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Go Back   SailNet Community > Out There > Destinations > Pacific Northwest & Alaska
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  #1  
Old 06-21-2013
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What's the difference? Help route planning.

I am leaving the San Juan's for northern waters next week. I've got all sorts of books but can't really decide on where to go. It all seems the same so I'm having trouble choosing.

I like the San Juan's. I like pretty much everywhere ive been. I know I'm going to desolation sound. But from there where. And where along the way. I've gotten advice in the past and appreciate that so I thought one more time now that I am more familiar with the area and names mean something and the fact that I'm heading north and will be out of cell and Internet service I figured to get this done now.

I intend to blow through the gulf islands as a way to get to Vancouver ASAP. Vancouver sounds totally kick ass so information on anchoring in false creek would be good. Safety of my boat and dinghy while I go ashore...

From there I am going up the Sunshine Coast which had better live up to its name, probably bypassing princess Louisa for lack of good sailing and to DS. I haven't decided were to stop along the way. I am an insanely slow sailor so far. Maybe because I insist on sailing if I can and motoring if I can't but a big day for me is 40-50 miles. If I had perfect coditions I could do more but I still have other duties like cooking and cleaning and it takes me a terribly long time to get up and ready so...

Desolation sounds great and I predict a good end of June and better July weather wise. After a tough cloudy may, June has been good and getting better. I might stay there for a while and head back or I might get adventurous and keep going.

This is where it gets confusing. I dont think alot of you understand, but for a person not from here it all sounds the same. Take the San Juan's, gulf, DS and broughton's. Whats the difference? Same weather, the pictures all look about the same and they all have some but not many towns. So how do I know I want to go to the broughton's? Up until comin here I thought everything north of Vancouver was just empty but now that I'm here There's actually stuff everywhere. Nanaimo? What's that? Who's heard of nanaimo? But I think it's like a mini city. Comox? Who knows? Might not want to miss it, or it could be nothing. There's too much to choose. That's what I'm saying. I could be happy spending the whole summer in The San Juan's. but I don't want to miss other stuff. Maybe ill like it more.

I'd also like to say that I do like nature, but am not a dedicated mountain man, so while I don't like to drink or party, I like to mix up nature anchorages with vacaion type places like Friday harbor and would avoid "real" places like logging towns and utilitarian stops. How I imagine port Angeles is. But I also don't like single private places where its just a resort like just a private resort or marina in the middle of nowhere.

And don't hesitate to say where you didn't like. From the people I've talked to noone has anything bad to say about anywhere so their advice has almost lost meaning. Good can only be good if there is a basis of comparison. So for someplace to be good someplace has to be bad. Where should I not go.

Last edited by northoceanbeach; 06-21-2013 at 09:36 PM.
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Old 06-22-2013
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Re: What's the difference? Help route planning.

I would suggest you have a look at Active Captain (activecaptain.com) and look at the reviews that other people have posted about various places.
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Old 06-22-2013
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Re: What's the difference? Help route planning.

What are you after in a city? We live in Vancouver and its a lovely city but probably one of the least transient-boater-friendly places... Not the people but the infrastructure ( or lack thereof)
The False Creek Fishermans wharves offers moorage -it's right downtown near Granville Is. Anchoring is possible in FC, you need a permit, two weeks max, you can get it under the north end of the Granville bridge(all bridges have reasonable clearance)

As far as getting to DS, up thru the islands, Nanaimo, schooner cove, Comox Copeland Is, and you're there, or from Vancouver to Gibsons, Secret/Smuggler, Pender Hbr, Powell River/Westview, Copelands.

Plenty of good spots along the way, though.. Jedidiah Is, Tribune Bay are other favourites as wel as Jervis Inlet in general - Musket Is park, Egmont, Harmony Is, the list goes on.

Plenty to explore once you're there. Our faves include Tenedos, Teakerene Arm, Roscoe Bay, Walsh cove. Get supplies at Refuge and/or Squirrel cove stores. Plenty of one-boat nooks if that's what you're after.

Weather and water temps are the best in DS generally. The weather WILL NOT be the same north of DS.. Expect fog, cloud cover, rain and drizzle for much of the time, esp mornings. In good conditions this may clear off in the pm but will be back next morning. Also any transit northward in Johnstone Strait should be done early morning because summertime westerly gales are common later in the day. Most cruisers take the various routes east of there and do the "unavoidable" 20 or so NM at best opportunity. Three or four sets of tidal rapids need careful planning and timing.

The Broughtons do offer high percentage of whale sightings, easier/better fishing, crabbing and prawning more solitude if you want it.

From there you could explore the many winding long fiords, choose to circumnavigate Vancouver Island, or carry on North to Alaska and Haida Gwai, again endless opportunity along those routes.

However much of this coast (outside VI and central/North coast) is serious territory requiring self sufficiency, a sound capable vessel and plenty of time to wait out weather- and again a far less "summery" experience... Worth it, but be prepared.
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Last edited by Faster; 06-22-2013 at 11:23 AM.
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Old 06-23-2013
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Re: What's the difference? Help route planning.

Why dont you like sailing in Vancouver? I don't know anything about it, but I don't know of too many cities you can anchor by downtown. Is it safe? Safe to leave my dinghy ashore and sightsee?
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Old 06-23-2013
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Re: What's the difference? Help route planning.

It's not that I don't like sailing in Vancouver - I moor here and quite like it.. my point is that the city is not 'geared up' very well to welcome visiting boaters. Smaller towns like Nanaimo, Sidney, Comox, and other coastal towns are better set up for transient boat traffic.

It is cool to anchor essentially 'downtown'.. but there are few places to get ashore, though there are a number of water taxi docks here and there around the creek, they have to be kept clear for the boats but it may be possible to leave a dinghy out of the way. Otherwise it's all either rockwalls or other (usually locked) marinas.

It's safe enough, and I'm unaware of any high incidence of dinghy/gear theft. As you enter False Creek, the second bridge is the Granville Bridge.. there's a kiosk under the bridge on the north side - you can stop there and get an anchoring permit, it's good for a couple of weeks. Fairly busy in there this time of year, be sure not to anchor in the fairway. If your mast is short enough you can get past the third bridge where it's a bit less busy (check chart for clearance, I don't remember it, but we can't go that far with 55'.)

There is a seawall/walk from Kits Beach, all the way around FC, right through and around Stanley Park, probably 15KM end to end, and it is a beautiful, flat level walk. There are also bicycle rentals available at various locations.

Don't get me wrong, it's a beautiful city.. and well worth visiting, I just wish they were overall more boater friendly...
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Old 06-24-2013
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Re: What's the difference? Help route planning.

Which Gulf Islands did you go to? I've read of some of your dislikes, but also remember that it was in the odd season. I've only been to Saltspring Island, and it was via bicycle/camping, not boat.

I'm also making the same decision. I think we may go north via the Gulf Islands and south along the Sunshine Coast.

I've been to Vancouver many times and it's a great city, but don't think we'll be sailing into it on this trip.
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Old 06-24-2013
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Re: What's the difference? Help route planning.

I've only been to prevost, salt spring and pender. They don't have good sailing. If you look at the Sam Juan's they are the shape of a circle where the gulfs are a line, the wind is either dead, or southeast or northwest. Anything else is rare and blocked. So you really are either sailing dead downwind or straight upwind. But there's really not room. As soon as you get on a good tack there is a rock or an island in front of you. Plus the currents are strong in all the passes, restricting your freedom to sail at the time of your choosing. I'm looking at maps and reading the cruising gulf islands book right now. Do you think I can go from sucia to vancouver in under 9 hours? That way I can bypass the gulfs entirely. Save me the hassle of the passes. Either that or
Friday harbor
Pender
Wallace?

I'd go through portlier but that's the problem. This guide isn't showing much for shelter near the passes. Once I hit Vancouver I'm home free. The Sunshine Coast looks phenomenal. In having trouble deciding where NOT to go there, there are so many choices. From what I hear on my radio when I listen to the weather the strait of Georgia has great wind. I'm hoping to get halfway up and get alot of sailing done early afternoon when the wind is picking up but not at its peak. Ill tack upwind all day if I have to. I have no problem with that.

Feel free to recommend anywhere else I could leave from. I could go from Bellingham maybe. I haven't been to Bellingham. It's another place I think I can anchor in front of downtown(the south side? Fair haven?) and everyone says Bellingham is cool.
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Old 06-24-2013
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Re: What's the difference? Help route planning.

We bought our boat in Bellingham. Fairhaven Marina is pretty close to downtown (maybe a 20 minute walk?). I don't think I saw a good place to anchor nearby, but there is a ton of moorage. Looking at a map seems to confirm this, everything protected has been turned into moorage. I think it's worth a visit if you've never been, it is a nice liberal small city with a lot of college students.

I see what you are talking about with the Gulf Islands, but it seems like there are wide channels if you pick your routing carefully. We might just have different preferences here, one of my favorite things about sailing in the San Juans is using the currents to my advantage.
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Old 06-24-2013
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Re: What's the difference? Help route planning.

The 'upwind' or 'downwind' sailing is pretty much the nature of BC.. the topography tends to steer the winds in a primarily NW or SE direction depending on the positions of the high and low pressure areas, and most of the mainland fiords and inlets (also narrow) often develop diurnal winds, blowing inland, often hard, midday and going the opposite direction overnight.

We get to 'reach' sometimes when crossing the Strait eg Gibsons to Silva, Pt Grey to Porlier, Comox to Powell River, but otherwise we tend to have to either beat or run, so we have to get pretty good at both unless you're willing to power through..

Those 'contrary' tides can be used in your favour with some careful planning and timing, and the tides and currents get fairly/surprisingly strong mid strait at times too, esp when the Fraser river is running hard.

From down south to Vancouver, Pt Roberts is a decent jump off point... Sucia possible.. also I think Cabbage Island on the Canadian side is a 'phone-in checkin point' that might also work for you. It would be a long day beating into an ebb to get to Vancouver from there, though.. the next few days are likely to have SE winds which would be great for you, but strong and wet by the looks of it.

Strait of Georgia - south of Nanaimo - Georgia Basin - Forecast - Environment Canada

Things look to get better by the weekend.. when we set of for 7 weeks or so!!

Once you get here, if you're not in a hurry to get north, take the time to check out Howe Sound too, Gambier Island has plenty of hideyholes, and the trip up the inlet to Squamish is gorgeous and the club there is welcoming (but you'll have to beat one way at least!)
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Last edited by Faster; 06-24-2013 at 11:00 AM.
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Old 06-24-2013
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Re: What's the difference? Help route planning.

Quote:
Take the San Juan's, gulf, DS and broughton's. Whats the difference?
IMO;

San Juans: Cold water, crowded/noisy anchorages, fog in the later summer

Gulf Islands: Medium temp water, fewer anchorages than the San Juans, still a little crowded/noisy

Desolation Sound: Warm water and some very quiet anchorages (some not so quiet)
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