A Family Boating Trip to the San Juan and Gulf Islands - Part II

Click here for Part I

If you have chosen not to go to Sydney this time, you head north, and cross over into Canada (one hour).
Sail to Poets Cove Resort at Bedwell Harbor on South Pender Island. After checking through customs,
we check in at Poet's Cove Marina ($1.90 a ft Canadian) (If your boat is large, or on weekends, you may need a reservation, +1-250-629-2100). 

The kids will really love this area with it beautiful WARM swimming pool, and very friendly staff who cater to kids.
If you like to walk the docks and talk in the evening, this is the place to do it. There is also fine dining and a fine hotel there.


If some prefer a quite time, they can dinghy north ˝ mile to (marine entry only), Beaumont Marine Park where you can picnic or hike to your heart's content.

Bedwell has limited grocery shopping with very high prices. But on North Pender Island, there is a nice shopping center where you can really restock at normal island prices. To get there, you take your fast dinghy north to the end of the bay, through the channel (sailboat with a mast over 29 ft can't get under the bridge), and again north to Browning Resort. Walk through the resort and up the hill (15 min) to the shopping center.

Day 8 or so

After Bedwell, we usually head north between the Pender Islands (bridge with 29 ft clearance, low tide) and on up to Montague Harbor on Galliano Island
(large sailboats have to go around the west side of Pender to Montague, same distance).
At Montague, small boats can usually get a space on the dock at the Provincial Park ($2 Canadian per meter) or there are many buoys.
There is also a marina on the west side of the harbor with slips, and some groceries at high island prices.
The dock is usually a family spot.
There is a small Marine Education Center that the kids will enjoy on the dock.

If you don’t want to stay in the harbor, you can go around the Peninsula and anchor on the more primitive (but open to the north) north shore of the park. This is a nice Provincial Park, with camp sites accessible by car or walk-in. There are usually sites available in the walk-in area. There are some very nice hiking trails through the walk-in sites, along the north shore, and around the peninsula.

At 5 or 6 pm a bus arrives just south of the park entrance on the east shore.
It will take you to the Humming Bird Pub (Restaurant). The ride is a real blast. As you enter, you are given a musical instrument such as a tambourine.
You are encouraged to play it or sing or dance or whatever. The driver plays music on the speaker, but also, he plays instruments (yes, while he is driving).
Then you will have a nice dinner at the Humming Bird at halfway reasonable prices. Kids will also love it.


Day 9 or  so.

From Montague, we head north to Wallace Island (one hour). This Provincial Park (often called the Sucia of the Gulf Islands) has wonderful hiking, or exploring quiet little inlets.
Conover Cove, west side near the south, has a public dock or buoys which are often open.
Ten minutes farther north is Princess Cove which offers stern tie anchorages in this small protected cove which are usually full with boats over 35 ft. 
A short walk from Conover Cove is an old building where boaters leave pieces of art from their boat.
Before visiting Wallace, you might want to read a wonderful book called "Once Upon an Island" by David Conover. Wallace can be a midday trip or an overnight.



Day 10 or so

From Wallace, we usually head for Telegraph Harbor Resort on Thetis Island.
There are two ways to get to Telegraph, by the ditch, or around the south end of Kuper Island.
If you have a nice maneuverable boat, and the tide is high and the weather is calm, try the 1/2 mile long ditch.
Go north along Wallace and Secretary Islands to Clam Bay. The ditch is high and dry at about a 3 to 4 ft of tide (Canadian Measurement not US).
Most of it is deeper, but right at the west end watch out. Calm weather is important, since you really need to see the bottom.
Otherwise, go around the south end of Kuper Island (the depth between Kuper and Tent is about the same as the ditch).

Telegraph Harbor Resort is best known for its warm swimming, usually 67 to 70 Deg.
The marina may fill up by 3 pm so call ahead at 1-800-246-6011 or 66a.
The store there has limited groceries, including pies and pasties, and some dining (not open early, so get stuff in the evening).
The kids will enjoy the warm sea water swimming, as well as the large grassy field with swings and games.  It has a quaint family owned atmosphere.

Telegraph is as far north as we go.
We have returned on the west side of Saltspring Island if we wish to visit Sydney Victoria area, but we usually head south with another stop at Bedwell.

Day 12 or so
Since you must cross back into the US, we usually reenter at Roche Harbor on San Juan Island about 1 ˝ hours from Bedwell.
Friday Harbor on San Juan Island id also an option.
Reentering the US is much more complex than Canada, and can take an hour or more.
Park at the Customs dock (or wait in line for the dock) and have the skipper take the passports/cards and well as the vessel registration papers.
When an agent becomes available, you may enter the office (10 to 30 minutes). After finishing the paper work the agent will want to enter the vessel.

Roche Harbor Marina is also a historic world class stop. There is fine dining, a half decent grocery with halfway decent prices.
Here you can walk the dock and talk with just about any class person you can imagine, we met the US vice-president there once.
They fill up by midday, so call ahead +1 800.586.3590 or better, VHF 78a. If you are under 30 ft they usually get you in somewhere.
They have a nice large warm swimming pool, tennis courts, play grounds, and even an airstrip. Everything is included in your moorage fee (about $2/ft US).
Be sure to bring the family to the "Colors Ceremony" at sunset at the main dock. 


If it is crowded at Roche, or you want to save $50, sail south a few miles to Garrison Bay and anchor at the old British Camp.
This is an active historic sight once used by the British before the US/Canadian line was firmly established. Ask about the Pig War.

Day  13 or 14

From Roche, we usually head east to Jones Island.
Watch the tides in between San Juan and Spieden Islands. Currents and rips can be very bad.  
Stay in the North Bay at James where there are buoys, stern ties, or often the dock. There is a very nice camp grounds there, usually with sites available.

There is a nice 20 min walk through the center, to the south end of the Island. Later walk back around the west shore. 
Kids may find other kids playing games on the large open field, or watching the tame deer.


From Jones Island, we sometimes stop at Deer Harbor Marina on Orcas Island. There is a nice dock and store as well as a swimming pool. Kids should enjoy it.

On the way from Jones, you may want to stop at Spencer Spit on Lopaz Island, or just head all the way to Anacortus.
Spencer offers bouys or good anchoring, but no dock. It has nice beach walking (or claming) on both sides of this 1/2 mile long spit.
You can get between the spit and Frost Island. There are walk-in camp sites on the north side.
From there we head back to Anacortus and a pull out at Cap Santé Marina.

We'll see you there next year!