Gulf Islands

by Lynn Ove Mortensen


The Gulf Islands attract multitudes of boaters annually from both Canada and the United States. Lying along the southern portion of the Strait of Georgia, this archipelago of islands lie in a triangle formed by the major population centers of Vancouver, Victoria and Nanaimo and boast a warm, dry climate, offering year-round cruising. Homes nestle in the coves and dot the hillsides. Towns and villages offer a broad choice of marine facilities and remarkable opportunities for shopping, dining and of course, nightlife. Private Yacht Charters - Gulf Islands

To the west, this cruising region includes the southeastern shores of Vancouver Island. Nestled closely together from the Saanich Peninsula north through Sansum Narrows it’s hard to choose a particular destination with such scenic areas of Sidney, Cowichan Bay, Genoa Bay and Maple Bay, with several services and amenities.

Private Yacht Charters - Gulf IslandsIn the old mill town of Chemainus, colorful murals depict local history while the shops, galleries and parks are hard to resist. Right up Stuart Channel, two popular marinas welcome boaters at Telegraph Cove on rural Thetis Island. More services plus world-class dining can be found at Page Point Marina.

At Montague Harbour on lanky Galiano, a tropic-like sand beach lies near an archaeological site thought to be nearly 7,000 years old. More secluded hideaways wait among bays and bights nearby. The route through narrow, picturesque Gabriola Pass leads to fishing in Georgia Strait where bald eagles swoop and soar in the strong gulf winds.

If one is to sail the prevailing winds south, the course to Tumbo Island provides a beautiful broad reach. The farthest south of the Gulf Islands also proves to be the most remote and private, as few boaters dare the treachorous enterance between Cabbage and Tumbo reefs. Once tucked safely inside guests will enjoy a plethora of wildlife and panoramic scenes. More than one passenger has remarked that the sheer volume of noises produced by the resident wildlife rivals that of the Costa Rican jungle.

At the center of the archipelago, Saltspring Island is a cruising magnet. Shops and restaurants on Saltspring proudly feature local goat cheese and island grown lamb. To the south, age old petroglyphs decorate boulders on the beach in Fulford Harbour.

Many smaller islands dot the center of the group. One-boat bights provide peaceful stops among the islands ending with DeCourcy Island where cult leader Brother Twelve held sway over a hoard of devoted followers in the 1920’s.

At the top of the Gulf Islands, the even narrower, s-curved Dodd Narrows, where the current runs eight to ten knots on spring tides, accesses the broad grassy fields, teaming tidepools and lovely trails on charming Newcastle Island, directly across from the community of Nanaimo.