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Old 17-01-2011, 14:43   #16
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Have taken a class out of Anacortes, chartered there once, and will be chartering again this June. Each time we've used and been very happy, the quality of their boats exceeds other places we've chartered (BVI's, California). Our experience, while not extensive, have been a little more positive than the flavor in the above posts, but of course each trip is different.

1. Tides/current - yes, they can be large, but 10 knots is rare. Get a copy of the Current Atlas for Juan de Fuca Strait and also Washburn's Tables for 2011. They will give you a graphical depiction of the currents at the date/time you are going. Plan to go through narrow passages at slack water, and watch the tides when you anchor and you should be fine. The current in the San Juan's themselves are a little less than further north, and on a week's charter out of Anacortes you'll unlikely go much beyond the San Juan's.
2. Customs - not a big deal. Check in at Victoria or Bedwell Harbor, it's just by phone and only takes a couple minutes. On return, Roche Harbor or Friday Harbor is a good choice, it takes longer and a bit more of a pain, but not a big deal at all.
3. Going ashore - yes, some private areas that should be respected. But, plenty of shore areas too. In particular, a hike up Mt Constitution is a highlight (dock at Rosario Resort on Orcas Island). Get a good guidebook - we like the Dreamspeaker Guides.
4. Weather - definitely be prepared for rain. But, we have gone the whole week in early June with not a single drop.
5. Wind - not consistent like the BVIs, but early morning is often good. The days are very long, sunrise is at 5am in June, so you can get going early. But, be prepared to motor some.
6. Scenery - fantastic. Well worth it in my opinion.


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Old 17-01-2011, 15:36   #17
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During the full moon (June 15 2011) week we have big tidal changes but even then we rarely have currents of more than 4 knots in the SJ's and those are in a few narrow passes, but the water will definitely be moving everywhere. One thing to keep in mind if you are coming from the Ches. is that we don't have anything called a soft grounding, it's going to be solid rock, and it's going to hurt if you hit one. You can get lulled into complacency by our deep water (not uncommon to see 300' a boat length offshore) but there are some nasty reefs and isolated rocks that you need to watch for on your chart. Lot's of places to anchor, numerous state parks with mooring buoys, and several marinas throughout the area. Contrary to what has been said here the winds can be quite exciting thru the islands and narrow passes and generally there are good winds except during the months of July, August, and Sept. In Juan de Fuca, Rosario and Haro St. the wind generally picks up in the afternoon. If it's blowing much above 20 knots it's wise to check which way the current is running before crossing one of the above straits, if current is opposing the wind it can get quite nasty. Anacortes, Friday Harbor, or Bellingham would be the likely places to pick up a charter. I see a lot of Moorings boats out here, not sure where they are based.

John Davidson
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Old 17-01-2011, 16:29   #18
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I hate to say it, the San Juans are great as long as you don't have a go,go,go personality. Been going there for 50 years tidebooks/charts/radar/time is all that's neccessary. I used to spend the month of September, but June can be nice too. If you sail the Chesapeake, you'll do just fine. One week will just whet your appetite. Some people spend 1/2 their lives on the Inside Passage, which the San Juans are just a speck of. And we do have decently warm water up in Desolation area, though clarity is lacking usually. Good luck and enjoy.
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Old 18-01-2011, 17:20   #19
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When entering Canada without a CANPASS/NEXIS/I69 doc my understanding is that you should report at a marine reporting station, not just anywhere:
<h1><strong>Telephone Reporting Site - Marine</strong></h1>

I've never heard that you can anchor without reporting...although that could be true. Once we saw a CBSA boat patrolling Portland Island (Gulf Island) knocking on the hulls of American flagged boats...we presume checking on customs clearance but we don't know that for sure.
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Old 18-01-2011, 17:45   #20
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Don't be put off by the "no wind" naysayers! June is a good time - there will be lots of light and more than likely wind too. We took our one week ASA certification course there at San Juan Sailing over a Memorial Day week (strongly recommend you do not charter from them, the boat we had experienced several failures causing us to miss over a day of the course, and all the SJS owners did was laugh).

We've since spent several weeks there, from April through October - the best winds were in late May, but it's cold - get a boat with a heater. June is probably similar, but even longer days. BTW, by then the phosphorescence in the water is beautiful but you have to stay up late to see it (until it's dark).

Of course, rain is part of life here, so come prepared!
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Old 20-01-2011, 00:50   #21
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While the area is rainy, the summer months are the least rainy of them all and will provide you with high temps around 70 degrees F. Make sure you check out Reid Harbor on Stuart Island. It's a very well protected anchorage and has some mooring balls available. This will provide you a chance to do some nice hiking onshore and to see wildlife both in and out of the water!
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Old 30-01-2011, 21:58   #22
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Jones and Stuart

It's always fun for me to read what people say about the San Juans and Gulf Islands as I consider them home waters and I still learn things. I am also amused by what non-locals have to say about the place. I agree with most all that has been said here and will only add that my favorite place to spend a night is either the north or south side of Jones Island, depending on the wind. Stunning views and the whole island is a state park with an exquisite hike all the way around. Reid and Prevost are both lovely, but both can be quite crowded (except in winter, my favorite time), though there is always room to anchor somewhere. The hiking on Stuart is among the best anywhere in the NW. You cannot miss the hike out to the lighthouse if you go to Stuart. It is one of the most beautiful and wild spots anywhere around. Can't say how many times I have been there and watched Orcas and porpoises and seals and sea lions and eagles and peregrine falcons and ... It's just ridiculously sublime.
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Old 30-01-2011, 22:05   #23
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Last Aug. I spent a couple days in Reid Harbor (Stuart) and hiked the island. I was surprised to see deer on the trails.
Faithful are the Wounds of a Friend, but the Kisses of the Enemy are Deceitful! ........
A nation of sheep breeds a government of wolves!

Unprepared boaters, end up as floatsum!.......
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Old 31-01-2011, 10:01   #24
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Originally Posted by delmarrey View Post
Last Aug. I spent a couple days in Reid Harbor (Stuart) and hiked the island. I was surprised to see deer on the trails.
Deer swim.
I've seen them while sailing.
Memento,homo, quia pulvis es, et in pulverem reverteris.
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Old 31-01-2011, 13:45   #25
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The gulf islands are overrun with black tails. The little buggers dig up the compost I bury in the garden all winter. Some of them are tiny. There really is too many. Their predators don't do well with humans and the humans don't hunt them much. They are cute though. I chase them out of my yard but they don't usually understand my actions until I'm close enough to wonder what I'll do if they just keep staring at me. They always bolt at the last minute. They are murder on gardens and fruit trees.
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Old 31-01-2011, 19:39   #26
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Wow all these comments on the San Juan Islands and no one has mentioned Sucia. It is a wonderful little island North of Orcas Island. It has nice anchorage and is really a fun place to hike. Gunkholing in the San Juan Islands is a good book and worth trying to find. A week is not near enough time to explore the San Juan's much less the Gulf Islands. I'm sure the place you charter from will have recommendations as to itineraries. Look at them and see if they fit what you wan to do. It is hard to recommend something when we don't know what your goals are for the charter. Party Party (which I doubt) or isolated anchorage or something in between.
Fair Winds,


Between us there was, as I have already said somewhere, the bond of the sea. Besides holding our hearts together through long periods of separation, it had the effect of making us tolerant of each other's yarns -- and even convictions. Heart of Darkness
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Old 01-02-2011, 04:02   #27
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Sept. is the best time to do the San Juans. Weather is as dry as it will ever get and all the kids are back in school leaving the anchorages pristine.

I will be back in the area by then with our 2000 Jeanneau Sun Odyssey 45.2 after a 2-year Med-Carib voyage. I might be interested in chartering it out to you for a week (it was in charter before we bought it and fixed everything!!) and avoid the middleman. If you are interested, you can get ahold of me at nelson(dot)peter1(at)live(dot)com.

Good luck.

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