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Old 31-01-2016, 10:07   #1
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Solo sailing Victoria to Ketchikan

Hey there,
I'm a single female doing my first 'big' solo sailing trip this summer, off the dock (hopefully) June 1st. I have no time constraints (although am probably aiming for about 8 weeks) and am looking for a good route to head towards Alaska (with a probable stop in Haida Gwaii). As I've never sailed passed the San Juan's before, I'm looking for suggestions of 'must see/do' passages/inlets/islands along the way (I'm also hoping to be doing some hiking/camping during the trip).
Although perhaps more importantly, I'm looking for some recommendations perhaps from anyone with sailing experience in these areas during the summer - typical weather systems? Best anchorages?
Since I'll be doing a return trip, I'm considering sailing off the west coast on Vancouver Island either north or south bound, but I can't seem to find any recommendations for which direction is better sailing.
ANY information/suggestions for this trip is GREATLY appreciated!
(also possibly book referrals for this sort of trip?)
Thanks in advance!
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Old 31-01-2016, 10:11   #2
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Re: Solo sailing Victoria to Ketchikan

Google Waggoners Guide. There are also the Dreamspeaker Guides. You'll need Canadian charts and current tables to get through the rapids.

What kind of engine do you have on your boat?

Good luck.
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Old 31-01-2016, 10:20   #3
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Re: Solo sailing Victoria to Ketchikan

I have a 23hp Volvo diesel engine, my boat is a '79 Buccaneer 305, in good shape.
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Old 31-01-2016, 10:27   #4
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Re: Solo sailing Victoria to Ketchikan

You can start by using one of the cruising atlases or guides for routes and anchorages. For your first trip you'll want to hit the major rapids at slack water.

There can be a lot of fog in Queen Charlotte Strait and Queen Charlotte Sound in the summer. There can be fog anywhere, but these places get a lot.

Johnstone Strait in the summer: the wind will come up to NW 25 to 35kts starting late morning. Start early and plan for short days unless you like bucking into a really nasty chop.

When there isn't too much wind, there often isn't enough for sailing. Pack plenty of fuel and water for the stretch between Port Hardy and Prince Rupert.

Eight weeks for the trip you've described is ambitious. You'll need to keep moving. My wife made a similar trip in 1982 on a Piver AA31 trimaran with a 10hp outboard. She took three weeks from Seattle to Ketchikan and had a great time.

Cheers,
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Old 31-01-2016, 10:46   #5
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Re: Solo sailing Victoria to Ketchikan

We are planning the same trip at the same time - IF we can complete our projects and get away from this damn dock. Good luck and I will be following all the good advice you get from CF. Funny - Haida Gwaii is also on my "must see" list.
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Old 31-01-2016, 10:49   #6
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Re: Solo sailing Victoria to Ketchikan

My first instinct is to ask why? As your first trip past the San Juans you want to blow past the beautiful Gulf Islands, the spectacular Desolation Sound and then the incomparable Broughtons? Seems like a real waste...

My recommendation is to head up the Gulf Islands, cross to Smuggler Cove, head up through the Yucultas to Port Harvey. Then visit the Archipelago on the way to Cape Caution. Never been farther than that so that's where my itinerary ends.

We've been really "unlucky" in Johnstone Strait and have only managed to sail it once. Damn thing keeps calming down every time we transit.

AFAIK people usually do the outside of Vancouver Island going south. At least that's how we did it.

The Waggoner's is pretty damn good and worth the read even if you are just planning since its the only one that encompasses the whole trip.

Enjoy and maybe we'll see you on the way... but I still don't think I need to go that far north quite yet.

Bruce
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Old 31-01-2016, 10:50   #7
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Re: Solo sailing Victoria to Ketchikan

Yeah, getting off the dock is the hardest part.
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Old 31-01-2016, 11:31   #8
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Re: Solo sailing Victoria to Ketchikan

That's a good amount of time for the trip. We left endf of May and returned ,3rd week of Aug, making it as far as Siitka. Most that want to go outside for part of the trip go inside on the way north and outside on the way back. You can make the choice for the way back after you experience the trip north. Its a lot of motoring, but plenty of nice anchorages to stop at. Haida Gwai is a ways out there, but very interesting. We did the west coast of the Queen Charlottes, very remote. All of northern BC is worth the trip - pretty empty. The guide books are good and have good descriptions of handling the various narrows. Bring as rain coat��
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Old 31-01-2016, 12:17   #9
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Re: Solo sailing Victoria to Ketchikan

We will look for you as we will be doing the inside passage up to Prince Rupert this summer. We leave Portland around April 1, wait for a good weather window then head North. Then head back to Portland in Sept/Oct. as we have no set schedule. Then the following year will do So. East Alaska. So much to see in Canada, it would take several years/trips to soak it all in.
Enjoy your venture, take your time and don't rush.
Cheers!
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Old 31-01-2016, 16:49   #10
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Re: Solo sailing Victoria to Ketchikan

Be sure to also bring the Douglas guide books with you. They are more comprehensive, though less up to date than Waggoner.

Hiking is difficult as you go north, as the shoreline is undeveloped wilderness that is mostly vertical cliffs and thick rain forest.

Be prepared to anchor in deep water.

Places to get help/parts/food are widely spaced, so be prepared to take care of yourself.

Plan time to hang out waiting for bad weather to pass.

Be sure you have some way to heat your boat.

From Cape Caution south down the outside of Vancouver Island, there is a lot of fog in the late summer. You may want to do the west coast of Vancouver Island as a separate trip earlier in a different year. It is much easier sailing south than going north upwind.

Have fun, this is wonderful cruising country. We did a three year trip, leaving our boat in Alaska for two winters before heading back south. There is a lot of detail in our blog, found at

Sailing Rover
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Old 01-02-2016, 11:00   #11
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Re: Solo sailing Victoria to Ketchikan

Quote:
With relief, we said yes, go on ahead. Well, it took a long time for them to pass us, during which we were drifting waiting for them, and then they lead us straight onto a sand bank, and we were both hard aground.
I'm sorry to say I almost snorted my coffee out my nose. Such is the ironic nature of sailing, isn't it. And the apparent grace with which you handled it is something I aspire to...

Great read. Thanks

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rover33 View Post
Be sure to also bring the Douglas guide books with you. They are more comprehensive, though less up to date than Waggoner.

Hiking is difficult as you go north, as the shoreline is undeveloped wilderness that is mostly vertical cliffs and thick rain forest.

Be prepared to anchor in deep water.

Places to get help/parts/food are widely spaced, so be prepared to take care of yourself.

Plan time to hang out waiting for bad weather to pass.

Be sure you have some way to heat your boat.

From Cape Caution south down the outside of Vancouver Island, there is a lot of fog in the late summer. You may want to do the west coast of Vancouver Island as a separate trip earlier in a different year. It is much easier sailing south than going north upwind.

Have fun, this is wonderful cruising country. We did a three year trip, leaving our boat in Alaska for two winters before heading back south. There is a lot of detail in our blog, found at

Sailing Rover
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