Okay, I'm getting around to doing research on this one...
- Blackfish Sailing Adventures had a program in 2008 to organize groups of boats heading around. May do again in 2009?
- Tim Whelan's website Around Vancouver Island is about his trip in 1995/1996 (how did he take so long? I did it in a 25' boat, 18' lwl, in a bit over 3 weeks with plenty of lay days.)
- Sula Adventures photo essay of their 2002 voyage 'round.
I'm finding plenty of blogs, etc., but I guess that's likely not what you're looking for. What you probably want is a cruising guide. There are several available for the inside portions, but really only one comprehensive one for the west coast
- my copy is on my boat so I don't have the specific title for you. You will also want to have the latest edition of the Wagoneer guide.
In addition to a couple of good cruising guides
for the inside, and the west coast
one, you should have John Chappell's Cruising Beyond Desolation Sound.
My experiences going round are some of my fondest cruising memories. The region beyond Desolation Sound to Queen Charlotte Sound is generically known as "The Jungles". Getting from Georgia
Strait or Desolation Sound is the trickiest bit of the inside, in my opinion.
My solution was to pass through Surge Narrows, which I've since done several times. Timing is critical; done properly at high slack you can carry out on the tide a very long way, but you'll be unable fit the current
at several points so must make your plans before you are committed. Remember the tide is setting north, and will already have changed farther up the channels. When I went through this way I flew up the channel, into Discovery passage
, past Chatham Point light (was terrified by a commercial
fisherman barging the channel here), and on to around Goat Island on this one tide.
I tucked into Port Neville, and spent the next day exploring when Johnstone Strait got a little boisterous. I took my time through this north section, spent a couple days in Port McNeil, then jumped up to Bull Harbour. I crossed the Nahwitti Bar the next morning, but in my anxiousness to get going I left at least an hour too soon. (There's a tricksy way to sneak up on the bar by tucking in close to the Vancouver Island shore, between the shore and the kelp beds.) The bar was rough, the current
foul, when I crossed. The Nahwitti Bar is something you should be concerned about, but a well-found boat can handle it far better than the crew will. Make sure you have taken your dramamine well before you get there.
The Cook Bank on the north end of Vancouver Island is shallow, has nasty currents due to the intersection of three currents, and is a great place to get suddenly seasick. But I also had wind
I could work with for the first time since Surge Narrows, so was putting up sail alternating with feeding fish
, but once the sails
were drawing things seemed to settled down a bit. My timing for Cape Scott was also a bit early; the tides are extremely important at that end of things, and can make your ride either miserable or fine.
Once beyond Cape Scott, I hurried to Winter Harbour due to threats of scary weather
. Where an eagle broke my radio
antena. But from here down the coast everything was marvelous. There was almost no wind
for a week, and I must have motored half the way down the coast. Nice breeze into the Juan de Fuca, which I sailed up at night hoping to avoid the daily afternoon gale force summer breezes - worked very well, except I was motoring not long after midnight.
My biggest advice is to slow down and not be in a hurry. This is a cruise
to be taken as slow as possible, preferably with at least 8-10 weeks during latter half of summer.