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Planning a Cruise from Sidney

If you are an experienced cruiser with experienced crew, you'll have your own ideas and may wish to venture further, or into the United Sates, but here are some ideas for those with inexperienced or sensitive crew and who don't know the area.  It is a reply to a friend who asked for tips.

I should add here that in my experience as an instructor and captain that very often someone aboard is sensitive to cold and that having an a full enclosure can save the cruise, and maybe a marriage. Read about enclosures.

One more hint.  Buy some Transderm and have it with you unless you are certain no one gets motion sick.  Having a sick crew member is no fun at all and Transderm works.  Unlike other such meds, side effects are minimal. The only hitch is that it takes a few hours to become effective. Read the cautions, however.  It is not suitable for everyone.

Hi Allen, I was hoping you could provide some feedback to a small cruise Iím planning.

Iím taking my wife and the youngest child (9) out on my 28-foot sailboat from Sidney July 15-20. Weíre not looking for any super long days, but would rather find places where we can possibly swim in warm-ish waters and do some hiking. Hereís my first idea for an itinerary:

1. Sidney to Montague Harbour
2. Montague to De Courcy (Pirateís Cove)
3. De Courcy to Ganges
4. Ganges to Bedwell Harbour
5. Bedwell Harbour to Sidney Spit
6. Sidney Spit to Sidney

Thereís really not any really long legs in there, but I donít want to spend all day getting somewhere and not get a good spot to anchor or preferably a mooring ball, plus I want Tara and Justin to enjoy themselves so that means time spent at the destination as well. I want to see Pirateís cove because I hear thereís swimming there.


Allen Dick:  Interesting question.

First, on a sailboat, winds and tides are going to be a big factor in whether you sail or motor and where you can get in and out. They vary in height with the moon phases and other factors, so check the tides first.

For your purposes, the tides at Sidney will be close enough to give a feeling for the other locations and you are not planning to go through passes. I see the tides will be fairly large

If you are planning to go through passes such as Active Pass, Porlier, Boat Passage or Dodd narrows, timing your arrival there will be a big factor in your plans, however, the advantage of staying in the Sidney area Gulf Islands as discussed here is that they are considered sheltered waters and you can avoid fast water by choosing the open routes and avoid tight passages.

Having destinations in mind is good, but it is said that with inexperienced people on board "Gentlemen don't sail upwind" and motoring into chop is not much better as far as keeping the crew happy. Your weather may be good, but a rainy day destination is good to have in your plan, too.  As for filing a sail plan (recommended), you can do that with the Cooper office or a trusted friend, and phone in daily or email changes.  You'll almost never be out cell coverage.

When I go to Ganges I go to the commercial dock -- Fishermans Wharf. Phone in, and if they are doubtful and say fisherman are coming and going, just say you are happy anywhere on the dock and are leaving in the morning. The ramp is not locked and is right at the park -- and the showers are good.

Come to think of it, the Saturday market will be happening right there in the park on the 15th. 

I actually made a special trip to Pirates Cove last time out as I had never been there and when I got there, I chickened out because I was solo and had no bow watch. What I saw on the plotter was not what I was seeing around me so I went back to Clam Bay. BTW, we were swimming in Clam Bay last August, evening and morning. Carry a thermometer and check here and there.

I was swimming off Cassiopeia in the little bay on the way into Ladysmith two weeks ago. Water was fine. That bay is long and shallow and it was sunny. I imagine parts of Cow Bay and Birdseye Cove might be swimmable on sunny days, too, as well, since they are shallow.

The trek up to Ladysmith and Pirates Cove and back can seem long, though, if the conditions are not the best.

I don't know how your batteries are, but you may need to plug in at some point. Thetis is a good place for a mid-week stop to charge.

Todd Inlet is another possibility for swimming and if Butchart Gardens appeals, there are free mooring balls in Butchart Cove, but you have to stern tie and dinghy over to the back entrance dock to enter the gardens. Mooring balls are first come first serve. If they are full, Todd inlet is a short dinghy run away as is Brentwood Bay with all its attractions. 

At Bedwell, Harbour we anchored north of the docks at Poet's Cove last summer and dinghied in. (Tying up at Poet's Cove was $1.60/ft.) We used the swimming pool without anyone caring and there was no charge.

The Sidney Spit is a good stop, but can be tricky getting in and out at low low tides and is exposed in some conditions. Roberts Bay is a nearby alternate, but watch the depths and tides. Portland island is a really nice stop fairly near Sidney, as is Russell island.

In short, your choices are good, but I would scope out the options and then go with the wind and weather and give the crew some choices. If it their decision, there is less likelihood of mutiny.

The Salish Sea Pilots are very good guides for anchorages and other details -- and cheap.  They can go on your phones and tablets. Highly recommended.

For hiking, Russell Island has a short hike to the old homestead.

Blackberry Point on Valdez was a big hit for a young son of a cousin on a kayak trip. Apparently 'Fast Eddy', a friendly local lives on a float house on the beach there and the hike up the 'mountain' is a good one.

Princess Cove on Wallace Island is always popular, has a good hike and may be swimmable. I swam there in August. Fills up early, but if you go in far enough there may be a stern tie left and if not anchoring out is possible.

The hike at Bedwell is a good one. Dinghy to the beach and hike in. The dinghy ride over to Port Browning through the Pender Canal is fun if the chop is not too bad.

The hike at Princess Bay on Portland is a good one, too.

If you plan to swim, get some shorty wetsuits.  They make 10 degree (Celsius) water bearable and anything warmer quite pleasant.

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- Home | Greeting | Features | Specs | Video | Marina | Cruising | Adventures -
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lling | Seacocks| Engine | Batteries | Dinghy | Anchoring -
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