Saturday, March 5, 2011

Despite the dire warnings of the PNW contributors to this list (T&T)

Despite the dire warnings of the PNW contributors to this list -

Rampaging killer whales, gangs of dead-heads & logs, zero visibility for
most of the time, the dangers of vitamin D deficiency caused by lack of
sunlight, constant precipitation, rapids in excess of 50 knots, depths too
deep to measure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . I must have missed some -

The Admiral & I are chartering a Camano 31 from Anacortes Yacht Charters for
two weeks in April.

Roger Bingham France

Roger, we are so glad to hear that you will be chartering in the PNW as this
will give you a chance to see the dangers first hand and warn all the others
who might be thinking about this.

You have received valuable suggestions regarding where to go e.g. Tod
Inlet/Buchart Gardens, Desolation Sound including Prideaux Haven and Princess
Louisa Inlet with its Chatterbox Falls. You could also considering heading
south to Olympia. Looking at two weeks I think I would suggest Princess
Louisa. That would give you time to visit the San Jaun Islands e.g. Friday
Harbor and Roche Harbor, the Gulf Islands/Vancouver Island e.g. Sidney
(customs), Ganges on Salt Spring Island, then maybe Vancouver, Pender Harbour
etc without a back-breaking schedule.

We hope that neither you or others will take our warnings about things like
fog, logs and torpedoes too lightly. Please listen carefully to your VHF
marine weather channels for warnings of "hazards to navigation" and the staus
of "Whiskey Golf." The following is critical information from the Canadian
Coast Guard website:

Canadian Forces Maritime Experimental & Test Ranges
Exercise Area W.G.
The Canadian Forces Maritime Experimental and test Ranges, situated in the
Strait of Georgia, tests ship's systems and torpedoes. No explosives
whatsoever are used: however, a hazard exists due to the possibility of
vessels being struck by an unarmed torpedo on its way to the surface.
The area, designated AREA 'WG' (whiskey golf) is clearly marked on Canadian
Hydrographic Charts 3512 and 3459.
Testing is usually carried out between 0700-1730 Monday to Friday and
sometimes Saturday. All vessels are advised to avoid the area during active
hours. Range vessels exhibit a flashing red light in addition to the
prescribed lights and shapes.
Range vessels may operate outside of the above hours and should not be
approached closer that 3000 yards as the vessel may be in a 3 point moor with
mooring lines extending to 1500 yards. Additionally, lighted as will as
unlighted bouys are randomly located within the area.
A transit area 1,000 yards north of Winchelsea Island and 1000 yards east of
South Ballenas Isand has been established to enable mariners to transit safely
around the active area. This area is clearly depicted on the above charts by
means of pecked lines.
During active testing, any vessel within the area bounded by the

49* 21'18"N 124* 07'42" W
49* 21'00"N 123* 48'24" W
49* 14'50"N 123* 48'24" W
49* 16'45"N 124* 00'54" W
49* 19'18"N 124* 07'42" W
will be required to clear the area on demand.
Area 'WG' constitutes a "defence establishment" as defined in the National
Defence Act to which the Defence Controlled Access Area Regulations apply.

 - - - snip - - -
Princess Louisa Inlet will be fabulous in April as the glaciers will be
melting and the waterfalls will be in full splendor.  Doing the Inlet will
cost at least 3 days, one day in, one day back out and at least one day
exploring.  If you would rather not anchor at Chatterbox falls the park does
have a dock with shore power and reasonable rates.  The 40 mile trip to get
back to the Strait will be a reversal of the inbound trip.

This is not correct.  There is non-potable water (boil first) available
on the dock but there is no electricity.

There is no charge to use the dock and there is a 3 day limit. No
garbage service is available.  Pack out all your garbage.  In April,
there will not be any park personnel on site.  This is an isolated
location and VHF and cell phones cannot reach the outside world.  No VHF
weather broadcasts are available.  The only help in an emergency might
be at the camp located at Malibu Rapids or other boaters.  This is like
hiking into a wilderness area, you are on your own, be prepared to be
self sufficient.  Do not attempt to climb the waterfall.  13 or so
people have lost their lives attempting that.  If you are at the base of
the falls, be aware that trees can be washed over the falls and crash to
the bottom, just look at the trees that are piled up at the bottom of
the falls.

See this website:

Quote:  The Society and BC Parks maintain the floats (11) at the falls.
Water is available on the floats but boiling it is recommended to make
it potable. There is no electricity. Please use the "privies" ashore.
There are campsites at the falls and on the mainland behind MacDonald
Island - and a very helpful and knowledgeable Park Ranger from May to

Its a beautiful place, but be prepared.

- - - snip - - -
This is STRICTLY my opinion, but after 30-plus years of living in the PNW,
flying floatplanes all over it for most of that time from Puget Sound to SE
Alaska, and boating the area since the mid-1980s, my advice is to forget Puget
Sound altogether.  In the region between the south end of Puget Sound and the
north end of SE Alaska, the farther south you go the more boring it becomes.
Considering the kinds of places and scenery that are to be had north of the
Vancouver-Sidney line, I suspect you would find  the waters south of that line
to be very disappointing.  We certainly do.  Compared to the Campbell
River-Desolation Sound area, Puget Sound is like a lake.  A lake ringed with
houses, development, crowded marinas, too many boats on the water, and
uninspiring scenery (unless you can see the Cascades and Olympics which, since
it rains all the time, you probably won't).

After cruising in Desolation Sound, the Gulf Islands, and other points north
our boat has programmed itself so that the engines shut down if we try to take
it south of Anacortes.  They just quit dead.  If we can get the boat turned
around so it's heading north again, the engines will fire right up.  And of
course north of Anacortes they are trouble-free.

So I would strongly second the other opinions you've gotten regarding the more
northern waters like Desolation Sound.  If you can't get up that far then a
fairly close second would be the Gulf Islands in BC.  Much less crowded and
built up than the San Juans and considerably more scenic (it's that "the
farther north you go the better it gets" rule again).

Again, this is my opinion (well, and my wife's too.)  But if you only have a
short time to go boating out here, don't waste it on Puget Sound.

Bellingham, Washington

- - - - snip - - -
Wow, back to back posts from Marin, 'go' and 'do not go' to Desolation
Sound. Normal.

I agree with his 'don't go' in April in a two week window for all the
reasons he stated.

If you start out from Anacortes, chose to hit Sucia which you will hugely
enjoy, then to enter at Poets Cove on North Pender Isle and overnight there
or more likely go through the canal and enjoy Browning Harbor and a country
walk to the resupply. Or over to the south end of Lopez, interesting
geography and scenery, your choice up to Friday Harbor, always nice, or to
Oak Bay on Vancouver Island. Very worth the stop to walk the neighborhood
and go in to Victoria Harbor by bus. On up to Sidney Spit, then choose
Buchart's Gardens or Cowichan, go up the west side of Saltspring, stop
anywhere or go up to Telegraph Harbor on Thetis. If you go the East side of
Saltspring because it is a Friday, you want to stop at Ganges for the
Saturday market. Then head across to Montague to hit the pub on Saturday
night. Up to Conover Cove. Explore. If you think you have the hang of it by
now, go through False Narrows for fun, or go over to anchor at Degnen Bay
and go find the petroglyphs. Over behind the church, and on the rock in
Degnen Bay. Don't go to Nanaimo because you are going there later. Now look
at the chart and see all that you missed. Go back another way reading the
guide books first. There is a lot to stop for. Read about Brother Twelve,
and the Hawaiians. Experience the wonderfull tide rip between Turn Point and
Henry island, John's Pass, Jones Island, everywhere on Shaw Island, sleep
with the skulls in West Sound, enjoy East Sound town, Peavine Pass and the
nice overnight at the marina there, the wild life at Peapod Rocks, Big water
if you dare across Juan de Fuca to Port Townsend which you will very much
enjoy any day of the week (walk up as well as through), go around Whidbey to
see Langley and Coupeville and shoot through Deception Pass to go around to
Anacortes for return or through the channel at La Conner of you are going to
Cap Sante.

Fortunately for you, you are not an experienced boater (in this area) like
Marin so you will enjoy all this, test your skills, minimize your exposure
to long passage/big seas (except Juan da Fuca) have lots of choices no
matter what the weather, never have to double back over the same track, and
meet lots of pretty nice folk.

You might be lucky and get a spectacular weather window in April through
this area (except Bellingham). Its about a 60% chance.

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