I have some good news and some bad news for you! The following is based on my learning
to sail in B'ham Bay and the San Juan Islands
42 years ago, 30+ years of sailing from Shelton in the South Sound to Cape Scott on the north end of Vancouver Island, and two sailing trips to Mexico
and one to the Virgin Islands
. Additionally, I have about a dozen long distance cruising friends who all learned the business just as I did and you will.
to sail and cruise
in Puget Sound
, the Canadian Gulf Islands, Georgia
Straits, and Strait of Juan de Fuca you will be pleasantly surprised how easy the sailing is in the rest of the cruising world. Your sailing locale gives you a lot of great experience, in heavy doses, with the following:
- strong currents
- big tides
- fast moving commercial
- very strong and very light wind
in deep difficult water
- navigating amongst dozens of obstacle such as rocks, reefs
, sand bars, and last but not least fish
finding, channel reading, visual aids confusion in the myriad channels, passes, cuts, and inlets
- a wide range of bottom types for anchoring
- fickle weather
- in the Straits - BIG breaking waves and strong winds
After you have a few years of longer and longer cruises up there you'll be ready for anything I have encountered in my cruising.
Once you get the proper boat the following areas will give you exposure to almost anything you will encounter anywhere in the world (except of course day-after-day of heat)
- sailing round trip from Townsend to Sydney
in the strong westerlies
- sailing from round trip Townsend to Neah Bay in strong westerlies
will approximate (or exceed) anything I have seen at sea. It won't be fun the first couple times but once you get the hang of it - you'll gain fantastic experience for oceanic sailing
- sail from Neah Bay up the west coast
of Vancouver Island and then back to Neah Bay - this will give you a true oceanic sailing experience with lot's of easy places to duck back into sheltered water
After a few years of the stuff shown above you'll be ready for almost anything. Every one of the dozens of Puget Sound
and BC sailors I met in San Diego
, and the Virgin Islands
said that, once south of Pt Conception, the sailing was much, much easier that what they did in Puget Sound.
The Salish Sea (Puget Sound, San Juans, Gulf Islands) and the West Coast
of Vancouver Island is one of the very best sailing locales in the world. We left in August 2000 and had a fantastic time all the way to Zihuatenejo and three summers in the Sea of Cotez. But, I missed Puget Sound so much I trucked the boat back up there in August 2004.
We sailed a lot until August 2010 when the summer drizzle again forced me to sail south to San Diego
. This summer, the fourth I've spent in SoCal, I was again desperately missing the San Juan
and Gulf Islands.
So much so, that I am trying to talk my wife into buying
a 2nd "summer boat" to keep in Anacortes for the magical mid-July to mid-October boating
When you are ready to leave the Pacific NW you will find that you have been very fortunate and spoiled in the sailing you've done up there.