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Old 04-02-2014, 01:57 PM   #1
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Reco's for the Gulf Islands, BC

Coming up in May is my second charter out of Anacortes, WA. The first trip last Sept was restricted to the San Juan's. Absolutely gorgeous! This next trip we plan on venturing into Canadian waters. Our first stop will be Victoria. I am a little nervous about the customs process, (never been through the process in a chartered boat), and which dock to go to first. I have Google'd the area and there is not real straight forward info on where to go to clear customs and which marina is the best to stay in. I think we want to stay in a marina near the Empress Hotel. Any info is appreciated. And while I am at it, I think our next stop will be north to Sidney and then Ganges. Any suggestions on marinas in these places or maybe recommendations for other locations that are nice are welcome? We are more marina people vs anchoring out. All of my cruise planning for this trip has been done via internet searches and not from personal recommendations. Thanks!
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Old 04-02-2014, 02:41 PM   #2
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The Gulf Islands are great for cruising and the spots you mention on Vancouver Island are nice. Be mindful of wind/tide/current in Haro Straite if you go that way.
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Old 04-02-2014, 02:51 PM   #3
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I am a little nervous about the customs process, (never been through the process in a chartered boat), and which dock to go to first. Thanks!

Canadian Customs/Immigration is super easy on a chartered boat. We typically clear customs in Bedwell Harbor (South Pender Island) or Sidney and it's just a phone call from the Customs Dock. Getting back into the US is more of a hassle, but just takes a little patience.

If you make it up to Montague Habor (Galiano Island), be sure to catch the bus and go to the Hummingbird Pub. It's a hoot!

Have a great time,
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Old 04-02-2014, 03:09 PM   #4
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Go to the Customs dock first! Do not pass go, do not collect $200.00 ! In Victoria it's right next to the Wharf Street Marina on the south side.

The closest marina (and I mean close, across the street) to the Empress Hotel is the Causeway Marina. In May, you can probably get in without a reservation. However, if you want to be assured you get that marina, you'll need to make a reservation. It is non refundable and I think it cost $25.00. Otherwise, they'll just assign you to a marina, and who knows which one.

More information - Greater Victoria Harbour Authority

Sidney - Port Sidney Marina, we like it best. Close to town and a customs dock

Ganges - Ganges Marina, centrally located. Great Town!
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Old 04-02-2014, 04:06 PM   #5
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Nsail has it. Although you will want to check before you head to Vic, there is a brand new customs dock located next to the Coast Hotel. I have heard lots of rumours about its opening date so you may want to confirm.
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Old 04-02-2014, 04:34 PM   #6
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Jukesy,

Thanks for that! I'm going in a few weeks and probably would have just cruised to the old one!

The new one appears to be open now -

http://gvha.v3.ca/uploaded/harbour%2...018%202014.pdf

Active Captain hasn't even updated this info yet! WTH is going over there at AC? Ha Ha!
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Old 04-02-2014, 04:44 PM   #7
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Johnny

You have had some great advice already. A couple of new things that might not be readily identified in your research. There is a new customs dock in Victoria Harbor. It is in the same place but is much longer which should make checking-in much easier. As said below, you must go to customs first. Also keep in mind that Canadian authorities have very little tolerance for fire arms. They will let you register a long gun but will most likely make you give up any hand guns. Last year, we saw some folks face down on the dock and a large and expensive cruiser being towed away. The reason was that the owners of the boat did not declare their firearms that were later found on inspection. Outside of this, you will find the Canadian authorities very kind and helpful.

Victoria is a great city. There is so much to do in town. If you want to try an English Tea, you might consider the James Bay Tea Room instead of the Empress. The James Bay Tea Room is where the locals go (We used to live in Victoria). You do need to check with the Harbor Authority for space in the marina. There is so much going on in the inner harbor that the marina can be full at what might otherwise be odd times.

There are a few places not to miss in the Gulf Islands, they include Port of Sidney, Ganges Harbor (Salt Spring Island), Montague Harbor (You will have to anchor but the trip to the pub is worth it), Chemanus (The murals in town), Thetis Island and Pirates Cove. There are many others but this is a great start.

Although Victoria is a great city and I love going there, if I were planning a trip in to the Gulf Islands, I might consider giving it a pass. It really takes at least two days out of the trip, one to get down there and a second to get back to the actual Gulf Islands. If this were me, I would spend my first night in Roche Harbor and then go to either Sidney or Bedwell (might not be open in May) to enter Canada. If I really wanted to spend time in Victoria, I would rent a car and drive down for the day, leaving the boat in Sidney. I would then go in Brentwood Bay or Ganges next. If Brentwood Bay, my next stop might be Maple Bay or possibly Cowichan Bay. For the next stop, I would head for Chemanius (for the murals) and then Thetis Island. If you have lots of time go up through Dodds Narrows to Nanaimo. My next stop would be Pirates Cove or Montague Harbor. Finally, I would stop at Ganges. I would try to time my stop at Ganges to coinside with the farmers market. After Ganges, I would head back to Roche or Friday Harbor to clear back into the US. All of these stops are excellent for a several day visit. This trip could be done in a week but 10 to 14 days would be better. I took into account your comment that you prefer docks, so limited places where you would need to anchor. That said some of the best stops in the Gulf Islands are anchorages.

Good luck and have fun!

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Old 04-02-2014, 04:56 PM   #8
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Good advice so far. Are you comfortable picking up moorings? A really fun day is to go down Saanich Inlet to the moorings right behind Buchart Gardens. This is a fun way to see the Gardens, a must stop IMO. Then you can go around the corner to beautiful Tod Inlet Marine Park for the night. We are mostly mooring and anchoring folks, but we did enjoy the nights we spent at the Port Sydney marina. Charming village nearby. We would stay there, leave first thing and day dock in Victoria, then on our way back to check back in at Friday Harbor. The advice to check into Canada a the nearest point is good, you then have lots of flexibility on where you want to go. We went out of Bellingham, so Pender was always the easiest and quickest on the way.

You almost can't go wrong in the Gulf Islands. In addition to what you may learn here, consult with the charter company, they can lay out an itinerary that maximizes the time you have depending on your vessel's capabilities.
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Old 04-02-2014, 05:02 PM   #9
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Shawn,

You state that the new customs dock is longer, but still at the same location. According to Jukesy and the link I posted above, it has moved. Do you know something that we don't?
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Old 04-02-2014, 05:05 PM   #10
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I am a little embarrassed to say, I have never picked up a mooring buoy... Watched someone do it from a distance and doesn't look too difficult. Maybe I will ask the charter company for some instruction during the checkout ride. I chartered a NT37 last trip and have a NT42 reserved for this trip, both out of Anacortes Yacht Charters. They are a very nice outfit.
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Old 04-02-2014, 05:18 PM   #11
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Shawn,

You state that the new customs dock is longer, but still at the same location. According to Jukesy and the link I posted above, it has moved. Do you know something that we don't?
Come to think of it, I think it has moved. Sorry for the incorrect information. It is now closer to the entrance of the harbor. I understand that it is very well marked. It should be in a much better location than it was in the inner harbor.

Shawn
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Old 04-02-2014, 05:21 PM   #12
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I am a little embarrassed to say, I have never picked up a mooring buoy... Watched someone do it from a distance and doesn't look too difficult. Maybe I will ask the charter company for some instruction during the checkout ride. I chartered a NT37 last trip and have a NT42 reserved for this trip, both out of Anacortes Yacht Charters. They are a very nice outfit.
The NT42 should be a great boat for your trip. We had an AT435, and found it was easier to run a long line from the bow of the boat to the stern. We would then saddle up to the mooring and pick it up off the stern of the boat. The Captain then reverses the boat and we would walk the line back to the bow and tie it off. Should work about the same with a NT24.

Have fun.

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Old 04-02-2014, 06:19 PM   #13
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Gents. The new customs dock has moved as I stated and may even be open. I cruised past it last weekend while joy riding and not a soul insight. It's much nicer than the old one for sure. It's on the starboard side just as you pass fishermans wharf. Right in front of the coast hotel.
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Old 04-02-2014, 06:52 PM   #14
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We have our boat in the Anacortes Marina, same location as AYC. Our typical trip begins going to Pender to clear customs and then heading north to Montague as others recommend and the Pub is a must do! We like Cowichan Bay a lot and Maple bay has a nice shuttle into Duncan for the Totem Pole walk through the city. Nanaimo is a nice Marina with great ocean from park trails. We tend to like anchoring more and funkier marinas, but the ones mentioned are nice stops. We are currently out cruising the San Juan's and relaxing inFriday Harbor at the moment.
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Old 04-02-2014, 11:01 PM   #15
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Indeed if you can make it to Montague, the hummingbird pub and the bus are an absolute must!
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Old 04-03-2014, 12:46 AM   #16
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What are thoughts on the minimum time you would want to go from Anacortes to Desolation Sound and the same question for Princess Louisa?

We're doing a 10 day charter in September and are just starting to kick around some ideas.

Thanks!
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Old 04-03-2014, 01:35 AM   #17
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Victoria-clear customs and stay in front of the Empress.
Port of Sidney Marina-our home town.
Tod Inlet-enjoy Buchtart Gardens.
Genoa Bay-great little restaurant & crabbing.
Maple Bay-Birds Eye Marina/Shipyard restaurant, say Hi to Carol.
Chemanius-take in the theatre and murals.
Nanaimo-great seawall walk.
Montague Harbour-good hike and a trip to the Hummingbird restaurant via the bus.
Port Browning Marina-more food and hiking.
Bedwell Harbour-spa day for the ladies onboard.
Friday Harbor-clear customs back in the USA.

Well at one location a day thats 11 days.
Have a great trip in our backyard!
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Old 04-03-2014, 11:34 AM   #18
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NWCRUISING.NET Nautical Miles in the Pacific Northwest is a great tool for planning distances and times.

If you have time on either side of the charter you might consider taking the boat to the places like Montague, Wallace Island, and other places mentioned here, and do Victoria by car and ferry. You can ferry and drive to Victoria but you can only boat to Wallace Island or Pirate's Cove.

You can take a high-speed ferry from Seattle, the Black Ball ferry from Port Angeles, or a Washington State ferry which goes to Sidney.

You don't really have bad choices, just more good choices than you will have time for.
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Old 04-03-2014, 10:08 PM   #19
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The best cruising guide for the Northwest and BC is the Waggoner Cruising Guide. If you don't have one go to Amazon tonight and get one ordered. This guide is undated every year so it is very current. It also has good information on clearing customs, what you can and can't take with you.Take it back home when your done and you can plan next years trip. Have fun.
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Old 04-03-2014, 10:18 PM   #20
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The best cruising guide for the Northwest and BC is the Waggoner Cruising Guide. If you don't have one go to Amazon tonight and get one ordered. This guide is undated every year so it is very current. It also has good information on clearing customs, what you can and can't take with you.Take it back home when your done and you can plan next years trip. Have fun.
Why not the free download............
Download the 2014 Waggoner Cruising Guide | Waggoner Cruising Guide
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