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  #1  
Old 11-11-2010
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Sailing Haida Gwaii

Has anyone been up there? Curious about best routes, must see's, best time of year etc. Time table will be somewhat limited as usual - 5 weeks max from Vancouver. Plan so far calls for up the inside in early June then across to Skidegate and then run down the east coast of Haida Gwaii , then down west Coast of west coast of Van. Island.
I'd appreciate any thoughts from people that have done a similar trip (particularly the inside passage section).
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Old 11-11-2010
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I haven't been up there myself, but June Cameron wrote a very good book about sailing up there in a 26' sailboat.

Are you from BC? If so, the book is fairly recent and should be available in most bookstores.
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Old 11-11-2010
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Hi Dilly

I have as far north as Port Hardy. And around Vancouver Island a dozen times. I am away for the next week or so. But will check this thread when I get back.
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Old 11-12-2010
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Too bad there's no one yet that's done exactly what you plan.. but my sense is that 5 weeks is going to be pretty tight for such a trip.
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Old 11-12-2010
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Dillybar,

I haven't been to the Queen C. Islands, but we did do the inside passage on the way south from Alaska in 2006. By the time we got to BC we were pushing pretty hard and so didn't linger in the BC portion of the route. I'll offer a couple of thoughts of stopping points below.

There are several good cruising guides of this area. I'd recommend you research them and make the investment (they aren't cheap). We found the guides in this series very helpful:

FINE EDGE N.coast Bc at West Marine

You didn't mention the size of your boat or how fast you can move under power (you'll be using the engine a lot), so the estimates given below are based on +/- 6 knots SOG.

My guess is that from Vancouver to Port Hardy (good jump off place) is 4 days, maybe 3 if you push. Key here will be timing the transit of the rapids at or in the vicinity of Campbell River. North of the rapids there is plenty to see. I'd recommend the Broughtons -- Echo Bay is a good stop and you shouldn't miss Billy Proctor's museum there. Billy is a real character.

From the Boughtons to Port Hardy is a short run. Port Hardy is a good place to fill tanks and do final provisioning.

From Port Hardy northward we stopped at the following places (all a day's run on the engine).

Penrose Island - nicely protected anchorage in the inner pool.
Bella Bella - fuel availalbe, but not much else to brag about here.
Klemptu Passage -- protected anchroage at the south end of the passage
Fin Island -- (via Princess Royal Channel) nice anchorage. Across the bay is the FN village of Hartley Bay. You can tie to the town dock here and I believe fuel may be available, but I can't recall. There are fishing boats ported here, so my guess is they have fuel.

From Fin Island / Hartley Bay you have a choice -- either:

1/ continue on the inside-inside and run up the Greenville Channel (a long boring, but scenic, run up a narrow channel) where there are a couple of nice spots to stop on the eastern side. This is the route we took and we stopped twice in the channel between Fin Island and Prince Rupert. Prince Rupert is a nice town with full facilities.
2/ go SE to the Otter Channel to Nepean Sound, turn right and take the Principe Channel north to the top of Banks Island and from there cross the Hecate Straight.
3/ go SE to Otter Channel, cross Nepean Sound and take the Otter Passage north of Trutch Island (in the Estevan Group) into the Hecage Straight. This gives you a longer passge to the QC group, but you save several days motoring / sightseeing in the channels

The weather may dictate which route you choose. If it's forecast to be nasty in the Hecate Straight, you might find a few more days sightseeing the inside passage worthwhile.

Re timing -- we left Prince Rupert the first week in August. Weather was fine all the way to Puget Sound, where we arrived in late September. My guess is later in the season (July-August) might be slightly better than earlier.

5 weeks = 35 days. The day trips I've laid out above to get you to a jump off point on the east side of the Hecate Straight will consume 8-10 days pushing hard and averaging 6 knots. Assuming that on the way home to go direct from the QCs to the north tip of Vancouver Island (120 miles) you add another day or two. From the north end of Vancouver Is. to the San Juan de Fuca is ~ 200-220 miles, say 4-5 days pushing right along, and from there to Vancouver is another 2. So it's at least 8-10 days home from the QCs. That leaves two weeks for time in the QCs and various weather delays, pit stops, etc. along the way.

I tend to agree with Faster that 5 weeks is probably pushing it -- or to use William Buckley's phrase, a "race through paridise."

Another option might be to do it in two seasons -- season 1 to go from Vancouver to Prince Rupert, where you could winter the boat. Then season 2, take your time in the QCs and getting back to Vancouver. There might be other places to winter over, e.g. Bella Bella. You might check it out. It might be good to have researched a "bail out" spot where you could leave the boat if you had to for any reason.

Good luck and enjoy the trip.
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Thanks for the response guys. Billy, the boat is a 46 and cruises nicely at 7 under power - 8 1/2 if we really need it but Jumping off at port Hardy might be an option to take some pressure off.
On last years trip around Vancouver Island we found 35 - 45 mile days were very comfortable and would get us to the dock or hanging off by noon or shortly after with plenty of time to explore. The biggest day was 90 miles - Effingham in the Broken Islands group to Sooke - a big day but still a couple hours of daylight left at the end.
I'd be curious to know if you got any sailing in up the inside passage, or if like Johnson Straight the wind was constantly on the nose.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sailjunkie View Post
I haven't been up there myself, but June Cameron wrote a very good book about sailing up there in a 26' sailboat.

Are you from BC? If so, the book is fairly recent and should be available in most bookstores.
I'm in Vancouver the area, thanks I'll look for that one.
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Old 11-12-2010
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Dilly,

We had very little opportunity to sail south of Juneau -- maybe one day in ten. Either there was too little wind over the stern or too much on the nose and we stayed put. Inside passage is power boat country.
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Old 11-12-2010
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More time is always nice but since you have been up the inside of Van. Isle already you can just blast through to get up north in short order. If you want to maximize your time in the Charlottes you should be able to get to Rupert, if that's where you want to shove off for the islands from, in a week +-. I've only done the inside passage up to Petersburg, AK in a fishing boat where we ran 24/7, it took 3.5 days to get to Petersburg from Bellingham, WA. My brother in law has been to the Charlottes and did the same trip you are talking about. He sailed down the west side of the island from the Charlottes and home to Pt. Angeles, WA. As I recall it didn't take them long to get back, usually you've got the wind behind you going that way, as you know from being out there last year. I remember thinking on the trip up the inside that it didn't look like there would be much sailing except for some of the open stretches, but the wind we had was all on the nose going north (latter part of April). Should be a fun trip, I hope to do it before too long.
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My girlfriend and I kayaked Gwaii Haanas park on Haida Gwaii last year. Wow.

There is a hot springs island that is nice and is an obvious stop. The two things that really stood out for us that we weren't expecting, though were the tidal shallows at burnaby narrows (by dinghy in your case) and the amazing village sites.

The villages have watchmen who are Haida who live at the sites to protect them and give tours. They were incredibly gracious hosts. We paddled in to one site in the morning and they had pancakes on the griddle for us (you have to radio ahead for permission, so they knew we were coming). The village sites were gorgeous and haunting.

In fact, the Haida people were a surprising highlight of the trip. I grew up on the coast and have never seen such a strong, vibrant, Native community. They are truly finding their feet again and it is wonderful to see.

Remember that you will have to get an orientation and pay a fee to get into the park, but it is well worth it.
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