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Old 11-11-2020, 12:47   #1
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Vancouver or Victoria, BC - Which is a better homebase for good sailing conditions

Hi guys,

A bit of a subjective question but:
If you had a sailboat, typically 3 day weekends and a few weeks off per year, where would you choose to be based if your goal was to build skills/experience to eventually go offshore: Vancouver or Victoria, BC?

Also, which do you think is a cheaper place to live/moor/gradually upgrade the boat (likely not living aboard due to wait lists and career)?

I'd always thought Vancouver due to being able to get out without issues from currents, and quick year round access to the Strait OR the Howe Sound (given sometimes one has wind when the other doesn't), and the potential to easily sail north up the straight to Sunshine Coast/Northern Gulf Islands or across to the Southern Gulf Islands.

An individual I respect suggested Victoria might be superior due to access to the Juan de Fuca Strait (probably more wind/swell than the Georgia Strait making it better for training to go offshore) and easier access to the Gulf Islands - but it seems to me the Gulf Islands are more sheltered (less windy) for day sailing then what you could get right out of English Bay (dipping into the Strait or Howe Sound), you'd have to deal with tidal passages to get out into the Georgia Strait and as such your options for weekend sails might be more limited to the Southern Gulf Islands.

Also think costs might end up similar in both?

Curious to hear opinions!

Thanks!
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Old 11-11-2020, 13:23   #2
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Re: Vancouver or Victoria, BC - Which is a better homebase for good sailing condition

Well if the idea is to occasionally go offshore, then probably Vic, although a 90 mile slog up and down the Strait means that won't be a regular occurrence. Depends on what you plan to do on the weekends - if it's just in and out of a home base to practice sailing in relatively open waters, then Vic probably has a slight edge. If you're occasionally going to visit places or sightsee, Van is likely better. From Vic it's a full day to get anywhere worth visiting - a lot of Victorians keep their boats in Sidney or Chemainus, etc which are closer to the Gulf Is and more interesting scenery. Alternatively you could keep your boat in Sooke and sail the strait - good wind most of the time; or Port Alberni and sail the ocean proper.
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Old 11-11-2020, 13:29   #3
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Re: Vancouver or Victoria, BC - Which is a better homebase for good sailing condition

Thanks for the info.

Think if I was going to move to Vic I'd probably aim to have the boat in Sidney for access to boatyard services as I upgrade/prepare the boat further. Don't know that there is boatyards in Sooke/Port A? Think I'd want accessible destinations for weekend trips as well, making Sidney make more sense.

Curious to hear further opinions!
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Old 11-11-2020, 13:37   #4
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Re: Vancouver or Victoria, BC - Which is a better homebase for good sailing condition

As someone who keeps their boat in Vancouver...

Sidney, definitely (or nearby such as Brentwood or Cowichan, Maple Bay, etc). Easy to get out all year round. Good sailing off of Sidney common. Easy to visit Gulf Islands (you're there).

Victoria is expensive and JdeF Strait can be very windy/rough. Long way to Gulf Islands.

Vancouver: expensive, limited available mooring. Winter time can be rough to get out. Nearby Howe Sound only place with a few anchorages, most not "all weather".
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Old 11-11-2020, 13:48   #5
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Re: Vancouver or Victoria, BC - Which is a better homebase for good sailing condition

Thanks sv_pelagia. Sounding like live in Vic, keep boat in Sidney might be the best go (which was what I was thinking). Curiously - when you say Vancouver is rough to get out of in winter - are you just talking about sea state? When you suggest Sidney is better in that regard is that just because of the shelter of the Gulf Islands?
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Old 11-11-2020, 13:51   #6
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Re: Vancouver or Victoria, BC - Which is a better homebase for good sailing condition

I grew up in Victoria and sailed from there (Oak Bay Marina) for almost 20 years. San Juan Islands were our go-to weekend destination. Generally there was wind in either the Juan de Fuca or Haro straights. For a quick overnight then we just popped over to Chatham Island or Sidney Spit.

For a long weekend or week holiday, access to Vancouver Islandís west coast is much better from Victoria. The southern Gulf Islands are accessible as well.

Sidney has better access to the Gulf Islands and further north and has many more berths - so moorage may be less expensive and more available.

If you are in Vancouver, Point Roberts is a great marina and has super access to the southern Gulf Islands and the San Juans. But with current border restrictions I assume thatís not an option for Canadians.
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Old 11-11-2020, 14:24   #7
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Re: Vancouver or Victoria, BC - Which is a better homebase for good sailing condition

Quote:
Originally Posted by Devman25 View Post
Thanks sv_pelagia. Sounding like live in Vic, keep boat in Sidney might be the best go (which was what I was thinking). Curiously - when you say Vancouver is rough to get out of in winter - are you just talking about sea state? When you suggest Sidney is better in that regard is that just because of the shelter of the Gulf Islands?
Even in the Summer, there are days when Georgia Strait is nasty (and very common outside of the Summer)... getting to Howe Sound reay the only option.

Out of Sidney, there only a few days per year it would be too rough to get out.

FYI: getting through the passes out of the Gulf Islands is simply a matter of timing - - the currents are well predicted by CHS. (Getting through the passes from Vancouver is also a matter of timing, but with 4-5 hours of distance across Georgia Strait from Vancouver before getting to a pass....)

We have good friends who live in Vic and keep their boat in Sidney. We often meet up, but our meetups are always subject to whether we can get across. Many times it doesn't work out due to conditions in Georgia Strait. Meanwhile, they always get out.

Your questions beg the following questions:
- what is your current sailing experience?
- do you currently have a sailboat? (If yes, where?)
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Old 11-11-2020, 14:32   #8
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Re: Vancouver or Victoria, BC - Which is a better homebase for good sailing condition

Thanks again for the reply. Definitely aware the Georgia Strait occasionally has rough conditions as with most open bodies of water with fetch. Also aware of how to transit tidal passes.

Sounds like Sidney offers the ability to sail more frequently if there's need for shelter from rough conditions.

Regarding myself:
-Have an Alberg 37 currently at Mosquito Creek in Vancouver
-Experienced sailor (background racing/coaching dinghy/skiffs), intermediate cruiser (1500NM logged on various cruises while active in planning/skippering, have sailed continuously through 2 nights, completed Sail Canada Advanced Cruising, Survival at Sea and Intermediate Coastal Nav)
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Old 11-11-2020, 14:32   #9
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Re: Vancouver or Victoria, BC - Which is a better homebase for good sailing condition

Forecast for Strait of Georgi next few days...

Strait of Georgia - south of Nanaimo.
Gale warning in effect.
Wind southeasterly 5 to 15 knots increasing to southeast 15 to 20
near midnight and to southeast 20 to 30 late overnight except
southeast 35 south of Tsawwassen Thursday afternoon. Wind
diminishing to variable 15 Thursday evening. Drizzle changing to
rain Thursday morning then to showers Thursday evening

Strait of Georgia.
Friday..Wind southeast 10 to 20 knots increasing to southeast 25 to
35 in the morning then becoming northwest 30 to 40 late in the day.
Saturday..Wind northwest 30 to 40 knots diminishing to west 10 to 20.
Sunday..Wind south 20 knots backing to southeast 20 to 25.


Not pleasant.
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Old 11-11-2020, 14:38   #10
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Re: Vancouver or Victoria, BC - Which is a better homebase for good sailing condition

Well, if you have your Arlberg in Mosquito Creek, you should already be pretty familiar with getting away from Vancouver.

Or are you new to sailing here?

(We keep our boat in Stanley Park.)
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Old 11-11-2020, 14:41   #11
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Re: Vancouver or Victoria, BC - Which is a better homebase for good sailing condition

Quote:
Originally Posted by sv_pelagia View Post
Forecast for Strait of Georgi next few days...

Strait of Georgia - south of Nanaimo.
Gale warning in effect.
Wind southeasterly 5 to 15 knots increasing to southeast 15 to 20
near midnight and to southeast 20 to 30 late overnight except
southeast 35 south of Tsawwassen Thursday afternoon. Wind
diminishing to variable 15 Thursday evening. Drizzle changing to
rain Thursday morning then to showers Thursday evening

Strait of Georgia.
Friday..Wind southeast 10 to 20 knots increasing to southeast 25 to
35 in the morning then becoming northwest 30 to 40 late in the day.
Saturday..Wind northwest 30 to 40 knots diminishing to west 10 to 20.
Sunday..Wind south 20 knots backing to southeast 20 to 25.


Not pleasant.

It is winter!

After doing way too many Southern Straights Races at Easter, itís not the wind speed in Georgia Straight, itís the shallow water and short steep waves.

Sailing out of Sidney or Victoria doesnít have any large-fetch bodies of water so is a bit more pleasant when there are gale conditions in the straights.
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Old 11-11-2020, 14:49   #12
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Re: Vancouver or Victoria, BC - Which is a better homebase for good sailing condition

Quote:
Originally Posted by fxykty View Post
It is winter!

After doing way too many Southern Straights Races at Easter, itís not the wind speed in Georgia Straight, itís the shallow water and short steep waves.

Sailing out of Sidney or Victoria doesnít have any large-fetch bodies of water so is a bit more pleasant when there are gale conditions in the straights.
Well, not quite Winter yet....

But definitely agree about ease of Sidney. For Victoria, I would worry about getting around Trial Island on some windy days (especially if wind against current!)
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Old 11-11-2020, 14:51   #13
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Re: Vancouver or Victoria, BC - Which is a better homebase for good sailing condition

Definitely familiar with sailing out of Vancouver - but haven't done it year round yet and do not have the familiarity with sailing out of Sidney to compare the two well. Just have ideas about what it would be like.

Thanks for the insight fxykty. Have yet to really tackle any gale conditions - most I've cruised in was I think 27 knots in the Strait during a course at the helm of a Benneteau First 40.4. We were reaching downwind which was fine as long as you managed things well from the helm, but unsure both what that would have been like going upwind or how my own boat would handle it (at this point). Definitely try to avoid winds of 30kts or more when there's a plan available that lends to safer conditions, but hope to build my comfort zone in them in time.
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Old 11-11-2020, 14:59   #14
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Re: Vancouver or Victoria, BC - Which is a better homebase for good sailing condition

A trip around Vancouver Island can give you (some sortof) "offshore" experience, especially if you do an overnight and there's wind.

We've had good overnight sails leaving Haida Gwaii 2/3 times.
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Old 11-11-2020, 15:05   #15
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Re: Vancouver or Victoria, BC - Which is a better homebase for good sailing condition

Definitely a goal, regardless whether I remain based in Vancouver or switch to Sidney.

Sounds like you've got some great experience up and down the coast sv_pelagia!
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