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Faster 03-30-2009 02:17 PM

Cruising: BC's mainland Coast
It's approximately 85NM from Vancouver (lower right) to Desolation Sound (upper left). A relatively easy 3-4 day trip up Georgia Strait. It's sometimes difficult, though, to get there.. not so much due to weather or distance, but more due to the attractions and distractions along the way.
(co--ordinates at the bottom of the image, open GE to zoom and explore further!)
Hooking immediately right out of Vancouver's English Bay puts you into the 20NM deep Howe Sound. A steep sided fiord terminating at Squamish (a short drive to Whistler, the 2010 Winter Olympics site) Squamish hosts an active yacht club, a transient float, great daily winds in the 20 knot range, and flat water.
Along the way and around Gambier Island there are hidey holes here and there, and several good anchorages and yacht club outstations in the 4 south facing bays - West Bay, Centre Bay, East Bay(Long harbour) and Halkett Bay.
Bowen Island has a good marina at Snug Cove, also the terminal for the ferry service. Bowen has a sizable full time population, many of whom commute daily to the city. (also the moorage home of member Sequiter!)
Finally Gibson's Landing at the northwestern entrance is a sizable town, supported in part by one of the few remaining coastal pulp mills and associated sawmills/logging activity. Also "famous" as the location for the long running TV series "The Beachcombers" in the 70s and 80s. You can still dine at "Molly's Reach"....

My wife's 50th Birthday Raft-up in Halkett Bay, Gambier Is, Howe Sound

FAll series Race, Squamish Yacht Club (photo by Peter Lang)

Our former boat "Phantom" at anchor in Christie Cove, northern Howe Sound

Heading up the coast, the next major inlet is Jervis Inlet - which ultimately leads to the mystical and magical Princess Louisa Inlet, with its tidal narrows entrance, Chatterbox Falls, and amazing topography. Pender Harbour, just south of the entrance to Jervis is a great provisioning stop. Just around the corner on Aggememnon Channel is Green Bay, a delightful stop too. Further up is Egmont and it's wonderful hike into the Skookumchuk narrows (aka Sechelt Rapids) to watch the kayakers play. Note: tides run up to 16 knots here at spring tides, photos show a 10-12 knot flood)

Between Nelson Island and Hardy Islands is Blind Bay, hosting Musket Is Marine park and Ballet Bay, another popular anchorage. Venturing further inland, up Princess Royal Reach takes you to remote Princess Louisa Inlet.

Our friends charging up behind on the way to Princess Louisa

Late afternoon arrival:

The next morning

Part of the "trail"

The waterfall at the end of the hike:

The inlet as viewed from the end of the waterfall hike (to 1800 ft elevation):

Desolation sound awaits at the northwestern extreme of Georgia Strait, a wonderful collection of inlets, islands, lakes (fresh, warm and generally a short walk from the beach) and beautifully sheltered anchorages. Since the tides flush around both ends of Vancouver Island, and meet here, there's unusual warming of the ocean water during summer, making for excellent salt water swimming too.

Early morning calm, Pendrell Sound (Desolation)

Entrance to Gorge Harbour, Cortez Island

Overlooking Desolation from Tenedos Bay Bluff

Anchored at Walsh Cove Marine Park.

This quick tour is but a small taste of what's available in our cruising area.... all within 100NM of most major south coast cities and towns. For those of you using GE, you can get better look the various inlets, the latest edition has pretty good resolution in many areas now! Enjoy!

janders 03-31-2009 11:04 AM

These posts are fantastic, thanks! We are leaving in May to head north from Seattle and you've added a few places on our must-stop list.


scove 04-23-2009 10:36 PM

Fantastic pics Faster! Very inspirational. We have nearly a month off in July and are hoping to make our way up to Desolation Sound. For now we're going to finally try and get over to Plumper Cove tomorrow and explore the park for the weekend.

St Anna 04-23-2009 10:51 PM

What an incredible place to cruise. What are the depths like - for a draft of 6'6"? What is the cruising season in BC - when should you head south?

sailingdog 04-23-2009 10:57 PM

Beautiful post faster.

tdw 04-23-2009 10:58 PM

Good stuff isn't it ? What an area to have on your front door step. Trouble is I'd never make it back to work on Monday morning.

blt2ski 04-23-2009 11:43 PM


Originally Posted by St Anna (Post 479173)
What an incredible place to cruise. What are the depths like - for a draft of 6'6"? What is the cruising season in BC - when should you head south?

Draft issues?!?!!? what are those?!?!!? There are places here that you can put your bow up to a cliff, and still have 200' below you! There are some issues here in this part of NA, but being as the area tween Vancouver Island on down to Puget Sound here in Washington was carved by glaciers that would upwards of 5500-6000' in depth, a 6.5' keel is nothing!. My next mid 30' boat if I find the one I like, will be in the 6.5-7' range. You can go aground in some area's, but generally speaking, depth is not an issue.

I think you would find plenty of moles, mountain beavers, a marmot or two or three around here that you could covort with, and be plenty happy. Altho the Mrs wombat is probably more phun!


Bilgewater 04-23-2009 11:53 PM


Originally Posted by St Anna (Post 479173)
when should you head south?

You should never head south....this is year round stuff. :)

noreault 04-24-2009 12:06 AM

The great weather is June to Sept. The great sailing is Oct to April. Wonderful weather in the summer, days in the 20 to 25 and rains only 1 out of 5 days and then mostly only light. The only problem is winds tend towards the light side. The sun rises around 4:30 and sets at 10:30. In the winter, the weather is still almost always above freezing and the winds are strong. Rains 4 out of 5 days. Still the most beautiful place on earth. My ski hill got 10 meters of snow this year and is only 20 minutes from the marina. Can do both on the same day.

artbyjody 04-28-2009 05:31 PM

Thanks for posting all your trips etc Faster, looking forward to cruising those grounds once "HG" is finally splashed and I finish up this selling all the junk I own....

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