17 Days in the San Juans - SailNet Community
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post #1 of 5 Old 05-19-2019 Thread Starter
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17 Days in the San Juans

I have 17 days to explore the San Juans and surroundings. What would be your itinerary. We would like to hit parts of Canada, southern gulf islands, if possible. We're leaving 4th of July week from Squalicum. We have two kids, 18 month and 4, who love sailing, but we try to keep the sails to sub 4 hours with a few exceptions. What would be your ideal itinerary? Little experience in the area, all advice welcomed.
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post #2 of 5 Old 05-19-2019
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Re: 17 Days in the San Juans

we found the Canadian side really nice. weather was better for us. tie up in front of the empress in Victoria for day or two. day sail to Sydney Spit, then Montague harbor both nice anchorages. if you can make nenimo the dingy dock café is awesome. so many other spots!

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Re: 17 Days in the San Juans

On the Canadian side, the town of Ganges on Saltspring island is a great place to reprovision and explore. On Saturdays there is a craft market, and the multitude of artisans on on the island gather to sell their crafts, farm fresh produce, baked goods, cheeses, etc. There are even wineries on the island. There are art galleries to explore, and it is home to world renowned artists such as Robert Bateman.

One of our favorite spots is a place called Cabbage Island. It is a marine park, with moorings and anchorage nestled between Tumbo Island and Cabbage Island. There are reefs to explore if you like snorkeling, trails to hike, and a beautiful white sandy beach for the kids to play on. It is a bit exposed to the north, but there is good holding bottom if you don't manage to pick up one of the moorings.

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Re: 17 Days in the San Juans

From Squalicum, Sucia Island is a nice first stop (I think maybe a 4 hour trip). I believe that is a shorter approach to the islands than going south around Orcas. Shallow Bay is a great little anchorage & less crowded than the others. From there you can keep going around to Stuart Island and then on to Canada. On Stuart, Reid Harbor on the South side is almost like being on an inland lake. Prevost Harbor on the north is more ike a typical San Juan anchorage. Watch out for the raccoon hordes if you picnick or bbq on the beach.
Over the Fourth weekend, Roche Harbor & that area will be super crowded but if you like that kind of scene it would be the place to be. Otherwise leave Roche until after the Fourth. Garrison Bay is a beautiful anchorage on the N end of San Juan Island (don't be intimidated by descriptions of Mosquito Pass - lots of room if you pay attention).

If you like crab, make sure you hit Blind Bay on Shaw Island. It's a nice harbor with a little island (campsites for unpowered boats only) that the older kid will like too. I think that the season is open Wed-Sunday most weeks.

We always make sure to hit Spencer Spit on Lopez Island. Nice long sandspit and lots of space to hang out. There's a bird refuge on the spit.
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Re: 17 Days in the San Juans

I spent two weeks in summer of 2017 sailing up to Desolation Sound and back. We did mostly 8 hour days with a few days of layover. Since we skipped any US stops I cant suggest anything in the San Juans. But the highlights in Canada were Pender Harbor which is very picturesque harbor cove with some nice restaurants surrounding it. It may be too long of a stretch to get there as you have to cross the straights of Georgia to get there but worth it. Of note you can rent a powerboat there and motor around the peninsula to visit Skookumchuck rapids.

Only wanted short days of sailing you might consider staying in the Gulf Islands.

Victoria is a cool city with a European vibe, good food, a Scottish Castle and a tugboat water taxi ballet.

If you want to skip the big city you can check into customs on South Pender Island with a quiet harbor with a very fancy resort just above the customs dock.

Ganges Harbour on Salt Spring is about as developed an island you will find in the area, except for maybe the San Juans. Art Galleries, boutiques, farmers market, good restaurants. My wife wants to go back just for the stir fried crab and little old french ladies pastries. If you go there let me know and I can direct you where to find these treasures.

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