Dreaming About Haida Gwaii

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Chinook
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Dreaming About Haida Gwaii

Post by Chinook » Thu Aug 29, 2019 4:42 pm

The cruise around Vancouver Island has gotten my enthusiasm up for a trip out to Haida Gwaii. The 75 to 80 mile open ocean crossing of Hecate Strait is daunting, however with the right weather, and the boat/engine in proper condition, it's certainly doable. Ferrying the boat out there is another option, however with a $1000 + price tag for round trip with truck and trailer. Once out there, the cruising would be similar to the West Coast of Vancouver Island, with lots of sheltered waters to explore. I'm wondering if anyone here has had experience going out there. I recall a Mac owner who posted here from time to time actually lived on Haida Gwaii. Don't recall his name, but would like to get in touch. The fall and winter seasons are always great times to dream and scheme.

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Re: Dreaming About Haida Gwaii

Post by dougba » Fri Aug 30, 2019 2:35 pm

I am looking forward to viewing your replies. I am considering doing the same next summer. I was looking at the cost of the ferry and was unsure if the posted price was one way or if I would be charged both ways. I don't have your experience sailing and an experienced friend said he wouldn't take his ranger tug across without a very good weather window.

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Chinook
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Re: Dreaming About Haida Gwaii

Post by Chinook » Sat Aug 31, 2019 9:19 am

The posted ferry fares are one way, so it ends up being a very expensive ferry ride. According to Waggonners Cruising Guide, the distance from the jumpoff anchorage out of Prince Rupert to Haida Gwaii is 65 miles, so I figure an 11 hour run. Considering that as you near the island, you begin getting the benefit of a protective landform, it seems to be a reasonable run, given a good weather forecast. Nice stretches of weather usually occur in mid summer, so I'm definitely encouraged. I most likely would motor or motor sail, since sailing out there at 3 to 4 knots would take much longer. Sufficient wind to sail faster would also generate higher seas, which I would tend to avoid by waiting for more settled weather.

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mac n cheese
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Re: Dreaming About Haida Gwaii

Post by mac n cheese » Sun Sep 01, 2019 5:55 pm

Congratulations on your circumnavigation of Vancouver Island by the way. I enjoy reading your blogs.
Are you dealing with currents also when crossing the Hecate Strait? I suppose it could turn into a waiting game
until the weather window opens up.

If you like seafood then the scallops on the haida gwaii archipelago should fill you up. :)
These are weathervane scallops, the largest in the world. I've heard them being compared to the size of hockey
pucks.

They should be incentive enough to make the crossing. :)


Image

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Chinook
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Re: Dreaming About Haida Gwaii

Post by Chinook » Mon Sep 02, 2019 10:25 am

The middle and northern part of Hecate Strait is relatively shallow, 115 feet or less, and the currents run strong through it. If a wind is blowing against the direction of current, it quickly gets rough out there. This condition is made worse by the shallow water. Given the length of the passage, I assume that a boat traveling at 6 knots would experience both a northerly and southerly current during a crossing. This increases the importance of having a good settled forecast.

Those scallops are amazing. I've also seen some remarkable tidepool photos of starfish from out there. The colors are incredible, from bright reds to deep blues, and every shade in between.

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Phil M
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Re: Dreaming About Haida Gwaii

Post by Phil M » Sat Dec 14, 2019 7:55 am

There was an interesting article in Pacific yachting about Haida Gwaii. Apparently you have to attend a seminar in Sydney or in Vancouver before you are allowed to even attempt to reach the island. Once you do reach the island you are obligated to use your VHF radio to contact a native guide. Coming to Shore by yourself is not allowed. Fishing or harvesting of any sort is carefully monitored by floatplane. There is no drinkable fresh water available either.

Phil M

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Chinook
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Re: Dreaming About Haida Gwaii

Post by Chinook » Thu Dec 19, 2019 5:18 pm

One of the most appealing aspects of cruising involves freedom. Leaving the dock, heading out on open waters, exploring new places, dropping the anchor in a secluded cove. Unfortunately, that idyllic view doesn't exactly match up when cruising in places like Haida Gwaii. It's perhaps inevitable that, when heading for an internationally renowned destination, rules, regulations and fees enter the picture. We've cruised in several National Park areas, both in the US and in Canada, and we were subject to varying degrees of regimentation. In this day and age, it's inevitable that visitation to places of international renown involve rules. We've found this to be the case on Lake Yellowstone, Isle Royale, the Bowron Lake Loop (by canoe), in the Bahamas, on the Sea of Cortez, and Glacier Bay, to name a few. In Glacier Bay an orientation session is mandatory. Serious fees are charged at Isle Royale. Yellowstone Lake requires a wilderness permit and specific anchorages are assigned. In the case of Haida Gwaii attendance at an orientation session is required. It is offered out at the islands, so getting to it isn't an inconvenience. It's my understanding that contacting First Nations guides before going ashore only applies to the 5 or so major archaeological sites. We encountered this system at Village Island in the Broughtons last summer, where we paid a $20 fee and were given a guided tour of the area by the chief of the local band. His family had lived there for many generations, and we thoroughly enjoyed his tour. I'm more than glad to support such efforts, and feel that the funds raised will help to preserve and protect such treasured sites into the future. They do impose a reservation system out there, which is intended to control crowding and help preserve the quality of a visitation experience. Again, highly desirable destinations can easily become overrun, and so a degree of regimentation is the price we now must pay. All said, I still find cruising to beautiful places affords the highest degree of freedom which is possible today, and I hope to visit as many of the most spectacular such places as possible, so long as I can still climb aboard and head out.

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Re: Dreaming About Haida Gwaii

Post by Chinook » Mon Feb 10, 2020 7:00 pm

Update time on Haida Gwaii. I talked with a lady at Explorations Northwest at the Seattle Boat Show. They take flotillas out to Haida Gwaii from time to time. I got some great information, and may be able to borrow some charts. Canadian Hydrographics copyrights all their charts, and they cost $23 per chart. That adds up fast, plus creating a big pile of large paper sheets. No chartbooks published which cover Haida Gwaii. It's just not visited enough to justify publishing them. I bought a 1:500,000 large area planning chart so I can get started working on an itinerary. I have the Canadian chart chip for my Garmin, so I can zoom in for detail. One way or another, I'll end up with a set of charts for the area, at 1:70,000 to 1:150,000 scale. Probably won't bother buying harbor charts; will rely on the Garmin for that level of detail. I'm getting ready to replace my old Garmin 541 with a new model, probably with a 9 inch screen. The old Garmin was starting to have some issues last summer, and I learned that it's no longer supported by Garmin. Too old. Thinking right now about a departure in late June, allowing 4 to 5 weeks for the trip. I'll trailer up to Prince Rupert, a 2 day drive, and launch there. One day run to an anchorage on the east side of Hecate Strait, probably Larson Harbour, where we can wait for suitable weather for the 60 mile crossing. Looking forward to this trip. Haida Gwaii is one of the world's great places, from all I've read and heard.

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Phil M
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Re: Dreaming About Haida Gwaii

Post by Phil M » Tue Feb 11, 2020 7:46 am

In our new sailboat we had Raymarine installed. I much preferred my Garmin that I had on my MacGregor. Stick with Garmin if you can do that.
Keep us posted on your Haida gwaii Adventure.
Our plans to follow your circumnavigation of Vancouver Island are full steam ahead for the month of June.

Phil M

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Re: Dreaming About Haida Gwaii

Post by RADOM » Tue Feb 11, 2020 2:12 pm

I am planning a trip next summer to Alaska and also launching in the Prince Rupert area. I would be interested in hearing about where you end up launching and where you were able to park your truck and trailer for several weeks.

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Re: Dreaming About Haida Gwaii

Post by yukonbob » Tue Feb 11, 2020 3:54 pm

RADOM wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 2:12 pm
I am planning a trip next summer to Alaska and also launching in the Prince Rupert area. I would be interested in hearing about where you end up launching and where you were able to park your truck and trailer for several weeks.
If you're considering SE Alaska I would suggest looking at continuing the road trip further North to Skagway or Haines and launch from there. Puts you where you want to be (<100nm from Glacier Bay, Juneau, Glaciers etc) Dixon can be a show stopper and clearing into Ketchikan via Foggy bay stop over (100nm + run) doesn't allow for much exploring.

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Chinook
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Re: Dreaming About Haida Gwaii

Post by Chinook » Tue Feb 11, 2020 4:29 pm

There are 3 marinas in Prince Rupert, namely the Prince Rupert Rowing and Yacht Club, Cow Bay Marina, and Rushbrooke Floats Small Craft Harbour. The only launch ramp in Prince Rupert is at Rushbrooke. I plan to contact them in the near future regarding long term parking for truck and trailer. I was there once before and I recall that flat areas were at a premium. It wouldn't surprise me to be directed to an off site location. I'll report on what I learn. Regarding logistics going further north, comments posted above are good. The one time we went up there we started at North Vancouver and went all the way up by water. The procedure for entering Alaska from Prince Rupert involves a passage of longer than one day. Last time we were advised by US Customs to place a phone call prior to departing Prince Rupert, with intentions of stopping at Foggy Bay and then on to Ketchikan the next day. We did that and it all worked out fine.

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Re: Dreaming About Haida Gwaii

Post by BOAT » Wed Feb 12, 2020 8:54 am

Chinook wrote:
Thu Aug 29, 2019 4:42 pm
The cruise around Vancouver Island has gotten my enthusiasm up for a trip out to Haida Gwaii. The 75 to 80 mile open ocean crossing of Hecate Strait is daunting, however with the right weather, and the boat/engine in proper condition, it's certainly doable. Ferrying the boat out there is another option, however with a $1000 + price tag for round trip with truck and trailer. Once out there, the cruising would be similar to the West Coast of Vancouver Island, with lots of sheltered waters to explore. I'm wondering if anyone here has had experience going out there. I recall a Mac owner who posted here from time to time actually lived on Haida Gwaii. Don't recall his name, but would like to get in touch. The fall and winter seasons are always great times to dream and scheme.
Make me understand - We drove our van all over the southern part of Vancouver Island and when it was time to jump off the Island we caught a ferry in Nanaimo that took us back to Horseshoe Bay for like 100 bucks! So your saying that if I have the boat in tow behind the van they are going to charge me a THOUSAND DOLLARS??!? :o

Holy Crap! That Sucks! I guess I will NOT be trailering 'boat' to Vancouver Island! :|

And I saw LOTs of Canadian cars towing Caravans on that ferry - I had no idea they were paying so much just to have their trailer with them!

Good info to know.

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yukonbob
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Re: Dreaming About Haida Gwaii

Post by yukonbob » Wed Feb 12, 2020 9:04 am

Chinook wrote:
Tue Feb 11, 2020 4:29 pm
There are 3 marinas in Prince Rupert, namely the Prince Rupert Rowing and Yacht Club, Cow Bay Marina, and Rushbrooke Floats Small Craft Harbour. The only launch ramp in Prince Rupert is at Rushbrooke. I plan to contact them in the near future regarding long term parking for truck and trailer. I was there once before and I recall that flat areas were at a premium. It wouldn't surprise me to be directed to an off site location. I'll report on what I learn. Regarding logistics going further north, comments posted above are good. The one time we went up there we started at North Vancouver and went all the way up by water. The procedure for entering Alaska from Prince Rupert involves a passage of longer than one day. Last time we were advised by US Customs to place a phone call prior to departing Prince Rupert, with intentions of stopping at Foggy Bay and then on to Ketchikan the next day. We did that and it all worked out fine.
Don't forget Port Edward. Good alternative, quieter and I would personally be more comfortable leaving my stuff unattended in PE than PR. Rupert is a rough town.

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BOAT
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Re: Dreaming About Haida Gwaii

Post by BOAT » Wed Feb 12, 2020 9:22 am

yukonbob wrote:
Wed Feb 12, 2020 9:04 am


Don't forget Port Edward. Good alternative, quieter and I would personally be more comfortable leaving my stuff unattended in PE than PR. Rupert is a rough town.
Okay, that's it - I'm not taking 'boat' to Canada without a guide - I can just go there and follow Chinook or Highlander or Yukonbob - but I guess I will not go alone.

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