EXCITING YACHT DESTINATIONS BC
Yacht destinations BC Coast and Vancouver Island
Framed by snow-capped mountain ranges, tranquil waterways and lush landscapes await those who sail alongside Canada’s most Western Coast. Through passages and channels, inlets and coves, Vancouver Island and the BC Coastline, offer yachters awe-inspiring scenery with an endless opportunity to explore.
Below we’ve listed the region’s most coveted destinations. From native villages, dense rainforests, marine parks, wildlife (like Grizzlys and Orca whales), first-time visitors will see and experience things they never have before. Let us help you plan the most memorable adventure.
Here are only some of the destinations on Vancouver Island and the BC Coast that are well worth the visit.
Sydney Inlet is the northern entrance to Clayoquot Sound. It is adjacent to Hot Springs Cove and leads approximately 11 miles into the mountains of Vancouver Island with several good anchorages.
Located 130 miles north of Vancouver Island and 65 miles west of the BC coast’s mainlands, Haida Gwaii offers some of the Northwest’s most spectacular cruising. Haida Gwaii, formaly called Queen Charlotte Islands, is an archipelago of over 150 islands, best explored by boat.
Okisollo Channel runs along the east and north sides of Quadra Island, from Surge Narrows to Discovery Passage. Surge Narrows and Beazley Passage should be run at or near slack water. Spring floods set eastward to 12 knots and ebbs set westward to 10 knots.
The Bunsby Islands are rocky, rugged, and beautiful. They were named for a character in the Charles Dickens novel Dombey and Son. A number of other features in the area also carry names from that novel.
Johnstone Strait is a seductive and difficult body of water. The strait begins at Chatam Point in the east, and stretches 54 miles along the northeast side of Vancouver Island to Blinkhorn Peninsula. It is the shortest route up or down the island.
Best described as tranquil, raw, and untouched, Desolation Sound is located at the northern end of the Sunshine Coast in British Columbia and is easily considered a yachters paradise. Fjords, inlets, coves, bays, and mountainous terrain leave it ripe for exploration.
Smuggler Cove has a narrow entrance through the rocks, but opens to a beautiful anchorage that is protected from most weather. We have received reports that the cove is not protected from northwesteries. Before entering, first -timers shoud have in hand sheet 3 from Sunshine Coast Strip Chart 3311 or Plans Chart 3535.
Bella Bella is a major Native village, with gasoline and diesel, potable water, garbage drop, and a good grocery store and nice cafe; cell phone service is good. The village has a hospital. The closest laundromat is at Shearwater. The fuel dock attendants are courteous, but religious about their lunch hour.
Hot Springs Cove Vancouver Island is adjacent to Sydney Inlet, the norther entrance to Clayoquot Sound. Depending on the points of departure and arrival and the exact course chosen, the distance from Nootka Sound around Estevan Point, past Hesquiat Peninsula, and east to Hot Springs Cove, is approximately 30 – 31 miles.
Desolation Sound is not a huge area. Even a slow boat can go from one end to another is a day. But Desolation Sound offers a wilderness setting, generally easy waters, many bays and coves to explore and anchor in, and marinas where fuel and supplies area available.
The Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, a Protected Area, was created in 1987 and encompasses the southern third of the archipelago. The Reserve is jointly managed by the Haida and the government of Canada. It is unique in Canada, covering both lnland and sea.
Lasqueti Island is often overlooked by yachts as they cruise across the strait between Nanaimo and the Sunshine Coast, or run along the Vancouver Island shore between Nanaimo and Campbell River. The island has a number of good anchorages
Depending on your direction, Barkley Sound is the first sound on the way north or the last sound on the way south. It is roughly square in shape, measuring 15 miles across it’s mouth and approximately 12 miles deep, not counting the 20-mile-long canal to Port Alberni.
Jervis Inlet extend 46 miles into Coast range mountains and is the route to fabled Princess Louisa Inlet. Jervis Inlet is 1 to 1.5 miles wide and often more than 600 feet deep. Steep to shores, with mountains rising directly above, make for a few good anchorages.
Poets Cove Marina is open all year, gasoline, diesel, and ice at the fuel dock. Guest moorage to 100 feet in 95 slips and side tie, 30 amp power. If slips are filled, a floating dock is available at a reduced rate for smaller vessels. Liquor store, cafe, pub with dining, heated pool, hot tube spa, Eucalyptus steam cave, fitness center and free Wi-Fi. Coin operated laundry machines are located adjacent to the pool.
The Gulf Islands National Park Reserve came into being in 2004. Many former provincial parks, and most of the uninhabited islands and islets south of Active Pass, were transferred to the new national park, plus a number of other properties that were purchased.
The Gulf Islands receive much summertime sun and little summertime rainfall. The Gulf Islands are blessed with dozens of anchorages, from one-boat notches to open bays that hold many boats. Marine parks provide anchorage, mooring and occasional docking possibilities and facilities ashore for the small yachts.
A bucket-list sailing experience and considered by some to be the Grand Canyon of the North, British Columbia’s Princess Louisa Inlet is similarly thought to be glacially carved. It’s frequently described as a granite-walled gorge, with serene waters, and is disturbed only by the thundering and paradoxically calming sounds of the nearby cascading sixty-some waterfalls.
Beautiful Sechlet Inlet, with a few anchorages and limited facilities for pleasure craft, is often passed by especially with Princess Louisa Inlet at the end of the nearby Jervis Inlet. Sechelt Rapids also serve as a gate to keep out all but the determined.
Located 4 1/2 hours north of the marina is the famous Long Beach and the ultimate surfer town Tofino. The Outside Magazine has named Tofino as North America’s top surf town. Driving to Tofino you pass Cathedral Grove in MacMillan Provincial Park which is home to an ancient rain-forest, rivers teaming with fish and a scenic mountain range of snow-capped mountains. You can rent a car, RV or charter a flight from the marina to Tofino.
Bute Inlet, approximately 35 miles long, is very deep. Except in small areas near he mouths of rivers and at the head of the inlet, it is not good for anchorage. Usually, the bottom drops away steeply, making a stern-tie to shore necessary. Anchorages should be chosen with an eye to strong inflow winds during the afternnon, followed by calm, then by icy outflow winds in the morning.
Pender Island is a natural stopover for all boats heading north or south in the Strait of Georgia. For northbound vessels, it’s just the right distance for a day’s run from Nanaimo, Siva Bay, or Howe Sound. For vessels southbound form Desolation Sound, it’s a good place to prepare for the long, exposed legs across the Strait of Georgia or down the Sunshine Coast on route to Victoria International Marina
The day was sunny with only a gentle breeze, so we left the boat at the yacht club and motored the dinghy around Fleming Island. The impossibly rugged shoreline is dotted with sea caves. We were told that some of the caves extended far into the rock.
Squirrel Cove is made up of an outer bay and an inner bay. The outer bay provides access to the public wharf and the Squirrel Cove Trading Co. general store dock. The Flying Squirrel take-out stand and The Cove restaurant are located upland. A farmers market is held Sundays from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm.
The coves that make up the area generally known as Prideaux Haven are the most popular spots in Desolation Sound, with several requiring stern-ties to incrase the number of boats accommodated The area is described in great detail by M. Wylie Blanchet in her classic book “The Curve of Time”.