• 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

Jan 10, 2013
394
Hunter 34 Vancouver, BC
Hello! I am planning a circumnavigation in 2020 as well but we'll be going in June. However I would very much like to participate in any discussion you have around route planning, what to watch out for, etc.. I have watched a variety of videos and some make the transit of Nahwitti Bar and Cape Scott look easy but others not so much. The description in Waggoners is a bit of a butt-clencher.

As an aside, I saw you are planning your trip for August. We have been to Barclay Sound a couple of times then and found out the hard way why locals there refer to it as "Fogust." It was pea soup from Port Renfrew to Bamfield.
 
Jan 5, 2017
1,431
Beneteau First 38 Lyall Harbour Saturna Island
Hi Doug. The "plan" is to start from Victoria in the last half of June and make it back before school starts in Sept. Would like to do it a little quicker but those are the outside dates. Radar is very helpful as you know. Paying close attention to weather in places like Nahwitti Bar is also important. We plan to keep a close eye on weather and sea conditions to make the trip as much fun as possible. This trip will be the 4th time around for Bev and me.
 
  • Like
Likes: YVRguy
Oct 22, 2014
10,822
CAL 35 Cruiser Portland OR, moored EVERETT WA
Hi Doug.
This will be my first trip around Vancouver Isle. As Michael has shared I am thinking the start to be Monday the 15th of June from Victoria. I am thinking I'll head up to Victoria about the 13th. And spend the weekend there. Leave on the 15th of June with our first stop Sidney. This will give any in joining as crew two spots to meet us and join up. From there it will be about 12 days of sailing to reach Hope Island, Bull Harbor, our staging spot for heading down the West side. Likely 19 or so days up the west side as we may stop over along the way to visit the locals on the East Side, and of course Canada Day. We will need at least one day of celebration and time enough to learn the words to "O Canada!"

Once we begin the trip south the wandering will be about weather staging and what to see in the many fjords and bays located on Vancouver Isle's western shore. I have told my wife 45 to 60 days. She said I'll join you for Victoria...

We would love to have you participate.
 
Jan 10, 2013
394
Hunter 34 Vancouver, BC
Hi Doug. The "plan" is to start from Victoria in the last half of June and make it back before school starts in Sept. Would like to do it a little quicker but those are the outside dates. Radar is very helpful as you know. Paying close attention to weather in places like Nahwitti Bar is also important. We plan to keep a close eye on weather and sea conditions to make the trip as much fun as possible. This trip will be the 4th time around for Bev and me.
Thanks for your reply Michael. I didn't realize the trip was going to be that long. We are planning for 3 weeks as I have work obligations. The plan is not to stay in any one place for more than a night unless weather forces our hand. Does that sound like a reasonable plan?
 
Jan 10, 2013
394
Hunter 34 Vancouver, BC
Hi Doug.
This will be my first trip around Vancouver Isle. As Michael has shared I am thinking the start to be Monday the 15th of June from Victoria. I am thinking I'll head up to Victoria about the 13th. And spend the weekend there. Leave on the 15th of June with our first stop Sidney. This will give any in joining as crew two spots to meet us and join up. From there it will be about 12 days of sailing to reach Hope Island, Bull Harbor, our staging spot for heading down the West side. Likely 19 or so days up the west side as we may stop over along the way to visit the locals on the East Side, and of course Canada Day. We will need at least one day of celebration and time enough to learn the words to "O Canada!"

Once we begin the trip south the wandering will be about weather staging and what to see in the many fjords and bays located on Vancouver Isle's western shore. I have told my wife 45 to 60 days. She said I'll join you for Victoria...

We would love to have you participate.
Thanks for your kind offer but I am constrained on time, given work obligations. My thinking is to complete the trip in 3 weeks by not staying anywhere more than one night unless weather forces us to stay put. My boat partner is retired and has more time so he is my safety valve. Worst case, if I run out of time I can fly home and let him complete the trip on his own or with another friend.

What I'd really love is a forum to ask questions as my experience on the far side of the island is limited. Hoping you don't mind if I pester you and the others once in a while.
 
  • Like
Likes: jssailem
Jan 5, 2017
1,431
Beneteau First 38 Lyall Harbour Saturna Island
planning for 3 weeks as I have work obligations.
I did it the first time in 3 weeks, and for the same reason. A bit of a rush and not the best way to see everything but a lot better than staying home. Work can be such a killjoy! Last time we took 5 1/2 months and saw a lot more.
 
Jan 10, 2013
394
Hunter 34 Vancouver, BC
On the subject of Nahwitti Bar, is conventional wisdom you should take the "southern route" behind the reefs closer to shore and avoid the actual bar altogether? This is what Waggoners suggests as well as some others. Curious for other opinions...
 
Oct 22, 2014
10,822
CAL 35 Cruiser Portland OR, moored EVERETT WA
For those not yet familiar with the waters at the Northern end of Vancouver Island, Nahwitti Bar is an underwater shelf that rises from the depths of the Pacific Ocean, beneath Goletas Channel. As a west facing bar it generally protects Pacific Ocean high seas rising in the Goletas Channel during west gales. Crossing this bar is one of the many challenges faced by mariners navigating the waters around the Island.

Nahwitti Bar 2019-12-01 at 10.11.57 AM.jpg

Information excerpted from Sailing Directions PAC202 Department Fisheries and Oceans, Canada

"Tidal Streams in the Goletas Channel and across Nahwitti Bar set east on the flood and west on the ebb. In the east part of Goletas Channel, tidal streams do not exceed 3 kn but at the west end, in vicinity of Nahwitti Bar they sometimes attain 5.5 kn.​
Nahwitti Bar extends from the west end of Hope Island across the west entrance to Goletas Channel. Tatnall Reefs on the south part of Nahwitti Bar extend NW from Vancouver Island. The fairway north of Tatnall Reef is about 0.8 mile wide with depths of 11 m. Depths on the seaward side of the bar increase very gradually. On the inside of the passage they increase suddenly to about 72 m. A swell is nearly always present on the bar. In bad weather with a west wind opposing a strong west-going tidal stream there is a very heavy sea on the bar that breaks and is dangerous to small vessels. In strong west gales, the sea breaks across the bar and it is dangerous to attempt crossing the bar.​
Tidal streams set fairly across the Nahwitti bBar in the direction of the channel and attain 5.5 kn The flood sets east the ebb sets west. The duration of the HW and LW slack is about 12 and 17 minutes, respectively.​
Heavy rips and overfalls are formed when the tidal stream is opposed by strong winds. These rips and overfalls can be dangerous to small craft. The best time to cross the bar is at or near slack water.​
It is reported that small vessels can avoid crossing the Nahwitti Bar by passing south of the Tatnall Reefs and following the Vancouver Island shore. Weser Island can be then passed on either the north or south side. Shelter can be found in the bay on the east side of Cape Sutil if required."​
 
Last edited:
Jan 5, 2017
1,431
Beneteau First 38 Lyall Harbour Saturna Island
On the subject of Nahwitti Bar,
I really like to pick my weather and so far have done OK. Twice up the side of Hope Island to the buoy before making the turn West. Two years ago we went straight across to Vancouver Island in thick fog and followed that side around to Cape Scott. It's been very calm every time and we've had to motor 'til picking up some wind at Cape Scott. I think if you pick your weather it will be OK. You don't want a strong N.W. wind against a strong ebb.
 
  • Like
Likes: jssailem
Dec 15, 2006
201
Catalina Catlina 310 Campbell River BC
Bull harbor is the normal lay over spot before taking on Nahwitti Bar. The bar is around 4 kt then deep water 75-100 feet, taking the shore line, depth is around 15-25 feet and that's all the way to Cape Sutil. Talking to club members about this area they stated most of the time its no problem in wind 10-15 knots, a few years ago during Van Isle 360 we had 25-40 knots with 20-35 foot seas and took a beating. A boat that was 4 hours later had 15-25 kt winds seas 10-15 feet had no problems but then that's racing. What needs to be done is find out what is the comfort level of every one as boats can take more than most sailors can handle.
 
  • Like
Likes: jssailem
Oct 22, 2014
10,822
CAL 35 Cruiser Portland OR, moored EVERETT WA
Doug,
To address your question you need to decide if you would rather sail in 6 to 16 ft of water (at low tide) or time your transit to optimize your passage over the bar. Here is a map of the waters. The depths are in feet.
The squiggly lines mark kelp beds near the shore.
Nahwitti Bar Chart 2019-12-01 at 10.52.44 AM.jpg
 
Dec 15, 2006
201
Catalina Catlina 310 Campbell River BC
Also if you go to YouTube and enter Nahwitti Bar there's a few clips of crossing the bar and some close to shore.
 
  • Like
Likes: jssailem