Celebrate summer cruising with our choice of our favourite boating spots and experiences on the West Coast.

This month, to celebrate summer and the best of the boating season, we’ve assembled a roster of prime cruising spots, activities and diversions. They’re not intended to be “bests” by any means – that would really be stepping out on a log boom! – but favourites selected by ourselves and some of our regular contributors.

We’d love to hear what you think of our choices – and we’d love to hear about your favourites. We’re interested in the categories you see below, as well as any other destinations or activities that inspire you to get out boating: marinas, bistros, beaches, hiking trails, fishing or kayaking spots, viewpoints, boating events or celebrations, lazy day hangouts…whatever spins your prop! Email comments and suggestions to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., tell us what, where and why, and we’ll assemble your stories and photos into a future article. We’re looking forward to hearing from you.

For now, we invite you to settle in on your boat, reach for something cool and enjoy our favourites.

Marine Park: Newcastle Island
By Duart Snow

When the BC coast offers an abundance of marine parks in wild and far-flung places, a park that lies less than a mile off one of Vancouver Island’s largest cities might seem an unlikely “favourite.” But Newcastle Island has been exceptionally good to us over the years: we land here year after year and we never leave disappointed. We’ve begun and ended many cruises here, made new friends and met old ones, tramped its trails and its beaches, swum in its waters, and lazed on deck while the sun set over Vancouver Island and the lights of Nanaimo winked on. Our dachshund Rosie literally grew up and grew old here; she no longer does the eight-kilometre trek around the island with us but she’s still up for hunting beach crabs on the shoreline close to the park docks. We were even inspired to buy our present trawler by folks we met here, so returning in Thea feels like coming home.

These days, Newcastle is our base for exploring Nanaimo as it morphs from a gritty industrial port to a cosmopolitan city with a rich food and cultural scene. And if you don’t feel like cooking or crossing the harbour for provisions, the coast’s most unique marine pub, The Dinghy Dock, beckons about 150 oar pulls away. How much better can the cruising life get?

Honourable Mentions: Montague Harbour, Rebecca Spit

Duart Snow is editor of Canadian Yachting West.
 
Photos:
Ready to ramble: Newcastle beckons when it’s time for a walk. Credit: Jan Snow
The docks at Newcastle Island draw cruisers and locals alike. Credit: Duart Snow


Anchorage: Murray Labyrinth
By William Kelly

The challenge in selecting a favourite anchorage, at least for me, is that there are so many beautiful coves and bays along our coast it seems a shame to leave any unmentioned. But when I really need to put my tired brain to rest, I think of the remote anchorages beyond Johnstone Strait. There are many quiet and protected anchorages from the Broughton Archipelago to Bella Bella and these are the places that really keep me interested in owning a boat. One that sticks in my mind is Murray Labyrinth, a very difficult anchorage to get into – but even more difficult to leave because of its absolute serenity and beauty.

Located 12 miles south of Cape Caution, Murray Labyrinth is a pristine and rewarding destination for cruisers who like to navigate intricate shorelines. It is encircled by islets, rocks and reefs but there are safe ingresses from two directions. The preferred entrance is from the southwest, as shown clearly on Chart 3921 with detail of the dog-leg channel that cuts between the islets. This entrance follows a 12’ trench clear of kelp in a northeasterly direction to two islands where the first 45-degree turn to port is made. The more daunting entrance from the north has ample depth in a narrow channel but is best reconnoitered first by dinghy.

Once inside, the best spot to anchor is on the southeast side, away from a rock that lies in the middle of the anchorage. The entire cove is quite sheltered with only the odd weak gust disturbing the serenity. We have been secure here when Egg Island was reporting a gale, but within Murray Labyrinth only the treetops moved. There is little current running through the anchorage and holding is very good in sticky mud and sand.

This has been a favourite anchorage of ours for many years and we linger here as long as possible. The area immediately south of Cape Caution is often very quiet as most cruisers focus on getting around the cape and overlook these beautiful islands at the entrance to Seymour Inlet. This is utopia for those who enjoy puttering about in the dinghy, with miles of shoreline, numerous little passages and dozens of islets to explore. Local wildlife we've seen has included killer whales (a little further north around the corner from Skull Cove), humpback whales (south of McEwan Rock), seals, kingfishers, red-throated loons and various sea ducks.

Honourable Mentions: Fury Island, Booker Lagoon

Read more about Murray Labyrinth and hundreds of other anchorages in the new Second Edition of ‘Best Anchorages of the Inside Passage’ by William Kelly and Anne Vipond, available this fall. This new edition covers anchorages and ports from Victoria to beyond Cape Caution. Bill and Anne have been writing about cruising and anchorages along the BC coast for more than 30 years.

Photo:
Peaceful and pristine, Murray Labyrinth is worth the challenge of navigating your way inside. CREDIT: Ocean Cruise Guides


Waterfront Pub: The Lighthouse, Saturna Island
By Cherie Thiessen

Like a port in a storm, a pub at the end of the day’s cruise is a good thing indeed.  To rate highly with this skipper and crew, a pub has to meet exacting standards: great views and ambiance, friendly service, tasty grub at popular prices, and a bevy of brews and house wine selections. After an evening spent sampling local grains and grapes, we are not into hauling up anchor and going in search of a lee shore, so proximity to the anchorage is also way up there.

There’s usually space for our C&C 25 to snug up at the 200’ CRD Small Craft Harbours dock at Lyall Harbour, where the Lighthouse beams out its welcome. Failing that, we can always find anchorage in the harbour, tucked around Saturna Point where we are sheltered from all but northwest winds.  

A new deck added last year has doubled the pub’s views of sunsets and the ferries coming and going in Plumper Sound.  If we were any closer to the action we’d be walking on water.

The friendly staff love to share their island’s charms with visitors, resulting in good pub vibes. Lighthouse nachos are legendary as is the sockeye salmon on sourdough. Named after the Victoria brewery, the pub pumps out lots of popular suds like Tasman Pale Ale and Keepers Stout. It’s also where the locals hang out and that always adds to the fun.

Honorable Mentions: Springwater Lodge, Mayne Island; Dinghy Dock Pub, Protection Island; Port Browning Pub, North Pender Island

Cherie Thiessen is a longtime Pender Island resident who has enjoyed boating on the West Coast and in the Gulf Islands for almost a half-century. She and her partner cruise in a C&C 25 that they find perfectly adequate, never having been infected with “two-foot-it is.”

Photo:
Location, location: Saturna’s Lighthouse Pub boasts a stunning sunset view of southern Gulf Island waters. Credit: Cherie Thiessen


Sunset: Henry Bay, Denman Island
By Duart Snow

Last August’s hot spell was at its peak when we slipped into this expansive bay at the north end of Baynes Sound, on our way north of Desolation Sound. And if winter hadn’t intervened we might still be there! The sun beat down on the bay and the beach, the heat lay trapped in the bowl between Denman and Vancouver islands, and our only recourse was to pop frosty ones and tumble into the cool water…time after time. Henry Bay felt almost tropical and unlike almost anywhere else on the coast. No wonder it’s a favourite with folks from nearby Comox and Courtenay.

At the end of each day, evening brought relief from the heat and a starry show in the cloudless sky – but not before a pink sunset over the Comox Valley promised yet another delicious day of clear skies, hot sun and beach time. So Henry Bay earns Thea’s nod for her favourite sunset…and possibly her new favourite summer hangout as well!

Honourable Mentions: Sidney Spit, anywhere in Haida Gwaii  

Photo:
Summer sunset at Henry Bay. Credit: Duart Snow


Swimming Hole: Tent Island
By Cherie Thiessen

For me, one of the glories of a West Coast summer is that sea dip on a hot day, ideally while at anchor. Anyone who has ever cruised in the Gulf Islands knows how brutally cold their waters can be, so the trick is to know where to find the warmest waters. Teenie Tent Island, in Stuart Channel off the southeast tip of Penelakut Island, is such a place. We anchor at its southern end in about nine feet of water. One reason for the water’s warmth is its shallowness, so stay well out and don’t be caught by a falling tide. The anchorage is usually sheltered in summer, with only occasional westerlies or wakes from passing craft.

In addition to its warm water, convenient location, ease of anchoring and the sandy beach, the nearby lagoon boasts bathtub-like temperatures.

Tent Island was managed as a provincial park until the mid-‘70s when management was transferred to the Penelakut First Nation, so those going ashore or wishing to pitch tents should contact the band office at 250-246-2321.

Honorable Mentions: Saturna Beach, Breezy Bay; Bennett Bay, Mayne Island

Photo:
Cherie Thiessen tests the waters at Tent Island. Credit: David Dossor

Destinations

  • Prev
The sunny sky suddenly turned black as we waited on the blue line for our turn to enter the mammoth ...
Morning. Thompson Island on Lake Superior. Fourteen nautical miles out of Thunder Bay. Perfect ...
Cruising on Canada’s East Coast, at least for those who have never been there, can conjure up ...
We are taking off from Antigua and are tightly belted into our twin-engine, seven-seater ...
We were cruising for two weeks in Gwaii Haanas. Spread out among three boats, (a Campion, a ...
Glancing down into the water as I prepared to furl in the genoa for the approach to the Tobago ...
Boaters visiting historic Gig Harbor will be rewarded with one of the most extensive and sheltered ...
Saturday, July 18th, 2015  the Port of Newcastle invites you to their 21st Annual Wooden Boat ...
The sun was just starting to light up the horizon when we departed our home slips in Crystal ...
Georgian Bay: Just the words evoke ethereal images, stirring something special in the hearts and ...

Galley Guys in Holland

Greg Nicoll

As the result of some scheduling issues, career commitments and just bad timing, our sojourn to Holland became a guys only trip. Here is what we would tell our wives that they missed by not joining us on our Le Boat trip in Holland.

Roster for the trip:
* Captain John Armstrong on the wheel * First Mate Robin Ball, navigator, tactician and sous chef * Deck Crew Greg Nicoll, lines and bollards, plus some cooking and storytelling...

Read more about the Galley Guys in Holland..

 

Boat Reviews

  • Prev
Best of both in a 20 footer. Sailing that narrow line between day-racer and full sized cruiser, ...
Sleek and fast, this family cruiser has roots in narrow V hulls of ocean racers, but it handles ...
Craftsmanship and luxury are hiding out in Muskoka. It’s a fibreglass I/O but it smells like ...
The Azimut 55 S offers the discriminating buyer a unique combination of Italian style and design ...
This elegant new cruiser shows where the future of production yacht design is headed. In fact, it’s ...
We had the pleasure of traveling to Wisconsin to attend the Cruisers Yachts dealer meeting this ...
the object of any boat association is to foster and encourage its class as a club racer, and/or a ...
When in Rome – do as the Romans do, so when in BC we did as many lucky Western Canadians have done, ...
Fast, dry cuddy cabin. High freeboard, easy planning and lots of power keep the Canadian built ...
I am actually laughing at myself as I sit down to write this review of the Neptunus 625 MotorYacht ...

Azimut 55 SAndy Adams

The Azimut 55 S offers the discriminating buyer a unique combination of Italian style and design innovation.

The express cruiser style in this boat is refined in a number of interesting and unique ways. The distinctive bow styling serves an important purpose as does the attractive transom treatment while the rest of the yacht in between is an outstanding expression of the contemporary express cruiser style.

Our guide through the boat was Derek Mader, President of Executive Yacht in Toronto and our Azimut 55 S was, at that time, the only 2016 model available in Canada. Derek had ordered the boat in because he believed it had some unique features and indeed, it's unexpected to find a 55 foot express cruiser that includes both a private crew cabin and an enclosed dinghy garage.

Read more: Azimut 55 S...

Lifestyle

  • Prev
Bermuda is the host country for the 35th America’s Cup, set to take place in 2017, a competition ...
In 1791, a 36 foot sailboat from Spain, captained by Don Jose Maria Narvaez anchored off Point Grey ...
Mark Mattson is a man of gentle demeanor but don’t be fooled by his calm, cool collectedness. This ...
We hear about the plastic problem in our oceans all the time. Scientists on the media talk to us ...
Thick beef stew you can make in any galley, over a campfire or at home.  Good eaten from a bowl or ...
As summer becomes a distant memory, see if you can close your eyes and recall those glorious days ...
The Halifax Harbour is well known not only to mariners and historians, but also to most Canadians ...
What is it that keeps most of us active and involved with our friends when the sailing season ends? ...
An artist is able to visualize their thoughts and interpretations through their mind’s eye to ...
My early reading about sailing explorers and fur trading voyageurs gave me a desire to travel by ...

Stony Lake Yacht ClubKatherine Stone

As summer becomes a distant memory, see if you can close your eyes and recall those glorious days when you spent more than one lazy day hanging around the general store at the cottage. Not only was it a great place to purchase some penny candy, but also the place where you could eavesdrop on conversations that your parents said you should know nothing about. It’s where countless members of small communities seemed to blend seamlessly when they sailed, laughed, danced, swam, had ice creams, paddled, and shared cherished memories in a casual, summer atmosphere. C and Stony Lake Yacht Club comprise this community which has existed for some eight generations on Juniper Island in the ‘Jewel of the Kawarthas’. Many say that if Stony Lake is a community then Juniper is its hub.  In the late 40s, Swatty Wotherspoon came to the lake and has been returning ever since. For him, life-lasting friendships were made where he vividly remembers square dances at the Pavillion, which became a very important place for his family growing up. He still treasures the spoons he won in the races sailing with everyone out of the yacht club.

Read more: Stony Lake Yacht Club...

  • 2016 Azimut 55 S Yacht Sea Trial with Andy Adams of Canadian Yachting
  • Neptunus 650 Express Tour with Canadian Yachting Magazine
  • Yacht Controller Founder Gerald Burton Describes This Precision Docking Innovation
  • Explore the new Cruisers 60 Cantius with Andy Adams and Canadian Yachting
  • Beneteau GT40 Sneak Peek with Canadian Yachting's John Armstrong
  • Galley Guys at Krates Marina in Keswick, Ontario
  • Executive Yacht at Toronto Outer Harbour with Canadian Yachting Magazine
  • Diane Reid - Clipper Round the World Race - The Countdown is On
  • Port Credit Spring In-Water Boat Show with Canadian Yachting Magazine
  • 2016 Neptunus 62 Launch with Canadian Yachting
  • Enjo Outdoor Cleaning Kit - Chemical Free Cleaning Solutions for your Boat
  • Keeping Diesel Fuel Clean Part III - Water Separators - Ask the Experts
  • Launch Day 2015, Midland Bay Sailing Club with Canadian Yachting magazine
  • Keeping Diesel Fuel Clean Part II - Filters - Ask the Experts
  • Mystic Seaport Museum with Canadian Yachting magazine
  • Marine Museum of the Great Lakes with Canadian Yachting magazine
  • Kingston’s Pumphouse Steam Museum with Canadian Yachting magazine
  • Antique Boat Museum Clayton NY with Canadian Yachting magazine
  • Shrink Wrapping a 16 ft Glastron Bowrider for Winter Storage
  • Flare Disposal with CPS-ECP's John Gullick and Canadian Yachting
  • Keeping Diesel Fuel Clean Part I: Biocide  - CY's Ask the Experts
  • How to Select & Install the Solar Charging System on Your Boat -  CY's Ask the Experts
  • Boating Simulator with John Gullick of CPS-ECP and Andy Adams of Canadian Yachting
  • Cruising in the SeaRay 310 with Canadian Yachting at the 2015 Miami Boat Show

 

Marine Products

  • Prev
The Intelliboat® Boarding Ladder Sensor will be on display in the El Capitan booth (D135, Miami ...
The Nova Scotia based distributor is importing an interesting new product from Australia.    ...
Record video and take photos while swimming, diving or doing whatever you enjoy most underwater... ...
Garmin International Inc., a unit of Garmin Ltd. has announced the next-generation marine GPS ...
Carver Yachts has announced that it will introduce its new flagship, the C50 Command Bridge, at ...
Horizon Power Catamarans will be displaying the PC60 and PC52 at newly named Yachts Miami Beach ...
Beneteau America announces the launch of the all-new Oceanis41.1  at the upcoming Strictly Sail ...
Raymarine Quantum Radar, by FLIR, is the next generation of marine radar featuring CHIRP pulse ...
Coastal Craft is scheduled to launch the second 65’ Concord in early January...      
The new Reverso Automatic Outboard Flushing System, winner of the NMMA Product Innovation Award ...