Nanaimo and Desolation Sound rocks

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What a great place to come. Herr are some notes but it is a terrific hour from Seattle

  1. Kenmore Air. They fly nonstop from their Kenmore site. Don’t go to Lake Union! But it is just 1:15 to Nanaimo at the center of Vancouver Island. The 9AM departure is very convenient as is the 2:15 return.
  2. Nanaimo yacht charter are really friendly. Ian and and Lorraine are terrific as is the rest of the staff. Plus you save lots of time getting up to Desolation sound If u really want to be efficient get there the night before because charters start at 9am. Make sure to check everything. Their Hunter 410 is a good size for a couple or three people and is easy to handle.
  3. The most dangerous part of the whole area is Nanaimo harbor itself. Very shallow at 3-5 meters and there are two rocks right in the middle. Beware particularly of Oregon rock. It is only marked by a very ordinary looking green channel marker. This is one place where sticking close to the market is a terrible idea. And the locals run their powerboats at full speed right over the rock, but it is very shallow less than six feet at high tide, so you can wipe out a sailboat. Voice of experience here! There are plenty of rocks, so make sure your depth alarm is on.
  4. Sailing across Georgia strait is pretty easy but check to make sure the whiskey gulf area is clear. Then it’s a straight shot at about 350T to pender harbor. And the reverse is true as well at 167T. Works well in either the usual southeast or northwest winds.
  5. Fuel is hard to come by so this is a 30nm sail. U want to refuel at John Henry before putting in. On the other hand a typical sailboat only burns 4 liters per hour, so you don’t necessarilky need to do it.
  6. Desolation Sound is a pretty easy 7 hour jaunt if you are in a sailboat motoring at 6 knots. Or if you are lucky or have the time, you can tack into the typical northwest wind.
  7. Strait of Georgia – North of Nanaimo is the weather page to track. Typical weather is winds 5-15 from the northwest. Although it can get heavy so you can see 10-20 knots from the southeast which is much heavier.
  8. Whiskey Golf. This is a naval exercise area in front Nanaimo that you have to check. Either listen to Weather 3 or call Winchelsea Island Control at 1-888-221-1011 and you can talk with a real human (amazing!) who will tell you if WG is open or not.
  9. The currents here are less of a factor than in the San Juans, but in a 6-7 knot sailboat, a 1 knot tide really makes a difference.

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