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Old 17-01-2011, 15:50   #1
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Best Spots in Canadian Gulf Islands

Hi all,
Looking for a little advice in the Gulf Islands for early June this year. Having done the Washington part of the San Juans pretty thoroughly, we'd like to branch out a little. Looking for some of the following:

- pretty anchorages or mooring fields that are not too crowded (but realize we won't escape the crowds entirely, and that's ok)
- quaint marinas with interesting, good quality views/restaurants/cocktail lounges
- nice beaches to explore or short hikes to go on (will have young kids, so 5 miles is about the limit)

Any advice much appreciated.

Thanks,
Brett
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Old 17-01-2011, 16:09   #2
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Early June you won't need to worry about crowds, most cruisers wait for July because of June's infamous weather.
We really like Ganges, good shops and restaurants, and a great Saturday farmers market. Annette Inlet on Prevost Is. is a favorite anchorage, although it's private prop so no hiking. Wallace Is. is good and further north Pirate's Cove is a yearly stop for us (possibly the best anchorage for kids I know of, we hide "gold" dubloons every year somewhere). Montegue Hbr is a great place to explore but get's way to crowded later in the season. You really can't go wrong exploring everywhere in the islands, we haven't found a spot we didn't like yet. Have fun.
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Old 17-01-2011, 21:22   #3
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I echo what jrd22 says - you can't go wrong in the G.I's.. However, the water will be VERY cold til late July and June weather can still be rainy. Montague Harbour is wonderful and has plenty of protected anchoring room PLUS mooring balls (I think its a $12 fee - I don't use them). The restaurant at the marina is nice as are the Bistro and french restaurant up the road - they may not be open that early though. Montague is close enough that if your dinghy can plane its only 25 minutes to Ganges where jrd22 has already espoused the market and many restaurant. I wouldn't anchor near Ganges - it gets windy and you'll roll around a fair bit - plus the seaplanes land with some regularity there. There's plenty of roaming around space at Montague plus a dinghy dock. We like Bedwell Harbour (between South and North Pender Islands off Poet's Cove Resort). Its very pretty there and you can use the Poet's Cove pool and hot tub for a fee ($16 for 2 adults and 2 kids). Lots of nearby hiking. Dinghy through the 2 Islands and go to the Driftwood Centre - 'downtown' North Pender Island for great provisioning, a wondeful bakery, fantastic bookstore and good restaurant (and a liquor store!). The best beach (without going too far North) is at Sidney Spit - not the Spit but on the main island accross from the Spit. If its sunny - its puuuurdy! Its about 4 nm accross to the town of Sidney with its funky stores and Suisse restaurant - yum! Another must do is Otter Bay Marina - which is wonderful and a 10 minute walk away is "The Stand" best and biggest hamburgers ever! There are many more fun places - so enjoy. Cheers,
Bill
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Old 18-01-2011, 17:29   #4
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Thanks Bill and John for this great advice. It is so helpful because the guidebooks don't really give you much of an assessment of what things are really the best to do. I am a little more worried about the rain now, but we'll be prepared for that.

Thanks,
Brett
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Old 18-01-2011, 17:41   #5
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Agreed on Ganges, Pirate, Wallace, Bedwell & the Spit

Personally I never "got" Annette Inlet but lots of people love it and of course everyone is different.

Wanted to add Portland Island. Several anchorages to choose from, nice beaches and great hiking.

Also wanted to add that if Montague's main harbour is crowded, depending on the wind, we always prefer to anchor outside of the main harbor on the North side of the park. Better sunset and beach although it can be loud if the camping crowd is rowdy or brings jetskis.
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Old 18-01-2011, 18:44   #6
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Thetis Island is also nice for docking (anchoring there sucks). One of the marinas there is called Telegraph Harbour (telegraph something). Its very quaint and 'close' to the town of Chemainus which you can access by dinghy OR BC Ferry - so if it rains there's lots to do. We have 2 kids (9 and 11 now) and we favour Montague, Bedwell, Sidney Spit, and Otter Bay. Its unlikely you'll regret any place you go. Sometimes its fun to be rained in and to hunker down with hot cocoa and board games. Cheers,
Bill
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Old 18-01-2011, 19:06   #7
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I'd like to second Portland Island as my favorite. The island is all park and has a good trail system even in the wet. I like the north end because it has a dinghy dock which comes in handy. Even though it isn't technically part of the Gulf Islands, Todd Inlet/ Buchart Gardens would make a nice side excursion if you have any interest in gardening. We try to do this every couple of years. Enjoy, we usually go further north, but it schouldn't be to crowded in June.
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Old 19-01-2011, 03:13   #8
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Brett,
Here are a few links for you:

GulfIslands.ca - Gulf Islands BC, Salt Spring Island, Pender, Mayne, Galiano, British Columbia, Canada

The Gulf Islands BC Canada, Directory of Websites

BC Parks - Marine Parks in British Columbia: Vancouver Island & Gulf Islands, BC


Mike
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Old 19-01-2011, 06:25   #9
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All the advice given is excellent. I'll add a couple points. I don't know what interests your kids, but Ganges has a library, toy store and a Dairy Queen.
At the north end of Saltspring, between Walker Hook and Wallace Is, there's a government dock at Fernwood - at the top of the pier is the Raven Street Market Cafe, which has the best wood-fired pizza in BC (imho).
If Poet's Cove (Bedwell Hbr) is too pricey, crowded or the crowd is too old, then Port Browning is an option. In the past it was fairly run down; don't know if they've fixed it up or not, but there is a pub there, as well as a campground and pool - it's also not as isolated as Bedwell, and I've usually seen other kids there.
Maple Bay is nice - it has a restaurant, I think it has a playground, and they used to run a shuttle into Duncan which has everything (especially a few nice wineries and a cidery). For the kids there's the giant hockey stick and the BC Forest Discovery Centre, which has rides on a running steam train.
Page Point marina in Ladysmith Harbour is very quiet, has a nice restaurant, and a hot tub with a great view. They also ran a water taxi into downtown Ladysmith, where there is a park with a large play structure.
All of the above is said with the caveat that it's been a few years since I've been out there, so things may have changed for better or worse.
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Old 19-01-2011, 11:51   #10
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Hi Lodesdman,
I forgot about that Cafe at Fernwood - I've never tried using the dock to get there - just renting a car at Ganges - great idea. Port Browning is still run down (the docks are). They have renovated the washrooms. The Pub is the same. However, the grounds are very pretty and we like to go there to hang - except that they now charge $5.00 to tie up your dinghy (or you can buy $5.00 or more worth of there 'goods' in their little overpriced store). Lately, we just tie up to the nearby government dock and walk the longer route to the Driftwood Centre. Maple Bay Marina is also a fave (we end each boating season there). Its family owned and Carol still does free shuttle service into town (she'll drop you off at the historic d/t or Safeway or what-have-you within reason). The playground is quaint but small (swings and room to toss a ball and run around). The Pub/Restaurant is ok. We always take our dinghy to Genoa Bay to eat at the AWESOME Genoa Bay Cafe (4 stars) and then onto Cowichan Bay to enjoy the village there. great museum, art stores, restaurants, candy store and bakery. The trip is 20 - 25 minutes by dinghy if your dinghy goes on plane - but well worth it. Cheers,
Bill
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Old 19-01-2011, 12:17   #11
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So much depends on your personal likes and wants. Beginning of June anywhere you go you'll find room although the weekend will be busier closer to Sidney. On a sunny weekend day they flood out of Tsehum Harbour.
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Old 19-01-2011, 13:16   #12
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A couple more suggestions for the Gulfs

I've cruised alot in the Gulfs with kids and two places not yet mentioned are Newcastle Is, near Nanaimo and Conover Cove on Wallace Is. Newcastle is great for Bicycling around but Conover Cove is small and undeveloped and has an interesting history.

One of the tricky things about the Gulfs is timing the passages in and out. Try to be there a bit before slack. Another challange is getting into Pirates Cove. Align the marks on the rock and in the tree and make an abrupt left turn as you pass the marker on the end of the reef to port. Keep the marker to port and bouy to starboard. I've helped rescue a few boats off the reef.

If the weather turns bad my favorite place is Telegraph Harbor on Thetis. You can walk on the ferry to Chemainus for supplies, easier to do that than find a place at the Government Wharf.

Barry
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Old 19-01-2011, 13:57   #13
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whereabouts is the recommended anchorage at portland island
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Old 19-01-2011, 14:43   #14
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Depends on the wind. There is an anchorage on the NW side and the SE side. The NW anchorage has stern tie rings. We've found good holding in both.

We've also anchored between Brackman Island and Portland in settled weather although beware a good current goes through there.
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Old 19-01-2011, 15:47   #15
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Originally Posted by michaelmrc View Post
whereabouts is the recommended anchorage at portland island
Royal Cove on the north side is great shelter in all winds. It's small and you should stern tie in case someone else shows up. It is rolly because of regular ferry traffic in the passage between Saltspring and Portland. It's where I usually go but the ferry wake does get tiresome. On the west side of Royal there are some rocks to be wary of if you have any keel. I always tie to the east shore of the cove. Princess Bay at the south is open to the weather from the south so beware but it is nice when there isn't a blow. I've seen boats, and even keel boats, in a bay on the east side where I like to clam. The entrance to that one scare the crap out of me. I've bounced the outboard on my dink on the rocks coming in to it. They stretch out farther then it looks but I've seen a keelboat in there!
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