Priorities for an extended BC summer

Where would I have spent more time and where would I have spent less time if I had one Spring/Summer in BC?

The answer for Livia depends on the weather”

In a sunny summer year I would have spent my time basically as we spent it, a short early visit to the Gulf Islands, a medium amount of early season time in Desolation Sound before it is overrun, a quick trip to the Haida Gwaii primarily to visit SGaang Gwaii, and then a long visit on the outside of Vancouver Island.

However, what we had in 2011 was a rainy summer. When the weather is crappy in BC it is usually nicer on the inside of Vancouver Island than outside and nicer in the South than in the North. So I would have spent more time in the Gulf Islands where it would hopefully be drier and warmer until the crowds drove me out, and more time in Desolation even with the crowds. I probably would have chosen to visit the Broughtons (which we skipped) when Desolation became too full. I would still consider the long trip the Haida Gwaii to see SGaang Gwaii even though overall I was not enthralled. I would have spent the end of the summer, when it was hopefully warm, on the outside of Vancouver Island.

Carol answers the same question:

If you have seen the Gulf Islands and San Juan Islands, I would get as quickly as possible to Princess Louisa Inlet and Desolation Sound – doing those areas early. Then make your way to the West Coast of Vancouver Island and spend the rest of your time there, skipping the Haidi Gwaii which takes a lot of time to get to. If you haven’t seen the Gulf/San Juan Islands it is definitely worth stopping, particularly in the Gulf Islands.

Carol’s favorite spots in the Gulf Islands are: Portland Island and nearby Russell Island, the NW side of the anchorage in Montague, the town of Ganges, and Wallace Island.

I agree and also enjoyed the space between Tumbo and Cabbage Islands.


  1. I have to comment!

    Haida Gwaii: I agree that it IS a long haul up/over to Haida Gwaii from southern waters.

    But, having been there 2X, both times with pretty good weather (3 weeks after you left, the weather in 2011 significantly improved) -- we feel Haida Gwaii is a pretty special place. For us, worth the work to get there.

    The BC North Coast: You guys missed the mainland North Coast (except for Milbrook Cove) -- another very special area. The outer "inside passage" (away from the inner route to Alaska) is truly wilderness.

    I agree the west coast of Vancouver Island is special -- we especially loved the Kyuquot/Nootka section.

    Combining a trip up the North Coast and Haida Gwaii with a trip down the west coast of VI (as completed in 2002) is the ultimate BC cruise.

    But getting north usually requires lots of motoring, and inevitably many grey rainy days. Last year, we did most of our sailing upon our return to southern BC waters, with sunny days. And returning to the south coast sure seemed "easy" (stores, fuel, marinas, weather) after so long up in the wilderness.

    Hmmm... sounds like we will miss BC sailing when we finally leave for warmer waters.

    Cheers, David

  2. I'm definitely glad you put in your two cents. As expected, YMMV!

  3. So the question for you folks the have "been around" Vancouver Island is what did you read before you went?

  4. Grace - Do you mean for guidebooks?

    We had the Dreamspeaker books:

    And Waggoner of course:

    I also read the Curve of Time:

    And The Golden Spruce:

  5. We used Douglass' West Coast VI (a little old now, but still good).

    We also used the very old but beautiful (photos!) PY Cruising Guide to VI West Coast by Don Watmough. The onshore facilities may be out of date, but advice re weather and much of the info re anchorages remains valid -- and the photographs are still unequaled. (Used copies are easy to find for ~$10.)

    The much newer Dreamspeaker guide has the most up-to-date info and very useful drawings. It also has some pretty nice photos.

    Although we too like the Waggoner, we like it only for the inside of Vancouver Island and mainland north coast (for its many listings of marinas, shops, fuel, etc). We do not find the Waggoner as useful for the west coast of VI (indeed, in 2009 it almost led us astray as we tried to figure out engine repairs in Bamfield/Ucluelet -- it didn't (and as of 2011, still doesn't) list the major/only marine diesel repair shop in Barkley Sound.



Click on the dollar and buy Livia and Carol a cold frosty one:


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