As you might already know, we decided to take a different route home this summer: the west coast of Vancouver Island. Soon after we bought Airship (September 2014) we attended the Seattle Boat Show in January of 2015. We thought it would be a good idea to attend some boating/education seminars, since we were relatively new to boating (and especially boating in the Pacific Northwest). When deciding which seminars to attend, we opted out of the Alaska seminars and instead went to the presentation on cruising the west side of Vancouver Island. Closer to home, we thought. Alaska’s far, we thought. We’re too new, we thought. And then — we ended up cruising Airship to Alaska just several months later, in May 2015. The west side of Vancouver Island turned out to be the area that sounded the most advanced!
Since then, we have spent 5 months per year for the past three years cruising up and down the Inside Passage to SE Alaska, been underway for over two thousand hours, and have over 13,000 nautical miles under our belts. After all that, the west side of Vancouver Island sounded like a great idea — more remote areas full of new places to explore!
Vancouver Island is enormous, and stretches 300 miles from the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Queen Charlotte Sound. The inside route we’ve taken numerous times lies east of Vancouver Island is therefore is protected from the Pacific Ocean.
The west side the island has five main sounds along its coast: Quatsino Sound, Kyoquot Sound, Nootka Sound, Clayoquot Sound, and Barkley Sound. These sounds each have quite a few interesting anchorages, small settlements, and miles and miles of remote shoreline. Between these sounds, however, you’ve got to hop out into the open ocean. The distances between are relatively short, but the addition of swells and thousands of miles of fetch can quickly make things uncomfortable.
So far, we’ve had an incredible time with some great weather, and the most challenging bits (like coming around Cape Scott, rounding Brooks Peninsula and Estevan Point) have been calm, foggy, and easy.
Here’s a brief overview in pictures of our first week or so on the outside:
We are still in Clayoquot Sound and will be heading to Tofino in a day or two. The last time we were in Tofino we were there with the Airstream and were seriously considering getting into this whole boating thing. (THAT worked out well, didn’t it??) 🙂
After Tofino we’ll stop in Uclulet and then head into Barkely Sound where we will probably spend a week exploring before heading around to Sooke and Victoria. For more detailed posts, keep up with Kevin and Sam and I over at Slowboat.com.