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Old 04-15-2013, 03:56 PM   #1
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 3
Default Sailing British Columbia Engineless?

Hi Folks!

I'm looking for more specific accounts of those who've sailed, drifted, and/or rowed around parts of Vancouver Island, in a keelboat without an engine, to make a passage and not daysail. Any leads may, in some way, help to determine how probable, and practical, myself sailing, in this way, would be, but the smaller the boat, the better.

And if someone's going to state the calms are too unpredictable and the current will send such a boat out of control, that's appreciated, but details on how unpredictable the calms are, how the tidal currents move on a small scale, and how the hull profile and rowing setup effect versatileness, would be better. Same thing with moorages, anchorages, and marina setups. What circumstances would make that use of such places too hard?


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Old 04-15-2013, 07:52 PM   #2
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Posts: 2,098

Hi, Alex,

The average cruiser is not sailing without an auxiliary engine, and in my limited experience those boats have little in the way of internet access or use. If there is one, it's a very small needle to find in our haystack.

This is such location specific information that your best bet is to talk with the sailors at the various yacht clubs on Vancouver Island. They will have the knowledge you need from their sailing and racing experience in the area.

In 1986 we went cruising for a few years. After 20 years and 50+ countries and several oceans, we are STILL "cruising for a few years".

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Old 04-16-2013, 04:21 PM   #3
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Join Date: Jun 2007
Home Port: Washington DC
Vessel Name: SV Mahdee
Posts: 3,236

Hi there,

Yes, it would be difficult to find a particular sailor with the experience you seek. The wiki (World Cruising and Sailing Wiki - a Cruising Guide on the World Cruising and Sailing Wiki) will hopefully someday have the sort of info you want.

If you've already sailed w/o aux engine, then you are already fully aware that every day, every season, every tide is a different experience to sail. I do agree that getting in touch with the local yacht clubs would be helpful to your cause.

One note on that whole "sail a small boat w/o aux engine" theme--I have a friend who had sort of a mid-life crisis and he decided to build a folkboat (sans engine, probably something like 22-24 ft), and do everything the "simple" way. So, he builds his boat and sets out from somewhere North (I believe he may have been living in Alaska at the time) for a sail to the tropics. By the time he's down along Vancouver Island he's been whipped around whirlpools for hours at a time because, well, once he's been swept into one he has to wait for changing tides for the chance to pop out since the sailing alone won't do it. He stopped there along the island, built himself another boat (this one a trimaran of about 30' because he found the folkboat too small and he personally had "issues" with heeling it seemed) with a good strong engine and then he continued on down the coast to So Cal, across to Hawaii, and ultimately back to Vancouver Island. He states that he really never needed that engine on the tri --except when he was around Vancouver Island and on the Columbia River of Oregon!

Good luck in your adventures, please do let us know your plans as they come along.
"Do or do not. There is no try." - Yoda

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Old 04-18-2013, 06:20 AM   #4
Join Date: Jun 2006
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Vessel Name: Sooke
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The only people I've heard of sailing a engineless boat in the Gulf islands and Vancouver Island of BC are Larry and Lin Pardey. They sailed Serrafyn (24 feet) and Talisen (29 feet) in the area you are interested in. They have a web site where you could link up with them. Google them and you will find it. They are very sharing with their experience and information. I remember people saying they did get a few tows by boats with engines to make staring lines for local racing. I sailed BC for awhile on a 29 foot Cal and the level of tides and strength of currents in the passes were a challenge even with a tiny inboard diesel engine. Sometimes I had to share a very narrow pass with towboats towing large log booms and you had your work cut out staying away from them. In some large passes like Poiler Pass I was caught in huge whirlpools and sailed a number of complete drifting 360's to get through the pass.
Good luck on your voyage you can do it but just take extra caution.
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Old 09-03-2017, 12:52 AM   #5
Join Date: Jun 2016
Home Port: Royston
Posts: 130

I sailed my last boat here in BC engineless, for three years, including a winter trip to Tahiti and back . Lots of windless drifting and sculling with the rudder. A 12 lb danforth in a foredeck well, with several hundred feet of light poly was extremely handy. Stopped me drifting in calms, letting me get a bit of rest. Also good for kedging into tight spots.
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Old 09-09-2017, 11:43 PM   #6
Join Date: Jun 2016
Home Port: Royston
Posts: 130

Originally Posted by Brent Swain View Post
I sailed my last boat here in BC engineless, for three years, including a winter trip to Tahiti and back . Lots of windless drifting and sculling with the rudder. A 12 lb danforth in a foredeck well, with several hundred feet of light poly was extremely handy. Stopped me drifting in calms, letting me get a bit of rest. Also good for kedging into tight spots.
Never had any problem running the rapids. Just start in the middle, and as water doesn't run thru rocks, you will stay in the middle. Sharp turns, like Dent rapids were trickier. Momentum pushes you to the outside, so start at the inside of the turn . Pick slack tide, increasing in the direction you want to go.
In Surge Narrows, the Peck Island side is deep, and hugging it keeps you well clear of Tusko Rock ( with a very visible kelp patch.)
Sometimes, I would be tied to a log boom, and be woken by a tug crew wanting to take it away. If they were going my way ,I got some long tows , sometimes in flat calms or headwinds ,thru dense fog.
Unexpected progress.
Tug boat crews, pulling so many log booms, at 1 1/2 knots, are gold mines of info on currents. Wish one of them would write a book on that subject.

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