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
Bridgetown, Barbados:With just four days to go before the start of the 2017 Mount Gay Round ...
You've all heard of the “Backpacker's Guide to Europe” and the “Hitchhiker's ...
We were cruising for two weeks in Gwaii Haanas. Spread out among three boats, (a Campion, a ...
When we (an Ontario couple) both raised sailing on the Great Lakes and Lake Simcoe,  decided to ...
I was ruined...completely and utterly ruined. At the young age of 22, my very first trip to the ...

Millennial's Charter in the BVI's

By Clarity Nicoll

Vacation of a lifetime in the BVI’s

You've all heard of the “Backpacker's Guide to Europe” and the “Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy”. Well then, consider this the ”Millennial's Guide to Chartering”. Millennial's chartering? Madness you say! I say otherwise. Now, I can't speak for everyone in my generation, but I know that for the most part we are action seekers, relaxation experts, adrenaline junkies, food lovers, cocktail savvy, adventure hungry and looking for some awesome pictures to put on our Instagram accounts.

Read more of the Millennial's...

 

 

Lifestyle

  • Prev
Hello Photo of the Week enthusiasts and welcome to a superb album to kick off 2017.
Adamant 1 has had a busy month. We only stayed in Mobile long enough to get the mast put up and get ...
Wow you take good shots. We’re delighted with all the input, but please don’t slow ...
This story comes to us from Chelsea Ellard, aged 12 of Thunder Bay Ontario.     ...
It’s nothing short of spectacular, this view of Willemstad’s waterfront from the stone ...
In 1801, an enterprising Loyalist and British Army officer, Colonel Samuel Bois Smith, was granted ...
It was in one of the lakes, at mile 379, that Adamant lost her transmission. One moment we were ...
On the often overlooked yet welcoming shores of the Strait of Canso the Mulgrave Marine Park is in ...
Nova Scotia's majestic coastline is often popularized by such great harbours, cove and bays that go ...
For centuries the lure of the west coast brought settlers, immigrants, migrant workers, gold ...

Lakeshore Yacht Club

By Katherine Stone

From main dock with retired committee boat on the left and the new Lakeshore Lady on the right.

In 1801, an enterprising Loyalist and British Army officer, Colonel Samuel Bois Smith, was granted 1,000 acres of land south of what is now Kipling Avenue in Etobicoke.Fast-forward to the end of the century and this tract of land would be occupied by the newly constructed Mimico Lunatic Asylum, to be renamed the Lakeshore Psychiatric Hospital,which closed in 1979. 

Read more about Lakeshore Yacht Club.....

 

Boat Reviews

  • Prev
You can count yourself lucky to be able to go for a sail on Lake Ontario in mid-October when the ...
We met the new Cruisers Yachts 54 Cantius under almost ideal circumstances, on the beautiful Trent ...
The Chris-Craft Scorpion 210F is a sport boat with a unique combination of a midship motor and an ...
There must be a healthy market for the perfect 30-foot cruiser/racer – the boat that combines ...
At the last Miami International Boat Show, we had the pleasure of interviewing Delphine Andre, ...
In today's world marketplace choices abound. In some way, every manufacturer tries to make their ...
If you followed the drama of the 1998-99 Around Alone race with its host of mast failures, rudder ...
With a berth in a location such as Swan's Marine in Frenchman's Bay, in Pickering Ontario, and the ...

Vanquish 24 RunaboutBy Andy Adams

Big, elegant, and capable

Families with young people who are seriously into waterskiing or wake boarding face a difficult choice: Buy a dedicated tow sports boat and make the kids happy or buy a more traditional family boat and make everyone comfortable.

In our opinion, the Vanquish 24 Runabout offers up a big, elegant, and capable solution that could make everybody happy. This is not a cheap solution, but it's an impressive one. Last August, we traveled to Gravenhurst, Ontario, and got our first look at the Vanquish 24 Runabout, tied up at Muskoka Wharf Marine. One glance told us this was a special boat.

Read More of the Vanquish 24 Review.....

Marine Products

  • Prev
Now this sounds like a bright idea! Halifax-basedCanada Rope and Twine Ltd has announced the launch ...
My copy of Northwest Boat Travel Guide just arrived. This time of the year is the perfect time for ...
While many boat owners simply choose not to venture out after dark, there are occasions when you ...
Vidas Stukas of the Royal Victoria Yacht Club has always experimented with his sail boats to ...
In the December issue of Canadian Yachting, we review the new Cruisers Yachts 54 Cantius. Cruisers ...
I must admit my bias upfront to this book review; it’s a book I devoured and read cover to ...
The Hanse 315 e-motion rudder drive, which revolutionizes the way sailing yachts are propelled.
Always a major exhibitor at the Halifax International Boat Show, Seamaster’s sales manager ...
STEREOACTIVE is the world’s first purpose-built, portable, IPx7 waterproof, floating, ...
Esthec® introduces a special concept: luminous decking material. Solar energy that has been ...

Seamasters Inflatables

Always a major exhibitor at the Halifax International Boat Show, Seamaster’s sales manager Dave Trott tells us they will have several news products on display including the new Stingray 206cc and the 186cc.

Seamaster Services of Dartmouth is a diversified company with roots in the marine safety business. Over the years they have expanded from liferafts to inflatable boats, as a Zodiac dealers, and now sell and service an extensive line of fibreglass and inflatable boats including Grady-White and Stingray.

Read more about Seamasters....