Tranquil, colourful and funky, Genoa Bay is a must stop for West Coast boaters.

The day brothers Will and Ben Kiedaisch assumed ownership of Genoa Bay Marina, they inherited outstanding bills, the bank was about to foreclose on the property, and the electricity was in danger of being turned off.

“We didn’t know port from starboard when we took over,” says Will, laughing. “We had to learn how to run a marina from the ground up.”  

“We didn’t even own a boat and the first tool we had to buy was a bolt cutter because the marina was locked and abandoned,” recalls Ben.

When their first visitor asked how much they charged, the brothers asked him what he paid where he stayed the previous night.

From those humble beginnings, the Kiedaisch brothers have turned Genoa Bay Marina into the kind of place you don’t want to leave after just a couple of days. The service is second to none, and everyone involved in running the marina love what they do. My wife Arlene experienced the Genoa Bay hospitality on a recent cruise through the southern Gulf Islands.

Genoa Bay is a quaint little settlement with a marina nestled in a quiet and picturesque bay on southeast Vancouver Island, at the south end of Sansum Narrows. It was named by pioneer settler Giovanni Baptiste Ordano in 1858 because it reminded him of his home in Italy.

Career Change

The Kiedaisch boys are California transplants. In 1971, when they were children, their family relocated from California to Nanaimo, British Columbia, which led to the family owing the marina for more than 20 years; their father and a friend owned it jointly. After the passing of their father the brothers had a couple of options: let the property foreclose or operate the weathered marina. Will (aka “Mr. Hooper”) is the elder of the two, with an education in sales and marketing; Ben, (alias “Muffin Man”) is trained in the culinary arts. Working in their respective fields at the time, they opted for career and lifestyle changes to take over the marina.

Will, with wife Karen and their two children, returned to Vancouver Island. Ben and his spouse Kirsten lived on a float home at the marina until the birth of their first child.

“We have Canadian wives, landed immigrant status, and we know all the rules for hockey, so we’re hoping that means we can stay,” Will said. “This was the last place we imagined being.”

Now, they can’t imagine being anywhere else.

“During the first summer, our Uncle Jim was the wharfinger,” Ben said. “Because he is an ex-Navy man, we had great faith in his nautical knowledge, but it was shaken when a visitor asked him where they could find the wharfinger and he responded, ‘Don’t have that boat here.’”

They have come a long way since then. Their progress is the result of hard work and a pinch of luck, seasoned with huge doses of humour. The brothers―with the help of their crew, Frauke McCashin and Geoff “Mr. Fix-it” Hill―have earned a reputation for making visiting boaters feel at home. Their good nature is reflected in the character of the marina itself. It’s a feel-good place, the kind of place that gives you a sense of pride and a feeling ownership. And boaters have responded: Genoa Bay is a favourite stop for more than 3,000 visiting boats each year.  

Ask Ben what the marina’s stylish logo represents, and he responds characteristically: “What do you want it to be? If you’re a sailor, it’s a sail. If you’re a powerboater, it’s a crescent moon. We aim to please.”

Scenic Setting

The approach to Genoa Bay is scenic, offering a panorama view of Saltspring and Vancouver islands, punctuated in all directions by channels, passages, inlets and narrows. Approaching from the southeast, skippers need to beware of rocks and shoals near the eastern shore after they pass Separation Point. A mid-channel course is advisable.

Genoa Bay’s entrance is wide, open and has a clearly marked straight-in approach. Once beyond the red and green channel markers at the entrance, arriving vessels will find the marina to port. The guest moorage floats are located in the centre of the marina, oriented north and south, and approached from the north.

Berth assignments are available by hailing the marina on the VHF. The marina monitors VHF Ch 66A from April through October. Sometimes, because of the rugged local topography, they can’t get calls until boats are close by.

Genoa Bay Marina is charming, funky and postcard-picturesque. It occupies the site of a former sawmill, said to have been one of British Columbia’s largest at the turn of the century. A colourful and eclectic mix of vessels, boathouses and float homes fills the western portion of the marina. Flowers abound in dockside containers, while the emerald green bay is surrounded by steep forested hillsides.

The marina has 85 permanent moorage slips and 1,200 linear feet of transient floats that are wide and stable, and supplied with water and 30 or 50-amp power. The water comes from a local community well and is filtered and monitored; the supply is somewhat limited. Boats to 80’ can be accommodated on the guest moorage docks. Larger vessels will find plenty of anchorage in the bay over a sticky mud bottom.  

Relax, Enjoy

The marina facilities are adorned with attractive local art; a fiberglass orca leaps from an intersection of two floats while an airborne salmon and a great blue heron constructed of wire adorn a boulder on the east side of the main pier. Every boathouse on F dock bears a construction by Tom Faue, an area pioneer in “found art.”

There’s plenty to enjoy here once you’re settled. Watch eagles soar overhead. Listen to the breeze stir in the treetops while otters, seals and cormorants provide endless entertainment. For a minimal fee you can access email via the dock’s wi-fi network. Take a taxi for a round of golf or a shopping excursion to nearby Cowichan Bay or Duncan, drop by the tasting rooms of the area’s many vineyards or just put your feet up and do nothing at all.

The marina store at the head of the guest docks carries an eclectic mix of local products, snacks, grocery items, nautical books, magazines, marine supplies, souvenirs, coffee, ice, and a full line of Genoa Bay shirts, jackets and hats. On July 1, 2011 the brothers opened a breakfast cabana adjacent to the party dock and it quickly became a gathering place for the morning crowd. Visiting boaters with two consecutive nights of moorage receive free breakfast on the dock.

The covered party dock accommodates visiting yacht club rendezvous potlucks or impromptu dock parties.  Upland facilities include an excellent restaurant, clean and spacious showers and restrooms, coin-operated laundry, and a small but inviting picnic area.

Waterside Dining

For us, a visit to Genoa Bay would not be complete without a meal, or two, at the Genoa Bay Café, open seven days a week from June through September. Perched on the water’s edge overlooking the marina, the café offers five-star quality cuisine in a casual atmosphere. It has 40 indoor seats and another 30 on the seaside deck. The combination of the view, smell and taste provide diners with sensory overload.

The café is operated by Stacey Johnson, Dan Caird and Gord Rumley. Johnson told us that Chef Dustin Cooknell’s menus provide a variety of choice and showcase the foods of Vancouver Island and the Pacific Northwest.

“We are proud to feature local seafood, such as our Saltspring Island mussels and seasonal specials such as fresh halibut and spot prawns,” Stacey said.

We enjoyed a wonderful leisurely dinner the first night of our visit, starting with the spinach salad. Arlene selected Herb Crusted Spring Halibut for an entrée, and I chose Ribeye Steak with Roasted Garlic Mash Potatoes and seasonal vegetables. The meals were so delicious we returned the next afternoon to sample the lunch menu, and Cooknell’s signature calamari did not disappoint.

If you feel the need to work off some of those calories or just want to stretch your sea legs, the moderately easy hike up the trail from the marina to Skinner Bluff on Mount Tzuohalem offers great views of Cowichan Bay…and a good, light workout.

Back at the marina, a short walk down the dock from the store brings visitors to Genoa Bay Gallery. This is the workplace and home for owner Colleen Irwin. She and two friends opened the floating gallery, which features pieces by local artists, in 1999. Not surprisingly, much of the art on display favours nautical and wildlife themes.

On the last morning of our visit I walked the docks, the aroma of fresh coffee and breakfast filled the air, and the sound of whistling tea pots added to the tranquil morning, all making for a memorable Genoa Bay experience. Genoa Bay Marina is open year-round and worth a visit for a day, or a week.


Details & Coordinates
Charts: 3441, 3442, 3478 and Gulf Islands Atlas 3313
Location: 48° 45.5ʹ N, 123 ° 36’ W
Marina Info: www.genoabaymarina.com
Hazards: Navigational aids mark rocks and safe channel at bay entrance
Attractions: The tranquility of picturesque Genoa Bay, funky and colourful marina setting, excellent restaurant
Nearest Fuel and Provisions: Cowichan Bay

PHOTO CAPTIONS
Photo 1: The marina offers 1,200’ of guest moorage and it can fill up during boating season.
Photo 2: The Genoa Bay Café, right above the marina, offers first-class dining featuring local ingredients.
Photo 3: Ben lends a helping hand.
Photo 4: Artwork adorns docks and boathouses throughout the marina.
Photo 5: A tranquil morning on the docks, with Mt. Tzuhalem in the background.
Photo 6: Brothers Will and Ben Kiedaisch…hard at work.

Story & Photos by Deane Hislop

Grenada: It was all so inviting...

The Large Island of Grenada

By Katherine Stone

Anytime a Canadian is asked to travel south in the beginning of our spring, which this year was far from inviting, is a dream worth living. The thought of a sailing adventure, tropical breezes, the smell of spices and the warmth of the sun was too much – we HAD to go! The first thing we did was to dig out the copy of Ann Vanderhoof’s book, The Spice Necklace, we had acquired several years ago and to re-read the seven chapters of their adventures in Grenada. Not only should this be your required reading, but the book is loaded with scrumptious Caribbean recipes that are a must-try.

Read more about Grenada...

 

 

Lifestyle

  • Prev
We are home for Christmas this year. Soon we will be heading back to Adamant 1 for another winter ...
This past October we drove to Telegraph Cove with friends and spent a day of wonder cruising the ...
We have kept our subscription to Canadian Yacht Onboard as we have traveled the South Pacific over ...
Stuart Walker a legend in competitive sailing passed away on November 12, 2018 in Annapolis. Stuart ...
“In Grenada, we had about 80 cruiser kids visit our boat...by dinghy of course! Sometimes you ...
Austin Edwards told students and parents at the Saanich School’s “Parents as Informed Partners” ...
As the sole arbiter of the Photo of the Week I, your editor, get to make the choice. This week, ...
Michele Stevens pointed us to this interesting project which recently came to fruition in Cape ...
Our Photos of the week this time come from BC where our friend Rob Stokes sent us a very nice ...
Our little treasure: Montague (Monte) taken at Pirate's Cove in the Gulf Islands. Monte is a ...

Boat Reviews

  • Prev
Quite simply, the styles of boats have changed. Where in past years a buyer might have been looking ...
At the boat shows, the Ranger Tugs’ classic tugboat lines always grab the crowds, with the wives ...
Sometimes a great idea requires an encore, and French yacht builder Jeanneau got that with the ...
Tactical Custom Boats announces the sale to a North American client of a custom Tactical 77’ – Fast ...
Bruce Elliott is an inventor. And when he sold the technology he developed to build utility poles ...
One often asks of a winning achievement or a fabulous design, could it have possibly been done ...
The latest new model from Cruisers Yachts is the Cantius 42 and this yacht made its debut in the ...
The Sabre 45 Salon Express is new for 2017, making its debut at the Fort Lauderdale International ...

Leader 9.0

Leader 9.0By Andy Adams

In the case of baking a cake, Betty Crocker and Julia Child both start off with the same eggs, sugar and flour, but the results can be very different. Naval architects, designers and engineers in the boat business also have many of the same ingredients, but the trick is to make the cake unique and desirable.

With a huge history of innovative design in boatbuilding, Jeanneau brings the sort of skill and artistry to their boats that can set them apart. Their new Leader 9.0 model is a case in point.

Read more about the Leader 9.0...

 

 

 

DIY & How to

  • Prev
Recently I suggested doing an off-season (winter) project with a potential client, and my ...
A recent conversation with a fellow contractor got me thinking: With all of the information out ...
As the cold approaches, shrink-wrapping is a hot topic, and I’ve heard more than a few debates at ...
Nothing stops a vacation faster than a problem with the fresh water system – be it leaks, smells, ...
Pyrotechnic distress flares have been around for decades, while electronic strobe distress flares ...
Most of us don’t give a second thought to our sacrificial anodes – those curious knobs of raw metal ...
In this time of boat show afterglow, many boaters are counting the days until launch. 

Ask Andrew – How to hire a boat repair contractor

hiring a contractorBy Andrew McDonald

A recent conversation with a fellow contractor got me thinking: With all of the information out there, including: Websites showing repairs, YouTube tutorials, Instagram pages and snapchat streams – let alone books, magazines, service manuals, and years of practical experience – how does a boat owner know which method(s) are ‘right’, who to trust, and who to hire to do the job? In short: How do you find and select a contractor?

Unfortunately, most people are forced to hire a contractor due to a circumstance where something has broken or failed, or the task...

Read more about hiring a contractor...

 

  

Marine Products

  • Prev
Looking for a great Christmas gift for the Offshore sailor on your list? This being a Marblehead to ...
Sail shape is long gone. They have stained, feels thin and you see broken threads everywhere. Your ...
Stripping the antifouling paint from the bottom of a boat is physically demanding and is one of the ...
The 2019 Ultimate Sailing Calendar highlights the drama and excitement of blue-water sailing, as ...
Weather nerds and boaters of all stripes will be absorbed by Bruce Kemp’s account of the monstrous ...
Canada Rope promises that its new Night Saver Rope will illuminate at night and act as a reference ...
Take a look as a 68-foot yacht docks itself in between two Volvo Ocean 65 sailing yachts at the ...
Industry Firsts Include Direct Injection and Integrated Electric Steering System
Verviers, Belgium, 18 May 2018 — Mercury Marine, the world leader in marine propulsion technology, ...
Again, we return to the beginning. We started this column with a look at marine navigation for ...