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Old 09-03-2015, 16:47   #1
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Bareboating - San Juans or Desolation Sound - Pros & Cons

Bareboat chartering in Pacific Northwest this August - Considering San Juans or Desolation Sound areas (or others you propose.) We're experienced sailors, and would appreciate any advice re: areas, charter brokers, weather, etc. In advance, thanks for your thoughts.
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Old 09-03-2015, 17:04   #2
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Re: Bareboating - San Juans or Desolation Sound - Pros & Cons

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Bareboat chartering in Pacific Northwest this August - Considering San Juans or Desolation Sound areas (or others you propose.) We're experienced sailors, and would appreciate any advice re: areas, charter brokers, weather, etc. In advance, thanks for your thoughts.
  • Not much wind July & August
  • Desolation Sound is beautiful and crowded (July & August) but there are still places to get away from it all—warm enough to swim
  • Nanaimo Yacht Charters is in Nanaimo and one of my favourites
  • Cooper Boating has bases in Vancouver/Sidney and Powell River. I liked the Vancouver base — the Powell River guys seemed a bit harried
  • Haven't heard any real smack talk about any of the major charter companies
  • Do it. It's always worth it.
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Old 09-03-2015, 18:14   #3
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Re: Bareboating - San Juans or Desolation Sound - Pros & Cons

I like the sunshine islands better than the San Juans, and North of Desolation more than Desolation. (Although I found Pender very nice) Charter with a group that allows you a little freedom if you are experienced. I always travel in the area August and September...The crowds are usually gone.
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Old 09-03-2015, 20:07   #4
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Re: Bareboating - San Juans or Desolation Sound - Pros & Cons

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Originally Posted by capnjack.morton View Post
Bareboat chartering in Pacific Northwest this August - Considering San Juans or Desolation Sound areas (or others you propose.) We're experienced sailors, and would appreciate any advice re: areas, charter brokers, weather, etc. In advance, thanks for your thoughts.
Here's my 2 cents. I'd recommend the Gulf Islands and Desolation Sound and all points in between. We've covered much of that but still some to explore. Ganges on Saltspring, Sydney on Vancouver Island and Montague Harbour on Galiano are all nice stops. Walk up the road from Montague to La Boehme for dinner or catch the red bus to the Hummingbird for a pub style place. Make Snug Cove on Bowen Island a stop, try Gibson's and hit Molly's Reach for a place to eat. Pender Harbour is a nice spot, try Garden Bay Marina. In Desolation Sound you can stop at Squirrel Cove on Cortes Island or Refuge Cove to the east across the channel. Prideaux Haven is supposed to be a nice anchorage although can be crowded in high season as noted.

I'd recommend Blue Pacific Yacht Charters out of False Creek in Vancouver. Talk to Serpa or Mike. Check out their website. They have taken really good care of us.

Winds are lighter in summer but generally blow either SE or NW up and down the strait. Howe sound is inflow or outflow depending. Check the Environment Canada website for marine weather.

Enjoy!
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Old 09-03-2015, 20:19   #5
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Re: Bareboating - San Juans or Desolation Sound - Pros & Cons

Many thanks to you all for your thoughts and advice. All getting cranked into the decision making mill. Especially appreciate the specific recommendations for stops, anchorages, and brokers. Will be glad to hear from others with knowledge of the area to share.
Jack
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Old 09-03-2015, 21:32   #6
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Re: Bareboating - San Juans or Desolation Sound - Pros & Cons

Roscoe Bay in Desolation Sound. Short walk to warm fresh water swimming..ahhh.
I wish it was 100 miles closer to home though.
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Old 09-03-2015, 21:33   #7
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Re: Bareboating - San Juans or Desolation Sound - Pros & Cons

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Roscoe Bay in Desolation Sound. Short walk to warm fresh water swimming..ahhh.
+1 And the bar keep the traffic down.
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Old 10-03-2015, 09:16   #8
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Re: Bareboating - San Juans or Desolation Sound - Pros & Cons

Forget the 100+ mile drift from Vancouver or 70 miles from Nanaimo. Have a look at Desolation Sound Yacht Charters in Comox-everything from Catalina 320 to Jenneau 39. They are the closest charter operation to Desolation sound and have been in business since at least 1985.

Having done 3 circumnavigations, the Sound itself is fantastic-I recommend early Sept when the crowds and rain are absent and the winds are evident. Hope you like salmon and Dungeness crab! And remember you are in bear country-saw many while ashore and never had an issue.

Tenedos Bay (eagles) Hole in the Wall (14 knot flow) and Big Bay (200m whirlpool) are something to behold. Check out Pacific Yachting's Cruising Guide to Desolation Sound. Everything you will ever need to know including aerials of most anchorages

The San Juan's are nice-can be close to hectic in summer and lots of waterholes and restaurants if you like that sort of thing. I'm more of an isolationist-they don't call it Desolation Sound for nothing!
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Old 10-03-2015, 09:21   #9
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Re: Bareboating - San Juans or Desolation Sound - Pros & Cons

The San Juans and Gulf Islands by themselves could take all the time you have. On the way up to Desolation we also enjoyed some of the marine parks like Jedediah Island, at the south end of Lasquiti plus Earl's Cove at the north end of the Sunshine Coast. Garden Bay is one of my favorites as well. It can take a few days to get to Desolation Sound, and if that is your primary goal, chartering out of Powell River or Lund can save you a week of travel time there and back.
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Old 10-03-2015, 10:09   #10
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Re: Bareboating - San Juans or Desolation Sound - Pros & Cons

I also am a big fan of Desolation Sound area and also found Nanaimo Yacht Charters great to deal with. August great time to go. Okoever Inlet also worth visiting especially if Roscoe Bay etc. crowded. Von Donop Inlet (top of Cortes Island) is my favourite spot, well worth a visit. Lund a great stop for fuel and provisions. And should you have the time and don't mind challenging the Dent and Yuculta rapids a visit to the Phillips Inlet is worthwhile. Look for the grizzly bears dining on the beach early in the morning.

Doug
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Old 10-03-2015, 10:15   #11
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Re: Bareboating - San Juans or Desolation Sound - Pros & Cons

Many thanks for all the helpful suggestions, and willingness to reveal favorite spots. Canadian side sounds very interesting, and probably less crowded, but for other reasons some of our party want a stop in the San Juans, whichever side we start on. Is it much hassle for a boat of all US citizens to cross the border/check in in that area?
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Old 10-03-2015, 10:19   #12
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Re: Bareboating - San Juans or Desolation Sound - Pros & Cons

We absolutely love the Dreamspeaker guides. Highly recommended.
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Old 10-03-2015, 10:21   #13
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Re: Bareboating - San Juans or Desolation Sound - Pros & Cons

If you head north to Desolation up the sunshine coast take few days to head up Jervis Inlet up to Princess Louisa Inlet...you wont be disappointed. You can sail there on a run but most likely will need to motor back to Egmont. If you go, stop at Egmont on the way back & go see the Skookumchuck rapids.
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Old 10-03-2015, 10:26   #14
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Re: Bareboating - San Juans or Desolation Sound - Pros & Cons

check Dreamspeaker Cruising guide Desolation Sound ...
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Old 10-03-2015, 10:38   #15
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Re: Bareboating - San Juans or Desolation Sound - Pros & Cons

We bought our boat up in Pender Harbour last summer and brought her to Washington - coming south clearing US Customs at Pt. Roberts was a piece of cake. We are currently about 500 yards from the border and believe me, there are more boats from BC than US boats. I think you'll have no problems with one or multiple crossings. An everyday occurance here. Have fun.
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