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OldToby posted 04-02-2012 02:07 AM ET (US)   Profile for OldToby   Send Email to OldToby  
This year my wife and I are thinking of taking the Eastport north out of Vancouver in July or August, which will involve boating on the Georgia Strait in what looks like pretty open water for quite a ways. Our goal is Cortes Island, and boating in the area for a week or so. Thoughts? Foolish to think about in a sixteen-and-a-half-foot boat? Encouragement?
kglinz posted 04-02-2012 08:27 AM ET (US)     Profile for kglinz  Send Email to kglinz     
You can do it with no problem. Just choose your day. If you're trailing to Vancouver, you might think about towing on up to Lund and putting in there. A lot of people trailer to Lund, Campbell River or Port Mc Neil and launch.
20dauntless posted 04-02-2012 08:29 AM ET (US)     Profile for 20dauntless    
It depends on the day. I've crossed the Strait of Georgia when it's flat calm and I've been held up for days at a time waiting for 40 knots of wind to calm down. When you get strong winds against currents in the area waves really stack up and it can get downright dangerous for small boats.

If you are heading in that direction, I'd go to Princess Louisa Inlet before heading up to Desolation Sound. A week isn't much time, but Princess Louisa is truly breathtaking. The trip up there is long and you have to time your trip to go through Malibu Rapids at or around slack water, but it's totally worth it. Here's a photo: SAM_0898.jpg

Are you thinking of camping or staying in a hotel of some sort on Cortes Island? My favorite anchorage in Desolation Sound is Teakerne Arm. There's only space for one boat and it's difficult anchoring, but it's a spectacular setting: SAM_0183.jpg

Tom W Clark posted 04-02-2012 10:10 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
You will not cross the Straight of Georgia if you boat from Lund to Desolation Sound, and Lund is the stating point I recommend.

The Eastport will do very well up there; the water is often calm in the summer: 526404195&type=3

I like Teakerne Arm, too, there is room for hundreds of boats, though really only one (unless you raft) will fit at the base of Cassel Falls. I much prefer a little bight just to the west of the falls that is drier, quieter and more private.

OldToby posted 04-02-2012 10:14 AM ET (US)     Profile for OldToby  Send Email to OldToby     
20dauntless, the website won't let me view the photo links; seems I don't have "permission." Story of my life.

I know, a week is a painfully short time to spend, but it's really all I have. I figured the answer I'd get would be "it depends," as boating (particularly in such a small boat) is so utterly weather-dependent. My question is whether the Georgia Strait, being more sheltered and north-south than JdF or Haro Straits, might be generally less susceptible to rough water than the latter Straits.

I am a broke father of five, two of whom are in college as I write this. This is the reason I'm thinking of boating rather than trailering up to Lund: I want to avoid the ferry fares. Gas is going to be bad enough, but paying $6 a foot for my boat and trailer -- each way!-- to take a 40-minute ferry ride is absurd. I'm thinking of Cortes Island because there's a cabin on the water there I can rent fairly cheaply for the week; I figure that'll put me in a good spot from which to boat around that whole area. I am, however, susceptible to suggestion from those who know better than I.

I appreciate the suggestions of the readers here, particularly those who know that part of the coast. Thanks very much for your valuable advice. And I DO want to see Princess Louisa Inlet: it looks like quite a run up there!!

Tom W Clark posted 04-02-2012 10:26 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
Vancouver to Cortes is a long haul, though going up the eastern shore ("the inside") provides a lot of protection. But if you only have one week, you'll not make it to Cortes; there is too much good stuff along the "Sunshine Coast" to visit along the way.

If you trailer to Lund and cruise Desolation Sound, you'll have ferry travel costs but you can camp once you're up here and avoid the rental costs of a house or inn.

20dauntless posted 04-02-2012 10:31 AM ET (US)     Profile for 20dauntless    
Let's try the pictures again...

Princess Louisa: 06-nW0qt8yc/s640/SAM_0899-751741.jpg PogFBeoHfrY/s640/SAM_0889-753433.jpg

Teakerne Arm: nfs_2-6Ho3A/s640/SAM_0183.jpg

It's a beautiful coast!

jimh posted 04-02-2012 11:13 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
We passed through Desolation Sound on our way to Alert Bay. During two weeks of boating in that area we had very decent wave conditions. The only rough passage we had was far up an inlet with a strong wind against a strong tide. Other than that 10-mile stretch a MONTAUK would have been an adequate boat for the conditions. But you better pick your days. We read a lot of accounts of rough conditions.
OldToby posted 04-02-2012 11:21 AM ET (US)     Profile for OldToby  Send Email to OldToby     
What about ferrying over to Vancouver Island, then trailering north and putting in close to Cortes Island? The water there looks pretty sheltered, and I'd only have one ferry to pay for. Several years ago we did something similar but trailered all the way to Telegraph Cove, which was quite an undertaking!! The Eastport loved the water up there, though, and it was a very successful trip.
kglinz posted 04-02-2012 11:49 AM ET (US)     Profile for kglinz  Send Email to kglinz     
You can go TSAWWASSEN - DEPARTURE BAY and drive to Campbell River, but I'm not sure how much money you'll save. The published fares are one way on TSAWWASSEN - DEPARTURE BAY but are return on EARLS COVE - SALTERY BAY and HORSESHOE BAY - LANGDALE.
Tom W Clark posted 04-02-2012 12:00 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
Agreed. It's actually a tiny bit less expensive to take the two ferries up the Sunshine coast than to cross to Vancouver Island and drive to Campbell River. Either way, total round trip ferry fare will be about $500 for car, trailer and a family of five.

If you drive to Campbell River you *will* cross the Straight of Georgia; drive to Lund and you are protected the entire way to Cortes.

OldToby posted 04-02-2012 12:32 PM ET (US)     Profile for OldToby  Send Email to OldToby     
Looking at Google Maps, it appears that ferry #2 is right at the mouth of Princess Louisa Inlet. Could I put in there and run up and back in a day?
kglinz posted 04-02-2012 12:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for kglinz  Send Email to kglinz     
It's about 35 miles. Can get a little rough. Currents to watch at Malibu Rapids. You can get a good "overfall" on a steep tide curve.
20dauntless posted 04-02-2012 02:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for 20dauntless    
If the times for slack water at Malibu Rapids work out you could do it as a day trip. It took me about 2 hours to get from Egmont to Malibu Rapids (remember the no wake speed limit between the rapids and the head of the cove, the boats at the dock will thank you) in a very heavily loaded C-Dory, and I'm sure your Whaler is faster.

If you're in Egmont, check out Skookumchuck Rapids when a strong current is flowing. Currents can run 17 knots in there and it's really cool to watch, but don't go through in your Whaler without local knowledge. Whitewater kayakers like to hang out in the standing waves. A couple mile trail runs from town to the viewing spot.

Lund would be the ideal jumping off point for you. While you're there, go over to Savary Island for a bit and wander around the beautiful and rare sandy beaches.

I'd be nervous boating up from Vancouver if I had already paid for a house rental. The weather is variable and it would be easy to miss a couple days of your house rental because you have to wait out weather. I suppose you could always plan on running the Whaler up and trailer up if the weather looks iffy, but then you could get stuck waiting in Desolation Sound for a good time to return to Vancouver.

OldToby posted 04-02-2012 08:05 PM ET (US)     Profile for OldToby  Send Email to OldToby     
You all make excellent points, which is why I solicited advice from the readers of this forum. What we're thinking now is to trailer to Lund (I can drive this in a long day from Spokane), overnight in Lund, then head to Cortes Island. That way we're not weather dependent, and once we put the boat in the water we're right where we want to be (which is good because we only have a week). If anyone has recommendations for us within a 25-mile radius of Cortes, please do let me know. We plan to go at the end of July.
jimh posted 04-02-2012 09:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
The boat ramp at Lund when exposed at low tide is covered with slime and is very slippery. Plan to launch around high tide.
martyn1075 posted 04-02-2012 09:25 PM ET (US)     Profile for martyn1075  Send Email to martyn1075     
Now you are talking my language. I live in Vancouver and I also have moored my boat at Pender Harbour further up the sunshine coast. Good suggestions on trailering it to Sunshine coast first. However, Secret Cove is a beautiful stop! Make sure to visit Thornaby Island nice sandy beach in there as well Smugglers Marine Park is picturesque and completely protected from all winds. I have spent many nights their without any problems . These three are within minutes of each other and are quite protected overall.

If you want to go the Vancouver route it will be about an hour to get to Secret Cove on nice water. It can blow North West and straight East at times and it sucks and would wait for a better time if that wind blows! I would also suggest taking the inside route between Bowen Island and Gambier. If there is time you could visit Center Bay and Keats and of course the famous Gibsons Marina where they have a great little old timer restaurant "Molly's Reach" overlooking the Marina and surrounding area which is perfect over a cup of coffee and inexpensive breakfast as well.

Overall this route is quite protected but may take a bit longer thats all. One can certainly just bypass this all together and travel the outside right up around Trail islands and then turn through Welcome Passage into Halfmoon Bay and then Secret Cove all good stuff as well. It can get rough from Roberts creek and especially the first part of Welcolme Passage Mary Island. The bottom is extremely rocky with large caverns from 20 feet to 200 feet it tends to kick up with certain tides and winds can be a problem as well. Morning and evening are best. Avoid huge tides if possible.

Great trip good luck!


OldToby posted 04-03-2012 12:09 AM ET (US)     Profile for OldToby  Send Email to OldToby     
One more question, then I'll quit. Is there parking at Lund for my vehicle and trailer for the week I'm on the water?
egres posted 04-03-2012 02:39 AM ET (US)     Profile for egres  Send Email to egres     
As far as traveling from this side of the Island
You would be very careful in choosing the proper time of the year making your journey a safe and enjoyable one.
The weather patterns have been rather unusual these days with dangerous and sudden winds and hurricane like tantrums.
I would, as suggested above,safely travel to Campbell and carefully make my way across to the "Sound".
If in need, It will be my pleasure to be here in town for more directions.
kglinz posted 04-03-2012 07:51 AM ET (US)     Profile for kglinz  Send Email to kglinz     
Here's a link to Lund info. I'm sure there's storage there.
Tom W Clark posted 04-03-2012 10:09 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
The boat ramp at Lund when exposed at low tide is covered with slime and is very slippery.

This is true of every one of the thousands of saltwater boat launch ramps in the Pacific Northwest.

Tom W Clark posted 04-03-2012 10:19 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
Spokane to Lund in a day? Maybe.

When I was a kid our summer vacation usually involved a ten day cruise in Desolation Sound. To get there back then, our family of seven piled into the Plymouth station wagon and drove. We always made it a two day trip from Seattle, stopping in Secret Cove for the night. We usually stayed at the old Jolly Roger Inn until it burned down (it has since been rebuilt).

Of course we did that so we could provision in the morning in Westview before picking up the boat by noon. When returning home, we drove straight through but I remember it being a very l o n g day, and that was just to Seattle...and we were not towing a boat.

OldToby posted 04-03-2012 10:45 AM ET (US)     Profile for OldToby  Send Email to OldToby     
When I was a kid, we traveled from Sandpoint, Idaho to Minneapolis several times to visit relatives. Dad would drag all five of us kids out of bed at 3 am, pile us and Mom into the Pontiac Star Chief and head east. We'd make Miles City, Montana that night (staying at the Red Rock Village Motel), get up early the next morning, and finish the drive to Minneapolis the next day, driving past the big General Mills plant just about at sunset, I recall. So my thought is to subject my own family to that same sort of torture for this trip, leaving Spokane in the early morning and driving like crazy all day. Dad did it mostly on two-lane highway (with non-turbocharged tractor/trailers to contend with) whereas I'll have mostly four-lane. And the Eastport tows so well I almost forget it's there. I'm most concerned about long waits at the ferry terminals, given that it's summer and that route is heavily traveled, which might foul up timing.

It's all part of the fun.

boatdryver posted 04-03-2012 11:03 AM ET (US)     Profile for boatdryver  Send Email to boatdryver     
Toby, If you like oysters, I'd suggest a quick trip from Cortes to Pendrell Sound at less than high tide to pick some safe oysters off the rocks with an already rusty tool. A big screwdriver will do. There are so few anchorages there that I felt safe BBQ'ing and eating those oysters.

This place has the reputation of warmer water for the potential of swimming because of less tidal water exchange compared to other places.

There are also oysters at the Curme Islands in Desolation sound but there is a lot of Kayak camping there and we passed on those.

There's a nice hike up to a lake at the head of Roscoe Bay on West Redonda Island. The entrance to that lovely little bay is dry at some low tides. We anchored our big boat in there many times.

Another nice hike to a lake is at the head of Melanie Cove (Prideaux Haven). If you go to Prideaux in August you will think you are attending an in-the-water boat show.


Tom W Clark posted 04-03-2012 11:08 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
If anyone has recommendations for us within a 25-mile radius of Cortes...

That list is very, very long and there far more to do than can be done in just one week.

Everybody loves to swim and Desolation Sound is very unusual in that the water is very warm even though it is up North and you are within snow fed fjords with mountains all around you. Last summer it was not super warm but I swam several times at Mink Island (in the middle of Desolation Sound where the water is more flushed) and the water temperature was 72 degrees.

If you travel up to the end of Pendrell Sound where there is less flushing action, the water temperature can be quite a but higher. I have been swimming at the head of Pendrell Sound when the water was close to 80 degrees. You will have hard time getting the kids out of the water when it that warm.

There are also lots of freshwater lakes to swim in that are as warm, or warmer, than the marine waters. The aforemetioned Cassel Falls in Teakerne Arm leads to Cassel Lake, an absolutely superb swimming lake with nice rock faces to swim off of.

I also love Unwin Lake at the head of Tenedos Bay. It is best if you break off the trail to the left onto the side trail 100 yards before you reach the lake itself. This side trail leads to the West side of the lake where there are shear rock faces free of logs to swim or dive off of. You can take your pick of how high a rock face you are comfortable jumping from.

Black Lake, which feeds into Roscoe bay, is another popular swimming lake.

If you prefer a lake with a gentle beach, head over to Mansons Landing and walk the short distance to Hague Lake, which is on Cortes Island. The swimming beach at Hague Lake is bizarre. It is pure fine white sand with an extremely gentle slope. It is like being in the tropics. You can also swim to the opposite shore (about 1/2 mile) to the shear rock faces there. Kids frequently swim over to cliff jump.

Here is one of my nephews jumping in Teakerne Arm [my brother is not so smart with the camera, sorry]:

martyn1075 posted 04-03-2012 11:31 AM ET (US)     Profile for martyn1075  Send Email to martyn1075     
A little word of advise I would not stay at the Jolly Roger Inn. I'd rather spend a night rolled up on the back deck of my whaler without a blanket fighting the crisp cold air and bugs then paying a dime at place. The story is too long to tell but let's just say not so Jolly anymore!

When Tom went was probably the same time I used go in the eighties with my Dad. It was THE place to be mostly because the salmon fishing was outstanding! It was like hitting a gold mine and that was place fo lodge all the fisherman and their boats. It's more or less a ghost town now business has dried up for many years because the fishing since the nineties has been quite the opposite of outstanding.

Can you catch a fish maybe sure some still make it through the inside but but most fish now travel the outside of the island some believe over fishing of seiner boats further up Cambell River cripled those sensitive runs on the inside at that time others beleive water temperatures playing a card. Campbell River in the last two years has really made a comeback so perhaps we will start seeing greater number of salmon once again filling the sunshine coast area.


Tom W Clark posted 04-03-2012 11:50 AM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
Martyn -- You're making me feel old. I remember the Jolly Roger from the 1970s!
Tom W Clark posted 04-03-2012 12:06 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
Also, be sure to run up to the Octopus Islands, and visit Octopus Island itself and the "art gallery" there on the point. It has to be seen to be believed. No, it is not an art gallery in the commercial sense. Be sure to install your own artwork.
martyn1075 posted 04-03-2012 02:48 PM ET (US)     Profile for martyn1075  Send Email to martyn1075     
Tom---well to be fair it was the early eighties so close enough
so don't feel old!
Tom W Clark posted 04-04-2012 12:54 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
Toby -- If you like clams, shoot me an email. I do not want to publicize the locations of some of may favorite clamming beaches in Desolation Sound.
20dauntless posted 04-04-2012 04:15 PM ET (US)     Profile for 20dauntless    
Roscoe Bay, as others have mentioned, is a nice stop. The lake offers good swimming and a trail leads up to the top of the island with a good view.

Do have some way to get to shore from your boat when it's anchored, or use an anchor buddy type system.

If you don't already have a copy of the Waggoners guide, pick one up.

Tom W Clark posted 04-04-2012 11:59 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
Back in the day, Von Donop Inlet (also on Cortes) used to have a hermit that lived at the end on the little peninsula in there. I remember him giving us some fresh vegetables from his garden once.

The old hermit is long gone but Von Donop remains a cool place to visit as is yet another Marine Provincial Park. There is a nice beach on the outer part of the entrance, north side, right before it gets really narrow. You can beach or anchor there and hike up to Wiley Lake, another nice swimming hole.

jimh posted 04-05-2012 12:17 AM ET (US)     Profile for jimh  Send Email to jimh     
kglinz posted 04-05-2012 12:29 PM ET (US)     Profile for kglinz  Send Email to kglinz     
If (when) you get tired of swimming and hiking you can go over to Gorge Harbour Marina and get a good meal at the Floathouse Restaurant.
Tom W Clark posted 04-05-2012 10:49 PM ET (US)     Profile for Tom W Clark  Send Email to Tom W Clark     
I can vouch for the food at the Cove Restaurant on Cortes Island near the Squirrel Cove Store. The proprietress is a big of an ex-hippie but the food and situation are superb.

The Squirrel Cove Store is actually a VERY well stocked general store; I've provisioned my last three sailing trips In Desolation there. Refuge Cove on West Rodonda is very good too, given their location.

Both stores are worthy of your patronage.

OldToby posted 04-07-2012 04:09 PM ET (US)     Profile for OldToby  Send Email to OldToby     
Well, we booked a little waterfront cabin on Gorge Harbor, Cortes Island for the last week of July. It's got good anchorage for the Eastport, as well as a canoe for paddling around the harbor. No crab traps, unfortunately. Now to get a chart and start programming the GPS, and trying to figure out whether it's worthwhile packing fishing gear. Thanks to all of you for the great suggestions for spots to visit while we're in the area; we will hit as many of them as possible and report back when we return.

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