Pacific Northwest “Gates” and their Effect
The Pacific Northwest is a series of cruising areas separated by what we call “gates” – significant bodies of water that must be crossed. Although gates define our experience and abilities, they also serve as natural stopping points. Some cruisers stay in Puget Sound area because the Strait of Juan de Fuca and San Juan Channel is a gate. Some stay in the Gulf Islands because the Strait of Georgia and Dodd Narrows crossing is a gate bringing concerns about the sea state conditions. Some go no farther thank Desolation Sound because Johnstone Strait and the reversing tidal rapids north of Desolation sound are gates. And some stay south of Cape Caution because the ocean swells of Queen Charlotte Sound can be looked at as a gate. Gates exist all the way up the coast, all the way to Alaska.
Once beyond the gate and in a given cruising area, the waters are protected. Fortunately, summer weather usually is agreeable. With a study of the tide and current books, a close eye on the winds, an understanding of the weather, and a properly-equipped boat, the gates can be negotiated in safety, and often in comfort. The farther one decides to explore, the more time is needed. For the dedicated summertime Northwest cruiser, time is the principal element limiting cruising choices. For more information on gates visit our partner site Waggoner Cruising Guide.
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