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  #1  
Old 05-17-2008
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To Barkley Sound, stay in Becher Bay or Port San Juan?

Hello all my NW sailing friends, I have a question for any of you knowledgeable about the sailing trip to Barkley Sound from the Victoria region. My family is going in late July. I've read all I can and understand that Becher Bay is a fairly calm and safe anchorage on the way to Barkley Sound, but it is a full 70+ miles from Cape Beale and requires a wicked start of like 1am for the 12 hour trip to arrive at Cape Beale before afternoon winds build.

Everything I read says that Port San Juan or Port Renfrew has no good anchorages and that it is rolly and rough. And yet it is only 30 or so miles from Barkley and avoids the overnight trip. How really bad is it? Are there no acceptable anchorages? What about marinas for the night?

I'm trying to weigh the difference between my desire to not travel from 1am to 1pm and the possibility of a bouncy anchorage. Any and all help would be appreciated, especially if any of you have actually done this trip and anchored in Becher or Port San Juan.

Thanks in advance.
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Old 05-17-2008
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Port Renfrew Moorage

Hi,

There is a marina in Port Renfrew but it is located a ways up the River and has a tide dependent passage for access. It is really popular with 20-22' foot fishing boats, but they can't get through easily at low tide.

My company owns land, an old rough breakwater and a large commercial water lease in Port Renfrew. We plan to build a marina there, starting with a smaller facility with limited services, and then building it up over time.

I am curious though to gauge what level of interest we would attract from the local boating community in the NW here. I wonder if we could expect only some occasional traffic, or if we are within easy range and could attract significant visitors. Also what the season would be for sailing to Port Renfrew.

Thanks
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Old 05-18-2008
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I can't speak for anyone else about their interest, but from my research, it sure seems that a place for affordable overnight moorage for sailboats in the 28-45' range would be great. I've read that there are 2-3 poor anchorages in Port San Juan. All are rolly and depending on the wind direction, exposed. That marina up the river you mention does sound out of reach for those of us that draw 5+ feet. Besides, it is all the way in and up the river.

I'm still hoping someone out there has spent a night at one of these mediocre Port San Juan anchorages and give me some first hand knowledge of them.

Anyone?
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Old 05-19-2008
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Sorry not to be able to fill you in on staying in Port SanJuan, but in July 2006:

We specifically chose not to stop at Port Renfrew/SanJaun on our way out based on all the stories of rolly conditions and really one conditional anchorage that is rapidly taken up.

We left Victoria Harbour at 4 am, and arrived in Bamfield by 8 pm.. We did have benign conditions except for a brief period of 20+ at Race Rocks. The rest was Westerly up to 5-10 knots, but in order to make the distance we motored the whole way other than an hour or so at Race. (We are able to make about 7 knots under power) Our trip was a world of grey from Sooke to Cape Beale, with only radar and GPS to guide us in about 1 nm visibility. We were well inshore of the shipping lanes but radar was very helpful in pointing out the fishing boats.

Boats unable to make those speeds sometimes choose to leave in the afternoon and travel through the night, planning to arrive at Barkley in the early morning hours.

Being gluttons for punishment we returned in a 17 hour marathon going all the way from Bamfield to Sidney Spit. This time we motored in thin fog and sunshine to nearly Port Renfrew when a westerly filled in, and spinnakered to Sheringham where the wind built over 20K and we carried on with just a main. Had a great blast reach up past Gordon head in the setting sun, arriving at the Spit just as darkness was coming on.

Your boat's speed may not allow you to put as many miles on as we did... Hopefully someone will weigh in on staying overnight somewhere.
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Old 05-19-2008
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The standard routine is to overnight in Beecher Bay or Sooke and then head out the straits early in the morning. It is wise to pick a day when there is a very long ebb that will get you a long way before changing. Over nighting in Port San Juan is living on the edge. There is very little or no shelter from the south and south-west. If it blows you'll have a miserable night. There are a couple spots for small boats (less than 35' to tuck in but they will likely be in use when you get there). Try and make it all the way on one swoop or stop on the US side.
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Old 05-20-2008
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Thanks Plumper and Faster.

Your input jives with what I've read elsewhere, unfortunately Everything is very weather dependent, of course, but it does sound as though we are better off moving in the middle of the night rather than risking Port San Juan.

Think it is about 80 miles from Becher Bay to around Cape Beale. If the forecast is for strong afternoon winds, and you want to get there before 1 pm, you are moving almost all night long. My wife and I will get practice with our night watches I guess. I suppose if the afternoon forecast is benign, then you could just leave early in the morning, current dependent, and arrive in the late afternoon.

Leaving from Neah Bay is no longer a good option as the Bamfield customs office is closed and going up to Ucluelet to clear and then back to the Broken Group is a pain. We're going to clear in Victoria, partly for the fun of it, and partly for this logistical reason.

Nice thing about Becher Bay too is that if the weather forecast is crappy up the Straits then East Sooke Regional Park is a great place to kill a day or two while waiting for better conditions.

Still welcome any input from those who have done this trip.

Anyone else with kids going to be in Barkley Sound in late July??
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Old 05-20-2008
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Wink Sooke

Bwindrope,

I crew on s/v that we move from Astoria to the Puget Sound for the summer. Last year the skipper circumnavigated Vancouver Island. The year before we went from Port Townsend to Sooke to Barkley Sound to Astoria. Checking out that neck of the woods. We motored most of the way do to weather. we also stopped to do some surfing along the way. Our goal was to check out Barkley for the following year. We anchored off the western shore. close to a small inlet. Winds just right a great place to stay. Barkley was great also we anchored in the Islands with a cruiser from Germany. Whales, we had whales with in feet of our stern. Lot's of wild life for the young ones. Have a great voyage.
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Victoria is a great place to visit, esp with kids and I'm sure you'll enjoy it. We were in Victoria July 1st and enjoyed the fireworks despite the planned 4-in-the-am departure the next morning.

Another good place to check out esp if the weather is sunny and warm (sadly, not too likely very often) is "Lucky Creek" - a nice little estuary with small waterfalls and swimming pools above. It's near the mouth of Pipestem inlet (I think... no charts in front of me right now)

Plenty of amazing anchorages, no crowding; whales as Polka mentioned. A fascinating place even if you do give up some summer to be there. At least that was our experience, others have had better luck.

Kayaks are almost required - some great spots for exploring up close.

If the swell is down it's well worth making your way out to the outer islands such as Clarke/Benson and some of the others there. They are an easy day trip from Effingham.

Enjoy!
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Last edited by Faster; 05-20-2008 at 10:02 AM.
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Old 05-20-2008
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Faster and Polka,
Thanks for the info. Yes, Victoria is great. For Americans, my wife and I have spent a lot of time in BC, Victoria and V. Island. We even honeymooned in Victoria, and were living in Berkeley, CA at the time. Shows we were meant for the NW.

I read something about Pipestem inlet that made it sound pretty great. Warmer and nearby falls and steep mountainsides. Sounds like it may be worth the trip.

We have an inflatable Innova double kayak onboard so I can always get my sea kayaking fix. It is awesome for being beefy, storing small and being so portable, even though it is not graceful in the water. For many years I taught sea kayaking in the SF Bay, and one summer paddled from Anacortes to Port Hardy solo. Absolutely amazing memories.

So even though we sail mainly now, I can't get to an anchorage and not want to jump in the kayak for a look around up close.

You hit the nail on the head with giving up a week of summer, Faster. Funny you said that, as that is exactly the conversation my wife and I have been having. We were torn about going back up into Desolation Sound where we are almost certain to have warmth and nice lake swimming or go somewhere new and wild like Barkley. We chose Barkley in part because we have never been there, in part because we want some more outer coast experience, and in part because we are nature loving folks and all the tales of tidepooling and whales and such sound worth the possibility of pea soup fog and 50 degree temeperatures.

Good excuse to tighten up the boat too.

Thanks again for the cheer and encouragement.

Tonight I am doing the chart work and creating our voyage plans. I love chart work.
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Here are some pics to whet your appetite.... and refine your plans, perhaps!

Evening at Effingham Island:


Vegetation on Benson Island:



And the view down "Lucky Creek" from the first falls:



A sea tunnel not far from the Port Alberni YC outstation (which is also a highly recommended stop, btw)

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1984 Fast/Nicholson 345 "FastForward"

".. there is much you could do at sea with common sense.. and very little you could do without it.."
Capt G E Ericson (from "The Cruel Sea" by Nicholas Monsarrat)
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