After a quick jaunt through the dense, electric-green forest on Portland Island, we came to a grassy clearing that sloped quickly down to the sea. I laid my backpack on a rock, grabbed a water bottle, two beers and snacks from inside and passed them around, officially kicking off our family’s impromptu celebration in honor of being back in British Columbia’s beautiful Gulf Islands.
The boys were soon off exploring and I stood next to Jill for a moment taking in the sunshine and gorgeous views of Salt Spring Island across Satellite Channel. It was great to be back in that spot and Porter echoed the feeling when he found me to say, “Dad, I’m so happy to be back here.” The sentiment absolutely melted my heart — he was right. Continue reading At home among friends in British Columbia→
This is the fifth in our ongoing series called “5 Favorites” in which we’ll explore a range of topics including memorable anchorages, marina showers, cruise-in breweries, parks of the Gulf Islands, fun things to do, ports, meals to make aboard and much more. The aim is not to make a list of “bests” or to rank things, but rather to provide an entertaining and insightful look at what we’ve enjoyed while cruising the Pacific Northwest. And since every boater has their favorites, we invite you to share yours in the comments below.
With the full onset of winter, we’re back to our winter cruising grounds of the San Juan and Gulf islands and are hopping from harbor to anchorage to marine park enjoying the splendor that comes with the season.
We love cruising this time of year in the Pacific Northwest and the reasons are many. While some may complain about the cold, the wind, the shorter days and the limited amount of services open to boaters, we embrace all of those challenges and more.
This is the fourth in an ongoing series called “5 Favorites” in which we’ll explore a range of topics such as memorable anchorages, marina showers, cruise-in breweries, fun things to do, ports, days of sailing, meals to make aboard and much more. The aim is not to make a list of “bests” or to rank things, but rather to provide an entertaining and insightful look at what we’ve enjoyed while cruising the Pacific Northwest. And since every boater has their favorites, we invite you to share yours in the comments below.
British Columbia’s beautiful Gulf Islands are among our favorite places in the Pacific Northwest to drop the hook, tie a line ashore and head out on foot or by kayak to explore trails and beaches. So it was only natural that the many parks scattered among these islands would make a perfect “5 Favorites.”
But one of the things that guides this particular list is that our cruising time in the Gulf Islands has been heavily skewed towards the winter months. Cruising throughout the islands for many weeks at a time during the solitude of winter has been highly rewarding, but also means that very few boats are around. That being the case, we’ve visited all of these as the lone boat there and I’m not sure many of them would make my 5 Favorites had we been there exclusively in the more crowded times of the summer. Also, they are all great spots for kids, with easy hikes and accesible beaches.
Just like my previous “5 Favorites” topics, though, there are so many great ones to choose from that finalizing this list was extremely difficult. Alas, here are my 5 Favorite parks in the Gulf Islands from north to south.
It’s no wonder someone (Ann Vipond and William Kelly) wrote a cruising guide entitled “Best Anchorages of the Inside Passage”, because you can basically collect them like trophies as you travel up and down the passage’s watery corridor from Olympia to Skagway. And while we have a treasure trove of “bests” stashed away, there’s always room for more, and we’re more than willing to find them.
So what are the latest anchorages to be hoisted into our trophy case? Russell Island and Winter Cove.
Situated at the mouth of Salt Spring Island’s Fulford Harbour, we’ve wanted to drop the hook and explore Russell Island since passing by last spring. After clearing customs in Sidney last week we made the short jaunt north in a dying breeze and just before rounding the western corner of the island I spotted what looked to be a wake from a boat. Curiously, there were no other boats around, so I kept an eye on the water and to my excitement, two orca broke the surface soon after. I called to Jill and the boys and we sat in the cockpit watching as the pair slowly made their way behind us. That sight never gets old.
I’ll concede that it’s not winter quite yet, but with the strong wind and rain that has battered the Pacific Northwest as of late, it might as well be. The official start of winter is just days away, and we’re ready to welcome it with open arms, because cruising this time of year is extremely rewarding.
As is our custom in the gales of fall and winter, we waited for a storm to move through before jumping across Haro Strait into Canada last week. The trick to this is not waiting until the storm is completely gone — because then there’s no wind — rather, to catch its tail end as the wind is dropping to use it as propulsion to our next destination. Of course, sometimes this works, sometimes it doesn’t.
With the post-race glow of Swiftsure fresh in our minds, we hung around the Victoria area to explore some anchorages off the beaten path and visit friends before slowly working our way north back into the Gulf Islands. It’s been a month since we moved into Canada from the very nearby San Juan Islands and this leisurely pace is exactly how we intended to spend it. Continue reading Round the Rock→