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