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GFC 06-26-2015 01:25 PM

This is for you San Juan, South Sound & Gulf Island Cruisers
With the goal in mind of someday taking the boat around the coast and up into Puget Sound and areas north, I'm looking to pick your brains just a bit. I would appreciate if you PNW cruisers would take a couple of minutes and share some information with me. Specifically, I'm looking for your 5 or 6 favorite destinations in each of these three areas:

San Juan Islands
South Puget Sound
The East side of Vancouver Island
The West side of the Strait of Georgia

Please share the name of the harbor/city/marina, how many days you think someone might want to spend there, and what the attraction is for you and your crew.



caltexflanc 06-26-2015 03:42 PM

What do you like to visit ? Marinas, docks and towns or moorings anchorages and undeveloped islands to hike and explore ?

caltexflanc 06-26-2015 03:47 PM

I should add there are many threads here already on this subject in general and each specific area so you would be well served to search for those first.

Marin 06-26-2015 09:08 PM

Some of our favorites---

San Juans- Likes: Sucia Island, Stuart Island (Prevost Bay), Westsound Marina, Fisherman's Bay (watch the tide for entering), Indian Cove, Jones Island, Eagle Harbor, Cypress Head, Park's Bay, Garrison Bay, Anacortes, Friday Harbor. Dislikes: Deer Harbor, Roche Harbor (both very expensive and very snobby, particularly Roche Harbor. They don't want to talk to you unless your boat is at least 80 feet long, preferably with a helicopter on it).

South Puget Sound: We've not boated it but we've flown it a lot and frankly it's the most boring place around here. Some people like it but personally, I wouldn't bother with it at all. It's like boating in a lake with very uninspiring scenery. Our boat won't even go there: the engines shut down automatically if we try to go south of Anacortes and they won't restart until we get the bow headed the other way.:) Something one learns as one boats (or flies) along this coast from Puget Sound to SE Alaska is that it gets better and better the farther north you go.

East Side of Vancouver Island. Far superior to boating in Washington in our opinions. Places we like are: Sidney Spit, Genoa Bay, Maple Bay, Montegue Marine Park, Ganges, Telegraph Harbor, Nanaimo, Silva Bay, Winter Cove, Buchart Cove and Tod Inlet, Wallace Island, the anchorages on the north side of Prevost Island (James Bay, Selby Cove, Annette Inlet, Glenthorne Passage), Port Browning, Beaumont Marine Park, Cabbage Cove, Comox.

West side of the Strait of Georgia is kind of the same thing as the east side of Vancouver Island. If you mean east side of the Strait of Georgia aka Sunshine Coast there is Smuggler Cove, Buccaneer Bay, Pender Harbor, Princess Louisa (pretty but a long, boring slog up Jervis Inlet to get to it) and of course Desolation Sound, which is a whole area in itself. And of course there is Vancouver, which as a city makes Seattle look like a Soviet-era city in East Germany.

Robster_in_edmonds 06-27-2015 05:34 AM

Marin's list is great, except we enjoy visiting Roche Harbor for a night or two. It is spendy, and there are usually lots of expensive boats, but no one has ever been snobby to us. Lots of boating groups hold annual rendezvous there: Tollycraft, Bayliner/Meridian/SeaRay, various yacht clubs, etc.

Roche Harbor, to me, feels a little like visiting an expensive country club. I put my preppy boating clothes on for dinner and I don't whine because the cocktails are ten dollars. Note, I usually *do* whine about ten dollar cocktails, but not at Roche and not in New York City. :-).

GFC 06-27-2015 11:57 AM

Thanks for all the comments and suggestions. I've been to the SJ's three times (twice on charter boats, once on our own which we hauled over there) so I am somewhat familiar with the SJ spots.

I tend to agree with Marin about Rich Harbor, err, I mean Roche Harbor. The bigger the boat the better you are treated. I think when we go there we'll anchor out and take the dink in. It is a great place to walk the docks and see where everyone is from.

Robster, does that mean I'll have to buy some preppy boat clothes? My shorts and t-shirts won't cut it? :eek:

We belong to a local yacht club here so we'll benefit from reciprocal moorage agreements and plan to use that privilege as much as we can.

You guys have suggested some places I've not heard of and others that I've heard of but not visited. IMO one of the joys of taking a long cruise is the planning that goes into it. Thanks, all, for the help.

av8r 06-27-2015 03:19 PM

5 choices
Marinas in south and central Puget Sound:
Arabella's Landing in Gig Harbor -- nice people and facility, easy stroll along the old Gig Harbor waterfront (1 day)
Percival Landing in Olympia -- no power but in old downtown area, lots of food close by (1 day)
Jarrell's Cove Marina, Harstene Island -- ice cream, good fuel dock (diesel is only available in 4 marinas south of Tacoma and three of them can be challenging for a trawler)
Swantown in Olympia -- nice facility, Farmer's Market within walking distance (1 day)
Port of Poulsbo -- like the marina and people, lots of good food in old downtown Poulsbo (1 day)

Anchorages and mooring:
Jarrell Cove State Park -- mooring buoys, dock, limited walking trails. Good place for grandkids to play on the beaches or in the dinghy or kayaks (2 days)
Penrose Point State Park -- mooring buoys, dock, walking trails, on-shore camping if you want to meet someone (2 days)
Dockton / Quartermaster Harbor -- dock, walking trails (1 day)
Poulsbo -- lots of anchorage (1 day)
Henderson Inlet -- anchorage, kayaking, public shore access (1 day)

If we had time constraints and faced the choice of Puget Sound or the Gulf Islands we would opt for north. Marin's list is pretty good, but we like Roche Harbor and Deer Harbor. A visit to Rosario for Michael Peacock's daily organ concert is fun, and a stop on the Olga community dock is pleasant also. There used to be a large art gallery and small restaurant at Olga but it was damaged by arson and I don't know if it has been reopened.

Moonfish 06-27-2015 08:40 PM

Here are a couple of videos to whet your appetite.

Our favorite state park in the San Juans is Patos Island: Patos Island State Park

And nearby Sucia Island has 6 different places to enjoy:

refugio 06-27-2015 11:23 PM

1 Attachment(s)
My wife prefers Roche Harbor, but our dog hates the canon during evening colors.

Deer Harbor has a wonderful restaurant within walking distance - here's our table on Labor Day evening a couple of years ago.
Attachment 41485

GFC 06-28-2015 12:43 AM

Great information all. Thanks. We've visited several of the places already mention in one of our three trips to the SJ's. Sucia ranks among our top destinations, but this time when we go we'll have a dinghy along so we'll be able to explore ashore at more spots.

We don't know which summer this trip will be made. That depends on my MIL who now is 99 1/2 years old and going strong. While she's still around we won't make the trip because we don't want to be away from her for any long periods. We're very patient because we love having her around and we're looking forward to 100, 101, 102.....

Bob Cofer 06-28-2015 10:21 AM

Great list! I would also add Matia, Yellow and Jones Islands to the list along with a stop in Bellingham for proper beer provisioning and a hearty hello from the local forum members.

GFC 07-02-2015 02:13 PM

Sorry I have not been back here for a few days. I've been making a list from the postings and have researched them on Google Earth. I can see our trip is going to be just a tad bit longer than we had originally planned and will include more destinations than we had planned. The downside to that? There ain't one!


Originally Posted by bob cofer
along with a stop in Bellingham for proper beer provisioning and a hearty hello from the local forum members.

Bob, I think we would be missing one of the high points in our entire cruise if we did not do that!

At this point it looks like we'll be gone from home around 124 days and will have traveled just about 2500 miles round trip. That's according to Google Earth. I suspect by the time the trip is done the total miles traveled will be at least a hundred miles or more than what's planned.

That pales in comparison to what many of you have done, but for us it's going to be the longest cruise (time and mileage) yet.

GFC 07-02-2015 04:42 PM


Originally Posted by caltexflanc (Post 344011)
What do you like to visit ? Marinas, docks and towns or moorings anchorages and undeveloped islands to hike and explore ?


I didn't mean to ignore your post, but I got busy researching the places people listed.

To answer your question, we like to do it all. Our last trip to the SJ's was about 2 weeks. Of that we spent 2 nights at Friday Harbor, one at Roche, Two at Rosario and two at Victoria. The rest were spent anchored out.

I'm not much on hiking--my knees are a mess and I can't do a lot of that. I do like beach combing (hence the name of the boat), we do like checking out towns, and we do like the solitude of finding a quiet anchorage.

We're pretty much open to most anything and that is part of what makes cruising fun for us.

ktdtx 07-02-2015 09:15 PM


At this point it looks like we'll be gone from home around 124 days
Might I suggest 125 days or...............126 days or.......

GFC 07-03-2015 04:51 PM

Yes you may! I keep trying to find more places to stop to stretch out the trip, so suggest away!

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