A Family Boating Trip to the San Juan and Gulf Islands
Included are Pictures and how-to Tips

The pictures were taken by Phil and brother Dave, Sauer

My family and I have been sailing the San Juan & Gulf Islands for 40 years.
More recently my brother, Dave & I sail together.
Along the way countless others have joined me, especially during the years we lived and taught on Orcas Island.


Day 1

We usually put in at Anacortes at Cap Santé Marina for about $125 for sling in/out and two weeks parking for our rig.
We also fuel at their dock. ($53 to sling round trip and $5 /day parking)

 Days 2 & 3

Then, depending on tides, we head north to Cyprus or Clark or even Matia Islands (get a buoy).

The next morning, we head on into our great favorite, Sucia. 
We often spend a night at Fossil Bay if we can get a spot on the dock (buoys are also available). 

The next day we move to Shallow bay and anchor in the north end (buoys here too, but no dock). Shallow Bay has much to offer being the center of the island.
It has the warmest swimming, and beautiful sandy beaches, miles of hiking and The China Caves which all provide hours of entertainment for the whole family.


From there you may want to take a 30-40 min walk down along Echo Bay to Ewing Bay

A side trip from here might include a ride to Patos Island 3 niles north.
There you can visit the Historic Lighthouse made famous by the book,"A Light On The Island", Helen Gildden.
Your kids would really enjoy it too, since it chronicals the adventures of the children of the lightkeeper, 1900-1910.

Day 4 or 5
When we leave Sucia we usually stop at West Beach Resort on Orcas Island (it is only a few feet deep at the dock at low tide).
There is fuel, ice and a few groceries. This is a nice family resort where they have a camp fire each evening with popcorn and stories.
Buoys are usually available for $18.

 Then we head on to Prevost Harbor on Stuart Island. We normally find space on the dock, but buoys are available.
This is a great island for hiking, and on-shore camping where there are almost always sites available.

A walk to the old school is an easy 30 minute hike. Go up and across the island and find a trail that goes north.
Keep left until you come to the 100 stairs, don’t go down, but back up 100 ft and take a trail up to the right.
Here you walk the ridge, to the School. There won’t be any one there, but you can visit the small museum or borrow books from the library.
There is also a wide selection of very nice Tee Shirts. There is a sign "Leave No Money".
Instead, when you take one, there is an envelope and an IOU in the bag. Then you get home you write a check and send it back.
If you continue on that same trail for 1 ˝ miles more you get to the light house.

Or go back and after dinner take a dinghy to the county dock (1 mile north of your dock) and hike to "Whale Watching Point",
30 min (turn left 150 yards beyond the top of the hill) or go on to the Light House, another 30 min.
If you happen to get to the light house during the day (10-4 most days), you can tour the old Lightkeeper’s elaborate home built in the 1800’s and now restored.
Also, don’t miss the most beautiful out-house we have ever seen.



Day 5 to 7

At this point you have a choice, go directly to Bedwell Harbor or take a side trip to Sydney and Victoria on Vancouver Island. Either way the next stop is in Canada.
To enter Canada: Everyone aboard will need at least a Passport Card.
When there, the skipper only, gets out and sees, or makes a call to Customs (no later than 8 pm).
The skipper should have all the passports and your boat number or name available.
It is also a good idea to have
a copy of the boat registration and title (though Canadians rarely ask for it, American Customs always will). 

If you choose Sydney and Victoria, go to the beautiful Port Sydney Marina right in the middle of Sydney's Waterfront Park.
Customs is right on the outer end of the G dock.
Next call 250.655.3711 or they answer in VHF something like 68. This is really a top notch marina, with all the amenities. 
There are many restaurants, several supermarkets, even a West Marine, all within walking distance.
If you walk down Main Street to fifth, there is a nice bus that takes you to downtown Victoria hourly, where you may feel you are in Europe.
There are many attractions and museums as you walk around the Inner Harbor. The beautiful Empress Hotel is the center.
If you have a few hours, the Royal BC Museum is a real treat for the whole family.
In the evening you may want to visit Butchart Gardens on the way back from Victoria.
This is also a world class attraction.  Beautiful lighting and fireworks highlight the evening.


After a stay in the city, you may want to stop at quiet Royal Cove on Portland Island Provincial Park 45 minutes north (you do get occasional waves from a passing ferry).
It is a wonderful little cove on the northwest point of Portland. You anchor and tie a line to hooks on the banks. There is a dinghy dock and many trails.
Trails go through the center of the island to Princess Bay (another anchorage), or you can walk all the way around the outside of the island.

 From there, our next stop is always our family favorite, Bedwell Harbor on South Pender Island, and hour to the west.

Click here go on to Part II