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Old 07-23-2009
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Tips for sailing into West Vancouver

I'm looking to do a single-handed sail from my home port of Point Roberts up to West Vancouver next Tuesday or Wednesday in preparation for taking some guests sailing around the Vancouver area. I figure West Van is ideal for transient moorage, due to quick access to southern Howe Sound for a short day sail and the northern Gulf Islands for an overnight sail, and also due to reciprocals. Also I will get to try out my Nexus card for the first time

I've only been this way once before, about a year ago, and it was pretty much seat-of-your-pants sailing. No plan, just went for it. Worked out, but I enjoy the planning part more nowadays

My plan would be to get out just before dawn (low slack) and arrive in time for the evening high slack. I don't have charts for the area at home at the moment (they're on the boat), aside from some medium-scale photocopies with poor coverage :P I do have a Current Atlas, however.

So I'm looking for advice from folks, specifically about the sail into the West Vancouver area, the harbors and marinas there, etc. For example, I hear the waters off Point Atkinson can be nasty.... best to traverse at slack? If I can choose slack or daylight for the approach, but not both, what's my best bet? What are some good failsafe points in case I don't make / can't see / can't get into a marina? My main restrictions are (a) I'll be sailing solo, and (b) motor is a 10 hp outboard, so would rather not be fighting currents if I can avoid it.

Thanks in advice for comments! Hopefully I'll have some good photos to share next week (along with photos of some recent repairs!).
s/v Essorant
1972 Catalina 27
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Old 07-23-2009
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We have gone that route twice and had nice winds and 3 to 4' swells each time. The mouth of the Fraser is BIG. It might be worthwhile to PM Faster. That's his backyard.
S.V. Nikko
1983 Fraser 41
La Conner, WA

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Old 07-23-2009
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The biggest thing with that passage is making sure you're far enough offshore to avoid the massive shoals between Pt Roberts coal port and the Steveston Jetty, and from there to Pt Grey/North Arm. You need to be at least 5 miles off the beach between jetties. It's very deceptive and you have to trust your GPS/conning. There are some pilings and buoys marking the edges of the shoals watch for them.

We brought our son's new-to-them boat up last week, from Blaine. We had a terrific flood tide and did the trip in a little over 6 hours, mostly motoring in sloppy seas and little wind off the Fraser. 12-20 orca sightings were a big bonus - keep your eyes peeled at Sandheads. The Fraser river mouth can be bumpy.

If your going to West Van then Pt Atkinson is not an issue - but transient moorage is difficult if not impossible to arrange there. Going to Horseshoe Bay (Sewells) will be a better plan. Other than that the False Creek Harbour Authority provides transient moorage, and the False Creek Yacht Club may provide reciprocal moorage depending what club you belong to, and you'll be "downtown". If you do go that way continue to be watchful for shoals along Spanish Banks in English Bay.

Another option for transient moorage is Bowen Island (Union Steamship Company Marina), close to Howe Sound destinations but your guests will need to take the ferry (they could walk on)

Pt Atkinson can be rough when a westerly opposes a strong ebb - you can give it a wide berth to avoid some of that (but add distance obviously.)

If you're overnighting in Howe Sound, consider Halkett Bay, Port Graves on Gambier, Plumper Cove on Keats, or the marinas at Gibsons.

Have a great trip!

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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