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Old 04-25-2016, 12:34 AM   #1
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Need advice for first longer cruise.

Hi All,

OK, I have a power boat now. Now I am planning on taking a couple weeks and heading North. I need advice.

First, the boat is a NP43 and I find I like to cruise at 7 knots although I can push it comfortable to 10 kt if I don't mind spending the money. We are in Gig Harbor, near Tacoma. Looking to take 14-16 days.

My experience as an adult have been 1 week trips to the San Juans in a sailboat. We were a couple kts slower than we are now. I did bring my folks Catalina 36 home from Ladysmith back in 2006 but that was a quick trip.

Time: I could go at the end of June, or I could go end of July through August. What would be the best time? Weather is usually better later, but I imagine it would be much more crowded later in the season. Pros and cons?

Destination: My wife and I were going to take our sailboat last summer and try to make to Desolation Sound. Unfortunately, she broke her wrist at the end of June and the Doc said no sailing. We are still interested in getting there but I am wondering if that is a bit overly aggressive given the amount of time that I think I can spare (work is such an inconvenience). If the weather cooperated, I could pretty easily make it to Bedwell for customs in two days. They would be long days, but we have found that we have enjoyed long days cruising in this boat. So from there, what suggestions would you have for a newbie?
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Old 04-25-2016, 03:14 AM   #2
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Don't have a set time schedule. Stop and enjoy the places and sites on the way. We find the best time is May June before school is out and September October when school starts. July and August are just TOO.
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Old 04-25-2016, 08:36 AM   #3
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Go anytime, Desolation Sound is hardly far North. But, summer crowds will be heavy there. So get to your anchorage early in the day. Why stop at Desolation, go further and avoid the crowds. You now have a power boat.
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Old 04-25-2016, 10:46 AM   #4
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Dave,

I have friends who go to Desolation on their 3 week vacation. You won't have a lot of time to smell the roses but it is certainly doable. Running the boat for 8 to 10 hours would certainly make it possible and give you more time in Desolation. August is VERY crowded and will probably be more so this year with the low fuel prices. We'll likely be there in August on our way back from the Broughton's.

By the way, I once made Bedwell in one day from Shilshole by playing the currents in Admiralty and Haro Strait so they are in your favor. This in a 7 knot boat.

And thanks for contributing to my retirement.
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Old 04-25-2016, 11:23 AM   #5
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Don't have a set time schedule. Stop and enjoy the places and sites on the way. We find the best time is May June before school is out and September October when school starts. July and August are just TOO.
Yeah, that is part of the problem. My wife is a teacher and still a couple years out from retirement. We are locked into the academic calendar unfortunately. Once she retires, I think I will take vacation in September after Labor Day.

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Go anytime, Desolation Sound is hardly far North. But, summer crowds will be heavy there. So get to your anchorage early in the day. Why stop at Desolation, go further and avoid the crowds. You now have a power boat.
I have the boat, but not the time (as I have to pay for it by working). current sailboat (need to get it sold) will also cruise at 7 knots so while this new boat is 2 knots faster than the boats that I have cruised the San Juans in, it isn't much faster than my current sailboat. (Just a lot more comfortable).

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I have friends who go to Desolation on their 3 week vacation. You won't have a lot of time to smell the roses but it is certainly doable. Running the boat for 8 to 10 hours would certainly make it possible and give you more time in Desolation. August is VERY crowded and will probably be more so this year with the low fuel prices. We'll likely be there in August on our way back from the Broughton's.

By the way, I once made Bedwell in one day from Shilshole by playing the currents in Admiralty and Haro Strait so they are in your favor. This in a 7 knot boat.
Gig Harbor to Bedwell is close to 100nm or about 14 hours. Possible, but having never been to Bedwell I don't really want to risk trying to find my way to an anchorage or slip in the dark. That also assumes that the Straits are cooperating. So far, I have been fortunate every time I have crossed. Want to do it the first time in this boat in calm weather.

Yeah, I am thinking that earlier may be better. My wife gets done with school at the end of June so the earliest we could leave would be June 24th. That would get us well into Canada before the July 4th weekend.

From Bedwell, where would be another good jump North?

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And thanks for contributing to my retirement.
No problem.
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Old 04-25-2016, 12:17 PM   #6
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Yeah, I am thinking that earlier may be better. My wife gets done with school at the end of June so the earliest we could leave would be June 24th. That would get us well into Canada before the July 4th weekend.
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Keep in mind that July 1st is Canada Day and all the boating locations close to population centers in BC will be very crowded. I always keep that date in mind when cruising in BC.

Concerning Bedwell, I don't think customs is open after hours but could be wrong. There is a call in phone at the head of the dock. If you could get across the straits and up Haro Strait a good stopping place would be Reid Harbor on Stuart Island. Just a short jump to Bedwell from there. That's a long day to be sure.
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Old 04-25-2016, 12:48 PM   #7
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Keep in mind that July 1st is Canada Day and all the boating locations close to population centers in BC will be very crowded. I always keep that date in mind when cruising in BC.
Forgot about Canada Day. Yeah, that would make that a 3 day weekend for our Northern friends.

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Concerning Bedwell, I don't think customs is open after hours but could be wrong. There is a call in phone at the head of the dock. If you could get across the straits and up Haro Strait a good stopping place would be Reid Harbor on Stuart Island. Just a short jump to Bedwell from there. That's a long day to be sure.
I didn't think about the hours they would be open. I would need to get into the Customs dock far enough ahead of their closing. Your suggestion of Stuart Isl. is a good one. It would be a relatively quick trip from from the Prevost Harbor side of Stuart Island State Park to Bedwell.

Just need to figure out where the next stop could be North of Bedwell.
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Old 04-25-2016, 01:38 PM   #8
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A schedule can be one of the most dangerous things to have on a boat. Having to be somewhere on a certain date can cause you to make poor decisions. Decisions like running in poor weather or at night.


If you must be home by a certain date, I suggest planning your trip so you should arrive a few days earlier than that date. That way you will allow for weather or other problems.
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Old 04-25-2016, 05:03 PM   #9
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A schedule can be one of the most dangerous things to have on a boat. Having to be somewhere on a certain date can cause you to make poor decisions. Decisions like running in poor weather or at night.


If you must be home by a certain date, I suggest planning your trip so you should arrive a few days earlier than that date. That way you will allow for weather or other problems.
Excellent advice. I was thinking of planning for 14 days but I would have an extra two days of leeway if weather interfered. 2 days isn't much cushion however.
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Old 04-25-2016, 06:02 PM   #10
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Just need to figure out where the next stop could be North of Bedwell.
Bedwell Harbour to Pender Harbour is right around 70 miles, depending upon which pass you choose.
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Old 04-25-2016, 06:43 PM   #11
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You could always run up to Anacortes and spend the night then jump across to Sidney and clear customs. The inside track from there north is a nice cruise. My vote for the next stop north is Ladysmith and stay at the Maritime Society docks. They are new, clean, free showers, nice little cafe on the dock and a short walk to town. The bakery and butcher shop are worth the trip. On the way back make a stop in Montague Harbor. Fun place and last year we had an Orca pod swim right into the anchorage!
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Old 04-25-2016, 08:01 PM   #12
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Bedwell Harbour to Pender Harbour is right around 70 miles, depending upon which pass you choose.
Another good suggestion. Assuming it doesn't take too long getting through Canadian customs and assuming that weather and current were favorable. I would kind of like to go up through Dodd Narrows as I've never been that way before.

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You could always run up to Anacortes and spend the night then jump across to Sidney and clear customs. The inside track from there north is a nice cruise. My vote for the next stop north is Ladysmith and stay at the Maritime Society docks. They are new, clean, free showers, nice little cafe on the dock and a short walk to town. The bakery and butcher shop are worth the trip. On the way back make a stop in Montague Harbor. Fun place and last year we had an Orca pod swim right into the anchorage!
More great suggestions. However, it is a long trip to Anacortes from Gig Harbor.
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Old 04-25-2016, 08:35 PM   #13
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Dodd Narrows can be a real circus. Currents you can plan for, some of the idiots you encounter, no planning possible. Very busy during summer months.
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Old 04-25-2016, 09:21 PM   #14
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Dodd Narrows can be a real circus. Currents you can plan for, some of the idiots you encounter, no planning possible. Very busy during summer months.
Hm... yeah, that could be a problem. Lots of boats, narrow channel, limited time at slack current.... Active Pass or Pelior (sp) may be better. Assuming the weather is decent in the Strait of Georgia.
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Old 04-25-2016, 11:37 PM   #15
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In 2013 we managed a two week vacation to Desolation in our Camano, traveling at about 8.5 knots the whole trip. We left from south Lake Washington, spent the first night in Kingston, cleared customs in Bedwell and anchored the second night in Montague. The next morning we headed through Gabriola Pass, saw the weather was too rough, and tucked into Silva Bay. Four hours later the weather had subsided and we ran across to Secret Cove. The next day we were in Desolation Sound at Grace Harbor. Total running time was 28 hours. We spent 8 days exploring before heading back. It's possible to do in two weeks, but you have to be ready run 8 to 10 hours a day getting there and back.
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Old 04-26-2016, 12:38 AM   #16
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Hm... yeah, that could be a problem. Lots of boats, narrow channel, limited time at slack current.... Active Pass or Pelior (sp) may be better. Assuming the weather is decent in the Strait of Georgia.
What Bob Cofer said; inside track.

Forget about Desolation as a destination. Lots of places to get you nicely sidetracked without a schedule. Just cast off and work a couple days at a time.

Gig to Port Townsend to Sidney to Ladysmith.
Gabriola Pass to secret Cove or Pender Harbour.

From there, roll the dice.

I'd do Princess Louisa or even Sechelt Inlet before Desolation.

Save Desolation for a stop on the way to or from a northern trip later on.

You have the boat...do June.
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Old 04-26-2016, 02:14 AM   #17
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You guys are providing me with just the ideas I need, thanks. Ladysmith sounds good. Haven't been there since 2006 when I picked up my Dad's boat.
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Old 04-26-2016, 06:59 AM   #18
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We plan to cruise desolation several times but did not make it as we stop at several places along the way. Also we like to cruise and drive 2 to 6 hours per day. Besides there are not many resturants, shopping and marinas in desolation. Anyway there are a lot of places to stop see visit on the way. We tend to be vagabonds.
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Old 04-26-2016, 09:25 AM   #19
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Quote:
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Ladysmith sounds good.
Or Telegraph Harbour, or Silva Bay or Newcastle, or...or...

Forgot to ask;
Overnight preference, hook or dock?
How many days do you "think" you can do without a marina?
What is your tender-power-range?
Dog?

Some more points to think about...July 1, Friday. July 4, Monday.
A perfect storm.

A large contingent of Canadians will be moving out Thursday for sure and cheating it to a 5 day weekend. July 1 is a BIG boating weekend. Probably not as many from the US as later but really busy.

Aug.1, BC Day, same thing but more US folks heading north and south.

Most BC schools run to June 29 this year, so you get a head start.

This is two weeks not a weekend and I'm betting you will tire of continuous 8-10 hour days real quick. As you near the long weekend, you will also need to plan for early, like mid day, arrivals unless you have reservations.

If you must do Desolation; Ladysmith or Kuper Is. gives you the option of Dodd if you want to try it and I would, if timing is right. Jump across to Nelson/Hardy Island on say, the 27th. From there you could provision at Westview, say "Hi" to the Spy and still do Desolation ahead of the crush, or head into Jervis Inlet with the challenge of Telescope Passage.

Hotham, Prince of Wales and Sechelt Inlet will not be as busy as Desolation. Sechelt Inlet affords good tender exploring without the crowds and you get to see the mighty Skookumchuck..

In any event, figure on crowds June 29 to July 4 which will make relocation a headache. Same for Aug.1.

Oh yeah, Genoa Bay if you get the chance.
Sigh, too many choices.
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Old 04-26-2016, 09:41 AM   #20
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Time: I could go at the end of June, or I could go end of July through August.
I just picked up on this. Are you saying you have a month +/- at that time? If so that is when you do a couple of long days, hit Desolation and keep going...and going.
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