Circumnavigating Vancouver Island
By John Hough
The journey of a lifetime started as a dream after reading several accounts of the explorations of Captains Cook and Vancouver when they sailed up the Northwest Coast for the first time in the 1700s. An area of particular interest was Friendly Cove in Nootka Sound, now known by its original name of “Yuquot.” It was at this location where the Spanish agreed to a treaty signing the region over to the English. And, as we had hoped, we cruised into Resolution Cove, also in Nootka Sound, where Captain Cook spent a winter repairing his vessel for the following year’s exploration for the Northwest Passage. Resolution Cove turned out to be very small, with modest protection from ocean storms, but it worked for Cook and his crew.
Our vessel, a newly acquired Helmsman 37, departed Bainbridge Island on August 7, 2019 and cruised the Vancouver Island shoreline counter-clockwise. We returned to Bainbridge 36 days later on September 14 with memories that will last a lifetime. The vessel performed extremely well and the cruising speed of 7.8 knots averaged 2.9 to 3.1 gallons of diesel an hour.
The journey was a mix of moorages and anchoring. About 50/50. It included several prolonged ocean passages to get around Cape Scott, the Brooks Peninsula and Estevan Point. At times the waters were rough with 20-plus miles per hour winds and 4-foot wind waves, but the vessel handled all well.
We engaged a highly regarded guide service, Slowboat.com, to lead the journey. They provided great insights and support for all aspects of the cruise, including recommending the best areas for anchoring up. From Sea Otter Cover to Hot Springs Cove, they exposed us to the best of the best in a spectacularly wild and scenic coastline.
Circumnavigating Vancouver Island may not be for everyone, but for us it was a journey into pristine waters along hundreds of miles of wild coastline. Our vessel, Salish Rover, was a comfortable and stable platform for exploration.
Next year: Ketchikan!