• Mobile App For Android Now Online!

    Download it here. The app is searchable in the Google Play Store under Sailboat Owners.

    Sorry iPhone/iPad users, we are still waiting on Apple. :(

    Click the X in the upper right corner to make this go away

Circumnavigation Vancouver Island 2020 Cruise

Jul 1, 1998
3,038
Hunter Legend 35 Poulsbo/Semiahmoo WA
.... On leaving Bamfield we have a bit of sailing to do in order to round the south end of the island. Our first goal will be to round Cape Beale. A morning departure is advised by the "local wisdom".
"The collision of currents combined with wind and shallow depths around the cape can make for heavy going" (Waggoners Guide). So an early departure to meet the Summer westerly breezes and the longshore currents to find our way to Port Renfrew.
View attachment 176449
What to expect toward the end of summer is lots of thick fog. Leaving Bamfield won't be so bad because it is a narrow inlet but as one heads out of the harbor it can be really foggy that time of year.
Another comment about Port Renfrew. Port San Juan for the large bay on the chart; have not been into the actual Port Renfrew marina. That is typically a very rolly anchorage. It would be good to experience it once so one knows. The swells going into the Strait of Juan de Fuca seem to arc around and enter the inlet while any wind sets the boat in a direction that puts it at an angle to the swell. Not every wind/swell situation will be the same but in the time we've been there that's what it's been like. For us, if it can be avoided we will avoid it, even if it makes for a long day otherwise.

With the typical winds that time of year one can make good speed over water and with an incoming tide the speed over ground is even better. However, the fog can persist well into the late morning even with the wind. One memorable day we departed Bamfield, got hit by the fog, rounded the Cape Beale as the wind really picked up. Ran down the Strait in the separation zone with the Canadian military doing an exercise, we could hear the aircraft overhead but not see them), and were dong 10 kts through the water all the way to Sooke. Could have easily reached Port Townsend that day but at that speed it is wearing. The fog gradually lifted during the day and turned into high overcast and we arrived in sunny Sooke early that afternoon.

....Our next run will be influenced by weather, tidal currents and winds. It could be a long sailing day or we can break it up by hiding in Sooke Harbour.
Editorial comment: Sooke would be our preference for a port of call over Victoria on this leg. Very relaxing and laid back area. Easy walk to town.
 
Last edited:
Oct 22, 2014
12,124
CAL 35 Cruiser Portland OR, moored EVERETT WA
Thank you John for the local knowledge. Your insight goes along with the reading I have been doing regarding sailing into the Juan D’Fuca from Barkley Sound.

After so many days together I think the sailors will be making decisions based on the weather, conditions and the wisdom of locals.
 
  • Like
Likes: Will Gilmore
Jul 1, 1998
3,038
Hunter Legend 35 Poulsbo/Semiahmoo WA
Michael - nice pictures! And a nice looking marina. Doesn't look anything like the one I remember, had mostly small craft like trailerable boats. Given the long run from Bamfield in to, say Sooke, it'd be really nice to know this can be a stop-over option.
One year when going out there were seiners anchored out all along the Juan de Fuca Vancouver Is. coast and that was interesting.
On another trip out, after leaving Victoria in the morning in thick fog, after we finally got radar, we were between the shore and the traffic zone chugging along with autopilot, on a comparatively flat sea, and with the radar I could see targets ahead. Had the electric air horn on automatic, temporarily mounted on the bow pulpit, and as we went along the targets would move out of the way but couldn't even see 'em. This went on for miles (or kilometers). Well, maybe saw one or two. They were obviously all small sport-fishing boats and this was after Victoria and to quite a way even beyond Sooke. Been thinking about doing an upgrade to a more powerful setup but haven't got 'round to it.
If you can't tell, we like stopping at Sooke.
Edit: Earlier, when I wrote about anchoring, it was with regard to anchoring along the northwest shore. Maybe the southeast shore has fewer swells coming in?
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Likes: jssailem
Jan 5, 2017
1,691
Beneteau First 38 Lyall Harbour Saturna Island
Hi John, it's a pretty good marina. Nice high stone breakwater, fuel and simple foods ( burgers ,fish and chips etc) It's mostly for sport fishing boats but there are several hundred feet for us who are a little longer.
We've never been into Sooke by boat ( many times by car ),usually anchor in Beacher Bay if waiting for the flood to take us home.
 
  • Like
Likes: jssailem
Jul 1, 1998
3,038
Hunter Legend 35 Poulsbo/Semiahmoo WA
The Port Renfrew picture show it much more upscale than what it used to be, so perhaps new management.
We've been to Sooke one time by car ... it was a looong drive as I remembered it; by boat it seemed shorter. The entrance requires some attention to detail, like the navigation markers and one's depth sounder.
Never been to Beacher Bay ... looks scary. Often looked at it as we went past.

With regard to Barkley Sound, I'm curious how the electronic chart data correlates with the older paper charts. The GPS we know is exact but the paper charts were developed over a century or more with surveys and soundings. In the case of the Charlottes, there are numerous cases where the paper chart is way off from the GPS coordinates, particularly on the west coast. So I'm wondering how the map makers merged the old surveys with the GPS data to come up with the maps we're using to navigate with. My concern is with all the rocks and reefs out there, and particularly with Barkley Sound and also in Checleset Bay between Brooks and the Walters Cove area. There are lots of places where one can go "bump".

Speaking of Tofino, the first few times we went there it was really nice because there were lots of anchorages and even a few sandy beaches. The last few times, though, the fish farms have pretty much taken over all the nice anchorages. They say you can tie up to a fish pen but who would want to? I've never seen anybody do it so maybe that's not true. Doesn't matter anyway because we wouldn't do it. The Tofino area has a LOT of fish pens and for the short run up the coast from Barkley Sound it used to be really worth it.

The run from Hot Springs Cove to Tofino is another pea soup fog area. What memories there! And, with two lookouts on the bow, going dead slow, and two more helping me with navigation, one watching the depth sounder calling out the numbers. Pre radar & GPS days. *sigh*

Walters Cove is another must stop. And I'd add Sea Otter Cove, too.
 
Oct 22, 2014
12,124
CAL 35 Cruiser Portland OR, moored EVERETT WA
two lookouts on the bow, going dead slow, and two more helping me with navigation, one watching the depth sounder calling out the numbers. Pre radar & GPS days. *sigh*
Now that is high stress. I suspect it would be High stress even today with GPS. So much can go wrong.
 
Jan 5, 2017
1,691
Beneteau First 38 Lyall Harbour Saturna Island
With regard to Barkley Sound, I'm curious how the electronic chart data correlates with the older paper charts.
I've never had that trouble in Barkley Sound. In Emily Carr, Princess Royal Is. and in the Bunsbys a couple of times the GPS showed us anchored high and dry.
 
Last edited:
Dec 25, 2000
4,364
Hunter Passage 42 Shelter Bay, WA
Ditto here. Maybe once or twice during the season the GPS will be tracking a route and suddenly shift 500’ over for a minute or so, then return just as suddenly to its original course. Weird. Less often In US waters it will show our boat anchored in dry land, but more often in CA waters. No idea why.
 
Jul 1, 1998
3,038
Hunter Legend 35 Poulsbo/Semiahmoo WA
Hot Springs Cove to Tofino
The time was mid August, 1991. We were at Hot Springs Cove and getting ready to leave when a young couple from Switzerland asked if they could hitch a ride back to Tofino. They were stranded as they came with two other couples from Tofino who wanted to share expenses via a chartered boat, and the others decided to stay longer. The Swiss couple didn’t have time to stay and needed to get back to Tofino so we took them aboard. Then a gal who had been with a friend circumnavigating Vancouver Island asked if she could also come along. She had a serious falling out with her skipper boy friend and “just wanted out” so we took her, too.

The day was sunny, the forecast was typical summer, the wind hadn’t built up yet but enough so that the sea had become a bit lumpy. It wasn’t very far to Tofino and because going inside had a lot of obsticales (read: rocky things you don’t want to bump into) I decided to just make the jaunt down the outside. We had been to Tofino before so knew the entrance.

Well, wouldn’t you know it, while part way down the outside conditions changed, and changed fast! The offshore fog which appeared holding well offshore had started to roll in. Decision time: continue as planned into pea soup or do a U-turn and try the inside. The third option of returning to Hot Spring Cove wasn’t really an option because we were too far along so I opted for the U-turn inside route.

There was a buoy we had to “hit” (as a waypoint) to make the turn to go inside and the thick fog front had caught up with us before we got to the buoy. I had maintained the compass course we had been on and even thought the buoy became enveloped in the fog we managed to find it. From this known position, I let my wife run the helm with the female escapee while I was below figuring out the bearing and distance to the next waypoint. The current and wind made navigation less accurate. By now we had a system down as after I had my calculations I would take over the helm again. In the meantime, the Swiss couple were on the bow as lookout. This system worked well for several legs until we were up Clamus Passage approaching Morfee Island when things didn’t go quite right.

While slowly motoring along the next buoy didn’t show up according to plan and the depth started to get really shallow. The bow watch called out “Rocks dead ahead” so went full reverse. Bummer. We were lost and only had a general idea where we were. With use of the depth sounder I figured out that we were too far south and the channel we needed was probably to port, so I carefully steered in that direction and the depth picked up but that still didn’t tell us where we were as the channel widened and forked in that area. There was a blue hole in the fog at the moment and my wife noticed the peak of a mountain. But what mountain?

Based on our general location and the direction of the mountain, that gave us some more information. After integrating the info we slowly steered in a new direction and the buoy we had been looking for, a red can “Y 10” (shown on the current chart), came into view. The mountain peak turned out to be, correctly, “Little Cone”, elevation 730 feet, on Meares Island. Whew! Relief! We had now passed abeam Morfee Island. Even though we were within a few hundred feet Of Morfee we never even saw it!!!

From the “Y 10” buoy it was an easier job to run a course toward Meares Island. The visibility improved slightly to where the shore of Meares could actually be seen, we thence went along side Mears and onward toward Tofino. Near the southwestern end of Mears the fog started to lift and finally the clear blue sky with the warm summer sun opened up. With the worst over, we still had to get past the Deadman Islets but after what we had been through that would be a piece of cake. With any kind of a plus tide one can see lots of water, so what’s the problem? The danger lurks below, hence the name. Fortunately, there is a narrow but well marked channel so (now in broad daylight) that was helpful.

Epilog: The Swiss couple were glad to make it back to Tofino and we received mail from them for a few years afterward. The young gal who abandoned ship (not unlike many crew on the old square-rigged whaling ships with a stern captain), went to town and hopefully found a more pleasant way back home. The skipper who became a solo sailor, ... have no clue. We had a pleasant stay in Tofino then headed to Barkley Sound.

Note and lesson learned: it is very difficult to estimate how far away a fog bank is.
 
Last edited:
Jan 5, 2017
1,691
Beneteau First 38 Lyall Harbour Saturna Island
OK I know it’s not around Vancouver Island but we did manage to sail around Saturna this week. Two nights in Narvaez Bay then a great sail out around Boiling Reef and up to Winter Cove. Back to Lyall Harbour in the morning.2FB13535-3BDD-4D8B-9210-D4303641F36B.jpeg Two other boats with us.
DC99F07D-F1D5-4C99-9428-20F2940452E6.jpeg View looking East from Narvaez. Cliff side on Saturna, Patos Island, Mt. Baker with it’s head in the clouds and the N.W. corner of Sucia Island showing to the right.
2D3CB978-C7BF-44D7-8B21-87C861E9BE88.jpeg Boat Passage into Winter Harbour. Can be a little tricky with rocks and currents to 6 knots.