The San Juan Islands offer an eclectic alternative to Canada’s Gulf Islands, including eight superb destination marinas. Few cruising grounds can match Washington State’s Puget Sound for its wide array of natural beauty, wildlife and idyllic boating conditions. Right across the border from Canada’s Gulf Islands lies the eclectic group of islands known as the San Juans, a favourite destination for Canadian cruisers for decades. One of the great pleasures of cruising in the San Juans is the islands’ impressive selection of welcoming and well-run marinas. Here are eight great marina destinations for you to visit, explore and enjoy.

Let’s be honest. In terms of Canadian small cities Belleville is just another one. However, as a boating destination and as a historically important sailing force, it punches well above its weight. Cruising in Lake Ontario from Toronto has but one truly significant voyage and that’s to the Thousand Islands.  Getting there can be a lot of the fun unless you’re in a rush simply blasting through and going outside Prince Edward County. If you choose to take the scenic route, the journey through the Murray Canal to Belleville and then on to Kingston is as picturesque and historical a cruise as you’ll find anywhere.

Prince Edward County is a confidence that boaters share with a few tourists and the locals, but it has yet to become a major tourist draw.  It’s very close to the mainland; only the Murray Canal, the Bay of Quinte and its associated waters separate it from the rest of Ontario, but it’s the largest island in Lake Ontario and comes with all the wonders that islands develop. “The County” has only been an island since 1889 when the five miles of the Murray Canal was completed; prior to that it was a peninsula, but we’ll cut some slack on that.

A pearl among Gulf Islands parks, this sandy haven is ideal for hiking, beachcombing, birding, fishing…or just hanging. Sidney Spit is a park of superlatives. With the best sandy shores, the best sunsets, the best crabbing and some of the best hiking in the Gulf Islands, it’s no wonder it’s a hit with just about all who visit – for a few hours, a day or a week. The park occupies 178 hectares at the north end of Sidney Island, among the most geologically diverse of the Gulf Islands. The island is composed almost entirely of quaternary drift deposits – unconsolidated sands and gravels deposited by glaciers about 10,000 years ago.

Returning to these waters after many years was both a homecoming…and a tempting taste of cruising adventures to come. We first visited the Broughtons when friends asked us to deliver their sailboat back to Vancouver after a cruise to Haida Gwaii. From Port McNeill we headed home via Alert Bay, the Indian Islands, Knight Inlet, Lagoon Cove and Johnstone Strait. We never forgot the breathtaking vistas of mountains and channels, the easy hospitality of the marinas, the turquoise water of Knight Inlet, the haunting presence of ancient First Nations inhabitants and more recent pioneers, an exciting sail down Johnstone Strait in a booming westerly – and we couldn’t wait to return in our own boat.

Join us on a tour of these “Sirens of the Salish Sea,” perhaps the most tempting of the Gulf Islands. What is it about North and South Pender Islands, lounging smack in the middle of the Salish Sea, that makes them so alluring to boaters? The islands together comprise just 3,620 hectares and are home to only 2,300 residents. So why have they enticed skippers ever since their namesake, Daniel Pender, arrived in 1857 aboard his survey vessel HMS Plumper?

In 1613, Samuel de Champlain made his way up the Ottawa River in a birch bark canoe. To commemorate the 400th anniversary of this historic journey, 14 riders on 11 personal watercraft (PWC) made our own four-day voyage of discovery last summer. We travelled faster and likely had more fun than Champlain, but we shared the spirit of mystique, magic and wonder that the Ottawa River Waterway still invokes for all who adventure there.

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.

On a high-speed delivery to Whittier, Alaska, a brand-new Coastal Craft 400 IPS makes short work of the Inside Passage and the Gulf of Alaska. In September 2010, I took a call from a pleasant Alaskan, Dick Weldin. I remember his genuine interest in boat design, the pros and cons of features, and his queries and speculation on craftsmanship―I enjoyed our call immensely. I extended an invitation to the upcoming Seattle Boat Show. Little did I suspect that a year later I would be at the Seattle show standing on Dick and wife Jennie’s new Coastal Craft 400 IPS Indigo.

En route to Princess Louisa Inlet, this marine park offers tranquil refuge in a truly spectacular setting. After spending three wonderful days relaxing, exploring and visiting with other boaters in Princess Louisa Inlet, my wife Arlene and I departed, retracing our track back out through Jervis Inlet’s Queens, Princess Royal and Prince of Wales Reaches. The granite mountain slopes shone brilliantly in the morning sun. It was easy to imagine how the intense weight of massive glacier flows carved out these mountains and polished the hard granite to a shiny brilliance. Below the granite walls, thick forest, dissected by waterfalls, descended to the shoreline.


The Marina at Blind ChannelOne of my favourite places

By Marianne Scott

Sailing north of Desolation Sound, the Discovery Islands and the Broughton Archipelago offer cruisers a bevy islands with ample anchorages. Tides cause swift currents to run through the islands’ waterways. Few marinas are found in this large, sparsely populated region but one that provides all the services boaters need and especially enjoy is Blind Channel, a marina and resort operated by the Richter family located on Mayne Passage on the east side of West Thurlow Island (50 24. 82N, 125 30. 00).

Read more about the Blind Channel Resort...

 

Lifestyle

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At the end of last month, Canadian sailors gathered on the Palma Beach in Palma de Mallorca, Spain ...
In 2019, C-TOW celebrates its 35th anniversary of providing 24/7 “Peace of Mind Boating” for ...
West Vancouver Yacht Club reports that following an independent certification process the Georgia ...
It has been hot in the Abacos this winter. Whoever said this area was cool this time of year must ...
Unfortunately this is not a picture from a boat but was taken on the evening of February 27, 2019 ...
On March 1, Tom Ramshaw of Stoney Lake Yacht Club was honoured with the most prestigious National ...
Vero Beach, aka Velcro Beach, lived up to its reputation again. Our original plan was to be there ...
My husband and I were visiting the Bra d'Or Lake from Newfoundland in our 39 foot Sea Ray ...
After an autumn in Canada, we arrived back in northern Florida at Adamant 1 on January 3rd and with ...
This issue, to kick off 2019, we have an unofficial Photo of the week and this, the unofficial ...

Boat Reviews

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ILCA is seeking new builders to complement its existing network of manufacturers, the International ...
Nelson Gilbert (1854-1921) began building canoes in Brockville in the 1890s, a time when the sport ...
I have heard a lot of talk lately about trends in yacht clubs where senior membership is getting ...
To get you in the mood for cruising the Boat Show then launching in spring, here’s a boat that ...
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 ...

Swift Trawler 47By Andy Adams

You might look at the pictures of the new Beneteau Swift Trawler 47 and think that this is not a “performance boat”, but I think it certainly is, and here is why; it can top out at 30 mph to get you from A to B quickly or to beat the weather in, so it’s pretty fast, but it can also loaf along doing 1,250 rpm making 9.3 mph and at that pace, it travels 2.4 miles on a gallon of fuel. That’s great performance in my books!

With a light displacement of almost 28,000 lbs, this is a big boat. In fact, it looks and feels more like a small ship than a big boat.

Read more about the Swift Trawler 47......

 

Beneteau Oceanis 46.1By Andy Adams and John Armstrong

Beneteau Oceanis 46.1When Beneteau introduced their new Oceanis 46.1, they were inspired by the fact that their previous Oceanis 45 was one of Beneteau’s best sellers and the new 46.1 had to be a clearly superior boat. The Oceanis range is about space and comfort for cruising while still delivering strong performance.

The yachting world has now recognized the Oceanis 46.1 as being just such a worthy successor. On January 19th, 2019, the Oceanis 46.1 won the highly regarded title of European Yacht of the Year in the “Family Cruiser” category.

Read More about the Oceanis 46.1......

DIY & How to

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I’ve had two emails over the past few weeks with a count-down to launch (47 days per the last ...
Electrical ground is a term used to describe the reference point in an electrical circuit from ...
Last time we looked at making proper electrical connections – the tools, supplies and methods ...
Winter is a great time to look at some of the hidden spaces on your boat – to take stock of what is ...
When a boat is in the water, the bilge will often collect water that enters the boat from weather, ...
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 ...

Sea to Sky SailingSea to Sky Sailing has just been approved as the only Royal Yachting Association (RYA) recognized training centre on the west coast of North America just in time to deliver an epic 2019 season!

“This transition from our previous International Yacht Training (IYT) certification to RYA is a huge benefit to our students as it provides them certification that is known globally as the gold standard for yacht training.  The RYA requires training centres to undergo annual inspections of their vessels, business practices and training delivery in order to maintain a strong standard and guarantee a high quality experience for students. 

Read More about Sea to Sky Sailing......

 

  

Marine Products

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The Walker Bay Venture 14 claims to be the world’s first luxury Explorer Sport Tender. It is ...
Mercury Marine is pleased to announce the launch of the new MerCruiser V8 6.2L 370hp Jet Ready ...
My history with the Cayenne goes back many years, as I was at the launch of the original vehicle ...
Last month, Mercury Marine has announced the launch of the 400hp Verado outboard engine, the ...
Featuring advanced, intuitive 3D controls, Zipwake Dynamic Trim Control Systems deliver a more ...
Gina de Vere approached me at the Canadian Yachting booth at this year’s Vancouver International ...
A revolutionary “assisted docking” system that provides a glimpse into the future of boating ...
After developing the Figaro Beneteau 3, the first production foiling sailing yacht, Groupe Beneteau ...
You most likely operate your vessel with batteries that are rechargeable. Rechargeable batteries ...
This past decade has been a real up-and-down ride for the companies who make boating equipment. ...