the tides permit. Since it is the halfway point for the ferry route, though, you'll often meet two of them there going in opposite directions!

EDonWalsh 06-23-2007 04:53 PM

As long as the wind & tide is right, I vote for Active Pass
I was home ported in Blaine for 5 years and made about 85% of my first & last legs via Acive pass. Check to see if there's a turn of tide at a time reasonably close to your expected ETA. Most of the time there is one, but if your stuck with a choice of 1000 then 1600, one's to early and the other makes for a long day.

If you do go through Active Pass, and you have a CANPASS, you might also be able to clear Canadian Customs early. A couple of times I called them while still in the pass, told them that I was standing off the warf at Miner's Bay and was willing to come to dock if they wanted me to. Each time they just took my info over the phone and gave me a reporting number. Once through Active Pass, you have a choice of leaving the Penders to Starboard and transiting Navy Channel or leaving the Penders to Port. Again, check the wind & current. I've had some really great sails in Navy Channel and one memorable day of making 6+ knots through the water and loosing ground on each tack. I would not take Navy Channel if I had strong current on the nose. But if the current is in your favor, I find this route more visually appealing than Swanson Channel.

If you swing south around Saturna Island, be aware of possible tide rips East of Rosenfeld Rock. I took the corner a little too close one time - it was the only time in 10 years of sailing the Gulf Islands that I took significant water down my companionway - but it was a heck of a ride.

Faster 06-23-2007 11:01 PM


Originally Posted by EDonWalsh
..... I've had some really great sails in Navy Channel and one memorable day of making 6+ knots through the water and loosing ground on each tack. I would not take Navy Channel if I had strong current on the nose. ....

A note of interest - Navy Channel (indeed a challenging pass in the current) is one of the few that floods in a Southerly direction - most other areas in the Gulf Islands flood towards the North and out the various passes into Georgia Strait.

groger 06-27-2007 01:30 AM

Go south to Sucia... you may decide not to proceed to Bedwell at all! It has such great anchorages, hikes, history and scenery that you could spend a month there.

If you do decide to head on to Pender, it is an easy trip, especially if you watch the currents - get the Canadian Hydrographics Current Atlas and Washburns Tables.

Stuart Island has got a beautiful marine park with dock space and mooring bouys just a few miles from Bedwell Harbour on the American side that is worth seeing as well.

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