Crossing the Strait of Georgia can be nerve wrecking for the first time sailor if they are not prepared properly. The Strait of Georgia (or also known as the Georgia Strait) is the strait between Vancouver Island and the mainland coast of British Columbia. It is approximately 240 kilometres long and varies in width from 18.5 to 55 kilometres. Many people we have talked to and the reading we have done have indicated that we have to time the crossing correctly based on the winds, tides and currents. Too strong winds against the current and tide could cause wind over current waves that could create bigger waves than expected. Also, the crossing has to be planned based on where you want to end up on the mainland (Vancouver, Gibson, Secret Cove, etc.) and whether there are any activities occurring in an area called Whiskey Golf (WG) north of Nanaimo in the Strait of Georgia. Area Whiskey Golf (WG) is a torpedo test range and the Canadian Armed Forces and occasionally the US Armed Forces uses this area. We have heard of submarines surfacing below sailboats! We’re not kidding!
So after checking the weather, the currents, the tides and confirming whether Whiskey Golf would be active, we made the decision to cross over on Saturday (August 9th) and sailed to Gibsons. Initially, we only had the staysail and mainsail up as we had some strong winds leaving Nanaimo harbour but quickly raised the jib as well to get some more speed. The sail was great and we were heeled over about 15 to 20 degrees at some points. There were times that Sophia was a bit nervous and we even had our harnesses and safety lines on to be able to work and move around the boat. After about 3 hours of wonderful sailing and about halfway through the strait, the winds started to die down and we actually replaced the jib sail with a light drifter sail. This helped a little bit and we continued on sailing for another couple of hours when the decision was made to drop the sails and start the engine to make it into Gibsons before dark and also to cross the Shoal Channel while at mid to high tide to avoid some of the low water areas on the shoal.
In the end, the crossing was good experience for both of us, a bit stressful with all the preparations that had to be done before hand especially in checking the weather, tides and currents and making sure we crossed the strait and enter the Shoal Channel at the right times but we both agree that despite it being a bit nerve wrecking prior to crossing, the crossing in itself was not that difficult. ~ Sophia & Rob