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Old 04-08-2015, 06:00 PM   #1
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Review my Charter Plans?

Forum,
I've spent the past couple of years chartering and receiving professional training (in addition to regular cruising) to strengthen my knowledge and experience. In the process we've inspired a couple of friends, and they have gotten some training and have gotten a taste of cruising the San Juans as well. It is now time to take things to the next level twin engines and a bigger boat. At the beginning of June we (and our friends) will be taking two more days of professional training focused on twin engine boat handling and general cruising skills. At the conclusion we will take over a charter of a 39 Californian cruiser for an additional 8 days.

This trip is definitely more of a learning opportunity than a vacation for us. We want to maximize our exposure to various conditions, skills, challenges, and rewards. As such we are planning a fairly ambitious schedule with the understanding that conditions may cause us to change or scale back our plans. With that in mind, I thought Id run our itinerary past the group for feedback / advice.

Since we have training first, we start our trip in Friday Harbor (eventually returning to Anacortes). Here are our 8 days:
  • Friday Harbor to Nanaimo
  • Nanaimo to Pender Harbor
  • Jervis Inlet, Princess Louisa Inlet (2 days)
  • Princess Louisa to Secret Cove
  • Secret Cove to Ganges
  • Ganges to Roche Harbor
  • Roche Harbor to Anacortes
The boat has an 18 knot cruise, so while we dont intend to do that often, we should be able to cover distance if required. Id love to hear from anyone that has any feedback or suggestions for the trip in general. Of course if you have suggestions for things to see / do / eat along this route, Id love to hear those too!
Thanks,
BD
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Old 04-08-2015, 06:12 PM   #2
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Are you taking Harmony out for your cruise? I did that many, many moons ago! You should have a lot of fun. I think I cruised her mostly at about 8 knots and only throttled up to avoid traffic.

Weather and tides always plays a big role in when and where you can go and may restrict when you can cross the Staights of Georgia.
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Old 04-08-2015, 06:19 PM   #3
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We inquired about Harmony but could not get dates to align with our schedule. We are chartering "Pane e Vino" through Anacortes Yacht Charters.

Definitely the Straits are our biggest concern. We are very concerned about our safety, and aware of our relative lack of experience, especially in these waters. I'm not exactly sure yet how we will judge what is "safe".
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Old 04-08-2015, 07:13 PM   #4
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Personally, I wouldn't bother with Princess Louisa. It's a beautiful spot, no question although it's no great shakes compared to what's farther north in BC and SE Alaska. I' ve been in there lots of times in the floatplane. But it's a long slog up a pretty boring inlet to get there. Even in the Beaver at 110 mph, it seems to take forever.

The place is always crowded in the summer and it can be a real problem getting a place to moor up.

If it was me, I'd spend the two days exploring the Sunshine Coast if you want to go over there. Places like Smugglers Cove, for example (which is more remote than Secret Cove up the coast), and Bucaneer Bay and so on.

The potential problem with including both the Vancouver Island side and mainland side is the need to cross Georgia Strait twice. This is no big deal at all under normal circumstances but the weather can kick up out there and if it's too rough to go over, or worse, come back, it can play havoc with a tight schedule.

Which is why when we take a longer cruise (or take a longer trip in the plane) we allow twice the time we've scheduled for just these kinds of delays.

There are lots of cool places to go in the Gulf Islands if you've never spent any time there, and unless there is a downright nasty storm, the cruising is always pretty protected in them.

With only eight days we would not even bother crossing the Strait to the mainland side but spend the time in the Gulf Islands. If we were bound and determined to cross the Strait then we'd run all the way up to the bottom end of Desolation Sound to places like Grace Harbor and Prideaux Haven. Particularly with a faster boat like the one you'll have.

I know lots of people think Princess Louisa is just the most fabulous place on the planet, but we don't really see the magic in it, and given the amount of time it takes to get there we don't think it's worth it. Perhaps the slog in and out would be more tolerable at 18 knots. Of course we've been there a bunch of times, so perhaps the appeal is different to someone who's never been there at all.

Some of the places we like in the Gulf Islands are Genoa Bay, Maple Bay, Cowichan Bay, Telegraph Harbor, Nanaimo (City Harbor), Silva Bay, Wallace Island, Winter Cove, Montague, Ganges, Sidney Spit, Prevost Island (Genthorne Passage, James Bay, Selby Cove, Annette Inlet), Port Browning, and Cabbage Cove.
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Old 04-08-2015, 07:51 PM   #5
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One additional comment on the Strait of Georgia.... When it's nice it's like crossing a lake. When it's being kicked up by winds, it becomes an endless journey. Because when you cross over, you are going beam-on or at best quartering into the waves. Our boat can take a lot more than we can, but it's simply not enjoyable being out there when the Strait's in a bad mood.

One thing we learned years ago that if one can cross early in the morning, the chances of a smooth or at least smooth-ish crossing are much greater than crossing later in the day when the winds come up.

We always cross over to the mainland side starting at Silva Bay on Gabriola Island. Our course from Silva Bay to Merry Island puts us south of the Whiskey Golf torpedo test range. While that range isn't as active today as it used to be, using Silva Bay as the jump-off and return spot eliminates the need to screw up one's schedule or plans due to Whiskey Golf being active.

Also, Silva Bay is a real nice place to visit in and of itself.

Photo is us heading south on Georgia Strait when she was in a good mood. In this case, we crossed over to the Vancouver Island side up north from Rebecca Spit on Quadra Island. We then ran down to Comox, and then two days later continued down to Nanaimo. The line of moutains on the horizon is the Coast Range over on the mainland.
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Old 04-08-2015, 08:09 PM   #6
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Don't know about your itinerary, but I have loved the boat for years! Never cruised or stepped foot on her, but it looks like she's got everything I'd want in my next boat.

Charter detail for Harmony

To me, she looks like a Navigator mini me. Great lines, sedan style with a turn of speed and all the amenities. No mistaking the fact that she's a Jule Marshall offspring. I'd love to hear from folks who have chartered this boat. What's your impression?
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Old 04-08-2015, 08:25 PM   #7
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If you are interested in books, there is a place in Friday Harbor called the Serendipity Used Book store. Even if you aren't interested in buying a book, the man who runs the store is very knowledgeable. The building is an old house filled to the ceilings with books. The selection is great and the books are quite cheap.

https://plus.google.com/101639034983...16/about?hl=en
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Old 04-08-2015, 08:32 PM   #8
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BD-

Pretty aggressive plans for a week, doable but tight. As noted by others, if the weather is nice great, but if not, be prepared to modify your plans.
AYC is great to work with...we have several times and enjoyed it each time.

Have fun too...

John
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Old 04-08-2015, 08:48 PM   #9
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That's really a go-go schedule with not much time to take in the sights and/or relax, especially with PLI in there.

Personally PLI is worth it to me if I can stay 3 nights. And, I like the run up Jervis Inlet. It's pretty scenic (Marin, as you suggested, it does sound as though you've been there a few too many times). But I wouldn't even think about it on an 8 day cruise from Friday Harbor or Anacortes.
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Old 04-08-2015, 10:52 PM   #10
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Wow, that is a lot of travel for 8,days. Yes, very doable, but I would encourage a slower pace with more time to explore. We love PLI but crossing the Strait is definitely weather dependent and no fun when the winds kick up. There are some many great places to muck about in the Gulf Islands, Marin covered quite a few, then there is the San Juan's to relax in and explore. Our mode of travel use to be motor one day stay one day, that has since changed to motor one stay two or three. Much nicer pace and we get more down time to unwind.

Whatever you end up doing, you are cruising in great country. We are headed to the Broughtons for 6 weeks this summer.
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Old 04-08-2015, 10:52 PM   #11
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. I like the run up Jervis Inlet. It's pretty scenic (Marin, as you suggested, it does sound as though you've been there a few too many times). But I wouldn't even think about it on an 8 day cruise from Friday Harbor or Anacortes.
Oh, don't get me wrong. It's a beautiful place. And if our fast boat was in the PNW the run up Jervis would be no big deal. But it's not a particularly interesting run from the point of view of the scenery. The inlets farther north (Knight, etc) are far prettier.

It's a long ways to go to look at a waterfall and some big cliffs. And listen to all the yammering of the other people crowding the dock.

I know folks who've gone there over Christmas. They had the whole place to themselves, it snowed while they were there, and they were able to stay for the better part of a week. Now that would be cool and worth the drive.

But to me, Desolation Sound, the Broughtons, etc. and points north are much more worthy of the effort to get to.

In my view, if someone who's never been to Princess Louisa and really, really wanted to go there, my recommendation would be to hire a plane. Fly in , hang out, have a picnic, climb to the top of the falls, take a bunch of pictures, and at the end of the day, go home. Plus you get the added bonus of a very cool view of the place and the surrounding mountains than the folks down on the water.

But regardless of all that, trying to do Princess Louisa from a charter base in Anacortes in eight days is a risky schedule, particularly if there are other destinations in the islands one wants to visit on the same trip. Plus it's probably really more like seven days since the charter outfits generally want their boat back by mid-day or so on the last day. So you have to be within easy range of the base at the end of the second-to-last day.
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Old 04-09-2015, 12:10 AM   #12
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And listen to all the yammering of the other people crowding the dock.
Ha Ha! That's funny and true! That's why I've always anchored out away from the crowds.
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Old 04-09-2015, 12:52 AM   #13
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Old 04-09-2015, 03:03 AM   #14
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At that speed you'll spend all your time staring at the water to dodge rocks and logs. 8 days is perfect for a San Juan/Gulf Islands explore. Besides, the weather isn't always nice so you could get stuck. Even in good weather, the Qualicum winds on the Island side can be snarly. Sidney Spit, Winter Cove, Princess Cove...lots and lots more. Don't go past Nanaimo.
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Old 04-09-2015, 11:27 AM   #15
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The potential problem with including both the Vancouver Island side and mainland side is the need to cross Georgia Strait twice. This is no big deal at all under normal circumstances but the weather can kick up out there and if it's too rough to go over, or worse, come back, it can play havoc with a tight schedule.
Thanks for all of the valuable feedback Marin. As usual, it's thoughtful and informed.

This is one of the things that we struggled with in our planning. Again, this is really more of a "course" than a vacation, so we want to gain as much experience as we can. Crossing big open water is definitely one of those experiences. That said, doing that comes with a series of consequences that are hard to work around - like needing to come back too.

I appreciate the alternative suggestions. I'll definitely review them with the group. We're all aware that we need plans B, C, and D so this will help us work through those.

Thanks.
BD
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Old 04-09-2015, 11:31 AM   #16
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One thing we learned years ago that if one can cross early in the morning, the chances of a smooth or at least smooth-ish crossing are much greater than crossing later in the day when the winds come up.

We always cross over to the mainland side starting at Silva Bay on Gabriola Island. Our course from Silva Bay to Merry Island puts us south of the Whiskey Golf torpedo test range. While that range isn't as active today as it used to be, using Silva Bay as the jump-off and return spot eliminates the need to screw up one's schedule or plans due to Whiskey Golf being active.
Great advice, very helpful. The whole concept of a torpedo testing range has been an interesting topic of conversation for us. Something we clearly want to avoid!

I really have been hoping to get the chance to cross, but it just might not be in the cards.
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Old 04-09-2015, 12:06 PM   #17
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In a Westerly and with tides, Juan De Fuca Straight, when you come out of Puget Sound and cross over to the Gulf Islands can be quite challenging too. You also did not mention Customs clearance. Factor that in too, I doubt if it's legal to make your first landfall in Nanaimo.
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Old 04-09-2015, 12:38 PM   #18
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It is legal to make your first landfall in Nanaimo...just as long as it is indeed your first landfall. No anchoring, mooring, docking, etc. in Canada until you clear customs, and you can clear customs in Nanaimo.
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Old 04-09-2015, 01:35 PM   #19
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We had a relatively snow free winter. Princess Louisa will be just trickle by June of this year. If that is a factor for you.
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Old 04-09-2015, 02:38 PM   #20
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It's a long ways to go to look at a waterfall and some big cliffs. And listen to all the yammering of the other people crowding the dock.
Interesting that you mention that. The culture and the experience of sharing the dock vs anchoring out alone is one of the aspects that we hope to learn about this trip. To some people the yammering is one of the draws of cruising - they love to chat and meet people. I'm not sure that I'm one of those people, but we hope to learn more about that particular experience. But it certainly doesn't need to be in that location ...
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