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Contessa26

Inexperienced skipper takes inexperienced crew around vancouver island

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Hi

I'm an inexperienced skipper who wants to take mostly green crew right around Vancouver Island in 2 weeks total, the same pace as the VanIsle360 race. I'm here for some advice and probably some flaming. Don't disappoint me, Anarchists.

I can't offer the same entertainment value as some of the lunatics on here- the boat is sound (38", new, full set of sails). Crew of 3, two new to sailing and one with about 1/2 my experience. I've been in and out of (smaller) boats my whole life so I am maybe a little too comfortable. I've skipped a Great Lakes live-aboard for a couple months, raced dinghies at school,  crewed one 600nm ocean crossing, and have studied my coastal nav. I have never had to set a drogue or heave-to in bad weather. Or flown a spinnaker.

To make a long story short I'm aiming to level up and get better, but a 2 week sprint around Vancouver Island is maybe all stretch, no goal. I'm hoping somebody one here can give me a sense of what to expect on the exposed Pacific coast or tell me to stop being a fucking idiot if necessary. The other option would be to cruise up the inside passage, spend some time checking out the Broughtons / Bella Coola, and cruise back down.

 

So..anyone who sails the west cost of B.C. or has done the VanIsle 360 want to help me NOT make the news?

 

 

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Don't do it.

Wait until you have a significant amount of experience. The West Coast kills people - even experienced ones.

It is not to be taken lightly or treated as a "sprint". Basically, stop being a fucking idiot ;)

Cruise around inside until you gain enough experience to know you shouldn't be asking this question.

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Get a more experienced crew/skipper or two, don't go if the weather/ocean conditions look bad, and consider just going to the north end of the island on your first trip then turn around and head south.  Reaching just the north end can be difficult as you need to transit Seymour narrows and Johnstone straight.  Either one can send you home without ever reaching the north end of the island.  The time of year is a big factor as well.  Do plenty of reading up on the area, know your "safe stops" and local weather.  Good luck, but don't be afraid to start small working your way up.  

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Why? Just to do it? No problem, we did it in 6 weeks and enjoyed the hell out of it 2-up on a 35'er. If it was up to me (and indeed it is) I would sail up to Barkley Sound and spend a week or so, and sail back. Doing the whole island on a schedule like that is not going to be fun for anyone, especially if it's ugly around any of the major capes.

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Going around Brookes Peninsula in a storm sux.  We had 1/4 of our crew out of commission for 24 hours due to the seas.  Even if it's not stormy, the outside has large enough swells that one or more of you will get seasick if you are the least bit susceptible.  And that is no fun for anyone.

If you really want to try the outside, have a longer available timeframe so that you are not "forced" to go when the weather is not good.

Take a trial trip out the Swiftsure Bank, that will give you an idea of your likelihood of getting sea sick.

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Quote

crewed one 600nm ocean crossing

That's good - you understand how big the ocean can be, and your insignificance sometimes!

But that's not a great goal to gain experience. A "sprint" means you're not waiting for the weather; you're going and the weather dictates your experience. This is a recipe for bad juju grasshopper.

I'd say gain a bit more practice sailing the big boat. Learn to anchor well; maybe including shore ties in some of the deeper anchorages. Make sure your coastal nav is acceptable - including FOG! In particular make sure you know which way the current is going since that dictates so much of BC sailing. 

The West Coast of Vancouver Island isn't going anywhere and it won't change much in a year or two either. You'll enjoy it much more, and be more relaxed with more time as a skipper on your boat.

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Do you possess the following qualities:
Engine mechanic
Firefighter
Carpenter
Electrician
Rigger
Plumber
Handyman
 

If not, you're not going to make it.

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I spent some time west of Vancouver Island in the big grey boats.   

The water was really rough.  Even in a big grey boat, lots of people were seasick.  Lots.  That area is notorious for being very rough.    

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12 minutes ago, Glenn McCarthy said:

Do you possess the following qualities:
Engine mechanic
Firefighter
Carpenter
Electrician
Rigger
Plumber
Handyman
 

If not, you're not going to make it.

Nah, this stuff isn't necessary.  But familiarity with the boat, having your boat in great condition, knowing your crew mates responses to stress and giving yourself plenty of time to do the trip is necessary.  Two weeks and inexperienced crew are the two major red flags here.  Ishmael is right, maybe just try a trip to Barkley Sound the first time.

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See where you get in a week, turn around and head back if you're not halfway. Definitely, know and follow your tidal currents. Be vigilant with safety. 

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I went around the island 2 summers ago with just one other person and we were both extremely new to sailing so it can be done. (new as in I'd just bought a boat two years before having previously never even touched a sailboat)

My issue is with your timeframe - two weeks is insane. I did it in a month and that was rushing a shitload and we woulda loved to have stuck around some spots.

Two weeks gives you zero leeway in waiting out shitty weather, or waiting for good conditions crossing Nahwitti Bar, Brookes Peninsula etc etc, meaning you'll be forced into shitty situations. You'll also be doing 12 hour days basically every day, which gets old fast.

If I had two weeks I'd go bum around Desolation Sound, or go up to the Broken group if you really want to see the west coast and sail around there/do some fishing. Maybe get to Hot Spring Cove.

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2 hours ago, Aqua Logic said:

See where you get in a week, turn around and head back if you're not halfway. Definitely, know and follow your tidal currents. Be vigilant with safety. 

That was my original plan -if we got up to Port Hardy in good time and the weather looked good, great, we could turn around and run down the outside. If getting up the Johnstone straight was hard work, call it there and work on our coastal skills with maybe a run up to Bella Coola.

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9 hours ago, Jammer Six said:

Make sure you park where the tribal fishermen think they own the dock.

Don't take advice from folks who haven't gone.

Plan carefully, you'll be happier in summertime.

Use common sense, which precludes taking advice from Sailing Anarchy. I didn't see any of them anywhere on my trip.

Managing seasickness hasn't changed in centuries. Nelson got seasick. Yes, that Nelson. Let it stop you or ignore it, your choice. Either way, you'll be one of millions.

Watch for whales and black bears. Black bears are more dangerous than griz.

There are several areas where there is no cell reception, but sat phones work all the way around.

Have a good time!

Charming and intelligent as ever. Fuckwit.

You didn't see any Anarchists? Like you'd know one if you saw one? Probably because you were head down on the leeward rail puking up everything you ate for the last four years.

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11 hours ago, SloopJonB said:

Don't do it.

Wait until you have a significant amount of experience. The West Coast kills people - even experienced ones.

It is not to be taken lightly or treated as a "sprint". Basically, stop being a fucking idiot ;)

Cruise around inside until you gain enough experience to know you shouldn't be asking this question.

Thanks SloopJonB, that might be what I need to hear. Looks like you know the area...the thing that's been bugging me is that looking at the charts/currents/weather the inside seems almost trickier. Tidal rips everywhere, wicked fast currents, and ROCKS. Conversely on the outside it looks like a pretty nice downwind sail (in June/July) with a couple tricky harbor entrances - looking at it I though hey, with a well maintained engine and being careful not to get out of motoring range/time from ports-of-refuge, what's the worst that could (plausibly) happen? We get a forecast that it'll get rough and run for a harbor?

...or we try an overnight run from the Brooks Penisula down to Tofino, it gets rough during the night, and somebody falls overboard getting the stormjib up? fack.

 

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2 hours ago, Glenn McCarthy said:

Do you possess the following qualities:
Engine mechanic
Firefighter
Carpenter
Electrician
Rigger
Plumber
Handyman
 

If not, you're not going to make it.

You forgot doctor, dentist and mortician

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Opening disclaimer to discredit my response....I've not sailed VI360, but I'm not sure that an IOM is going to be able to make the spin in less than two months unless it's properly stowed in the v-berth.

Quote

the boat is sound (38", new, full set of sails)

I wouldn't consider a 2 week time pressured spin around VI to be an appropriate intro to sailing for 2.5 (two with no experience, one with half of your experience) of your crew.  The 2 week time of the VI360 is based on boats and crew who are expecting to push hard and to race.  Do you have confidence that the other 2.5 of your crew can properly handle the boat at night when you are completely wiped out and trying to catch a few hours of sleep (and a non-zero percentage of the crew are  spewing over the side in their misguided attempts to feed fish)?

Get your crew out on some overnight distance trips (inside or outside...doesn't matter at this point) to build the confidence in each other.  There are some great overnight races (Patos, Salt Spring come to mind) that are good opportunities to get the experience (with a higher motivational pressure to perform than a typical cruise has) while being close enough to pull the pin if things go pear shaped.

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@Zonker@Expat Canuck@alctel

Thanks for the advice....but why go around the south end and up to Barkley Sound? Is it just nicer or what?

I sea-kayaked out of Telegraph Cove up to Crease Island (edge of the Broughton Park) for a short trip once....beautiful, makes me want to go back and go further north.

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5 minutes ago, Que said:

 Do you have confidence that the other 2.5 of your crew can properly handle the boat at night when you are completely wiped out and trying to catch a few hours of sleep

Nope.

I have to get back to work now, but everybody telling me 2 weeks is just asking to hurt somebody, I hear you.

hm...."gain enough experience to know you shouldn't be asking this question"

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55 minutes ago, Contessa26 said:

@Zonker@Expat Canuck@alctel

Thanks for the advice....but why go around the south end and up to Barkley Sound? Is it just nicer or what?

I sea-kayaked out of Telegraph Cove up to Crease Island (edge of the Broughton Park) for a short trip once....beautiful, makes me want to go back and go further north.

I'm presuming you are starting from the Victoria area?

It's suggested because it gets you sailing on the West Coast, is something not a huge amount of boats do (compared to the desolation sound run at least) and is very do-able in two weeks, at a comfortable and fun pace. The Broken Island group is wonderful. You also have the option to carry on heading North if you want.

The other good option is to go up to Desolation Sound and just swim and fuck around and eat Oysters. The water was 23c last time I went there, it's so nice. Or the Broughtons, but I don't think you'll have enough time in two weeks to get up there and back at a pace that's enjoyable.

Doing the whole island in two weeks isn't just a safety issue, it also doesn't sound very fun.

.

1 hour ago, Contessa26 said:

Thanks SloopJonB, that might be what I need to hear. Looks like you know the area...the thing that's been bugging me is that looking at the charts/currents/weather the inside seems almost trickier. Tidal rips everywhere, wicked fast currents, and ROCKS. Conversely on the outside it looks like a pretty nice downwind sail (in June/July) with a couple tricky harbor entrances - looking at it I though hey, with a well maintained engine and being careful not to get out of motoring range/time from ports-of-refuge, what's the worst that could (plausibly) happen? We get a forecast that it'll get rough and run for a harbor?

...or we try an overnight run from the Brooks Penisula down to Tofino, it gets rough during the night, and somebody falls overboard getting the stormjib up? fack.

 

The inside passage looks a bit scary but if you aren't an idiot and know your anchoring/tidal currents (this is very important) it's really not bad. Most of it is pretty well charted, loads of shelter virtually everywhere, NO big seas at all (though several areas have chop nasty enough to make your teeth fall out on the wrong current/wind combo) and boats/help/people almost everywhere. Just time the currents on the rapids and you are all good.

The west coast on the other hand is basically a lee shore way less safe harbours, exposed to the full wind and waves of the pacific, was cold and damp even in August and is very isolated. Everything is just bigger there. It's hard to explain.

South of Brookes Peninsula is a lot milder in all respects than north of it though, but the seasickness will still get ya!

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49 minutes ago, Contessa26 said:

Nope.

I have to get back to work now, but everybody telling me 2 weeks is just asking to hurt somebody, I hear you.

hm...."gain enough experience to know you shouldn't be asking this question"

You know the saying: Good judgment comes from experience. And experience comes from bad judgment...

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1 hour ago, Contessa26 said:

Thanks SloopJonB, that might be what I need to hear. Looks like you know the area...the thing that's been bugging me is that looking at the charts/currents/weather the inside seems almost trickier. Tidal rips everywhere, wicked fast currents, and ROCKS. Conversely on the outside it looks like a pretty nice downwind sail (in June/July) with a couple tricky harbor entrances - looking at it I though hey, with a well maintained engine and being careful not to get out of motoring range/time from ports-of-refuge, what's the worst that could (plausibly) happen? We get a forecast that it'll get rough and run for a harbor?

...or we try an overnight run from the Brooks Penisula down to Tofino, it gets rough during the night, and somebody falls overboard getting the stormjib up? fack.

 

Piloting skills on the inside are extremely important, no question - timing the passes and so forth. A nice big plotter at the helm makes it easy though.

The really big difference from an experience/safety point of view is that if the weather turns suddenly or someone gets hurt or you fuck up somehow then shelter and help is always close at hand.

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Just now, Blitz said:

Gonna be extremely difficult in a 3' 2" boat.:D

It's a small crew.

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1 hour ago, Ishmael said:

Charming and intelligent as ever. Fuckwit.

You didn't see any Anarchists? Like you'd know one if you saw one? Probably because you were head down on the leeward rail puking up everything you ate for the last four years.

I see Jammer felt the need to reinforce his rep as the principal ignorant fool on SA.

Ish - re: your comment about my quoting Tommy Gun?

Please take your own advice re: Jammer. ;)

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Our blog from when we rounded in 2013. http://paradigmchafe.blogspot.ca/2013/06/preparation.html

Our initial thought once we finished was that our circum was out of the way and in the future we would just make the trip up to Barkely Sound from Victoria. Now we're thinking we'd like to do the whole thing again, taking different routes through the Discovery Islands and spending more time.

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2 minutes ago, SloopJonB said:

I see Jammer felt the need to reinforce his rep as the principal ignorant fool on SA.

Ish - re: your comment about my quoting Tommy Gun?

Please take your own advice re: Jammer. ;)

You got it. That was the first Jammer post I have looked at for months. Serves me right for defeating the Ignore function.

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Having done the Van Isle 360 7 times, I can tell you that:

If you want to do this in 2 weeks sailing time, give yourself a month to pick your windows.  Then it can be an absolutely spectacular experience.

The Van Isle is a race.  People are pushing hard in well prepared race boats.  Doing it in 2 weeks is exhausting.  It is a lot of miles and even on a fast boat, you are sailing every day for 50+ miles.  

You will likely hit at least a couple of days of solid breeze.  25-35 most likely in your face.   There will be other days where you will need to motor all day.  

The currents can take hours out of each day's progress, unless you want to short tack up against the rocks along the shore.  The Nawitti Bar is one of the ugliest bits of water on the planet.  If it is ebbing into a westerly, do not go.

The list of required skills above is not overstating the case.  We have always had a shore vehicle to provide spares and get supplies.  There is really no place to re-provision between Campbell River and Port Hardy.  Telegraph Cove is pretty, has a good restaurant, excellent breakfast burritos and a store that has about 10 cans of soup.  

Navigation is constant.  Getting into Winter Harbor, Tofino or Ucluele is not easy.  At night it can be a little scary.

When we couldn't pick our window, sailing the west coast of Vancouver was summed up by an exceedingly experienced and successful sailor (with a world class crew) as "The worst day of sailing in my life" after nearly sinking from a blown out portlight while pounding upwind in square waves in 35+.  

 

For your own peace of mind, ignore Jammer.  

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4 hours ago, Veeger said:

Nah, this stuff isn't necessary.  But familiarity with the boat, having your boat in great condition, knowing your crew mates responses to stress and giving yourself plenty of time to do the trip is necessary.  Two weeks and inexperienced crew are the two major red flags here.  Ishmael is right, maybe just try a trip to Barkley Sound the first time.

In a two week cruise, they will need to have 1/2 of those skills on the list in order to make it.  But I can't tell you which half!:P

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8 minutes ago, Left Shift said:

Having done the Van Isle 360 7 times, I can tell you that:

If you want to do this in 2 weeks sailing time, give yourself a month to pick your windows.  Then it can be an absolutely spectacular experience.

The Van Isle is a race.  People are pushing hard in well prepared race boats.  Doing it in 2 weeks is exhausting.  It is a lot of miles and even on a fast boat, you are sailing every day for 50+ miles.  

You will likely hit at least a couple of days of solid breeze.  25-35 most likely in your face.   There will be other days where you will need to motor all day.  

The currents can take hours out of each day's progress, unless you want to short tack up against the rocks along the shore.  The Nawitti Bar is one of the ugliest bits of water on the planet.  If it is ebbing into a westerly, do not go.

The list of required skills above is not overstating the case.  We have always had a shore vehicle to provide spares and get supplies.  There is really no place to re-provision between Campbell River and Port Hardy.  Telegraph Cove is pretty, has a good restaurant, excellent breakfast burritos and a store that has about 10 cans of soup.  

Navigation is constant.  Getting into Winter Harbor, Tofino or Ucluele is not easy.  At night it can be a little scary.

When we couldn't pick our window, sailing the west coast of Vancouver was summed up by an exceedingly experienced and successful sailor (with a world class crew) as "The worst day of sailing in my life" after nearly sinking from a blown out portlight while pounding upwind in square waves in 35+.  

 

For your own peace of mind, ignore Jammer.  

Port McNeill is an excellent resupply point. We bought meat there, stripped all the packaging and put it in Ziploc bags, and the butcher put it in the freezer overnight for us.

Gunter Brothers meats and sausages are wonderful and are available frozen at many small stores.

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1 hour ago, Contessa26 said:

Thanks SloopJonB, that might be what I need to hear. Looks like you know the area...the thing that's been bugging me is that looking at the charts/currents/weather the inside seems almost trickier. Tidal rips everywhere, wicked fast currents, and ROCKS. Conversely on the outside it looks like a pretty nice downwind sail (in June/July) with a couple tricky harbor entrances - looking at it I though hey, with a well maintained engine and being careful not to get out of motoring range/time from ports-of-refuge, what's the worst that could (plausibly) happen? We get a forecast that it'll get rough and run for a harbor?

...or we try an overnight run from the Brooks Penisula down to Tofino, it gets rough during the night, and somebody falls overboard getting the stormjib up? fack.

 

Having done the entire outside 7 times we have had a "nice downwind sail" (in 20 -25) once the rest were drifters or ugly beats.  For the shot from Tofino to Victoria out of maybe 2 dozen trips, a nice downwind sail perhaps half the time.  The rest were drifters.

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Just now, Ishmael said:

Port McNeill is an excellent resupply point. We bought meat there, stripped all the packaging and put it in Ziploc bags, and the butcher put it in the freezer overnight for us.

Gunter Brothers meats and sausages are wonderful and are available frozen at many small stores.

True.  Forgot about Port McNeill as it is not a Van Isle stop.  And it is still a long jump from Campbell River.  

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13 hours ago, Contessa26 said:

The other option would be to cruise up the inside passage, spend some time checking out the Broughtons / Bella Coola, and cruise back down.

That seems like a more realistic goal. Lots of places to stop and hide out if needed. 

For planning purposes think of it this way:

  • Heading north from Vancouver to Seymour Narrows - 2 days 
  • To get through Johnstone Strait to Sayward - 1 day
  • Sayward to Telegraph Cove - 1 day
  • Telegraph Cove to Port Hardy - 1 day 

There goes most of your first week and you're still a days sail away from Cape Scott and the norther tip of the island. Bella Bella is a two day sail north past cape caution and down Fitz Hugh Sound. Sure coming back south is faster because it will hopefully be mostly downwind but you should plan for it to take about the same amount of time. 

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I'm sure you could do it in two weeks  if you really set your mind to it-- but it would be a hate session. 2 months is a more common timeline for doing that trip in a cruising boat.  

Personally my first attempt to sail to Alaska was 20 years ago. I gave myself 2 months but only made it to Desolation sound because there were so many incredible anchorages and islands to see on the way up.  Every anchorage we stopped in, we would meet people with  recommendations for another handful of anchorages that we just could not miss.  At the other end of the spectrum, in 2016 I did the R2AK and made it to Ketchikan in 5 days.... that was its own type of demented fun, but the scenery and shoreline were a complete blur. 

If I only had two weeks to experience the area I would sail up to Desolation sound and back, spending 4-6 hours sailing each day and the rest exploring the shore.  Going up to Barkley Sound and back would be reserved for a later year if you want to experience some of the open Pacific... but most cruisers spend many many summers sailing the inside waters before they head out there, and they are very selective on the days they sail.  The seas out there can be some of the worst in the world so don't take it lightly.

 

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Having been caught out near Brooks in 25-35 upwind, I can tell you that it's not a wildly pleasant place to be. 

Like many others here, I would recommend going up to Desolation or parts of Johnstone Strait and back. 

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Yup, 2 weeks NOT FUN, 2 months will have some NOT FUN times but doable and will have many FUN times. Get some more experience before you go, the suggestion to go up to Barkley is great, remember, FUN is the goal, not a forced march.

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13 hours ago, SloopJonB said:

Don't do it.

Wait until you have a significant amount of experience. The West Coast kills people - even experienced ones.

It is not to be taken lightly or treated as a "sprint". Basically, stop being a fucking idiot ;)

Cruise around inside until you gain enough experience to know you shouldn't be asking this question.

We had a customer this year who took a 50' powerboat around the island from Vancouver with little experience, and no spares.  Most expensive set of fuel filters hes ever bought by the time they got to where he was anchored after he shook all the crud up in his tanks.  Blew a couple bukheads loose, crushed the nose of the fiberglass dinghy and had a good old time.   I am not sure if he decided to keep the boat after all the fun they had.    For comparison they did it in a month and were scrambling pretty hard to get it done between repairs.  

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I would second the comments suggesting Barkley Sound and the Broken Group.

You get out in the Pacific to experience the swells and there are lots of places to gunkhole and hide when you get there.

You can reprovision at Ucluelet, visit Bamfield and then do the Race Rocks roundup on the way home!

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1 hour ago, jgbrown said:

We had a customer this year who took a 50' powerboat around the island from Vancouver with little experience, and no spares.  Most expensive set of fuel filters hes ever bought by the time they got to where he was anchored after he shook all the crud up in his tanks.  Blew a couple bukheads loose, crushed the nose of the fiberglass dinghy and had a good old time.   I am not sure if he decided to keep the boat after all the fun they had.    For comparison they did it in a month and were scrambling pretty hard to get it done between repairs.  

 

Typical newbie mistakes!  I have never sailed in those waters, but have many thousands of deep ocean miles up and down the east coast, Bermuda to Oahu via Panama Canal, and Florida to France in the late fall, which ended up with the boat abandoned in the Azores with broken bulkhead to hull joints, bent rudder, etc. from falling off 40 foot waves with 10 foot breakers atop them, in 80+ knots of breeze, in  December 1979.  Take the advice of the local, experienced chaps on here, and crawl before you walk, before you run.  Baby steps...

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4 hours ago, Que said:

The boat is sound (38") 

Son, a three-foot boat is no way to make time.  I'd say the bare minimum would be around 14 feet. 

f you select a really good weather window and have bail-out plans for the entire route,  go for it!   But I think you answered your own question - "cruise up the inside passage, spend some time checking out the Broughtons / Bella Coola, and cruise back down" would be the safer,  more enjoyable way to learn about your boat and crew- and if that goes very well, maybe think about the big voyage some time to follow. 

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What does your insurance company think of this plan?

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4 hours ago, swangtang said:

That seems like a more realistic goal. Lots of places to stop and hide out if needed. 

For planning purposes think of it this way:

  • Heading north from Vancouver to Seymour Narrows - 2 days 
  • To get through Johnstone Strait to Sayward - 1 day
  • Sayward to Telegraph Cove - 1 day
  • Telegraph Cove to Port Hardy - 1 day 

There goes most of your first week and you're still a days sail away from Cape Scott and the norther tip of the island. Bella Bella is a two day sail north past cape caution and down Fitz Hugh Sound. Sure coming back south is faster because it will hopefully be mostly downwind but you should plan for it to take about the same amount of time. 

And that's pretty much a sprint, not a cruise.  Not much time to stop and enjoy the scenery or just kick back for the day.   And you are relying on hitting the currents right.  50/50 on that.  "Hopefully" mostly downhill...I've witnessed a capsized tri, a broken gooseneck, blown-out kites and broken rudders on boats running north on 30+ southerlies in June in the Straits south of Quadra and in Discovery Channel.  

My advice is do the above plan up to Telegraph Cove adding three days or more to the schedule and then loop back through the islands, timing the various rapids and back through Octopus Islands, Big Bay, Refuge Cove, Lund, Secret Cove, Nanaimo and down through the Gulf Islands.  

Minimum 3 weeks total.  

BTW, Sayward "Marina" is definitely one of the funkier places I've ever parked for the night.   If you can hitch a ride maybe five kilometers south, there's a very local pub/hotel where they let their goats into the bar.  Really nice people though.  

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11 minutes ago, dinghydoc said:

What does your insurance company think of this plan?

Normal insurance actually covers the west coast of Vancouver I., with no special rider.  Go figure.  I suspect because so few boats do it.  

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Us two seniors went around in 017 on my Viking 33, in company with 4 other sailboats. Wonderful trip. We had also cruised each previous  8 summers. It takes a while to have confidence with the boat and systems. We had been to The Bay of Islands of the North. Barkley Sound. Fog can keep you there for a while, or two. I have also sailed my boat many times with the spinnaker. Admiral Shirley has also done a cool broach with the sissy chute up. We have sailed with double reefed main and storm jib. 

It can be chilly on the wet coast, even in summer. Your diesel may get more work than you planned. It is not uncommon to make 1 3/4 knots of headway, into tide and waves, to right of Can Isle. But that beats zero headway entering Campbell River.

You do not say where you are from. If near Nanaimo, bring a Van Isle chart, buy some beer, and I can give you a mile by mile trip description. Or Danny can tell you how sick he was during a recent Van Isle 360. Others have mentioned the prime locations. We entered Winter Harbour doing 8.5 with just the head sail up. You can get brief cell phone coverage while entering there.

2 weeks is not enough time.

Unkle Krusty

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Typical newbie mistakes!  I have never sailed in those waters, but have many thousands of deep ocean miles up and down the east coast, Bermuda to Oahu via Panama Canal, and Florida to France in the late fall, which ended up with the boat abandoned in the Azores with broken bulkhead to hull joints, bent rudder, etc. from falling off 40 foot waves with 10 foot breakers atop them, in 80+ knots of breeze, in  December 1979.  Take the advice of the local, experienced chaps on here, and crawl before you walk, before you run.  Baby steps...

Exactly :-)  Also that if a 50' powerboat was rushed on a 1 month trip, with breakdowns and damage, a 38' sailboat in half the time is also likely to be stretching it...  especially if not familiar with the boat/not recently serviced.   Weak points are likely to make themselves known, and what happens when a week into it you need to stop due to damage?  Leave the boat and come back?  Pay someone to deliver it back?      Less distance and more fun sound like a better way  to start!

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Whatever you decide - just don't come back here and peddle a gofundme campaign to pay for your thrashed boat......................just sayin'

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Do not do it. Your failure will make all of our wives stress out when it’s time for our summer trip north. Remember that pudtz that crashed, will we be safe?

Start with a Georgia strait trip to Lund and back. This area around Vancouver is nothing to be careless with. You don’t know shit. Learn the pnw then go. 

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Go. Don't let any one tell you otherwise. You will learn everything you need to know about coastal and offshore sailing in that circumnavigation. I've sailed around, kayaked around and even gone around in a tiny 22 foot powerboat. The problem is, if you go too fast you will miss the best bits. There is some crazy deep wilderness out there. Big ocean swells, fog, and rocky wave swept reefs. Bears, wolves, humpback whales, giant stellar sealions and remote sections that are far-far from civilization. Remember this; once you have seen the west side of Vancouver island everything else seems somehow...less than. The tide waits for no one, begin now. Carry-on-lads

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There's a classic piece of internet advice. :rolleyes:

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Left shift above is spot on.  Check your insurance: mine needed a rider.  Been around in steps on my boat or others, and the take home is that fog can happen rapidly, with breeze attached, which is foreign to folks that sail more inshore. It is a strange sensation to be rolling along at good speed with only a grey wall to look at.  The inside has its own beauty and adventures, it can blow in Johnstone Straits, some of the tidal rapids are worth seeing just to appreciate their power.  Read the book "Tides"...  This area is a place unlike any other in the world.  Go counter -clockwise if you want a greater time going downwind on the outside.  Two weeks is WAAAY too short to enjoy the trip and all it has to offer: Vancouver Island is a pretty big  piece of real estate, and you want to sample along the way.  The last time I sailed down the outside, we did day-passages that were pretty civilized in length, with evening anchorages. Offshore at night for a single cruiser only demonstrates why Darwin was right.As a side trip, consider some of the inside routes down the West side, which are fjiords, calmer, and have interesting stuff as well, like totems, shrimp,  and sunshine at times when the outside is upside down.  If you miss Hotsprings Cove, the crew should mutiny. As you might expect, breezes tend to build during the day, easing at night. Everybody has GPS it seems these days, which is nice , because there are several places where deep water and little rocks are close together, like Barkley Sound and many places on the inside.  Having the ability to take weather breaks is important: the frigging ocean does not care.  But do you want to be an old geezer like me with no stories to tell?  We met the self-proclaimed "Meanest C###KS5Ck$R in Zeballos, my girlfriend stole his John Deer hat on the dance floor, and it is probably still hanging around here somewhere. Halibut, 35 species of rockfish, and 5 species of salmon await. Troll a bare 6" Lucky Louie  or Silver Horde plug on a handline at 4-7 knots and see what happens.  A handline makes it more fun. Don't get old without a few scars. Get a story.

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2 weeks cruising is not enough is not enough time. 

My dad and I have been up and down a few times on the inside. 2 weeks is enough to get from Vancouver to Echo Bay and back in a leisurely manner.  You can skip Seymour narrows, unless Campbell river is a destination, instead hit up Octopus island group and go Upper and Lower rapids instead. You can link up a bunch of smaller rapids and see some incredible sites before going to Johnstone strait.  The anchorages in Johnstone strait kinda suck. Deep and exposed. Know where you can spend an extra day safely on the hook, beating into 25knots against currents isn't for everyone and waiting a day can make a big difference in Johnstone strait. 

The best cruising can be had between the sunshine coast and hole in the wall. Explore Toba inlet, Bute, Jervis, Princess Louisa, harmony islands desolation sound ext.  Get some experience in the sheltered waters, that sometimes aren't so sheltered first.  

 

The top and outside is can be really snotty is weather picks up. Ive been off Brooks pen when she is nasty, not much fun. I think Left Shift would remember "Brown cloud".  

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Contessa26, - Great question.  Sitting down here in NZ with zero knowledge of your proposed cruise it's fascinating to see the advice you're getting.  Especially some of the excellent advice from first posters.  Now that is impressive.

My take on it: Sounds like an inside cruise this time, especially given time constraints ,would be prudent

Not enough reaction to your "green crew."  Real tough to be sluicing puke off the decks while feeling queasy yourself and pulling double watches because everyone else is incapacitated.  At the same time the remarks that basically say you learn by pushing your limits are valid.

Check off the safety items:  Epirb, self-inflating jackets, backlines, etc.

You're going at it the right way.  Enjoy.

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I've been watching this conversation. I don't know anything about Van Isle, but this thought comes to mind, which is fairly universal:

If you're inexperienced and looking for a big adventure to risk your own life on, that's one thing. It's another thing entirely, to risk the lives of inexperienced and unsuspecting friends, even if they are consenting adults who are asking to go.  Your friends are incapable of assessing the risk and you as skipper, are responsible for their safety. Due to your inexperience, you are also incapable of assessing the risk at the moment. As you sail and get familiar with the area, you will be able to assess whether you should and could make this trip and whether your crew is up to it as well.

Work up to it, don't just jump into the deep, dark, churning end of the swimming pool.

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I've been watching this conversation. I don't know anything about Van Isle, but this thought comes to mind, which is fairly universal:

If you're inexperienced and looking for a big adventure to risk your own life on, that's one thing. It's another thing entirely, to risk the lives of inexperienced and unsuspecting friends, even if they are consenting adults who are asking to go.  Your friends are incapable of assessing the risk and you as skipper, are responsible for their safety. Due to your inexperience, you are also incapable of assessing the risk at the moment. As you sail and get familiar with the area, you will be able to assess whether you should and could make this trip and whether your crew is up to it as well.

Work up to it, don't just jump into the deep, dark, churning end of the swimming pool.

++++1 to this. Got to work up slowly to this goal. Challenge yourself each week with new goals and eventually you will get there. Think about doing the trip with an experienced person first before trying on your own. Just remember, it can be easier or harder. Each voyage is different.

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Contessa26 it looks like you have recived some sound advice from people who know those waters AND what they are talking about. Not only should you take their advice but you should thank them. A couple of pics of your wife's tits should do the trick. Fuck this place is getting soft.

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 tits should do the trick. Fuck this place is getting soft.

At the request of Jammer six no fake boobs

236293_03big.jpg

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One point our newest poster (Carry On Lads) makes in passing is that the west coast of Vancouver island really is far more remote and wild than it's straight-line-as-the-crow-flies distance from metropolitan BC and Puget Sound might seem.  Traffic is sparse, VHF comms can be limited, wx radio is sporadic, and the coast guard isn't going to get there quickly.  For the most part, you're on your own like you've never been before.  You might get lucky if a situation develops but you sure can't count on it!

 

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Fuck this place is getting soft.

Yep.  A bunch of lightweights here now.  Back in the day...when we had to trudge through the snow to get to the boat...uphill both ways...we had the common courtesy to offer proper greetings to newbies.  It's the downfall of civilization, I tell ya.

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Contessa26 it looks like you have recived some sound advice from people who know those waters AND what they are talking about. Not only should you take their advice but you should thank them. A couple of pics of your wife's tits should do the trick. Fuck this place is getting soft.

Also some personal information that we can use to create an insurable interest so we can take out some life insurance on you......better odds here than with Lotto etc.

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Advice from the other side of the continent:

The most dangerous thing to be found aboard a ship is a schedule.

Going on a demanding voyage in a remote dangerous area in a small sailboat on a schedule is a delivery or a race that must be taken very seriously and has almost no room for error or n00b mistakes. It is not  a cruise or a fun trip!  The East Coast version of this is a winter rounding of Cape Hatteras for the fun of it with a n00b crew :o

Why not set yourself a less demanding trip with more time for fun, weather delays, and repairs? Sounds like going up and down the east side is plenty of adventure for your first try at it.

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Dunno about the geography, but most times boats get in trouble its the software and not the hardware. 

Experienced skipper with inexperienced crew on this trip would seem dicey enough...but inexperience skipper with inexperienced crew?  

No.

As others have said, plenty to see and do in that neck of the woods whilst not putting you or they in harms way. 

Get some experience together and then maybe think about it...

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it's fascinating to see the advice you're getting.  Especially some of the excellent advice from first posters.  Now that is impressive.

 

Is there actually anybody out there dumb enough to take advice like that?

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My advice to you my friend is GO.

But realize the plan will experience forced-change, also known as evolution.

Get the most experienced 3rd you can find.

Realize you could die.

Yes, I've circled the Island, a few times.

You are in for one hell of an education, if you survive.

Good luck, stay in touch.

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Friend of mine did in his Catalina 22 many years ago, solo. Think it took him 4 weeks. He was not a beginner. Toughest thing he ever did.

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Any new passage plan with a deadline is potentially more dangerous than it needs to be. Extend you timeline by 50% (minimum) to allow for weather and unexpected situations, reduce the distance of you trip or develop your crews experience before taking on such a challenge. From my Sea Survival instructor in the NAVY - "you must win every time, the ocean only needs to win once" - after that then your dead and it doesn't matter.

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Years ago I was given a very fundamental piece of advise from a very experienced friend.

"A calendar is the most dangerous thing on a boat"

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My last trip around the island took 23 days starting from the central San Juan Islands. Of those 23 days only 3 were really nice sailing conditions. Get ready to motor as required. My advice; deliver the boat to Port Hardy in two weekend trips prior and leave it there until you have a good stretch of weather ahead. Use all of your 2 weeks to do just the west side of the island. Wait for your weather windows on the big capes and sail fast. The longer you are outside the more exposure. Practice patience, if the conditions are best starting at 8pm, then wait for it and go. Its twilight out there until 10-11pm in the summer months so there is a lot of potential departure times and travel time. I did some of the biggest roundings at night and slept all day while the winds raged in the anchorage. You will see rain out there like never before, sounds like a jet taking off and looks like you are sailing through a power-washer.  Will fill a 1 gallon water jug from the corner of the cockpit tarp in one minute. For the northern section from Port Hardy around Cape Scott as far as Quatsino Sound there are few good bail-out options. Be prepared to stay off shore as required but have the skills and navigational equipment to find your way into some dark, unlit channel that is fortified with reefs that are barely out of the water at low tide. My last words are; buy a radar and go.

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Contessa26 it looks like you have recived some sound advice from people who know those waters AND what they are talking about. Not only should you take their advice but you should thank them. A couple of pics of your wife's tits should do the trick. Fuck this place is getting soft.

Yah, what LB said.  We must be getting soft, time to HTFU and you nOObs post some tits!

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I can't offer the same entertainment value as some of the lunatics on here- the boat is sound (38", new, full set of sails). Crew of 3,

 

 

Thirty-eight inches is far to short a boat for this endeavor, regardless of its age or sails.. Consider at least 30 footer if there are 3 of you.;) Might be entertaining to watch you try, however. 

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Do you possess the following qualities:
Engine mechanic
Firefighter
Carpenter
Electrician
Rigger
Plumber
Handyman
 

If not, you're not going to make it.

Well you certainly need to know how to clean grass out of the engine cooling water intake and to clear TP blockage of the sewage dump port. You need to know how to change the fuel filter and the belt on the engine. What do you do if the engine cooling water hose springs a leak? What do you do if the roller furler jams with the genoa half way out in 30 knots of wind? What if the charger module for the alternator stops working? In the summer it is pretty nice mainly but offshore on the west side seeing 30 kts of wind in the afternoon should not be a surprise. 

You need to know ahead of time where the good anchorages are for any wind direction. Take redundant gps and chartplotters. You will be out of cell phone and internet connection coverage for parts of the trip so plan for that. 

I've been around the Island 8 times on my sailboat and have had all of the troubles mentioned above. Never a fire thank god.

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Son, a three-foot boat is no way to make time.  I'd say the bare minimum would be around 14 feet. 

f you select a really good weather window and have bail-out plans for the entire route,  go for it!   But I think you answered your own question - "cruise up the inside passage, spend some time checking out the Broughtons / Bella Coola, and cruise back down" would be the safer,  more enjoyable way to learn about your boat and crew- and if that goes very well, maybe think about the big voyage some time to follow. 

image.thumb.png.333ace77f16be01211484c3b7e3cce7f.png

Mankind got close before and we've come a long (short) way since then!

https://imgur.com/gallery/CbysZ

 

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Us two seniors went around in 017 on my Viking 33, in company with 4 other sailboats. Wonderful trip. We had also cruised each previous  8 summers. It takes a while to have confidence with the boat and systems. We had been to The Bay of Islands of the North. Barkley Sound. Fog can keep you there for a while, or two. I have also sailed my boat many times with the spinnaker. Admiral Shirley has also done a cool broach with the sissy chute up. We have sailed with double reefed main and storm jib. 

It can be chilly on the wet coast, even in summer. Your diesel may get more work than you planned. It is not uncommon to make 1 3/4 knots of headway, into tide and waves, to right of Can Isle. But that beats zero headway entering Campbell River.

You do not say where you are from. If near Nanaimo, bring a Van Isle chart, buy some beer, and I can give you a mile by mile trip description. Or Danny can tell you how sick he was during a recent Van Isle 360. Others have mentioned the prime locations. We entered Winter Harbour doing 8.5 with just the head sail up. You can get brief cell phone coverage while entering there.

2 weeks is not enough time.

Unkle Krusty

The godforsaken center part, but I may be passing through Nanaimo in advance...I'll take you up on that if I do

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I've done the Van Isle 360 twice. I was lucky to be on fast boats. Even on fast boats, a two week race was exhausting. I always felt sorry for the slower boats who were colder for more time, had less time to sleep and fix things. They were the real winners of the race.

For a Sailing Anarchy question, and from a novice, you have gotten amazingly good advice. And you should follow it. My professional specialty is risk management. And there are 3 main problems with your plan.

1st: 2 weeks is not enough time.

2nd: 2 weeks is not enough time.

3rd: 2 weeks, is not enough time.

The waters around Vancouver Island are amazing to sail in. And the communities are unique and fun. Don't set a schedule. Be safe, take your time and have an enjoyable journey.

 

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Also some personal information that we can use to create an insurable interest so we can take out some life insurance on you......better odds here than with Lotto etc.

Hell no, I'm putting that in my mother's name and taking out the max policy with my insurers.

None of you is allowed to talk to them.

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The godforsaken center part, but I may be passing through Nanaimo in advance...I'll take you up on that if I do

Good plan. We will probably leave Silva Bay around mid June. Meantime I am making a few changes to the boat. There are more rocks and Bays around Van Isle than can be imagined. And the currents are more against you for longer than can be planned. BUT, there is the Waggoner guide, and the tides and currents book. With a good chart plotter and depth sounder, and more time and practice, things can get done. We ran into a lot of fog last year. Would have been stuck for many days without radar. Other times I have been to Barkley Sound and had not fog. Of the 5 boats in our group we had: A plugged exhaust elbow that required some serious work, plugged water intake from grass as mentioned above, sea sickness that incapacitated an off shore sailor, a diesel engine that quit on a regular basis, a major navigational error going in to the hot springs area ( the offshore sailor missed the channel completely in the fog ) a grounding with a 44 foot boat sitting on top of a rock, plus some I have forgotten. Considering tho, we stopped at many many bays, it all went well. On my boat the diesel heater quit, the chart plotter cut off the detail for the end of Brookes, and a water pump leak. All since repaired. We carried extra water and diesel, and lots of beer which is normal. Sailing can be the easiest part. unklecrusty@gmail.com  will find me.

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@jonmoceri yup, I'm amazed. Thank you to those who've taken the time to help me out. Much appreciated.

For the "fuck it, go for it" crowd...you are my crowd. That is how I like to live. But what @Ajax said is sticking with me...acting crazy is my affair, but if I'm going to be any good as a skip I can't terrorize/exhaust/recklessly endanger my crew.

I'm going to look at the two 'duck yer nose outside' options that have been suggested here. Thanks for all the advice and I'll post some updates in June (or the news will). Meantime I hope you all enjoy these great tits:

image.png.00ecf232b02efabaf5e97a2d19f3f7ad.png

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Having done R2AK twice (once on a 31ft tri, once on a 20ft beach cat), my view is definitely do your trip, but follow the advice to do the inside passage, or maybe just the lower west side of Vancouver Isl, but no point going around on your timeline.  It's a gorgeous region and you'll have a great time (and challenging one) either way you go.  You'll learn a lot too. 

Either way, you absolutely need a healthy fear of what that part of the world can bring. A good amount of prep, caution, and flex on the weather conditions can go a long way.  And keep in mind your novice crew's tolerance will be a lot lower than yours. 

A few specific points:

1) Weather conditions vary a lot day by day, and even within the day.  You can have a gale in the AM, decent conditions mid-day, and another gale in the evening. You can get your ass kicked in Johnstone Strait at 6pm or have very nice conditions 8 hours later at 2am (not always).  Expect 2-4 gales per week.  If you play with the weather windows, your passage instantly becomes more comfortable -- those who have raced this area (Van Isles, R2AK) generally don't have that luxury, so have had to face much rougher conditions.  You need good comms to take advantage of this though (VHF Wx, Cell-phone, Satphone north of Port Hardy).  A willingness to sail at night is also a big benefit -- as other posters have mentioned above, the nights tend to be calmer (again, not everyday -- in rough conditions they can also be the worst). 

2) You'll have plenty of challenges regardless of where you go -- you don't need to go W of Vancouver Isl for that.  Seymour Narrows is actually fairly trivial if you take +/- of slack in my (two times only) experience.  Johnstone Strait is what you should worry about, as well as Queen Charlotte Sound on a bad day, and if you make it further north, Hecate Str and even Fitzhugh Sound to Bella Bella can be tough.  But at least in all of those you have options for relief, and comms access to get warning of any impending gales.  My worst experiences in the 2 R2AK races were those four areas.  But each piece of bad weather lasted 3-12hrs at most, so a bit of patience helps a lot.  And we were a fairly experienced crew each time, which you won't have.

3) I think you can definitely do faster than the people above said, if you don't stop as much -- but that is not cruising for sure.  2 days from Vancouver to Campbell River, 1.5 days from Campbell River to Port Hardy. 1.5 days from Port Hardy to Bella Bella.  We held or exceeded those timings in both R2AKs, without the help of any engine (tons of rowing at 1-2 kts each time), and stopped several times too.  Each time we had monos close behind, so a good mono can do it too.   So yes, if you want a challenge you can go pretty far.

It's a gorgeous region.  I'd personally like one day to go again and take it slow, pause in the nice anchorages, and see the wildlife.  There's a lot to see on the Inside!

 

 

 

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@jonmoceri yup, I'm amazed. Thank you to those who've taken the time to help me out. Much appreciated.

For the "fuck it, go for it" crowd...you are my crowd. That is how I like to live. But what @Ajax said is sticking with me...acting crazy is my affair, but if I'm going to be any good as a skip I can't terrorize/exhaust/recklessly endanger my crew.

I'm going to look at the two 'duck yer nose outside' options that have been suggested here. Thanks for all the advice and I'll post some updates in June (or the news will). Meantime I hope you all enjoy these great tits:

image.png.00ecf232b02efabaf5e97a2d19f3f7ad.png

 

You're alright, man.  Stick around, go sailing and post lots of pictures.

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On 3/21/2018 at 8:52 AM, Contessa26 said:

@Zonker@Expat Canuck@alctel

Thanks for the advice....but why go around the south end and up to Barkley Sound? Is it just nicer or what?

 

It's much shorter (more appropriate for your time constraints) and will give you a taste of all the aspects of a full trip around, but with more opportunity to bug out, bail out or get help along the way.  Plus, Barkley sound is probably the best 'end destination' of anyplace on the west coast of Vancouver island. No need to go the extra 500 miles to get there.

Per Jammer, while it's possible to be 'all bad', it isn't quite as cut and dried as he makes it sound.  I've had calms and easterlies in the Straits and riding the tide has the same issues no matter which way you're going.  It can be mostly 'all bad' going the other way as well.  You pays your money, you takes your chances.

Just remember, it's 700 miles around that island and with two weeks you've GOT to go an average of 50 miles per day---regardless of weather, fog, currents, repairs, rest, etc...

Oh, and get out to Barkley Sound May/June, before the fog really becomes pervasive.

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7 hours ago, Jammer Six said:

Not only is it not nicer, it's the wrong way for currents and winds. Go counter-clockwise.

If you're going to try to go fast, charter Kenmore Air, fly around, get it done in one day.

Agreed: If the destination is Barkley Sound, then clockwise is the way to go. For a complete loop anti clockwise. Entering bays and turning left, shows the locals you come in peace. The other way means you come for war. But I wonder who would notice or care these days. We did 980 miles to go around, which included many trips inland, and around many islands.

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In your case, it just doesn't matter which way you go, just GO!

Nice tits by the way.

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On 3/22/2018 at 7:51 AM, Veeger said:

One point our newest poster (Carry On Lads) makes in passing is that the west coast of Vancouver island really is far more remote and wild than it's straight-line-as-the-crow-flies distance from metropolitan BC and Puget Sound might seem.  Traffic is sparse, VHF comms can be limited, wx radio is sporadic, and the coast guard isn't going to get there quickly.  For the most part, you're on your own like you've never been before.  You might get lucky if a situation develops but you sure can't count on it!

 

This is an important point. The further north you go, east or west of the island, the further away from help, chandleries, internet, laundermats, fresh water, and anything else you might have been used to. The west coast is much more remote than the east coast. On the northwest coast you are on your own, there's nothing and nobody there. Your cell phone and vhf are useless. 

As others have said, the part of your plan that is insane is the 2 week schedule. You will miss everything, be arriving in tricky anchorages after dark, pressing on when you should have stayed put and will regret it. We took a month to get to Port McNeill going up through the channels, left the boat there for a vacation, then returned and took another month to go on around. That was a pretty quick trip, skipping quite a few things, and no long weather delays, on a faster boat.

You'll also want to be confident in your fog navigation skills and equipment. It isn't uncommon to have zero-zero visibility out there. 

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