A Rustic Elegance of Luxury in the Pacific Northwest.
When it comes to expectations, sometimes the only way to go is to exceed them. The Pacific Northwest has always been a boater’s haven due to the 900 nautical miles of inlets and adventure along the British Columbia coast, but the secret is out that the service and hospitality aiming at today’s super yachts is ready for the world to take notice. British Columbia’s cruising grounds, rustic luxury and entertainment make a perfect compliment to neighbouring Washington State with their top-end yacht builders like Westport and Delta, and service yards like Platypus Marine to get your yacht ready for the next summer’s adventure.
As April comes around and British Columbia transitions from a snowy winter wonderland to gorgeous summers on the water, May brings the beginning of a five month boating season and more than enough time to explore the variety of BC’s beautiful coastline. Traditionally, after wintering in Washington, the primary option for superyachts involved cruising the Inside Passage one thousand nautical miles up to Alaska and Glacier Bay. Over the last few years a handful of marinas, combined with some of the world’s best wilderness resorts have been catering more to larger yachts; helping British Columbia become a highlight for all boaters.
One of the biggest changes that helps make cruising British Columbia a must for the yachting elite, is the added personal service as they cater the entertainment and service to you. The world is your oyster from being met in a quiet anchorage for day trips to and from the yacht, to whisking you away for a few days to some of the world’s best wilderness resorts. The rare combination of large coastal cities and remote communities and resorts nestled in the Great Bear Rainforest, all within a few hours of each other, really makes British Columbia unique.
Vancouver, BC has already become a world renowned travel destination as the city hosted the 2010 Olympics. Located in the heart of the city is the premier marina, Coal Harbour Marina which is able to host guests up to 330’. The prime location of this marina helps make your first stop in BC a great introduction to the fun and adventure that lies ahead. Similar to Seattle, Vancouver is saturated with amazing coastal cuisine, boutique shops and great evening entertainment with numerous theatres and sporting events all within a few minutes of Coal Harbour. The one thing that sets Vancouver apart from so many beautiful coastal cities is having Whistler, one of the world’s best ski destinations, only a two hour drive or a quick helicopter or seaplane flight away. Over the past decade Whistler has only grown as this is no longer just a ski destination. Whistler has an amazing combination of adventure and relaxation activities to compliment its own boutique shopping. With over 93 bars and restaurants located in Whistler village, finding a great place for dining and entertainment is far from being an issue. Whistler offers a long list of daily entertainment including a variety of golf courses, some designed by such legends as Arnold Palmer, a luxurious scandinavian spa, an endless number of picturesque hikes, North America’s largest mountain bike park and more to compliment it’s exquisite dining. In respect to the efforts of bringing your yacht over to the Pacific Northwest, combined with the vast protected coastal waters, Whistler offers another ear to ear grinning reason to spend some extended time here, as the adventure and hospitality definitely does not stop once boating season is over.
Departing Vancouver heading north up the Strait of Georgia you quickly realize that your world is changing from a bustling metropolis to the remote wilderness of the Great Bear Rainforest spanning an enormous 27,000 square miles. Entering Desolation Sound, only 100 nautical miles from Vancouver’s inner harbour, the tempo changes as the abundant wildlife start to heavily outweigh the cruising traffic. From here, and for the next 600 nautical miles of coastline, the world stops as the pristine mountain-lined inlets appear one after another; all offering not only a unique picturesque background, but an unlimited possibility of adventure and luxury.
As rich as the Inside Passage is in hospitality, wildlife and adventure, it is equally steeped in culture and history. In Desolation Sound, one of such historical events happened on April 5, 1958 just north of Seymour Narrows up Discovery Passage at what used to be Ripple Rock. Due to the 119 ships and over a hundred lives that Ripple Rock claimed, in 1953 the Canadian government decided to proceed with the destruction of the rock and its two peaks. Digging down and under Discovery Passage, they filled the rock from beneath with 1375 tonnes of dynamite to blow up 37,000 tonnes of rock in what today is still the worlds largest non-nuclear explosion. Now with the rock being removed, it is a easy cruise up Johnstone Strait 80 nautical miles to Port McNeill and North Island Marina. North Island Marina is on the north east coast of Vancouver Island catering to yachts up to 285’. Within a 15 nautical mile range are numerous hot spots for both salmon and halibut, rubbing beaches for Orca, and a home to many pacific white sided dolphin, porpoise, humpback whale, sea lion and more. With daily direct flights to Vancouver and Seattle as well as being located directly across from some of the deepest parts of the rainforest and the Broughton Archipelago, North Island Marina makes a perfect mid coast home base option. The town of Port McNeill is a short walk away, making this an ideal and convenient place for provisioning, guest exchange or even leaving the yacht for a few days to explore other areas of the BC coast at some of the worlds best wilderness lodges.
Just recently a few of those lodges came together to create what they call the Magnificent 7 and set a “new standard of excellence” in some of the most remote pristine wilderness. Each resort is family owned and operated and excel in offering their own version of luxurious adventure. One of these resorts is Nimmo Bay, nestled deep in the Broughton Archipelago and right across Queen Charlotte Strait from North Island Marina. Whether you are cruising through the archipelago or just catching a helicopter from the marina’s helipad with a quick flight over, Nimmo Bay Wilderness Lodge will cater to you like few can. Their hospitality ranges from intimate lunches atop mountain peaks and paddle boarding the underlying glacial lakes to kayaking with pacific white sided dolphin. A fly- fisherman’s dream as Nimmo has been hosting the world’s elite for 30 years, using helicopters to access some of the world’s most remote streams. The land here is deep with history and culture, and Nimmo Bay prides itself on its eco adventure to be in constant harmony with the environment surrounding them. With their gourmet chef offering local coastal cuisine, the end of the day is always welcome; after a quick dip in their hot tub beneath a glacial waterfall of course. Whether you’re day tripping from the yacht or staying in one of their luxurious intertidal chalets, Nimmo Bay brings out the red carpet, and then some.
From North Island Marina and the Broughton Archipelago it is only 65 nautical miles through Queen Charlotte Sound to get back to the protected waters of the inside passage. If weather is less than ideal, or you just want to end your Broughton Archipelago experience on a high note, a day heli venturing through the coastal mountains while the yacht travels north through the sound only reuniting with the guests in a remote and beautiful anchorage make a very memorable day, and a seamless transition for both guest and crew. Anchoring in Pruth Bay, just off the northeast side of Calvert Island gives you access to some of the most remote pristine white sandy beaches with nothing but the pacific separating you and Japan. Recently, footprints were discovered here that were carbon dated to over 14,000 years old. Nearby Safety Cove, on the south east side of Calvert Island has been documented as far back as 1792 when Captain George Vancouver of the Royal British Navy anchored here while extensively exploring these same waters. As we get deeper into the remote wilderness and the Great Bear Rain Forest, more of British Columbia’s wilderness experiences await.
Spending the day salmon fishing is high on the priority list with the large schools migrating from the ocean through the many inlets back up stream to spawn. With spending so much time cruising through the Great Bear Rainforest, being this deep is a great time to go catch of glimpse of a Grizzly or Spirit bear who are trying to catch some salmon themselves. Take a first class seaplane directly from your quiet anchorage to another one of the world’s best wilderness resorts. VIH Execute and their custom Caravan can fly seven guests to wherever their heart’s desire, and make you a fresh margarita along the way. Landing near Bella Coola and into Tweedsmuir Park Lodge, first built in 1929 as a fishing-hunting lodge, you find yourself ready for another 5 star adventure. This lodge is situated amongst one of the healthiest grizzly bear habitats in the world; don’t even be too surprised when they even nap on the lodge’s front lawn. Similar to Nimmo Bay, they offer a variety of wilderness adventure from old growth forest exploration to a variety of wildlife viewing and pristine alpine hiking. With Tweedsmuir Wilderness Lodge is Bella Coola Heli Sport, so if you need a quick winter fix, going for a morning heli ski trip before fly fishing in the afternoon is always a great way to spend a day as you’re able to ski year round here. Authentic log and timber framed chalets are your home and with the enormous property, it is easy to spend a day mountain biking, hiking or horse back riding on one of their resident Icelandic horses. Cozying up with a glass of fine wine by the lodge’s stone fireplace is an excellent way to finish your day.
Another world class resort, and another of the Magnificent 7, is just a short flight away from the coastline deep into Cariboo region of British Columbia. Siwash Lake Wilderness Resort, one of National Geographics Unique Lodges of the World, is a luxury dude ranch with its own unique version of adventure. The options are endless and include: wilderness survival experiences, gold panning, testing your marksmanship with shotguns, rifles, bow and arrow’s and even tomahawks, relaxing around their organic garden, or taking a yoga class. It wouldn’t be a dude ranch without offering some the best places to saddle up, with their “Synergy with Horses” program which is regarded as one of Canada’s best. Offering riding for all skill levels, riding the golden grasslands settled in the foothills of the Cariboo mountains is only matched by the exquisite dining as their executive chef offers many delicacies often created from food grown on their ranch.
If you’re thinking of relocating your yacht to the Pacific Northwest or just want a teaser to first to wet your appetite, the Magnificent 7 also include the Pacific Yellowfin, a luxurious expedition yacht built in WWII. This beautiful yacht refit in 2003, has two ocean view staterooms, two deluxe cabins and can host up to 12 guests. Their delicious coastal cuisine from their on board executive chef make the Pacific Yellowfin more of a floating wilderness lodge than your regular charter.
With all of the elite resorts, convenient and hospitable marinas catering to today’s superyacht clientele, British Columbia’s unique and diverse wilderness help make the Pacific Northwest an experience atop every boaters bucket list. It’s almost hard to believe that with all this 5 star entertainment and service that we’ve covered, there is still 600 nautical miles more of British Columbia coastline and into Alaska to explore; all the more reason to settle in for a few seasons and take advantage of all the hospitality the Pacific Northwest has to offer.