Why cruise the Salish Sea?
The Salish Sea and nearby waters offer some of the most beautiful cruising grounds on Earth. We are lucky to be able call it home.
There are many reasons that people take to the sea coast for days and weeks on end. Some adore the privacy of lonesome anchorages, others the camaraderie of marina berths, some the adventures ashore.
Here is a list of the top 10 reasons Lynne and I love to cruise the Salish Sea.
The obvious No.1 best reason to cruise the Salish Sea, with its towering forests, snow-capped mountains and rocky island shores… there are few places like it.
From Hammersley Inlet at the south end of Puget Sound to Loughborough Inlet off the northern reaches of the Discovery Islands, and all the territory between, you can hardly turn around without seeing a sight that makes you sigh.
Lynne and I sailed through Asia, and returning home often remark how alive with nature the Salish Sea feels. Abroad we saw little sea life from the surface, sometimes dolphins, the occasional shark’s fin.
And below the surface, so many of the world’s great reefs and sea coasts are under assault. They appear lifeless.
That changed when we entered Juan de Fuca Strait. It’s not perfect here, we have a lot of work to do, but the sea feels alive.
Kibitzing seals, lolling sea lions, and when you least expect it, the happy surprise of a surfacing orca or humpback is what makes the Salish Sea and the north coast of BC and Alaska so special.
And in the sky eagles soar and on land there are deer and bears and other creatures. It is paradise.
3. So close to home
There are other beautiful places in the world, but instead of weeks or months to get away to them, the entire Salish Sea is at your doorstep if you live near Puget Sound or Georgia Strait.
We all have lives and responsibilities, from which its difficult to tear ourselves away. But when we do, when we can bank a few weeks or longer, the Broughtons and the amazing coast north of Cape Caution are not that far way.
4. Wonderful walks
We love to hike, whether along mossy, dripping trails on thickly forested remote islands or along a manicured seaside park on the edge of a trim urban cityscape.
So many parks and public lands on the Salish Sea are laced with trails, either groomed or informal. There are some amazing collections of trails, including one maintained by the Campbell River Yacht Club.
There is no joy like a mystery trail that seems to have appeared from nowhere, well trodden and unmarked that goes up and over the next hill, or the logging road that meanders into uncut forest.
5. Fabulous weather
The climate is changing. Sometimes seems there is little mankind is willing to do to avoid it, but on the Salish Sea if you don’t like the climate you are in you can haul anchor and move a few bays over to find another one. A bit of an overstatement, perhaps, but the fascination of cruising the Salish Sea is the many micro-climates with vastly different rainfalls, wind strengths and water temperatures.
Overall, the Salish Sea continues to enjoy moderate winters with long, cool summers. It’s rare that we overheat, as others do far inland at the same latitude, and the summers here generally are much drier than those same inlanders would have you believe.
And the lighting and tones change with the season, busy anchorages become still, and on your first winter cruise you will wonder how you had avoided this for so many years.
6. Convenient repairs
Except for some areas of the northern Discovery Islands and the remote reaches of certain inlets it is usually easy to find help when things break.
Most marinas either have someone on staff who can conduct a repair or keep a list of local mechanics or electricians who are capable and have reasonably quick access to parts.
As well, you will often be amazed how far other other cruisers will go out of their way to help you when there’s trouble.
7. Easy provisioning
Having sailed through regions where it took planning, much public transport and long walks overland to acquire groceries and other supplies, it is a pleasure to provision in the Salish Sea.
In the southern sea, a supermarket or quaint general store crammed to its graying rafters with packages, boxes and cans is usually only steps from shore near the many coastal communities. Further north, you are never more than few-hour sail from a community with shops. Often a grocery store or shop will happily deliver supplies you are seeking to a marina or dock near you.
8. Wonderful anchorages
There are so many idyllic, sheltered anchorages in our sea, with convenient depths and good holding. Winds might howl in the sound beyond that rocky spit, while around you is stillness.
It not unusual to find yourself alone or one of several vessels in a wide bay, able to deploy oodles of scope in case a wind pipes up.
Some of the steepest, most remote and spectacular coastlines call for shore ties, as do some narrow twisted coves. Sometimes a stern line is just more convenient. Some unfamiliar with shore ties, who refuse to carry the extra line, miss out on lovely anchorages and hidden nooks.
And there seems to be much less garbage in the water than we were used to seeing some places in Asia, close to population centres, where the seas were filled with plastic bags.
9. Great marinas
The Salish Sea is surrounded by dozens of well-kept marinas offering transient moorage for vessels up to more than 100 feet long.
Some offer simple ties, while other marinas are full-service with facilities to haulout and work ashore, either DIY or with qualified service staff.
Sometimes it is good to know marina services are there when you need them.
10. Crabbing and fishing
Finally, part of the fun of cruising the Salish Sea is setting crab traps or dripping a line into the water, filled with the drug of anticipation about the grand supper you will have.
When we first started cruising here we didn’t have much experience with crabbing or fishing. We still don’t but that does not stop us from pretending we are experts.
And, of course, I am sure there are other reasons cruising here is such a wonderful pastime.