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Old 14-08-2013, 07:43   #1
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Pacific northwest to desolation sound cruise

I am an East coast sailor / cruiser who is contemplating a cruise from Anacortes to Desolation Sound in British Columbia for a 2 week cruise on a sailboat one of these summers. My sister is trying to do her best to lure me out to her home in Seattle and do this 2 week cruise. She says that she has friends who have done this cruise and said it was absolutely beautiful.

From the little I've checked, it seems that the distance is pretty far; some 160 miles one way. Is that accurate?

I've ordered Waggoners Cruising Guide as well as another cruising guide for Puget Sound from Amazon. Is there another must have resource?

Is there a chart book of this region? I've downloaded a bunch of NOAA ENC charts but that only goes as far as the Canadian border.

We would charter a boat for our 2 families in Anacortes. I'm thinking something in the 40' range. My boat on the Chesapeake is a 41' Bayfield so I am familiar with a boat of that size. Do I need to be careful about depth needed?

I am assuming most off the Gulf Islands and Puget Sound Islands are explored via anchoring out, dinghying in to shore. I know that tides are high - are there floating dinghy docks or can one beach the dinghy?

Is there a west coast tide pilot that people find useful?

Thanks for your help!

Tod
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Old 14-08-2013, 08:01   #2
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Hope you get lots of replies. My wife and I are from CT and relocating. Much to discover about the region.
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Old 14-08-2013, 08:03   #3
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I've asked the same about tides and currents seems : Capt Jack's tide and currents is highly recommended. Google search PNW tides . Cripe I was overwhelmed by some of more in depth studies.
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Old 14-08-2013, 08:07   #4
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Re: Pacific northwest to desolation sound cruise

Wait til you get Waggoners, it will answer a lot of your questions about reference sources. Another one is the Dreamspeaker Guide. Sounds like a great trip you can do. The depths are lot deeper than what you're used to.
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Old 14-08-2013, 08:09   #5
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Re: Pacific northwest to desolation sound cruise

My first 'long' trip was between Bellingham, Washington and Desolation Sound. 100 nautical miles. I recommend you stop at Bellingham on your way to Desolation Sound. Breaks up the trip and there are some good anchoring possibilities. You may also be able to contact Squallicum Harbour in Bellingham to secure a visitor's slip if reserving a slip is possible. It may be first come, first serve though.

Chuckanut Bay is a beatiful anchorage 48 41.7866 N 122 30.2334 W with a small beach in the NW corner for access to shore. This anchorage is not sheltered from the south. It has been quite awhile since I was there, but a trail used to go up to the road. It is rather steep toward the beginning. From there it is about a half mile or less walk to a bus stop. At the other end of Chuckanut, sheltered from the south is Pleasant Bay 48 39.9642 N 122 29.9239 W , a quiet relatively small anchorage with houses that block access. You can go ashore on the north bank, where there is (was) a dirt road going to the main road. It is a long walk to anywhere from there... If a southerly is forecast you can either anchor in Pleasant Harbour or off Fairhaven 48 43.5155 N 122 30.4859 W, exposed to the north... There are (were) several access alternatives, the best being at a dock located at the bottom of the Boardwalk. You can't miss the boardwalk...

You may also anchor at Inati Bay, 48 40.2988 N 122 37.2720 W at Lummi Island. A relatively small, quiet anchorage with access to shore.

Check local knowledge for possible current restrictions or changes affecting the recommended anchorages before relying on my own.
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Old 14-08-2013, 08:10   #6
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Thanks Stu. From what I see, I won't have too many depth concerns but was curious around the islands / harbors.

Tod
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Old 14-08-2013, 10:06   #7
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Re: Pacific northwest to desolation sound cruise

Quote:
Originally Posted by Herrick View Post
I am an East coast sailor / cruiser who is contemplating a cruise from Anacortes to Desolation Sound in British Columbia for a 2 week cruise on a sailboat one of these summers. My sister is trying to do her best to lure me out to her home in Seattle and do this 2 week cruise. She says that she has friends who have done this cruise and said it was absolutely beautiful.
Absolutely true - the most spectacular place in the world to sail.

Quote:



From the little I've checked, it seems that the distance is pretty far; some 160 miles one way. Is that accurate?
True. Two weeks is really not enough time.

You could shorten the distance by chartering out of Comox, BC.



Quote:

I've ordered Waggoners Cruising Guide as well as another cruising guide for Puget Sound from Amazon. Is there another must have resource?
The Dreamspeaker series has guide book for the whole area. They are $50 each. The Canadian Hydrographic Service Sailing Directions (BC Coast Southern Portion) covers the whole area.

Quote:


Is there a chart book of this region? I've downloaded a bunch of NOAA ENC charts but that only goes as far as the Canadian border.
CHS Chart books 3313 (Gulf Islands) and 3312 (Desolation Sound, Jervis Inlet) The charter company should provide all the charts you need. You will also need charts for the areas not covered by the chart books.

Quote:

We would charter a boat for our 2 families in Anacortes. I'm thinking something in the 40' range. My boat on the Chesapeake is a 41' Bayfield so I am familiar with a boat of that size. Do I need to be careful about depth needed?
Yes. depths can be problematic. The Gulf Islands tidal range is 13.5 feet, Desolation is 18 feet. Some anchorages can only be entered and departed at high tide. Some require extra caution.

Quote:

I am assuming most off the Gulf Islands and Puget Sound Islands are explored via anchoring out, dinghying in to shore. I know that tides are high - are there floating dinghy docks or can one beach the dinghy?
Some marine parks have floating docks, some have mooring balls. At others you need to pull up on shore. There are also marinas along the way, although not many in Desolation.
Quote:

Is there a west coast tide pilot that people find useful?
Vols 5 and 6 of Canadian Tides and Currents is the official publication. Many folks use Ports and Passages. The Current Atlas is a great resource when used with Murray's Tables. Currents, especially in passes, can be very strong.
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Old 14-08-2013, 21:49   #8
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Re: Pacific northwest to desolation sound cruise

We recently returned from 5 weeks to and from Desolation Sound.
Two weeks would be a real grind to get there, see a few places and haul butt home.
It's a fantastic place though.
Be sure to hit Roscoe Bay. That was a highlight for us.
One caveat, the PNW gets fog this time of year.
That's why they call it Fogust.
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Old 14-08-2013, 22:28   #9
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Ports and Passes for the tides.

2 weeks isn't half enough time starting from Anacortes. Start from Nanaimo or Comox or even Vancouver.

The Dreamspeaker guides are OK for the places they go to but that's a pretty small subset of all the possibilities. Sailing Directions is the definitive guide but Waggoners is more user friendly.
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Old 14-08-2013, 23:10   #10
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Re: Pacific northwest to desolation sound cruise

I would follow the suggest to drive to Comox or Powell River to charter. You could also charter out of Sidney on Vancouver Island.

Depths are not really a problem. Water is very deep and there are plenty of anchorages. Many require stern ties. Its a PNW thing. Easy once you get the hang of it. It allows many boats into small coves. The tide swings are high, so pay attention to the tide tables. Know what the change will be while at anchor and make sure you have enough depth.

Fog is not really a problem in the Gulf Islands and Desolation. Foggy days are rare, and the the few that are burn off early. Farther north and the west coast of Vancouver Island is another story.

Roscoe Bay, and it is a great anchorage, is the only one I can thing of with entry restricted by tide.

This is an amazing cruising area. Winds are typically light in the summer and only blow from 2 directions, NW and SE.

Send me a message if you make it to Powell River. I would be happy to show you around.
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Old 14-08-2013, 23:18   #11
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Re: Pacific northwest to desolation sound cruise

I've been cruising here for 3 months and still haven't made it further than Princess Louisa Inlet...if coming for 2 weeks it might be better to charter a sea plane instead!

I use Navionics on my iPad/phone for tide and currents info...Active Captain has a lot of good info on anchorages as well as the previously mentioned Dreamspeaker cruising guides.
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Old 14-08-2013, 23:23   #12
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Re: Pacific northwest to desolation sound cruise

One of the nicest places to cruise on the planet.

Two weeks is not a lot of time, but a lot better than none at all.

Guides noted above are all good.

You might spend more time motoring than sailing once you get to desolation sound, but it is part of the 'charm'

As per other posters, charting out of Comox is something to consider. Saves ~ 100 miles. Coming from the US you also go right by the San Juans and Cdn Gulf Islands, which are 2+ weeks on fabulous cruising in their own right. Hard to boat right by such great places without stopping.

Another option is for friend/family to get the boat closer (Nanaimo, Comox, Powell River, etc) on a prior weekend, leave it short term in a marina, and then plan the trip from there. Takes a good friend though!

Stern ties are common in the popular anchorages.

And tide charts are your best friend!

Good luckand have fun. You will not regret it!
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