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First San Juans or Gulf Island trip?

 
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thechadmiller



Joined: 20 Jan 2018
Posts: 47
City/Region: Portland
State or Province: OR
C-Dory Year: 2017
C-Dory Model: 22 Cruiser
Vessel Name: Agostino
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2019 4:21 pm    Post subject: First San Juans or Gulf Island trip? Reply with quote

Hey everybody, looking for your opinions, I have a feeling you might have a few.

We have had our boat for a year now, about 100 hours of experience, all of that being in the Columbia River.

We are going to be able to get away in early May, and hoping to do 10 days out in either the San Juans or Gulf Islands.

We were planning on driving from Portland and launching in Anacortes, as we have a free spot to leave our trailer.

First, before we decide San Juans, would it be even better to drive a few more hours north and start in BC somewhere?

Or would you say the San Juans would be a better first-timer cruising trip? I'm assuming it wouldn't be too crowded yet.

After this is decided, I'll hit you all up about a proposed 10-day itinerary!

thanks.
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JamesTXSD



Joined: 01 Mar 2005
Posts: 7063
City/Region: Tropical Tip of Texas
State or Province: TX
C-Dory Year: 2007
C-Dory Model: 25 Cruiser
Vessel Name: "Wild Blue" (sold 9/14)
Photos: Wild Blue
PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2019 5:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

In 10 days, you could see a good portion of the San Juans AND the Gulf Islands. Of course, the San Juans are the good oi' USA and your money works there. A few miles across Boundary Pass, after a night anchoring in Prevost Harbor on Stuart Island, and you can check in at Bedwell Harbour on South Pender Island. Check the regulations about what you can (and cannot) take into Canada. There are plenty of good anchorages and marinas in the Gulf Islands, as well as the San Juans. A night or two at the Inner Harbour in Victoria will make you feel quite "international," as you stay on your boat, with a great view of the Empress Hotel and the Parliament building. Check back into the US at Roche Harbor on San Juan Island.

May in that area can be beautiful... or it can be wet and cold. There should be no crowds, as it seems that boating activity doesn't really ramp up until well into June.

We cruised the San Juans and Gulf Islands 3 summers on our boat, and worked for a whale watch company out of Friday Harbor and Roche Harbor for another 5 summers (frequently traveling throughout the San Juans and Gulf Islands) - I think that area is some of the best cruising to be experienced. I am excited for you with this proposed trip.

Have fun with the planning!
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JamesTXSD



Joined: 01 Mar 2005
Posts: 7063
City/Region: Tropical Tip of Texas
State or Province: TX
C-Dory Year: 2007
C-Dory Model: 25 Cruiser
Vessel Name: "Wild Blue" (sold 9/14)
Photos: Wild Blue
PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2019 6:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh, and launching out of Anacortes (since you have trailer storage there) is a great departure point. Once you get going, you will likely be surprised at how compact that area is. For some perspective: 22 miles from Anacortes to Friday Harbor. Less than 20 miles from Friday Harbor, north, around the east point of Spieden Island, through John's Pass, west along the north side of Stuart Island and into Prevost Harbor. If there is a spot available at the dock, pay your fee and enjoy a hike on the island. If no dock space, anchor out and dinghy in. About 4 1/2 miles from Prevost Harbor, across Boundary Pass, and into Bedwell Harbour (South Pender Island, BC) to clear Canadian Customs. From there, it is a few hours to pretty much any place in the Gulf Islands at a typical cruise speed.

Running at 18 knots a typical 4 hour trip out of Friday Harbor might take us into the Strait of Georgia, through Active Pass, then back down through the Gulf Islands, across Boundary Pass, then back to Friday Harbor. With time for whale watching and seeing other wildlife.
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AstoriaDave



Joined: 31 Oct 2005
Posts: 991
City/Region: Astoria
State or Province: OR
PostPosted: Thu Jan 17, 2019 6:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I cut my teeth boating on the Columbia, primarily out of Astoria, with much of my trips between Cathlamet and the Bar. And we have done a few trips in the Gulf Islands and a couple shorter ones in the San Juans. Before that, we sea kayaked for 20 years, several areas on Vancouver Island, both coasts, and several trips on Haida Gwaii.

I would suggest you work up to crossing from the San Juans to the Gulf Islands, gaining some sea time in the San Juans first. They are unbelievably beautiful, with many smaller niches to explore, and ample shoreside attractions on days when you want a break.

You might want to run down to Ilwaco and back from Portland, exploring both major channels in the estuary to see how you like open water, with perhaps a shot over the Bar and back. Trailering to Ilwaco for a long weekend of exploration, using that marina as a home base, might also be useful.

In any case, both the San Juans and the Gulf Islands are premium cruising waters, with plenty of good anchorages and marinas. I expect you will be blown away at the wide open spaces, after cruising the narrower confines of the Columbia.

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Dave Kruger
Astoria, OR
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hardee



Joined: 30 Oct 2006
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City/Region: Sequim
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2019 12:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Chad, Great to hear you are looking at the San Juans. Great cruising there. If you are going to be in the SJ's and have 10 days in May I hope that will include the Friday Harbor CBGT. Great time to meet some other Brats and see some other boats. Also, if you are going to be in the SJ's for 10 days, you might want to consider a WA State marine Parks pass. That will get you access for up to 3 nights on a state park dock, one of about 28 places. There are the state parks, several marinas and plenty of anchorages in the area with lots of protected waters, providing you are up to date on the WX and wind directions. The boat traffic in May will probably vary from light early in the month to more like average busy by the end of the month. The state park docks will probably fill by the mid afternoon. The biggest traffic will be the WA State Ferries. Big and Fast. Often a chance to see Orca, and other marine wildlife. It is a wonderful cruising area, and it's close and compact as Jim said. You can slip into the Gulf Islands and hardly know it, But if you do be sure and check into Canadian Customs at Sidney, Bedwell, or Victoria.

Harvey
SleepyC Moon


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Though in our sleep we are not conscious of our activity or surroundings, we should not, in our wakefulness, be unconscious of our sleep.
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cmetzenberg



Joined: 04 Jan 2014
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City/Region: Santa Barbara
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C-Dory Year: 2007
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Vessel Name: Kanaloa
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2019 1:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great thread. I'm trying to put a few month long trip together in June. I too am planning to trailer to Anacordes and venture north, maybe as far as The Great Bear Rainforest in BC.
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Conrad Metzenberg

07' Tomcat 255 "Kanaloa"
87' Boston Whaler Guardian 17 (BlackFlag, 03-14)
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Marco Flamingo



Joined: 09 Jul 2015
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 18, 2019 10:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I agree with the above posts that the San Juans are a surprisingly compact group once you get there. A perfect "nursery" spot. Probably one of the safest places to find out about tides, currents, and prevailing winds. And scenic, with a fair chance of seeing whales. Because the distances are short, there is plenty of time to get ashore and look around. Friday Harbor is entertaining and many of the WA State mooring spots have shore access.

If the weather is good and holding, a trip to Victoria would likely be the highlight. I remember once having dolphins on the bow for several miles. Just walking around Victoria is fun. My favorite is the BC Museum's First Nations Gallery. Just that is half a day. It might make you want to take up whittling.

https://royalbcmuseum.bc.ca/visit/exhibitions/first-peoples-gallery

Mark
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joechiro30



Joined: 24 Sep 2014
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City/Region: Lynnwood
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C-Dory Year: 2006
C-Dory Model: 255 Tomcat
PostPosted: Sat Jan 19, 2019 1:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

We cruise to the sanjuans every summer for the last 4 years from everett. I agree with everyone that anacortes is a good starting point. Easy cruise to get to the gulf islands from there and inside passages to get to Friday harbor. Inside passages can get you safely around from anacortes. In May there should be some good lingcod fishing around the San juans May 1st -June 15
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