Sailing in Vancouver area
As some of you might remember, I'm fairly well landlocked in Colorado, and often think forward to when I will relocate in order to live on a boat. Lately, I've been wondering about the Vancouver area... and I was wondering if anybody here could describe it for me.
I've heard that the northwest coast was pretty treacherous, ocean-wise, but I've also heard that there is a lot to do on a boat out there without going too far into the ocean! I'm also curious about anything else you might know about - marina costs, misc. boating costs, etc.
Thanks in advance!
We've been sailing this area for the last 25+ years... and I'm confidant in saying that it is one of the world's premier cruising grounds, year round if you're hardy. (You've wintered in Colorado, our winters are probably T-shirt weather for you!)
If you search out some of my posts, (or my photogallery) there are lots of pictures of the surrounding area. Most of it is technically "inside waters"; there's a lifetime of cruising in the lee of Vancouver Island. Not to say it can't get nasty, but we're not talking offshore or isolated waters.
If you choose to venture further afield, a circumnavigation of Vancouver Island is a popular trip (4-8 weeks to do it right), others venture to Barkley Sound on the outside, still others head north into the central/northern coast and Alaska for true solitude and stupendous scenery (often at the cost of a real "summer" as these areas tend to get socked in and rainy year round.)
The outer coast is potentially treacherous and those venturing that way need to be prepared, pretty well the same as if you were heading offshore. Considering you are virtually always on a lee shore out there, there is more potential peril than on a trip to Hawaii.....
But as I said, the cruising on the inside is great.
Not so great at the moment is the moorage situation. City marinas are full up with wait lists, so much so that sales on boats over 30 feet often stall on lack of moorage. Outside of the city and on the Island it is better, but not great. Moorage for a 35 foot boat here in town will run you anywhere from $3600 - 4600CDN/year with power.
Download Google Earth and check it out.. Between Vancouver and Port Hardy you need not get into open waters. However Georgia strait is close to 100 miles long and winds generally run up it or down it, so there is some fetch involved and conditions can get rough. Summertime is typically calmer, I'd venture to say we've motored across many more times than we've ever white-knuckled it across.
It's truly one of the great cruising areas worldwide (wait- I already said that, didn't I?)
sailling in Vancouver/Straight of Georgia
I'm from the general Vancouver area and have lived aboard a cal 29 for two years with my girlfriend, including at anchor around my hometown of Vancouver.
The realization is beginning to dawn on me about how nice the whole inside water complex of Puget Sound/Gulf of Georgia is for sailors. Not having to deal with river bars... as with Astoria. Not having huge stretches of open ocean as it is from Coos Bay pretty much down down to San Fransisco.
In fact, you can travel almost the whole way to Alaska from Seattle and stay pretty much inside, the cruise ships certainly capitalize on it.
Now I'm a whalewatching skipper on the west coast and I work and play almost everyday on the open Pacific, but I realize that the "inside" is pretty good for folks not willing to bounce around on 7 foot seas and 35 knot northwests or even stronger southeasts during low periods.
The gulf islands are excellent cruising. There is a lack of wind in the summer, though. You can travel north to desolation sound, off cortes and redonda island. A lot of people seem to think that this is complete wilderness, perhaps a general american perception that canada is a frozen wasteland coupled with the name attract a lot of folks. Many, many yachties come up from seattle to hang around desolation sound, and many from around southwestern british columbia as well. desolation sound has warm waters in the summer because the tides meet from around the inside of vancouver island... less tidal flow and so the waters grow warm enough to swim. The winds are also very light and around pendrell sound and the park, you can often go into an anchorage and see the whole cove or even inlet covered with people who are shore tied, stern to.
august is incredible for weather and the amount of boats... labour day almost rivals the bvi over easter weekend for people being everywhere.
beautiful spots around vancouver... count on areas with large current, light winds in the summer, and you can expect that it's a well discovered, well travelled place. i'm talking about howe sound, the southern gulf islands and the areas around desolation sound from lund to the redonda islands. other than that... the places get even wilder, more beautiful but more treacherous.
i believe they're starting to charter out beneteaus, etc around there... island cruising is a charter place that comes to mind. i think sunsail is right downtown vancouver coal harbour as well. and of course cooper yachting at granville island. anyway, happy sailing, i hope you enjoy yourself...
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