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Canadian Gulf Islands recommendations

Hi,
My family (2 kids 7 & 4) and I will have one week to explore the Gulf Islands during early July 2008. We are departing from Bellingham WA. I understand that I will need to clear customs at South Pender.

Please share your recommendations for anchorages, good kid beaches, trails, etc?

Thanks and Happy Holidays
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post #2 of 8 Old 12-26-2007
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princess bay on portland island (princess margaret marine park) is a great stop. camping and hiking. ganges on saltspring, winter cove on saturna, cabbage and tumbo island (reef harbour). google gulf islands national park reserve for lots of info and details.

note that good charts and tide tables required. big currents and lots of rocks/reefs.

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post #3 of 8 Old 12-26-2007
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BVega View Post
Hi,
My family (2 kids 7 & 4) and I will have one week to explore the Gulf Islands during early July 2008. We are departing from Bellingham WA. I understand that I will need to clear customs at South Pender.

Please share your recommendations for anchorages, good kid beaches, trails, etc?

Thanks and Happy Holidays
If you enjoy swimming, I'd recommend you get some northing in early.. the water stays cold in the southern islands, and even in the northern section of the Gulf Islands you'll need to be braced for it.

Aside from Hoffa's suggestions, I'd add the following:

Portland Island: Royal Cove is deeper, there are trails all around this island so wherever you choose there's good hiking.

Wallace Island - Princess Bay or Conover Cove (watch the entrance bar to Conover) Awesome place, Conover is the warmer swimming hole but has less space and is draft limited but is closest to the shore facilities. Trails the length of the island, and the remains of an old resort are interesting, esp the cabin with all the boat names imaginatively hung and displayed. (Below)


Montague Harbour, Galiano Island. Easily within reach of a 1 week cruise, plenty of space, mooring bouys, and dock space in the park. Great sunsets from the beach across the lagoon.

Sidney Spit, Sidney Island. Awesome sandy beaches, tricky, shoal anchorage (but mostly soft sand) Good trails, cold water.

Pirates Cove, Decourcy Island. Great kids spot, perhaps your turnaround point depending on how long a day you want to do along the way. Favourite of younger kids like yours.



If you get a good weather pattern (ie SE winds the first day or two) you could consider Newcastle Island in Nanaimo - another fabulous Island park right in the heart of Nanaimo harbour. Lots of moorage/anchorage room, amazing trails, wildlife, ferries, other kids etc. But it's a fair distance and you'd have to have favourable breezes both ways to get there and back in a week without having to push real hard.

Other nuggets:
Various bays on Prevost Is, depending on forecast, downside mostly private uplands (exc James Bay, open to NW)

Herring Bay on Ruxton,

Darcy Island (of interest historically, a bit exposed and lots of current)

Victoria Harbour itself, moorage in front of the Legislature buildings, lots of activity and buskers, lots of possible current getting there (for or against, of course) [and watch yourself...you might run into Hoffa there ]

A circumnavigation of Saltspring would take you through Sansum narrows (relatively benign), a chance to check out Maple Bay and further on Chemanius (city of Murals)

Telegraph harbour between Thetis and Kuper Is.

Some of these areas are draft dependant, so pay close attention to charts. Tides and currents can be REALLY significant in the southern areas, especially on the Bellingham to Bedwell run.

Where ever you end up spending time, it's a beautiful area, hopefully you will have a good weather window. Early July can be tricky.

Enjoy!

Last edited by Faster; 12-27-2007 at 01:34 AM.
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post #4 of 8 Old 12-27-2007
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Some of these areas are draft dependant, so pay close attention to charts. Tides and currents can be REALLY significant in the southern areas, especially on the Bellingham to Bedwell run.
i forgot about that; you can get some very nasty rip tides between sucia and patos islands, and near the southern areas of saturna (boiling reef) you only want to transit at slack, and that goes for the major passes like porlier and active, and watch out for the ferries in the latter; you can have three in there at once, with two going the same way.

the eastern shore of saturna, galliano, is lousy with reefs.

btw, if you go in september the weather is usually still good, but you get a fraction of the traffic. it gets very busy in the summer

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post #5 of 8 Old 12-27-2007
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I would second the recommendation for DeCourcy Island and Newcastle. My family of my wife and I and our two boys 7 and 3 did this exact trip this past summer. We went as far north as Newcastle from Friday Harbor, which is about the same as Bellingham, and never felt too rushed.

I would actually recommend the anchorage on the south side of DeCourcy and not in Pirate's Cove itself as you avoid the narrow entrance and the crowds.
The beach is awesome on the south side and the views are better.

Newcastle was such a fascinating place that we really wished we had had more time to explore. Even though the anchorage is like a used car lot with so many boats, and the town is just modern ugliness, the island itself has fabulous walking and exploring with great beaches. Well worth 2-3 days to play.

We've spent a lot of time at Portland Island as well, and definitely prefer Royal Cove on the north side. Stern tie required. Ferry wash occurs, so point up into it. Advantage is gorgeous views to Salt Spring, more intimate anchorage, and usually a lot less company. The walk from the dinghy dock around the West side of the island to the South side and back through the middle of the island is one of the most spectacular day hikes in the islands.

It's paradise up there. The San Juan islands are understandably famous, but I know it is only due to American bias that the Gulf Islands are not equally so. The beaches are numerous and wonderful, the anchorages great, the people fewer and the scenery extraordinary, and that is saying something!

Highly recommend the Dreamspeaker guide to the area. Use it heavily.

Happy planning!

Aeolus
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post #6 of 8 Old 12-27-2007 Thread Starter
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Thanks to all for the insider info

Thanks to all for the insider info. This will give me plenty to mull over. We have chartered in the San Juans twice now and taken our ASA certification class there too. So we are ready and want to see the Gulf Islands. Not to say that we have seen everything in the SJs.

What charts do you guys recommend? I have been thinking about "Chartbook Chs 3313 Gulf Islands" The charter company has charts onboard but I like to get a general idea of where we might go before getting on the boat.

Beaches are not for swimming, BRRR!, just running the kids and rock throwing for kids and dad.

We will probably stick to the southern portion of the islands this time. We are hoping to do a 2 week cruise through the area in 2009.

Hoffa- we would love to go in Sept but school is in session and I both my wife and I are educators.

BW- Thanks for Dreamspeaker Guide tip, I will add to my collection. My Commander bought 2 guide books for Christmas.

Thanks again

BV
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post #7 of 8 Old 12-27-2007
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Pick up a mooring ball at Bedwell (Poets Cove) $10 a night and take the kids to play Frisbee golf on the island. A great half day of fun in the shade of the towering trees. Supposed to be one of the coolest frisbee courses???? in North America. Mgrs are friends of ours at Poets Cove
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The Gulf Island Chartbook is very good, if not as manageable in the cockpit as the no-longer-available strip charts. Fold it to the page you need, and put it back in the bag it comes in when using it in the cockpit. Plenty of detailed insets and a good gazetteer too.

We received the Dreamspeaker guides for Christmas, they look great.

We've been using the Pacific Yachting cruising guides for 20+ years, and though the continue to publish (at least until recently) the photos remain from 20 years ago for the most part, and in some cases are sadly out of date.

Wallace Island will be easily doable inside a week, and if your boat will fit in Conover Cove that's the best place for small kids. There is a dock, ready access to biffies ashore. Princess bay is deep, lots of room for boats, esp if stern tied, but is a 10 minute walk from the facilities. The trail that runs the length of the island is an easy walk.

Montague will be a natural stopover too, probably, and it's worth it on a nice day just for the sunset views up Trincomali from the west facing beach a short walk from the dock.





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