Thursday, July 5, 2012

Sailing Howe Sound to Bowen, Gambier,and Keats Islands

Howe Sound begins at Point Atkinson which you can see from English Bay Vancouver. It's a point off West Vancouver.  In years past it was excellent fishing too.  Along the West Vancouver coast to Horseshoe Bay, Howe Sound opens up across from Bowen Island. Passage Island is a little island that sits at it's mouth.

There can be some significant inflow and outflow winds.  Not uncommonly it's 15 to 25 knots though as often as not it's light and variable winds.

Going to Bowen Island I pass between Passage Island and Pt. Atkinson  in the centre of the outflow of Howe Sound whereas going out to Georgia Strait from Bowen Island I pass between Passage Island and Bowen Island.
There are several excellent anchorages in this area.  There are also several major marinas.

I've had work done on my boat in Eagle Harbour where the West Vancouver Yacht Club have their base.  I was on the hard for a week once while my bottom was sand blasted and re expoxied.

My favourite destination is Snug Cove and Mannion Bay on Bowen Island. Union Steamship Company runs a marina with excellent facilities for sailors on Snug Cove. The summer rates at the dock for power and water run $1.50 a foot.  There's showers, laundry and club house above the dockside chandlery.

Laura, Gilbert the dog, and I spent a few rainy days in Mannion Bay at anchor and enjoyed dinghying ashore in the new light weight Vancouver Boat Show Achilles dinghy with Yamaha 4hp ashore for fresh bread, milk and dog walks

Right on shore walking distance from dock there are several restaurants, cafe's and Doc's pub.  Over the years I've heard some really fine local music at Doc's.  Recently I brought my nephew Andrew and his friend here.

I've also stayed in the marina liking the staff and owner  but mostly I like to anchor in Mannion Bay enjoying sleeping at anchor.   It wasn't always like this, an acquired taste in deed. First time I remember hardly sleeping at all, simply unable to trust this rope umbilical cord.

There are great walks for the dog on Bowen Island and I've enjoyed summer entertainment events there, theater and concerts in the park at Snug Cove.  The Natural food store at the top of the hill is very tasty and the market just below on the main ferry road has everything the heart could desire.  As a commuter village for Vancouver it has fine fashions stores and general browsing places typical of island living.

The anchorages and marinas in Howe Sound are pretty well all  protected from weather.  The only mild downside is the rolling wake of the ferry traffic which is really insignificant considering all the positives here.  In my sail boat Bowen destination is only a couple of hours from Vancouver motoring or sailing so it's a great outing for an overnight trip.  All the others are less than a day's trip except maybe Squamish at the top of Howe Sound.

There's Horseshoe Bay further up West Vancouver coast. Here the big ferry heads out  Victoria to the south.  A smaller ferry goes north to Gibsons. Horseshoe Bay is a wonderful little town with all manner of tourist amenities. Bay Moorings is just one of the great restaurants there.    I've stopped at the docks for meals ashore but haven't stayed over night here.  though it's a terrific site for stopping over.  Just across the way is Gambier Island where I also like to anchor.  Halkett Bay Provincial Park is there.

I like to anchor on Gambier Island, even though thanks to years of logging I've tended to pull up some of the bottom with my anchor, old cables and such.  Port Graves Bay and West Bay have been places I've stayed.  I must have stayed in Centre Bay but don't remember it as well.  There's no facilities at Halkett Bay or Port Graves Bay.  There's a dock in West Bay but I can't recall going ashore here.  I consider these also places to go when I may only be able to overnight before getting back to work.  The harbours have always been well protected too.  Camp Artaban the church camp is at the top of Port Graves.  It's time to go back since it's been a few years since last I stopped over here.

Plumper Cove Marine Provincial Park is a favourite destination on Keat's Island. I've sailed and motored there.  When I motor I tend to fish and have caught my share of salmon along the way. I commonly have stayed over night at Bowen after a day of work and then traveled the few hours further to Keats the next day arriving early. It's an easy trip for a Saturday overnighting a night and returning on a Sunday though I prefer a three day weekend to really enjoy it.  The island has a great trail for hiking. It can be more crowded at times now. I remember it being a really quiet pleasant place but a couple of times in the summer recently it's had a lot of power boats out to party. There's also camping on the shore.  Off season I find it better but it can't be beat in the summer sunshine.  All the route there and back is really  protected waters.  I took my nephew Allan out to Keats when he visitted.  Several times I've dinghied over to the sweet town of Gibson's too.

Squamish Harbour, the big town on the way to Whistler is at the top of Howe Sound. I've not been there by boat yet since it's at least a day's journey.  I love Squamish though for all the times I've stopped there, climbed the Peak,  or hunted in the surrounding area.  I've sailed up to and anchored off Porteau Cove but not over night. I know Porteau Cove better from wreck scuba diving I've done there. I've also stopped there on motorcycle trips up the Sea to Sky highway.  It's a real pretty place with well kept outdoor facilities.  IMG 1225IMG 1224  IMG 1223IMG 1221 
Howe Sound is just so close to Vancouver.  It's spectacular with eagles and sea dogs. I've seen dolphins in the waters too. It's really  great for day sailing and has some extremely pleasant and varied anchorages.   I can't count the times I've lingered in Howe Sound.   Dozens of times at least.  I don't think I'll ever tire of it.  Having sailed to Mexico and Hawaii I appreciate it's charm even more.

1 comment:

Dave Ball said...

Great review. Thanks.