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Old 13-12-2019, 14:17   #1
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Advice on crossing Haro Straight, San Juan Islands

Hello!

This is my first post on any sailing forum. Iím not even sure if this is the right forum.

Iím looking for some advice on making a crossing from Deception Pass, Washington State to Victoria B.C. I have over a hundred hours of sailing in vessels 13í - 30í, but not in heavy weather. Iíve sailed some in the Puget Sound, but this will be the biggest crossing Iíve ever made. Iím planning to do it in July of 2020.

Also, Iíd like to tie up somewhere in or near the harbor in Victoria. Any advice on where I could do that would be great!

My boat is a Columbia 23í built in the mid í70s. Iíve had it for a little over a year and spent a week on it in Lake Powell. What a beautiful place!

I donít have any dedicated navigation gear. I usually use Navionics on my iPhone. I think Iíll want a VHF radio, a flare gun, Iíll tow my rigid inflatable in case we hit a whale.

Iím looking for any advice, especially for gear, the passage, and where I might tie up when I get there.

Thanks!
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Old 13-12-2019, 15:21   #2
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Re: Advice on crossing Haro Straight, San Juan Islands

Quote:
Hello!
This is my first post on any sailing forum. Iím not even sure if this is the right forum.
Sure is the right place, greetings and welcome!

Quote:
Iím looking for some advice on making a crossing from Deception Pass, Washington State to Victoria B.C. I have over a hundred hours of sailing in vessels 13í - 30í, but not in heavy weather. Iíve sailed some in the Puget Sound, but this will be the biggest crossing Iíve ever made. Iím planning to do it in July of 2020.
My advice is don't do it in heavy weather ... In July you won't have to wait long for a nice day.

I've not been on the US side, but once you're in Canadian waters, pay particular attention to the tidal currents around Discovery Island and Trial Islands, they can run up to 6kts ... your timing needs to take into account the tide as well as the weather, and when you want to arrive.

Quote:
Also, Iíd like to tie up somewhere in or near the harbor in Victoria. Any advice on where I could do that would be great!
By far the nicest place to tie up in Victoria is the Causeway Marina, right in the heart of Downtown ... you will have to stop at the customs dock first though.

Quote:
I donít have any dedicated navigation gear. I usually use Navionics on my iPhone. I think Iíll want a VHF radio, a flare gun, Iíll tow my rigid inflatable in case we hit a whale.
It wouldn't hurt to buy a paper chart in case anything happens to your phone. Absolutely you want a VHF, you're crossing a busy(ish) shipping lane, you may need to talk to them. Not just flares, you will want to have all the safety gear required by the USCG ... It mostly makes sense, but also it's not uncommon for boats to be stopped and boarded by the USCG or RCMP in the border area, and they will ticket you if you're not compliant with the rules. Tow the dinghy if you want, but not because of whales. Most important piece of gear is a reliable engine ... I'm sure you want to sail the whole way, but light winds are common, and you don't want to be becalmed in the middle of the TSS.


When you're done visiting Victoria, come north a bit and enjoy some of the Gulf Islands.
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Old 13-12-2019, 15:45   #3
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Re: Advice on crossing Haro Straight, San Juan Islands

Welcome! You need to pay particular attention to tides when getting into the narrower straits: Haro, Rosario or Middle Channel. Juan de Fuca itself is usually not so bad (1-2kn). Your biggest problem is likely to be lack of wind so make sure you have enough fuel as well. There are some nice coves on the S side of Lopez if you decide to overnight. +1 on Causeway Marina - you may need to book ahead to get a slip.
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Old 13-12-2019, 16:05   #4
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Re: Advice on crossing Haro Straight, San Juan Islands

If you plan on doing a lot of offshore sailing, you might also want to look at a PLB - Personal Locator Beacon. Clip it on your life vest. They've come down in price a lot, and it can always be your plan Z - if needed. Sounds like a fun trip - Good luck.
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Old 13-12-2019, 16:07   #5
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Re: Advice on crossing Haro Straight, San Juan Islands

Hi and welcome.

Are you planning on going directly from Deception Pass to Victoria or will you be stopping in the San Juans first? The direct distance from Bowman Bay (just outside the western end of Deception Pass) to Oak Bay is 26 miles. That is a relatively long day and Kelkara is correct; the currents can play havoc with your progress.

I mentioned Oak Bay as that would be my preferred spot to clear into. Just did that 2 weeks ago and it was simple. Canada Customs maintains a direct line on the customs dock in Oak Bay. Simply lift the receiver and give the officer you info. They will let you know if they need anything else and/or if an officer needs to come down and look at your vessel. Once you have your clearance number, you can anchor in Oak Bay, and it is just a short hop to Victoria.

If this is your first crossing, you may want to consider going through the San Juan Islands and staying in Roche Harbor and then clearing into Sydney. Same setup for clearance, but a shorter distance to travel.

In either case, summer is the best time for the first crossing like this. There is usually not as much wind, so you will motor a lot, but the chances of bad weather are a lot less than other times of the year. You still need foul weather gear, and all the usual safety stuff for your boat; lifejacket, vhf, flares, etc. and .... time. You can't be in a hurry and you may have to wait out fog banks. Without radar you really can't go unless the visibility is great. Make sure you have a few charts as Kelkara mentioned.

A good current atlas (printed or online) is a must to see how bad the currents can be. It really makes no sense to try to buck them; let them push you along instead.

Be aware that you need a current US Customs sticker on your boat when you come back in. Yes you can just fill out the form when you show up on the Customs Dock, but they really aren't happy about that. Get one now and put it on the boat and you are good to go AND Customs then has your's and your boat's info already when you return.

Should be a fun time. Are there other crew with you?
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Old 13-12-2019, 16:29   #6
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Re: Advice on crossing Haro Straight, San Juan Islands

FYI, for the Canadian side

REQUIREMENTS See below, info stolen from Required Boat Equipment in Canada | Pat's Boating in Canada

The fines for not having the equipment can be more than the equipments costs to buy so do yourself a favour and make sure you have these basics.

6 - 9 metres in length (19'8"-29'6")
Boarding ladder
Life jacket or PDF for each person on board
Buoyant heaving 15 metres
Life buoy attached to buoyant line 15 m (50').
Reboarding device / ladder
Manual propelling device (oar) OR anchor with 15 m (50') rode
Bailer OR manual pump
Watertight flashlight
6 flares: type A, B, or C
Sound signalling device
Navigation lights - if operated at night or in restricted visibility
Magnetic compass [not required within sight of navigation marks]
Radar reflector [not required under most day and near-shore use]
Class 5BC fire extinguisher if vessel equipped with motor
Class 5BC fire extinguisher if fuel-burning stove, fridge, or heater
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Old 13-12-2019, 17:30   #7
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Re: Advice on crossing Haro Straight, San Juan Islands

As you are under 30í a customs sticker is NOT required. Deception pass will be your biggest challenge. If coming up from south of Everett Iíd stop at Pt Townsend. The wind from there is better than Deception. As others have said watch currents. It can be brutal off pt Wilson
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Old 13-12-2019, 17:54   #8
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Re: Advice on crossing Haro Straight, San Juan Islands

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Originally Posted by Seagirt View Post
Buoyant heaving 15 metres
Life buoy attached to buoyant line 15 m (50').
There's a mistake on that page, for a boat 6-9m these two are either/or.

Although for the OP, if his boat is registered in the US, being compliant with USCG safety regulations will be sufficient for a temporary visit to Canada.
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Old 14-12-2019, 10:18   #9
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Re: Advice on crossing Haro Straight, San Juan Islands

As others have said tides, currents and fog. And the traffic separation zone is very busy, you have to pay attention. I would consider getting an ipad with cell and gps built in, you will have a much bigger view and a second source if your phone fails. Paper charts are also a good idea. I would also want a depth sounder for these waters. Victoria is a very busy harbor, especially in July, know your rules of navigation well as you will need them. Lastly, being so close to Canada I would consider getting a Nexus pass. It will make clearing into US and Canada as simple as a phone call most times and it works for air and car travel as well. Plus, you get global entry and TSA precheck all for $50. It takes a long time, so do it now if it interests you. Have fun, it's beautiful up there as you know.
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Old 14-12-2019, 12:13   #10
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Re: Advice on crossing Haro Straight, San Juan Islands

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lindbergh27 View Post
Hello!

This is my first post on any sailing forum. Iím not even sure if this is the right forum.

Iím looking for some advice on making a crossing from Deception Pass, Washington State to Victoria B.C. I have over a hundred hours of sailing in vessels 13í - 30í, but not in heavy weather. Iíve sailed some in the Puget Sound, but this will be the biggest crossing Iíve ever made. Iím planning to do it in July of 2020.

Also, Iíd like to tie up somewhere in or near the harbor in Victoria. Any advice on where I could do that would be great!

My boat is a Columbia 23í built in the mid í70s. Iíve had it for a little over a year and spent a week on it in Lake Powell. What a beautiful place!

I donít have any dedicated navigation gear. I usually use Navionics on my iPhone. I think Iíll want a VHF radio, a flare gun, Iíll tow my rigid inflatable in case we hit a whale.

Iím looking for any advice, especially for gear, the passage, and where I might tie up when I get there.

Thanks!
This will be a memorable adventure for you. While it is a direct shot to Victoria I would hate to see you will miss the San Juan Islands to say nothing of them being closer for your first lengthy voyage, rethink that. You don't say where you are going to put into the water but at about 40 miles direct that is a lot of helm time if you are going solo...I would look into some assistance such as a tillerpilot or at least a Tiller Tamer; I used both in my earlier days. Aside from what others have recommended I would strongly recommend you use a marine portable GPS, Garmin or otherwise, fixed to the boat running on the house bank; there are many used ones on craigslist/ebay(consider your phone as a backup, stored someplace away from the water). Lastly, get a copy of the Waggoner Cruising Guide. It will tell you EVERYTHING you need to know in preparing for your voyage...read it thoroughly, the Strait of Juan de Fuca deserves respect.

Good Luck.

~ ~ _/) ~ ~ MJH
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Old 14-12-2019, 12:23   #11
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Re: Advice on crossing Haro Straight, San Juan Islands

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lindbergh27 View Post
Hello!

This is my first post on any sailing forum. Iím not even sure if this is the right forum.

Iím looking for some advice on making a crossing from Deception Pass, Washington State to Victoria B.C. I have over a hundred hours of sailing in vessels 13í - 30í, but not in heavy weather. Iíve sailed some in the Puget Sound, but this will be the biggest crossing Iíve ever made. Iím planning to do it in July of 2020.

Also, Iíd like to tie up somewhere in or near the harbor in Victoria. Any advice on where I could do that would be great!

My boat is a Columbia 23í built in the mid í70s. Iíve had it for a little over a year and spent a week on it in Lake Powell. What a beautiful place!

I donít have any dedicated navigation gear. I usually use Navionics on my iPhone. I think Iíll want a VHF radio, a flare gun, Iíll tow my rigid inflatable in case we hit a whale.

Iím looking for any advice, especially for gear, the passage, and where I might tie up when I get there.

Thanks!
Carefully watch the weather, make sure you go through any of the narrows at slack water.
Don't tow your dinghy, if it flips in rough weather you will be in big trouble with such a small boat.
Dont worry about hitting whales, floating wood is more of an issue watch out for it all the time especially after high tides.
Avoid Victoria's inner harbours, go to Oak Bay Marina its less busy and has a 10 minute bus ride to downtown and nearby grocery stores.
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Old 14-12-2019, 12:33   #12
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Re: Advice on crossing Haro Straight, San Juan Islands

I’ve made that run a number of time in my 30’ power boat, but I’d echo everything that’s been said about tides, currents and driftwood. I’ve also run into fog, so would strongly recommend your boat have a radar reflector to enhance its image on the radar of other boats, especially the tugs that run up and down Haro. Also, it will benefit you to be prepared ahead of time for Canada Customs. Have your passport (duh, but I’ve seen people without one try to get thru), residence info, birth place, etc. It’ll be easy if you’re prepared. Good luck!
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Old 14-12-2019, 12:53   #13
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Re: Advice on crossing Haro Straight, San Juan Islands

As it sounds like you don't have electronic navigation gear to monitor tide and current, the relevant Canadian Current Atlas for Juan de Fuca Strait to Strait of Georgia and Waggoner (Washburn) tables for 2020 will be very helpful. You need to understand tidal currents and use them to your advantage.

And I agree with Smokeys Kitchen. Passing through the San Juans to Sydney and then down past Oak Bay to Victoria Harbor will be your most protected and scenic route. And you may choose to tie up or anchor at Oak Bay. There is a nice business district there and also good bus service to the Victoria Inner Harbor from there.
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Old 14-12-2019, 13:02   #14
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Re: Advice on crossing Haro Straight, San Juan Islands

a couple things.
-Time your crossing so the outbound tide isn't running strong against the usual wind coming in the straight of Juan de Fuca in the afternoon. If that happens and the wind is blowing strong, you can get some very short steep seas. In the summer the wind builds in the afternoon to being quite strong almost every day blowing right toward the SJ islands... maybe 2pm and later.
-So leave early am first light on a good tide direction taking you toward Victoria and it should be fairly easy.
-Personally I wouldn't tow a rigid dingy on that crossing except in calm summer conditions.
-In a 23 ft boat breaking it up would be nice. Deception pass to somewhere in the SJ islands. Next am go for Victoria.
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Old 14-12-2019, 13:19   #15
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Re: Advice on crossing Haro Straight, San Juan Islands

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Originally Posted by Dooglas View Post
As it sounds like you don't have electronic navigation gear to monitor tide and current, the relevant Canadian Current Atlas for Juan de Fuca Strait to Strait of Georgia and Waggoner (Washburn) tables for 2020 will be very helpful. You need to understand tidal currents and use them to your advantage.

And I agree with Smokeys Kitchen. Passing through the San Juans to Sydney and then down past Oak Bay to Victoria Harbor will be your most protected and scenic route. And you may choose to tie up or anchor at Oak Bay. There is a nice business district there and also good bus service to the Victoria Inner Harbor from there.



As others have said, don't underestimate the current effects - even 1-2 knots will have a dramatic effect on your small boat, and an afternoon westerly on your nose could make progress very difficult. FYI - here is the Canadian marine weather page;
https://weather.gc.ca/marine/region_e.html?mapID=02
Get a copy of the Ports and Passes annual publication - about $20-25 Cdn - it has tides and current predictions from Olympia north.
Oak Bay is not that far from downtown Victoria and is reasonably well served by transit. Your biggest problem may be finding transient moorage at that time of year.
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