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Old 19-07-2014, 17:29   #1
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BC to San Juan Islands, Washington

Early August we (3 adults, 2 kids) will leave Vancouver and plan to travel for about 10 days around the San Juan Islands. We will most probably first cross the Strait of Georgia to the Gulf Islands and then head down south.
Would greatly appreciate any advice on where to stop (marinas or moorings) and satellite communications availability, since we need to stay in touch with our jobs.

Thanks,
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Old 19-07-2014, 17:53   #2
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Re: BC to San Juan Islands, Washington

Across the Straits through Active Pass, watch the current, hang a right and spend your first night in Montague Harbor. Down to Ganges for your second night then across to Port Townsend where you check into the US. Spend a couple of nights there and wander the town taking in the old Whaler skippers homes on the bluff. Head over for a night in Friday Harbor, another night in Roche Harbor, up for a couple of nights anchoring on Sucia Island and hike around there for a day or two. Back across the straits of Juan de Fuca to check back into Canada in Victoria tying up in front of the Empress and wander your way back up through the Gulf Islands and across to the Mainland. Should take a little over a week not counting finding a spot you really enjoy and staying an extra night or two. Most of the spots mentioned also have B&B's if you want an night ashore and cell phone coverage is available for the whole trip with WiFi in most every port. I'm sure others have a better itinerary and more specific sites to take in... Have a great trip! Phil
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Old 19-07-2014, 18:10   #3
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Re: BC to San Juan Islands, Washington

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Originally Posted by csilva View Post
Early August we (3 adults, 2 kids) will leave Vancouver and plan to travel for about 10 days around the San Juan Islands. We will most probably first cross the Strait of Georgia to the Gulf Islands and then head down south.
Would greatly appreciate any advice on where to stop (marinas or moorings) and satellite communications availability, since we need to stay in touch with our jobs.

Thanks,
There are so many anchorages 10 days is nowhere near enough time to explore. We spent several months exploring the San Juan and Gulf Islands before going up to Alaska. Port Townsend is a favourite and just south of the islands. Ganges and Roche Harbours are good spots and the walks on Newcastle Island are great. Most of the islands have moorings and public docks. We purchased a park pass which saved us going in by dinghy and leaving the mooring fee in the locked boxes. I cannot be more specific as our logs and cruising guides are in storage now we are back on the Australian coast but lots of info out there - enjoy!
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Old 19-07-2014, 19:40   #4
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Re: BC to San Juan Islands, Washington

Sattelite communications would be really expensive, and also not dependent on where you are.

Make sure to have an unlocked iPhone or similar and get a T-Mobile or ATT sim card and use the hotspot function of the phone to connect your computer(s) to the internet. ATT only allows US credit card purchases. So you would have to buy a pre-paid card at the grocery store. Usually the cell phone store agents do all the activation work of the credit card. For ATT only the largest prepaid data plan allows hotspot use.

T-Mobile is easier to work with but more spotty with coverage. I am not sure if they have good coverage in the San Juans.

You should go to Radio Shack and get a Wilson car cell phone system. Pull the antenna up on the flag line on the mast when you need it and place the cell phone next to the internal antenna. Anchorages are often too protected to get a strong cell signal. With the antenna and amplifier it works everytime in this region.
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Old 19-07-2014, 19:44   #5
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Re: BC to San Juan Islands, Washington

Phil's route is pretty good but you can't make Ganges to Port Townsend in a day in a trawler. I'd go Montague to Sidney Spit or even all the way to Victoria if time is tight and then cross Juan de Fuca. I don't think 10 days is enough to see Port Townsend and the San Juans. If it was me I'd probably go from Montague to Ganges to Sidney and then maybe Roche, Stuart Island, Friday Harbor, Sucia and then back to Vancouver. It would be a lot easier to do the Gulf/San Juans out of Sidney than out of Vancouver.

If you do end up crossing Juan de Fuca watch out for wind against current. There's a bank (Constance maybe?) out in the middle of the Strait that can get nasty when wind opposes current.

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Old 19-07-2014, 19:52   #6
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Re: BC to San Juan Islands, Washington

I would go directly down from Vancouver and check in at Pt. Roberts or Blaine. Then go to Sucia Islands for the next night, great anchorage and lots of fun. Then off to Friday Harbor or Roche harbor for some social/ice cream activities, then on to either Deer Harbor or Rosario resort or even Lopez. Port Townsend is a long sail but doable, and has a great anchorage. Finally finish with check back in in Sidney and a long sail back to home.
BTW- we only briefly go through the San Juans, on our way to desolation sound! That's were the fun is in August.
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Old 19-07-2014, 20:03   #7
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Re: BC to San Juan Islands, Washington

Why all the way to Port Townend? You can clear into he US at Friday Harbour. It makes no sense to cross the Jun De Fuca straight with the strong summer winds. If you do, make sure you are off the straight by noon.

My advise:
I have done the trip from Vancouver to Sidney many times in my sailboat in one day. Can be easily done.
Go through Active Pass or Polier Pass and go to Poets Cove. Active or Polier depends on the tides and the waves. Coming down protected Trincomali Channel is nicer than beating into waves on Geargia Straight. Either way (east or west) around Pender is nice. Poets Cove resort has a great marina and great food. Your wife may even want to get a massage at the spa. Pool for the kids, hot tub for the adults right next to the docks.

Poets Cove is also the place to clear back into Canada. Might as well check it out on the way down.

Then down to Friday Harbour (3 hours) for clearing in and your starting point to hop around the San Juans.
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Old 19-07-2014, 22:40   #8
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Re: BC to San Juan Islands, Washington

I don't think you can check in at Blaine anymore. Best to hit Point Bob. Stick to the sides if you go through Active pass, B.C. ferries pass each other about mid point. All other advice is good.

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Old 20-07-2014, 09:03   #9
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Re: BC to San Juan Islands, Washington

I am very greatful for all your responses and advice and undoubtly will go through the details before sailing out from Vancouver.

Just to round up on who we are:
Grandfather (myself) from Lima, Peru
Daughter and son in law, Peruvians/Canadian residents
One girl (6) and 1 boy (2.5)
Hunter 306 sailboat on which we already sailed together the Sunshine Coast and they sailed last year around the Gulf Islands.

Is the shortage of drinking water and garbage disposal facilities as serious as I read on the internet?

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Old 20-07-2014, 09:22   #10
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Re: BC to San Juan Islands, Washington

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Originally Posted by csilva View Post
I am very greatful for all your responses and advice and undoubtly will go through the details before sailing out from Vancouver.

Just to round up on who we are:
Grandfather (myself) from Lima, Peru
Daughter and son in law, Peruvians/Canadian residents
One girl (6) and 1 boy (2.5)
Hunter 306 sailboat on which we already sailed together the Sunshine Coast and they sailed last year around the Gulf Islands.

Is the shortage of drinking water and garbage disposal facilities as serious as I read on the internet?

I've never had a problem with either. Leave as much packaging as you can before you leave. Live green. If you're at anchor most of the time you'll accumulate more garbage than if you dock. Dock overnight somewhere during your trip, empty your garbage (sorted for recycling) and fill your fuel and water tanks.

Have a great trip,

goat
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Old 20-07-2014, 09:38   #11
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Re: BC to San Juan Islands, Washington

Some great ideas. I too would avoid going to Port Townsend for this trip. The Straight gets real nasty in the afternoons and fog is an issue also. Either check in at Pt Roberts, Bellingham or Friday Harbor... whichever is convenient and still available.
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Old 20-07-2014, 09:42   #12
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Re: BC to San Juan Islands, Washington

[QUOTE=csilva;1588406]I am very greatful for all your responses and advice and undoubtly will go through the details before sailing out from Vancouver.

Just to round up on who we are:
Grandfather (myself) from Lima, Peru
Daughter and son in law, Peruvians/Canadian residents
One girl (6) and 1 boy (2.5)
Hunter 306 sailboat on which we already sailed together the Sunshine Coast and they sailed last year around the Gulf Islands.

Is the shortage of drinking water and garbage disposal facilities as serious as I read on the internet?

[/QUh
You have garbage disposal at Roche Harbour, Friday Harbour, Deer Harbour ect...only at marinas. If you choose to anchor at Port Townsend the holding can be poor as the bottom slopes into deeper water. If you choose to tie up at Point Hudson mind the depth at the entrance during minus tides. Be sure you understand the difference between US and Canadian tide datum's. Generally there is more current in US waters than in BC, this limits your progress during different times of day. Also fog is a common problem during the mornings. Large ship traffic is also an safety issue. Watch out for ferries in the central San Juan's. I find it best to decide where to go on a given day considering weather and tide at the moment. Make it easy on yourself, you will enjoy it more.
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Old 20-07-2014, 11:16   #13
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Re: BC to San Juan Islands, Washington

Really sound advice from all these posters, csilva... all of them are good and from folks who have done some cruising in those waters far more recently than I.
I grew up in the PNW and worked commercially for about 25 years fishing, beachcombing and towing logs and barges around up there and have fond memories. Spent my time off cruising the Gulf and San Juans with my family long before the day of cell phones and electronic gizmos like satnav, chartplotters and GPS. Never got lost (except in fog) and always returned with as many as I left with.
God's country IMHO... cheers, Phil
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Old 26-07-2014, 11:35   #14
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Re: BC to San Juan Islands, Washington

Lady Smith is a lovely port, very cute marina and town. Port Bedwell, Poets Cove is a nice marina resort. It has a spa, restaurant and it's very nice. We didn't care too much for Ganges, a little rough around the edges. Just bring your tide charts and you'll be fine.


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