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.

How to be as Polite as a Canadian at Gulf Island Marine Park Anchorages

Gulf Island Marine ParkStory and photos by Catherine Dook

One summer I sold ice cream and knick-knacks at Montague Harbour Marina. I was standing behind the counter one day, when the phone rang. “There’s a boat at anchor in the middle of the bay that’s been playing loud music for three hours,” complained an irate-sounding male voice. “Can you make them stop?”

“Um, no,” I replied. “The marina has no jurisdiction over the anchorage. Besides, my only weapon is a till.” The man hung up on me.

Now when you think about it, you can understand why the poor fellow was annoyed.

Read more about the Gulf Island Marine Park.....

 

 

Lifestyle

  • Prev
We were all set with this week’s POTW when a real stunner came in as part of a story on the Blind ...
Have your say. Send an email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need ...
When I was about ten years old I starting racing sailboats on Cape Cod and the sound of the wind ...
I took this photo in July 2017 from our boat Ginger which was anchored and stern tied in Mouat Bay ...
Were we nervous when we returned to Adamant 1 in November? The answer would be a hearty yes. The ...
Just to put it in historical time warp I was a World Sailing Vice President 1976-1994 and President ...
Great icicles! This is not what one expects from the tropical climes of BC. It’s a nice winter ...
Rossiter is a Canadian builder in Markdale, Ontario that builds a nice fleet of rowboats and small ...
Welcome to Photo of the Week 2018. If you are not familiar with this wonderful feature (What???!!!) ...
Living the dream! Longtime CY staffer and now blogger Lynn Lortie with her husband Pat left Midland ...
Canadian Yachting Digital April 2018

Boat Reviews

  • Prev
Commodore’s Boats is a full service shipyard with over 50 years of generational history and ...
Cruisers Yachts debuts the all-new 42 Cantius. The sporty, luxury cruiser will make its first ...
Once again, the designers at Jeanneau have outdone themselves with the innovative new Leader 10.5 ...
The introduction of X-Yachts’Xc range in 2008 has proven itself to be something of a game changer ...
Hull #1 ZINNIA, the all-new, twin outboard MJM 35z left Boston BoatWorks on July 5 for Newport and ...
Following a 10-year hiatus, Richmond, BC-based Crescent Custom Yachts is once again launching ...
According to the folks at Fraser Yacht Sales, you couldn't ask for more - the new Azimut Atlantis ...
During those cold, cold, sunless, dreary months of January and February, I want to remember the fun ...
The Rossiter 23 Classic Day Boatis both a logical extension of the Canadian-built Rossiter line and ...
It's rare for Canadian Yachting magazine to report on the same boat twice, but that is how ...

 

Cruisers Yachts Cantius 42

Cruisers Yachts Cantius 42By John Armstrong and Andy Adams 

The latest new model from Cruisers Yacht sis the Cantius 42 and this yacht made its debut in the fall of 2017, at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show. We had the pleasure of going all through this newest Cantius there and clearly, the Cruisers Yachts people continue to refine and expand on all the features that have made the Cantius line such a success.

The new 42 continues the Cantius family resemblance with handsome and distinctive lines including a big section of hull side glazing port and starboard that makes the full-beam mid-ship master stateroom feel very bright and open.

Read more about the Cruisers Yachts Cantius 42...

 

 

DIY & How to

  • Prev
In this time of boat show afterglow, many boaters are counting the days until launch. 
Water has a funny way of making its way into a boat: through through-hulls, stuffing boxes, leaks, ...
 Since the initial article of this column we have identified a wide range of apps and ...
Since the initial article of this series we have looked at the iPad and its use as a marine ...
The moment we all dread. It’s a warm sunny day and you’re out for a cruise. Suddenly ...
For most of us – this is the time to make the most of the boating season – launch and ...
Question: Is it possible to mount, protect and charge your iPad during marine navigation. ...
  Is iNavX the superlative marine navigation app?    
Question: Can I buy generic automotive parts or products for my boat, or should they specify ...

Marine Products

  • Prev
We have all had the experience of heading down below on a nice boat only to encounter an unpleasant ...
Last year when this column launched a good deal of time was spent understanding global satellite ...
This article was my first about 10 years ago, and it found it's way to an outdoor editor/writer ...
For a gloomy February we look not only at how an app that works within your phone can be of benefit ...
ZCare Marine, offers effective, eco-safe products to help keep your boat clean. They have products ...
Monaro Marine Ltd. of Richmond, BC, designs and builds its own unique brand of semi-custom 21' to ...
With Garmin it is now possible to use both devices without independently operating two devices with ...
When the Halifax Boat Show opens on February 8th there will be an excellent selection of pontoon ...
The 627 is the largest outboard in world. New cylinder heads and camshaft, an uprated ...
Sirius Signal held a product information session for interested parties prior to demonstrating ...