Power voyaging around Vancouver Island


To the editor: We’re halfway around our 800-mile circumnavigation of Vancouver Island on board our Symbol 57, Solstice. We started from Anacortes, Wash., on July 2, spent a couple days with friends at Roche Harbor on San Juan Island for the Fourth of July, then headed north up the Inside Passage between the east coast of Vancouver Island and mainland British Columbia — a trip we’ve done many times before (including last summer on our trip to Alaska). Along the way, we had visits from friends who flew in for the night in their seaplane, as well as grizzly bears and flotillas of hundreds of playful sea otters. We’d gone out paddling or exploring the deserted beaches and anchorages every day before moving on.

It took a week to get to the top of the island where the weather and seas cooperated, and we were able to round Cape Scott — a notoriously nasty bit of land where the North Pacific Ocean collides with land for the first time in 4,000 miles — in calm seas and sunshine. We were surrounded by humpback and minke whales, sea otters, dolphins, all manner of birds and even a giant sunfish relaxing on the sea surface.

From there, we headed back south to explore the five great sounds of the island’s west coast: Quatsino, Kyuquot, Nootka, Clayoquot and Barkley — each with long, narrow fingers and fjords that reach deep into the mountains. This is what we came for. Right now, we’re deep in Kyuquot Sound waiting out today’s forecast of gale warnings with 35 knots and 9-foot seas. We’re docked at a tiny First Nation fishing village that has a little cafe with glacial-speed Internet (but no phone service, go figure). We may not have any communication for another week.

—Eric Sanford and his first (and best) mate Debbie Lynn have been cruising together for seven years in the Pacific Northwest, Mexico and the Caribbean. They’re based out of Hood River, Ore.

By Ocean Navigator