As 71% of the Earth’s surface is covered with water, options for cruising are endless. However, few areas offer the variety, protection and beauty of the Pacific Northwest.
The Pacific Northwest offers nine hundred nautical miles of coastline stretching from Seattle through British Columbia along the Inside Passage to Alaska. The entire coastline is rich with inlets reaching deep into the Canadian Pacific Coastal Mountain Range.
What makes this travel destination exceptional is the diversity; discovering and exploring the beautiful coastal cities of Seattle, Vancouver and Victoria, moving into quiet, remote anchorages nestled among panoramic views of mountains and glaciers.
In this unique and beautiful part of the world, your vacation can be as rustic or as luxurious as you please. Getting to the area can easily be done cruising up from the Panama Canal or around Cape Horn if South America is part of your worldly adventure. Shipping your vessel to Seattle with companies like Raven Offshore Yacht Shipping will allow the convenience of beginning your destination in the Pacific Northwest. During the winter all three cities offer a real network of service, hospitality, recreation and comfort. Service and superyacht facilities like Delta, Westport, Platypus, and many marinas cater conveniently to superyachts.
Seattle, Vancouver and Victoria all have great energy with exquisite coastal cuisine, incredible cultural entertainment through music and the arts, exciting recreational activities and plenty of culture surrounded by unmatched natural beauty. In Seattle, the city is alive with energy and coastal atmosphere with no place more lively than Pike Place Market, where seafood literally flies out the door. Elegant restaurants are everywhere including Il Terrazzo Carmine if you’re looking for the best gnocchi west of Sicily. From September through February the city glows blue and green and energy from the 12’s (the local football fan designated number) is contagious. With premier super yacht refit and moorage facilities such as Salmon Bay Marine Center and Port of Seattle, Seattle is a prime year-long destination.
Winter in Victoria and Vancouver offer equal parts beauty as well as outstanding entertainment options. Victoria, being the smaller of the two cities, is located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island across the Juan de Fuca Strait. Opening in June 2017, Victoria International Marina will be catering to the luxury lifestyle of the superyacht industry and is nestled near the picturesque inner harbour. The harbour is in the heart of the city with the famous ivy-encircled Empress Hotel situated next to the parliament buildings serving a a photogenic backdrop. Victoria, a city based on tourism, comes equipped with restaurants, hospitality and entertainment that are exceptional and well worth the time in such a unique atmosphere. Service is available in Victoria for all marine traffic with haul-out capabilities up to two hundred tonnes.
Across the Strait of Georgia lies Vancouver, Canada’s premier coastal city ; a three hour drive or a 131 nautical mile trip north of Seattle. Luxury and entertainment are easy to find throughout the city as well as in Whistler, one of the top ski resort destinations in the world, located two hours north of Vancouver. Service is available in Vancouver for larger yachts with haul-out capabilities up to three hundred, thirty tonnes.
As much as winters in The Pacific Northwest are full of all the entertainment and amenities one can wish for, the reason to spend a few years exploring the area are due to the summer (May through September). These great cities work as a starting point for your boating season with nine hundred nautical miles up the coastline north to Juneau, Alaska’s capital city. The trip provides enough area to last a lifetime of exploration. Whether you are hosting a season full of guests or just escaping on your own, the entire coast is steeped in history, culture and it teems with wildlife. The entire coastline is a collaboration of glacially-carved inlets surrounded by mountains, forests, deep waters with all their own unique characteristics. The trip to Alaska can easily be done over a few years as there is too much to see in a single summer.
The 1,800 nautical mile trip to Glacier Bay, Alaska, offers a variety of options for exploring and entertaining. Princess Louisa Inlet and Mount Victoria are definite highlights and should not be missed. Heading north from Vancouver, the northernmost city of the three, only fifty-two nautical miles north is Thunder Bay at the mouth of Jervis Inlet. From there it is a forty-seven nautical mile cruise surrounded by 5,000 foot plus mountain peaks, all the way to the head of Jervis Inlet and Mount Victoria, which towers over the inlet at over 6,500 feet. Anchorage is available at the head of the Inlet or up Princess Louisa Inlet, through Malibu Rapids at slack tide at the base of Chatterbox Falls. Princess Louisa Inlet, referred to as Suivoolot or “sunny and warm” by natives, is a great first stop to decompress from city life, explore the provincial park and enjoy the amazing landscape. Sixty nautical miles north of Jervis lies Desolation Sound and Bute Inlet. At the head of the Inlet flows the Himathco river and the Mt. Waddington Glacier with an elevation of more than 13,000 feet. From grizzly bear and killer whale watching to river rafting and sport fishing, there is no shortage of activities to partake in. Exploring the area can be done on your own but using local pilots and guides only enriches the experience.
Continuing up the coast through Discovery Passage you will pass through Seymour Narrows and what is left of Ripple Rock. The removal of the top of this underwater twin peaked mountain in April of 1958 is still the largest non-nuclear explosion to-date. Eighty nautical miles north of Seymour Narrows lies Port McNeill, otherwise known as “The Gateway to the Broughton Archipelago.” North Island Marina offers moorage for yachts up to 285 feet. North Island Marina is a popular destination as it is well known as the best northern moorage facility south of Alaska for provisioning and crew exchange. Direct flights both to Seattle and Vancouver are available from the marina. North Island Marina offers free courtesy shuttles to and from Port Hardy Airport to assist with crew exchange. The quaint community offers its own version of entertainment and hospitality, acting as a central hub for all of North Vancouver Island.
Luxury can be found a short helicopter flight away, as Nimmo Bay Wilderness Resort, one of the world’s premiere wilderness resorts, picks you up from the marina to fly you to the lodge. Nimmo Bay offers ultimate coastal cuisine and heli-adventure experience accessing over 50,000 square miles of Great Bear Rainforest. As the Pacific Ocean’s currents flow around the tip of Vancouver Island and through Queen Charlotte Strait, they flow into the Broughton Archipelago bringing salmon and an abundance of wildlife. Queen Charlotte Strait bottlenecks near Port McNeill into Johnstone Strait and Robson Bite, bringing with it a confluence of whales, including orca, humpback and the occasional grey and fin whales. This salmon run also brings out many sea lions, porpoise, harbor seals, and many pacific white-sided dolphins. In certain areas of inlets, grizzlies can also be viewed along with black bears and elk. Private tours and guides can be arranged to best view and experience all of the regional wildlife as well as to find the best spots to catch yourself some salmon.
Leaving Port McNeill and crossing Queen Charlotte Strait can easily be done by leaving first thing in the morning. With predominant afternoon northwesterly winds during the summer season, the seventy-five nautical miles up to Safety Cove is simple enough with an early morning start. Safety Cove , used by Captain George Vancouver for refuge before heading south over the Strait in 1792, is on the southeast tip of Calvert Island. Calvert Island was first discovered in 1788 by Captain Charles Duncan while fur trading with Heiltsuk and Wuikinuxv First Nations tribes. Calvert Island is home to large runs of salmon and cod as well as over one hundred different species of bird including eagles, kingfishers, loons, cormorants and sandpipers. The island is as historic as it is beautiful with recent findings of three pairs of footprints -two adults and a child-that were recently carbon dated at over 13,000 years old. Pruth Bay, located fifteen nautical miles north of Safety Cove, is the best anchorage on the island. Take your tendor ashore to spend an afternoon hiking the pristine, sandy beaches on the western side.
Fifty nautical miles north of Pruth Bay brings you to Shearwater on Denny Island. Shearwater Marina offers moorage for yachts up to 250 feet and vast local knowledge and guides to help you enjoy the local wildlife. These adventurous wildlife tours include the Kermode (Spirit) Bear, salmon fishing as well as enjoying one of three local hot springs.
North from Shearwater you will travel up Princess Royal Channel, 107 nautical miles to Hartley Bay before continuing up Grenville Channel through Prince Rupert, on your way to Wrangell, Alaska. 365 nautical miles north of Shearwater, Wrangell is located in the middle of the Tongast National Forest which houses one of the highest densities of brown and black bear in the world. Alaska’s Rainforest Islands are also home to over four hundred species of terrestrial and marine wildlife.
North of Laconte Bay you arrive at Juneau, Alaska’s capital city. Juneau is a rather unusual capital city as there are no roads connecting it to any other part of Alaska or North America; making it only accessible by yacht, ferry, or via direct flights from its airport. From Juneau, it is 118 nautical miles to Glacier Bay, first proclaimed a U.S. National Monument in 1925. Glacier Bay encompasses a large area consisting of a National Park and Preserve that covered over 3.2 million acres. The body of water itself covers over 1,300 square miles of pristine Alaska, rich in both history and beauty, encompassing the US.’s gold rush history during the 1890’s after Alaska was purchased from Russia in 1867.
With the remote beauty of The Pacific Northwest, complemented well with the unique luxury, hospitality, and yacht support, this area of the world is an exciting destination for superyachts. In a world where populations have spread to cover the globe, remote desolate beauty is becoming more difficult to find. Sporting the perfect combination of ocean, mountains, streams, and forests, together with abundant wildlife and laid-back people, The Pacific Northwest is waiting with open arms to help check another item off your bucket list.