I’ve circumnavigated Vancouver Island once, more than 10 years ago, while getting an advanced skipper certificate from the International Sail and Power Academy. It was a fun but grueling two-week marathon that put some 800 nautical miles under the keel and included a truly harrowing night passage around the notorious Cape Scott.
But while our time on the west coast of the island was brief, it left an indelible impression on me. It’s a land marked by wild and natural beauty, in some places untouched for thousands of years.
And few cruisers make the effort — or take the risks — to get there.
But I’ve dearly wanted to go back and spend more time exploring some of the incredible cruising grounds that we sailed past more than a decade ago.
That’s exactly what Deborah and I plan to do this summer. And we’d love to hear your advice on what to see and do.
If all goes well, we’ll be catching the ebb tide next Thursday evening and heading north for the first of several long legs. With only two weeks of vacation, we don’t have time to circumnavigate, so we plan to take the other route to the west coast.
Over the course of two days, we plan to make our way out to Neah Bay and then wait for favorable weather and currents to make the 50 or so mile run to Ucluelet, which has the only Canadian Customs station that I could locate in the area.
I know there are fantastic cruising grounds along the coast further north. But for this summer adventure, we plan to spend the majority of our time poking around Blakely Sound.
And as an added bonus, our friends Aaron and Nicole, who left a few months back for several years of cruising aboard their Hans Christian 33, Bella Star, plan to be in the same neck of the woods.
I’ve read the cruising guides and studied the charts. But Barkley Sound feels like a blank slate to me.
And here’s where you can help. If you’ve spent time there, or have heard tips from others who have, please take a second and share them in the comments section below. What coves should we visit. What uncharted rocks should we avoid. What equipment we need. Where the best places are to catch some crab and enjoy the natural beauty of the sound.
As the time for departure draws near, my list of things to do and projects to complete only seems to grow. Rather than heading out for the Downtown Sailing Series on Thursday night, I was curled in the starboard lazaret, reinstalling a chain drop for the stern anchor.
There is still a medical kit to update. And davits to repair. And parts for the dingy to secure. Oh, and I finally have an excuse to get that stern tie system set-up, which I understand is a must-have to enjoy some of the best little anchorages in Barkley Sound.
My anxiety level is high right now. But I know the effort will be worth it. And a little guidance from readers would certainly help.
As boaters know, local knowledge is worth its weight in gold. Please share a little of yours about Barkley Sound with the Three Sheets community.