Canadian Gulf Islands
By Tracy Crowe

The Canadian Gulf Islands, in the south-western corner of British Columbia, are world famous for their natural beauty. This area has been referred to as the Mediterranean of the Northwest because of its dramatic coastlines, narrow channels and untouched natural landscape.

The waters are considered ideal for both novice and experienced sailors and even suitable for families with children.

Many marinas are available ranging from open water moorage to deluxe facilities with many extras, and these marinas vary in capacity from one boat to hundreds of boats. 

The Gulf Islands make a great choice for a sailing trip.

What to do in the Canadian Gulf Islands!

When you sail the Canadian Gulf Islands, you can explore miles of beaches that are teeming with marine life, such as orca whales, eagles, great blue heron, otters, dolphins, sea lions and seals. There are many limestone cliffs and forests of Arbutus trees (Canada's only native broadleaf evergreen).

The Canadian Gulf Islands National Park is a marine park established largely due to the large migratory sea bird population and many marine animals in the region, and due to the fragile marine eco-system. Many boaters come here to view some of the rare west coast marine birds, and to see a whale breach.

Spend some time on the islands, with their laid back atmosphere and many beaches; you are never far from a decent pub or restaurant. Ganges (on Saltspring Island) and Nanaimo (on Vancouver Island) are the two best places to get supplies, since both places have groceries and shopping within walking distance of the docks.


Weather You can Expect!  Islands to See!

The pleasant mild climate makes the islands a great place to visit at any time of the year. 

The Gulf Islands enjoy sunshine 247 days of the year and less than 20 cm of rain per year. They are known for having the finest weather on the B.C. coast.

There are six main islands in the southern Gulf Islands: Gabriola, Salt Spring, Galiano, Pender (North and South), Mayne and Saturna, and about 200 smaller ones. The people there are passionate about the joys and adventures of sailing this region.

Plan your trip ahead of time, because in the peak summer and early fall months the marinas are busy and many boaters have to set anchor in one of the nearby sheltered bays, coves, inlets, or channels.

The most popular destinations in the southern Gulf Islands include D'Arcy Island Marine Park, Sidney Spit, Princess Margaret Marine Park (on Portland Island between Saltspring Island and the Pender Islands) , Beaumont Provincial Marine Park (the Pender Islands), Winter Cove Provincial Marine Park (Saturna Island), Cabbage Island Marine Park, Prevost Island, and Montague Harbour Marine Park (Galiano Island).

Other great places to sail are Captain Passage, right at the mouth of Ganges Harbour, and Plumper Sound between Saturna and Pender islands both of which usually have good winds. Port Browning on North Pender Island, Poets Cove at Bedwell Harbour on South Pender Island, Conover Cove on Wallace Island, and Dionisio Provincial Park (Galiano Island) are still other popular options.

Even for a seasoned sailor, knowing your own limits is always crucial. Although navigation is easy, destinations are usually in plain sight, and you're never very far from shelter, tidal currents in the southern Gulf Islands can reach 4 knots in the spring and some ocean channel passes reach up to 9 knots.

What Else You Should Know!

Some very experienced sailors that are new to this area have been taken by surprise. Because of the many channels and tidal currents in this area, it is essential to have the proper tidal and navigation charts, which are available in various places, when sailing the southern Canadian Gulf Islands.

Guides are plentiful so you may want to look them over and pick a favorite spot before coming to the islands.

Your sailboat's engine has to be in good working order because in summer, fine warm weather is often accompanied by light or calm winds, and then there are the extreme tidal currents too.

The weather can change quickly at any time of year, particularly in late winter and early spring. There is less fog in the Gulf Islands than anywhere else on the coast but it is still a hazard to be watched out for.

The Canadian Gulf Islands, with their world famous natural beauty, and ideal waters for sailing are a wonderful place to visit.

Make sure you know your own limits, and plan ahead to make sure your sailboat's engine is in good working order, and you have the proper tidal and navigation charts, and that you can find mooring if you are traveling in peak late summer and early fall months.

Enjoy the many provincial marine parks with lots of marine life such as whales and seabirds, and exploring the many different islands, each with its own charm. Happy sailing!


Tracy Crowe loves the Gulf Islands, and especially fondly remembers her childhood summer cottage on Pender Island.

For information visit Tracy's site http://yoursailinginfo.com

Article Source: Ezine Articles by Tracy Crowe





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