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Old 04-06-2017, 12:10 AM   #1
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Strait up the Strait?

As many PNW boaters know, the typical route up north is through the Gulf Islands and across the Strait of Georgia from Nanaimo (what we usually do) or one of the passes to the South.

Last year, coming back from Vancouver, we intended to cross and go through Porlier or Active Pass, but wound up coming right down the Strait on the "outside" of the Gulf Islands. It wound up being a beautiful and admittedly flat calm day... and got me thinking.

We are keeping the boat in Anacortes this summer after years in Seattle, and are looking forward to saving some time on the trip up to
Desolation Sound. Wondering if anyone has experience, good or bad, running directly up the Strait of Georgia rather than going via the Gulf Islands. We'd be departing in August and would make an early start to get well under way before the afternoon winds kick up.

Thoughts?

Thanks in advance.
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Old 04-06-2017, 12:38 AM   #2
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Like you already said, it all depends on the weather. Going inside does not take terribly longer, especially if you have to clear customs in Bedwell anyway. I've had flat days and other times nearly a week waiting for a window sitting in Nanaimo and ultimately still got to pick and choose waves for hours just to get across trying to figure out how to take a pee break.

Wait until the time arrives, consult the weather and find out what nature granted you.

My best summer ever I decided to not go to Alaska, not go further than Nanaimo and took 3 months between Anacortes and Nanaimo, put on over 900 miles going nowhere in particular with no schedule or expectations whatsoever. Best summer ever. Loved the slow slow pace and enjoyment went up exponentially. I like to maintain schedules too, but don't forget that there is another world of just enjoying life as it comes.
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Old 04-06-2017, 02:26 AM   #3
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I head north from Port Angeles as my last US fuel stop and almost always go Haro Strait to Active Pass and the on the outside because it's shorter. I plan my trips around the currents before I leave and where they're not favorable, I plan a quiet place to anchor. I've never gone inside to Nanaimo, so have no comparison. Close planning to the tides saves me a lot of time and fuel. When the weather is bad, I stay on the hook for an extra day or so. I don't mind going with the weather if the autopilot can handle it. But I'm never in a hurry to get anywhere.
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Old 04-06-2017, 05:18 AM   #4
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I have always gone outside the gulf islands unless we have a specific destination in there somewhere. Obviously the weather has an influence too.
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Old 04-06-2017, 07:09 AM   #5
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Heading south last fall we came Lund, Secret Cove, Blaine thru the Rosario Strait into Anacortes. Was a nice trip.
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Old 04-06-2017, 07:25 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ghost View Post
Like you already said, it all depends on the weather. Going inside does not take terribly longer, especially if you have to clear customs in Bedwell anyway. I've had flat days and other times nearly a week waiting for a window sitting in Nanaimo and ultimately still got to pick and choose waves for hours just to get across trying to figure out how to take a pee break.

Wait until the time arrives, consult the weather and find out what nature granted you.

My best summer ever I decided to not go to Alaska, not go further than Nanaimo and took 3 months between Anacortes and Nanaimo, put on over 900 miles going nowhere in particular with no schedule or expectations whatsoever. Best summer ever. Loved the slow slow pace and enjoyment went up exponentially. I like to maintain schedules too, but don't forget that there is another world of just enjoying life as it comes.
Good Points, ghost. We have NEXUS cards, so have some flexibility on where to clear customs. But I had a look and realized that there is not an entry point at Garden Bay, which would be our preferred initial stop. Interestingly, there is one at Cabbage Island... very convenient for this route.

The easy day we had on the Strait last summer was after waiting out the weather in Vancouver for 4 days longer than planned. We do have some schedule constraints, but comfort and happy crew always take precedence. I am just looking for a way to get to the warm waters of Desolation as quickly as reasonable.
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Old 04-06-2017, 07:49 AM   #7
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On a less than 20 knot winds and long summer daylight day. catching the tides correctly will allow an easy 100 nm day for your vessel. Say Roche Harbor or Sidney BC to Comox (anchor in Henry Bay) or even Campbell River if you leave at 5 AM at the last hour of ebb.

This timing allows you to do Campbell River to Port McNeil or Blunden Harbour the next day if you catch the flood to ebb right in early AM at Seymour Narrows.
.
Catching the last hour of ebb at Roche Harbor gives you a push or neutral for 12 ro 14 hours. If you have the BC Tides and Currents Tables ( essential IMHO) you can pick your days pretty well. Nexus for all onboard allows phone in clearance.

Been doing it this way for over 5 decades now.
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Old 04-06-2017, 09:27 AM   #8
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How would you like to go to SE Alaska outside? Would make for a very boring trip. But no matter how you go there's a lot of Georgia Strait that will need to be run whether you like it or not.

We ran up the east side of the strait once but have gone up the west since.

However in the summer there's a lot of fetch in the strait and most boats will be out in it at some point. I noticed everybody commenting so far have 50' boats (approx) and the waves from the summer afternoon breezes effect those boats far less.

So it's just a matter of what you like and how comfortable it would be. Also how enjoyable it would be and if speed is a factor. Many skippers Alaska bound think of the whole Canadian coast as just something to traverse in order to get to Alaska. I've seen most all of it and think a good case could be made for not even going to Alaska unless one has lots of time and throughly enjoys spending months on their boat. It's a long way up and back.

But straight up the strait is fine if that's what you like.
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Old 04-06-2017, 09:36 AM   #9
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However in the summer there's a lot of fetch in the strait and most boats will be out in it at some point. I noticed everybody commenting so far have 50' boats (approx) and the waves from the summer afternoon breezes effect those boats far less.

Good point about size. What may be comfortable for a 50' Nordhaven may be rather unpleasant for my 40-something SD hull.

I don't have the experience that most of you do, but I think I would plan on going up the Gulf Islands but jump outside if the weather looks good. I don't know that it is that much further inside is it?
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Old 04-06-2017, 09:50 AM   #10
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We usually go up through the Gulf Islands, go through Gabriola pass and then enter Georgia Strait near Silva Bay. If area WG is active for military exercises, it's 20 miles to Welcome Pass on the east side of WG, and 10 more to Pender Harbor. Miners Bay inside Active Pass has a Nexus reporting station on your way up. We have gone straight up Georgia Strait on occasion but going up through the Gulf Islands certainly more scenic.
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Old 04-06-2017, 10:16 AM   #11
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Good point about size. What may be comfortable for a 50' Nordhaven may be rather unpleasant for my 40-something SD hull.

I don't have the experience that most of you do, but I think I would plan on going up the Gulf Islands but jump outside if the weather looks good. I don't know that it is that much further inside is it?
You are right, it is not that much further. If one departs Sidney at dawn you can catch the flood to ebb an hour or so early at Dodd Narrows and be in Comox area 7 hours later. When departing Sidney keep Saltspring Is to your starboard and you will not see any waves of concern until past Nanaimo. WG will be to the east and of no concern.

So many options., and as Eric points out so much to see if you break the trip up.
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Old 04-08-2017, 06:27 AM   #12
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The reason I originally asked the question is that it is indeed a bit further coming from the east side - Anacortes in my case. Over the past couple of seasons we've enjoyed the San Juans, the Gulf Islands, and last year, Vancouver and the Sunshine Coast from our home base in Seattle. Repositioning north to Anacortes extends our range for our too short (2 week) vacation window. I'm just looking for options and experiences in getting up there, which I got from this thread. Thanks to all who contributed.
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Old 04-09-2017, 04:26 PM   #13
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The reason I originally asked the question is that it is indeed a bit further coming from the east side - Anacortes in my case. Over the past couple of seasons we've enjoyed the San Juans, the Gulf Islands, and last year, Vancouver and the Sunshine Coast from our home base in Seattle. Repositioning north to Anacortes extends our range for our too short (2 week) vacation window. I'm just looking for options and experiences in getting up there, which I got from this thread. Thanks to all who contributed.
I have considered propositioning our boat in Anacortes a week or two before our trip to Desolation. If we could take the boat to Anacortes before, then leave it there on the way back, it would gain us maybe 4 days. It would mean two weekend trips to re-position the boat, but I see that as just another good excuse to get out on the water.
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