cruising grounds in the world can match British Columbia's coastline for stunning
scenery: majestic fjords, half-hidden inlets, and hundreds of islands. And to
complete this perfect picture, a temperate climate!
Mount Baker rises
above Gulf Island sailboats
Offshore, boaters can explore the sheltered waterways and the popular marine parks
nestled amongst the Gulf Islands - a dazzling playground for kayakers and pleasure
boats, both large and small.
Government wharves, safe anchorages and
quaint coves all contribute to memorable boating vacations. Captain your own ship
or join a skippered charter as you share our calm, clear waters with porpoises,
whales and swooping eagles. The coastal waters around Vancouver Island, and the
Marine Provincial parks that dot the BC coastline, offer recreational boaters
great places to anchor for a few hours, or overnight. These marine parks provide
essential facilities for boaters while maintaining the natural surroundings of
Hardy is located at the northern tip of Vancouver Island, and serves as the
gateway to some truly wilderness cruising grounds, while also the southern terminus
of the BC Ferries' Inside Passage and Discovery Coast routes. Port hardy has excellent
marina and moorage facilities, and long-term parking for RV's and vehicles.
Telegraph Cove is one of the last boardwalk
communities on eastern Vancouver Island and definitely worth a visit. Telegraph
Cove offers a boat launch and moorage, fishing licences, tackle and bait, and
is the place to begin exploring Johnstone Strait and Robson Bight. Long-term parking
can be arranged here for those setting out on extended boating trips in Johnstone
Broughton Archipelago Marine Provincial Park offshore from Telegraph
Cove is a wilderness area consisting of a maze of several small islands, numerous
islets and adjacent foreshore at the southern extremity of Queen
Charlotte Strait. Good, safe, all-weather anchorages can be found at Waddington
Bay, Farewell Harbour on Berry Island, Joe Cove on Eden Island, and the cove on
the southeast side of Crease Island.
Parksville or Qualicum
Beach, cruise across the Strait of Georgia to Jedediah Island Provincial Park
or to nearby Lasqueti Island, which attracts
boaters each summer to its sheltered coves and bays.
is a good base from which to charter boats to prime cruising areas
Islands, Tribune Bay, Princess Louisa Inlet or Desolation
Sound. Most yachtsmen regard the Desolation Sound area as the most beautiful
cruising ground in British Columbia, and one of the premier sailing playgrounds
in the world. The sixty miles of breathtaking coastline, intricate waterways,
small islands and numerous attractive bays and coves will delight even the most
demanding of adventurers.
Sailing the Strait
River is the gateway to the Discovery Islands, located between Vancouver Island
and the BC mainland. The islands form a picturesque and pristine archipelago that
attracts boaters every year. One must take time to explore these islands, many
of which are situated in marine parks, as each has its own history, distinctive
charm, culture and colourful characters.
Boat launches are situated at
two locations on slender, steep-sided Buttle Lake in Strathcona Provincial Park.
One is located beside the Auger Point picnic tables in the Buttle Lake Campground;
the other is located about 15 miles (25 km) south of the campground near the Karst
Creek picnic area. Note: Buttle is a flooded lake, and along the shoreline submerged
deadheads are an ever-present threat. Beware of the sudden winds and storm conditions
that can quickly channel through this mountainous region. Boaters can head to
four wilderness marine campsites on the western shore of Buttle Lake, as well
as a site on Rainbow Island just offshore from the Buttle Lake campground at the
north end of the lake.
South Vancouver Island
Known as the Harbour City, Nanaimo
is second only to Victoria as Vancouver Island's largest and most vibrant city
- famous for its varied landscapes. This city possesses a great waterfront, and
many boaters find Nanaimo to be the ideal centre for exploring the Gulf Islands
to the south, or Desolation Sound to the north. There's a public boat ramp at
Pipers Lagoon Regional Park. It's one thing to putt-putt around the sheltered
lagoon, but quite another to brave the open water of Horswell Channel on the east
side of the narrow headland that shelters the lagoon.
is a municipal boat launch in the centre of Ladysmith, the place to begin exploring
the 5-mile (8-km) length of Ladysmith Harbour. Dunsmuir and Woods Islands on the
north side of the harbour are good destinations in summer.
is a picturesque town that combines the charm of a small port, first class marinas
and the rustic character of a farming community. Sidney is the gateway to the
enchanting Gulf Islands, and is an ideal spot for cruisers, whether passing through
or just taking a day trip. Launch from either the boat ramp or wharf in Sidney
and head across the channel to Sidney Spit Marine Provincial Park on Sidney Island
or Princess Margaret Marine Provincial Park. To locate the launch, drive to the
east end of Beacon Avenue. James Island shelters the waters of Cordova Channel
in front of Island View Beach Regional Park. A boat ramp is conveniently located
at the entrance to View Beach Regional Park.
A public boat launch is
located beside the federal dock at the north end of Lands End Road at Swartz Bay.
This is a good place to put your boat in the water and head for any number of
nearby islands or to explore the coastline of the Saanich Peninsula. Those in
small craft should be cautious of the wash from BC Ferries' boats and larger marine
traffic around Swartz Bay.
Sooke Harbour is separated from the Strait
of Juan de Fuca by Whiffen Spit - the sheltered waters are ideal for a leisurely
Coast of Vancouver Island and the Pacific Rim
The rugged and remote west
coast of Vancouver island features six main inlets and sounds, listed from south
to north: Quatsino Sound, Kyuquot Sound, Esperanza Inlet, Nootka Sound, Clayoquot
Sound, and Barkley Sound. This coastline is known for it's ocean swells, superb
outer reef systems, and long expanses of pristine and deserted beaches. Marine
wildlife in the area includes killer whales (Orca), migrating gray whales, seals,
porpoises and sea otters.
Many visitors to the west side of Vancouver
Island may never have the chance to boat in the wind, the rain, and the ever-rolling
seas that characterize the world of the "outside" waters, as the open
ocean here is often called. However, the opportunity exists to do this, aboard
the freighter MV Uchuck III, which
plies the waters between Gold River, Tahsis, Nootka Sound and Kyuquot Sound. These
exciting journeys present unparalleled views of the rugged and remote wilderness
beauty that is the west coast of beautiful Vancouver Island.
Sound on the northwest coast of Vancouver Island is a huge sound that leads
in from the Pacific Ocean, almost separating the northern tip of the island from
the rest of Vancouver Island. Situated on or near Quatsino Sound are the small
communities of Winter Harbour, Quatsino,
Coal Harbour and Port
Kyuquot Sound is
a wilderness area, except for a number of logging camps and the village of Kyuquot,
the northernmost of the 14 Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation bands. Kyuquot with its
homes built into the forest above the tideline is a welcome sight for boaters
turn into a small bay and find civilization after rocking and roiling for several
hours in the open waters of the Pacific Ocean.
The rugged and remote
Esperanza Inlet and Nuchatlitz
Inlet are accessed by boat from the nearest towns of Tahsis and Zeballos.
Nootka Sound is steeped in history
and surrounded by the natural beauty of the west coast of Vancouver Island. Nootka
Sound is a paradise for sport anglers and outdoor adventurers seeking to explore
and enjoy the magnificent wilderness surroundings and weather-beaten landscape.
The community of Tahsis sits at the head
at the head of Tahsis Inlet, a deep fjord that cuts northwards off Nootka Sound.
Tahsis offers complete facilities for boaters and sport angles, including moorage
marine supplies, boating and fishing gear, fishing licences and bait, fuel, ice,
showers, laundromat, and restaurants. Road access is available from Tahsis to
the east coast of Vancouver Island.
Located in Nootka Sound is the birthplace
of British Columbia; the small community of Yuquot,
also known as Friendly Cove. Historical Friendly Cove was the site of the first
contact between Europeans and First Nations people in British Columbia.
The sheltered waters of Muchalat Inlet run inland from Nootka Sound like a long
corridor through steep-sided fjords to the terminal south of Gold
River. Bligh Island Marine Provincial Park (part of the Spanish Pilot Group)
sits at the mouth of Muchalat Inlet. There's much to explore in this group of
six islands, scattered where Muchalat Inlet converges with two adjacent inlets
and their channels. The waters in this region can get choppy, so small craft must
cross with care. Large Bligh Island is named for a much-maligned British Navy
captain who sailed here with the equally well-known Captain Cook in 1788. A cairn
at Resolute Cove near the small community of Yuquot commemorates the landing.
North of Barkley Sound is Clayoquot
Sound and the community of Tofino. Boating in the waters of Clayoquot Sound
is one of the most rewarding ways to experience this environment. Day trips close
to Tofino include Meares, Stubbs, Wickaninnish, and Vargas Islands, all within
sight of the federal dock in Tofino. Farther afield is Flores Island. The sandy
beach on Stubbs Island makes it an ideal getaway within sight of Tofino. You can
land on the east coast of Vargas Island, 3 miles (5 km) north of Tofino, and make
the one-hour journey across island on foot to Ahous Beach. If you boat to Ahous
rather than hike, be prepared for a stretch of open ocean as you round the exposed
southwest corner of Vargas. If it's blowing too hard, check out isolated and delightful
Medallion Bay on the south end of the island. Nothing on Vargas, however, tops
Ahous Beach's lengthy expanse, which rivals Long Beach in size. So vast is its
hard-caked, sandy surface that light planes occasionally land here.
Boating in the waters off Clayoquot Sound is spectacular. Take a side trip to
Maquinna Provincial Park, accessible only by boat or floatplane. From here, a
pleasant half-hour stroll through lush, dense old-growth rain forest leads to
Hot Springs Cove and it's series of enticing
natural rock pools -perfect for a rejuvenating soak!
is a sheltered niche of ocean waterway tucked in beside Meares Island in the backwater
of Clayoquot Sound. At low tide, the bay drains so low that it takes on the appearance
of a green marshland. Eelgrass covers much of the mudflats in Browning Pass, which
links Grice Bay with Tofino to the north. A boat launch is located at the end
of Grice Bay Road, which leads east from Highway 4, almost 9 miles (14 km) south
of Tofino. Grice Bay lies within the northern limits of the Long Beach Unit of
Pacific Rim National Park.
As intimidating as the ocean can be at Long
Beach, there are wonderfully long, calm days in summer when boaters and paddlers
can safely enjoy an excursion offshore. A boat launch is located beside the parking
lot at the north end of Long Beach beside Hwy 4.
Sound and the Broken Group Islands comprise one of the three main recreational
components in Pacific Rim National Park, and is not as exposed as the other sounds.
The popularity of these islands with paddlers and boaters has soared over the
past decade, as they provide a true west coast experience in sheltered water.
Barkley Sound is not normally subject to the extreme ocean conditions farther
west in the open waters around Ucluelet and exposed sections of the West Coast
Trail and the Long Beach Unit, the two other areas that attract visitors to Pacific
Rim National Park.
Sprinkled throughout Barkley Sound are the Broken
Group Islands - over 100 of them - an intriguing archipelago forming an intricate
network of waterways. Boaters can explore sheltered coves and uninhabited islands.
The exquisite scenery, rugged coastline and white sand beaches beckon to be explored
- cruising among the Islands will foster unforgettable memories. Ucluelet
and Bamfield are the two main communities
on Barkley Sound, both of wish are commercial fishing villages and popular tourist
The Gulf Islands and Discovery Islands
Some of the more popular and
easier-to-reach parks in the Southern Gulf
Islands include Montague Harbour Marine Provincial Park and Dionisio Provincial
Park on Galiano Island, and Beaumont Marine Park on the Pender Islands, as well
as Winter Cove Marine Park on Saturna Island . Other marine parks include Cabbage
Island, off the northeast coast of Tumbo Island east of Winter Cove Marine Park,
and the large Princess Margaret Marine Park on Portland Island between Saltspring
Island and the Pender Islands.
In the Northern
Gulf Islands, Jedediah Island, which nearby Lasqueti
Island residents refer to jokingly as Club Jed, stands apart from other
Gulf Islands because of its size (about 600 acres/240 hectares) - one of the largest
island parks in the province - and the fact that visitors are free to camp anywhere
on Jedediah. Some of the best sites are near the shoreline around Long Bay, particularly
as the drumming sounds of diesel-driven marine traffic in Sabine Channel don't
reach this side of the island. Most island parks are intended as way stations
and provide sheltered anchorage for those travelling in liveaboard boats. Home
Bay is semi-sheltered by Mother Goose Island, which lies just offshore, but it
lacks the tranquillity of Long Bay. Both bays teem with shellfish: when the tide
goes out, the exposed mudflats are ripe for clam raking. For those who journey
past the south end of Lasqueti Island, there's good reason for putting ashore
at Squitty Bay Marine Provincial Park. Not only is there freshwater from a pump
in the park's picnic area, there's also an interesting adjacent ecological reserve,
and great views of Vancouver, distant Mount Baker in Washington, and the white
expanse of the Comox Glacier in the Comox Valley.
Sandy Island Marine
Provincial Park is located so close to the north end of Denman Island that at
low tide you can wade to the park from the tip of Longbeak Point. These islands
are a holdover from a distant time when the entire Strait of Georgia was filled
with sand. In more recent geological times, glaciation gouged out the trench that
is now filled with seawater.
Octopus Islands Marine Provincial Park is
both remote and accessible at the same time. Nestled among the maze of islands
through which the waters of Johnstone Strait funnel into the Strait of Georgia,
the Octopus Islands are most easily reached from Quadra Island. Tidal currents
around Quadra Island are notorious for their strength, particularly at Surge Narrows
on the east and Seymour Narrows on the west, which should be transitted at slack
tide. Boaters should be well versed in the reading of tidal-current charts to
safely explore the fascinating waters around tightly packed Quadra, Cortes, Maurelle,
Read, and Sonora Islands.
The Sunshine Coast on the BC mainland,
between Desolation Sound to the north and Howe
Sound to the south, is prime exploring and cruising territory. Desolation
Sound is considered amongst the best cruising grounds in the world. This seaside
paradise of the Sunshine Coast offers something special for everyone, with unspoiled
wilderness, marine life, and a beautiful scenic coastline stretching past Gibsons,
Harbour and Powell River. Click here
for more information on Boating on the Sunshine Coast
sees good strong winds out of the southeast|
(March/April) - good blows and great sailing|
Summer is flat - great for power boating or running the motor to charge the batteries!|
(September) - time to hoist sail again|