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Old 02-23-2020, 08:29 PM   #1
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Transiting to & from Desolation Sound

The stars are starting to align to head to Desolation Sound the first week of April. We are looking to do a 4-5 day charter out of Comox on a CHB 34 or maybe something a bit bigger. As for timing, I go when the school calendar says I can go so I either go the first week of April or not. I am starting to do some planning and I have a concern about weather in the Strait of Georgia with a CHB 34. For example today the winds were in the 15 knot range and waves were about a meter at 5 seconds.

Here are some questions:
-When will things get uncomfortable in a CHB 34, I am assuming 3 foot chop / 1 meter is about the end of the comfort zone either quartering into them or taking them on the stern. On the beam I am guessing 3 footers / 1meter would get you rolling uncomfortably, true? Assuming 3 foot chop is doable does that slow this boat down to 6 knots or less when it would normally run 7 in flatter water?

-Letís say I know itís going to blow 15-20 knots in the afternoon from the south or straight up the strait. If we work our way from Desolation Sound over to say Kuhushan Point on the east side of Vancouver Island is there any material relief to be found by running the beach down to Comox? Looks like the 50 foot line is pretty clear most of the way.

-As for going north it seems like if you can get over to the mainland side of the strait you would get some protection from the various islands on that side. Is that typically true or are there local winds that funnel out of the hills?
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Old 02-23-2020, 11:09 PM   #2
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Can you reset your horizon to the Gulf Islands? You can stay more protected and have more facilities.
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Old 02-23-2020, 11:21 PM   #3
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Cooper boating charters out of Powell River. Don't have to cross the Strait of Georgia if that is your major concern.
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Old 02-23-2020, 11:21 PM   #4
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Can you reset your horizon to the Gulf Islands? You can stay more protected and have more facilities.
Thatís a good call. It might be a few degrees warmer also. Lots of nice cruising grounds without covering a lot of miles and its all protected water.
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Old 02-23-2020, 11:28 PM   #5
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4-5 days in early April out of Comox could be perfectly lovely or downright awful. Completely weather dependant and you don't have a very long time frame to allow a wait for decent weather.


Any weather coming out of the south will generally funnel right up the mainland side between the islands and the mainland. The southerly will follow you right into Lewis Channel in Desolation. The east side of Vancouver Island is completely unprotected. You would check the Grief Point reporting station, Merry Island lightstation, Chrome Island lightstation and Sentry Shoal buoy. Have a look at those now before your trip and see what patterns you might encounter.


You question on comfort totally depends on your comfort level and ability to handle the boat. You would be out there longer if you try to angle across keeping the following seas somewhat behind you or if you go more or less straight across you will be rolling in 3 foot, 5 second water. The Strait can be one nasty piece of water and with your time frame you may push yourself and regret it. On the other hand it could be perfectly benign weather where you could have no problems at all.



The charter company may be able to give you recommended routes, especially in the event the winds come up.



If you are able to enjoy Desolation in April you will have your choice of anchorages and privacy for sure. Good luck with your plans.
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Old 02-24-2020, 12:05 AM   #6
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I have my boat in Comox. From Comox to Powell River at roughly 7 knots is about 2 1/2 hours. Once you are in the Powell River area and up you are in much more protected areas.

April for weather is a bit of a crap shot, maybe spectacular, maybe constant rain, but probably a bit of both. I just did a rough comparison of weather around Vancouver and North and it is colder and rainier than Victoria way. I think you might be better off in the Gulp Islands as well.
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Old 02-24-2020, 12:19 AM   #7
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Iíve chartered twice out of Desolation Sound Charters. In June we had to stand down a day before we could cross. That was in a Gulf Mariner 40í vessel. The boat wasnít rented the next day so we were fine with it. Talk to the charter company and see what kind of flexibility they could offer with weather. Chances are there wonít be a lot of demand that time of year and you will be fine.

The typical route from Comox is to cross the bar and head straight across to Shearwater Passage and then NW along the mainland shore. Passing through Thulin Passage is lovely.

Chartering out of Comox and heading to the Gulf Islands isnít the best use of your time and money. You are better off chartering out of either Nanaimo/Sidney area or out of Vancouver if you are heading to the Gulf Islands.

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Old 02-24-2020, 12:45 AM   #8
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If you are out of Comox the Gulf Islands aren't going to be any easier coming or going. Once you get over to Power River (or more realistically to Lund) its fairly sheltered. Could be nasty getting there or not. If you have a reasonable forecast for the morning, start early - like before dawn - as it often picks up through the day. PredictWind or the like will give some indication. No facilities will be open up in Desolation at that time of year - but it will be relatively uncrowded too.
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Old 02-24-2020, 02:40 AM   #9
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We cruised the Gulf Islands last summer so looking to zero in on new grounds in Desolation Sound and try life aboard a CHB 34. Agree the Gulf Islands would be more of a sure bet and offer much more protection. Last April we did a scouting trip of mid-Vancouver Island with our VW van and had phenomenal weather while we were exploring Quadra Island. See pics. Also got onto Nootka Sound via a supply boat and had good enough weather. Our trip back on the ferry from Nanaimo to Vancouver was definitely that nasty weather spoken of in this thread: rain, 25+ knots of wind and 6 foot chop. I know if it's nasty we either stay in port or stay tucked away somewhere at anchor.

I am trying to figure out a game plan for it's blowing 15 and the chop is up to 3 feet. Sounds like there is a bit more protection on the mainland side but given that boat will probably roll a lot I'd need to quarter it to make things more comfortable to get across. It seems the southbound route would probably need to be Shearwater Passage to Comox for a south wind. For a north wind and coming southbound how is that CHB with 3 footers on the stern quarter? Seems like dead downwind would be better for that boat. This means Shearwater Passage to Comox with a north wind could become an very uncomfortable ride south. I don't know the boat so I am kinda guessing. I am hoping someone has some experience with that hull or similar hull that can chime in.

Northern Spy thanks for the reference about Cooper Charters, very interesting because it would eliminate the need to cross the strait. I'll be given them a call.

NComfort thanks for some stations to follow weather on, very helpful to compare forecast to reality. I've started to watch Windy.com to get a sense for how things play out with different systems as they move through.
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Old 02-24-2020, 12:08 PM   #10
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We cross the Strait regularly. Definitely avoid wind over tide!!! If the wind is above about 15 knots opposing the tidal run, it gets very nasty out there, and as you know, even worse as the wind builds. Short, steep, and confused.

Depending on the "power" available, you may be able to "speed up" a bit to improve the ride with a following and quartering sea (I can in my boat). It can get a bit nasty in Malaspina Strait around and south of Grief Point when it blows hard as well.

If possible to obtain a boat you want from Cooper's in Powell River, that would be your best bet, as then, it is not as likely you will encounter the truly nasty stuff, although as stated, on the bad days, it can get nasty near Grief Point. Avoid Sutill Point (south end of Cortez) when it is blowing as well.
All of the anchorages should be almost empty, and you may be able to dock at some of the marinas, but most facilities (stores, restaurants, etc.) will probably be closed. If you need to provision for food (shouldn't have to if only out a week) there is an IGA grocery store in Herriot Bay (Quadra Island).
If you do charter out of Comox, crossing the Strait comfortably will definitely be weather dependant, and at that time of year is a bit of a gamble.
I can't give you specifics about the CHB 34 as I have never been out on one...
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Old 02-24-2020, 12:27 PM   #11
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Based on our experience with the CHB 34 I would much rather be heading into the weather, therefore taking it on the bow or bow quarter. The boat becomes increasingly hard to handle as seas on the stern get bigger. It is due to a combination of the square stern and not enough power to stay on top of a wave.
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Old 02-24-2020, 12:36 PM   #12
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Well when you cross the bar there at Comox you will find out real quick if it is a go/no go situation.
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Old 02-24-2020, 12:40 PM   #13
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We have found getting fresh water and supplies can be an issue even in late May as noted a couple of posts previous by Tom.

Options are Lund, Herriot bay and Gorge Harbour on Cortes island. Don’t count on Refuge or Squirrel cove. Refuge is unlikely to be open and their taps shut off and Squirrel will likely have limited selection and you may have problems getting water there as well if the tide does not give sufficient depth or, as happened to us, the power is out....

Food you can plan for as noted but the water can be a bigger issue.

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Old 02-24-2020, 01:26 PM   #14
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Oh, you get me, you really really get me.... lol! When people ask what boat to buy I always say a boat is a tool and your experience will be better if the tool matches the job you want it to do.

Beam seas - As you can imagine, hailing from the Comox marina I experienced beam winds and beam seas. This, FOR ME, is why I am a bit anti-flybridge as the center of gravity is higher and the boat rolls more. It means that trawlers with more rounded bottoms are going to be rocky and rolling to the music, if you know what I mean.

Extra speed - I am always asking the person do you really really really want to go slow or would you like some extra oomph if you want to clear an area faster. In beamy seas and wind, I prefer going 11 - 14 knots than 7 knots, it actually soothes out the ride a little bit (excluding the slamming) and gets you through the unpleasant part faster.

Repetition - Again fortunate to have my boat in Comox but even in these wonderful waters the beginning of the journey is repetitive so I like to get over to the Powell River area faster, then slow down and smell the roses. I can go right to Jervis Inlet or further south, or left to Desolation. Or I can putter around between Cortes and Quadra, but again I want to get to the area faster. The extra time I have left over (versus the same trip at 7 knots) I can go further North or South and take in more ground (water).

I was at a chandlery in the Coombs area (Goats on the roof) and was talking to a couple about local cruising. I mentioned I had invited a couple who own a popular retail store in Qualicum out for a day of cruising, we'd go to Lund for lunch, maybe see the Copeland Islands then head home. The guy asked me how I could possibly do that and I asked him if he was a sailor and yes he was. So I said two reasons, one my boat is in Comox and secondly it is a sedan cruiser capable of 30+ knots. I told him for the first half hour I will go 30, then slow down to 14, then slow down to 7 and I can be in Lund in about an hour and a half.

For me, the perfect boats for our area are sedan and express cruisers like Cutwater or Backcove, low profile and speed.
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Old 02-24-2020, 02:22 PM   #15
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One word: Tack! In other words, don’t take on a beam sea if you roll uncomfortably. Alter course to take waved on your stern quarter and bow quarter. It’s a longer ride, but can be much more comfortable.... Of course, your particular boat may cut nicely through a beam sea if you just take it about 15 or 20 degrees off your beam.... your boat will tell you :-)
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Old 02-24-2020, 02:40 PM   #16
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We have found getting fresh water and supplies can be an issue even in late May as noted a couple of posts previous by Tom. -Chris
Water should not be an issue if you're half way careful. Buy a couple of 5 gallon jerry cans for drinking water. Good water at Powell River, Lund, Toba Wilderness, Big Bay and Blind Channel. Just be water wise with showers and dishwashing.

As far as weather crossing the Straits? You've received some spot on advice.

BTW, with a bit of planning you can go from Squirrel Cove to Blind Channel in an easy day.
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Old 02-24-2020, 02:59 PM   #17
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Water should not be an issue if you're half way careful. Buy a couple of 5 gallon jerry cans for drinking water. Good water at Powell River, Lund, Toba Wilderness, Big Bay and Blind Channel. Just be water wise with showers and dishwashing.

As far as weather crossing the Straits? You've received some spot on advice.

BTW, with a bit of planning you can go from Squirrel Cove to Blind Channel in an easy day.
Exactly.

Just be aware and consider the size of your tanks.....fresh water heads can also Be a consideration on your consumption rate....
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Old 02-24-2020, 06:19 PM   #18
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Good advise from guys who live in that area and have local knowledge. You might luck out and not get beat-up coming and going from Comox. But if you charter out of Powell River as suggested, you are pretty protected going north. When you get to Lund, about 10 miles up, you are inside through Desolation Sound and to beyond Blind Channel if you want to go that far.
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Old 02-24-2020, 10:57 PM   #19
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I also have reservations about the CHB34 - thatís a 45 year old boat and a lot has changed - and improved - in the interim. I would want to see a late model diesel furnace ducted into the stateroom(s), an upgraded anchor system, modern electronics - and of course itís still a 7.5 knot boat. I get that the OP wants to try it out but this might be a poor experience all around.
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Old 02-25-2020, 03:07 AM   #20
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Talked to the folks at Cooper charters and they have a CHB that may work for us out of Powell River. I like this option since it takes crossing the strait out of the equation and puts us a little closer to the cruising grounds.

Local knowledge is king, thanks for all the feedback. Fuel and food shouldn't be an issue but I could see topping off on water would be nice. I need to ask if the heads are fresh water or not, that's a good point. Once I figure out getting "there" then I'll definitely have some questions about where to wander. I'll most likely be the first charter of the season so I am sure there will be a hiccup or two with the boat.

Quote:
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Based on our experience with the CHB 34 I would much rather be heading into the weather, therefore taking it on the bow or bow quarter. The boat becomes increasingly hard to handle as seas on the stern get bigger. It is due to a combination of the square stern and not enough power to stay on top of a wave.
Doug, glad you chimed in. When does it get tough with a following sea, is the handling okay with a 1/2 meter following sea or is the boat still okay with a meter on the stern?

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One word: Tack! In other words, donít take on a beam sea if you roll uncomfortably.
Spinner, this is basically what I am trying to learn, at what point do beam seas get uncomfortable in a CHB or similar boat. Based on my limited experience I believe 10 knots of wind and a 1 foot chop on the beam would be comfortable. 2-3 feet of chop I am not so sure if that is still okay. So at which point does my route change from a straight line to series of tacks.
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