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Our Sailing Tours

1. What kinds of wildlife might I see?

The coastlines we sail are rich with life. Depending on the time of year, sea mammals you might see include Orca, Humpback and Minke Whales, Harbor Porpoise, Dahl’s Porpoise, White-sided Dolphins, Sea Otters, River Otters, Harbor Seals, and Sea Lions.

 

On land you have the opportunity to see Minks, Otters, Black-tailed Deer, Raccoons, and imported exotic wildlife. As we journey northward it becomes increasingly likely to find coastal Wolves, Mountain Goats, Black Bears, Grizzlies, and the White Kermode, or “Spirit” Bear.

 

There are too many feathered friends to list. The Bald Eagle is a daily visitor. Other favorites of ours include Oyster Catchers, Marbled Murrelettes, Scoters, and Great Blue Herons. For a truly world class natural experience the old-growth forests of northern B.C.’s Great Bear Rainforest house an especially rich and diverse community of creatures. Our unobtrusive solar-electric powered dingy allows us the unique advantage of near silence while viewing and photographing wildlife.

2. What sort of clothes should I bring?

It’s best to be prepared for a temperature range of 55° to 80° F. When sailing, even on a warm summer day, the breeze experienced on deck when heading up wind can elicit the need for cozier clothing. The best dress for sailing is layers. For northern tours, close to the skin wear a moisture wicking layer (capilene, polypropylene...), then an insulative layer (fleece, wool...), and an outer wind/water resistant layer. Waterproof shoes are an advantage on deck and for getting to and exploring shorelines and estuaries. Shorts and a bathing suit are great for a summer swim or hot spring soak. For life below decks bring casual and comfortable clothing. Don’t forget your favorite pair of slippers! We’ll send you a detailed list of what to bring when you submit your reservation.

3. What is the weather like?

The San Juan and Gulf Islands are known for their sunny summer days. We receive about half the rain of Seattle due to the rainshadow of the Olympics and Vancouver Island mountain ranges. Temperatures range from 55°-80° F in the spring, summer, and fall, and average 40°-50° F in the winter months. The Great Bear Rainforest of northern B.C. produces more variable weather. It’s not called a rain forest for nothing! Temperatures are usually in the 60s throughout our sailing season there. You will likely encounter a mix of sunshine with occasional rain during your trip, but you will stay warm and dry in our roomy pilothouse.

4. What time of year should I sail with you?

It depends on what you are looking for. April and May display an incredible abundance of spring flowers. Some areas are particularly spectacular with color at this time. The sunniest and warmest months of the year are July, August, and September. This is the best time of year to see the Great Bear Rainforest. October through mid-June offers the best sailing wind and the most quiet privacy in anchorages. We have had incredible trips in January! With our heating systems and all-weather pilothouse this time of year can be a magically peaceful and comfortable experience.

5. What if I get seasick?

Nearly all of the waters we sail in are well protected. Most people who are concerned about seasickness are pleasantly surprised that its not an issue for them on our trips. However, some of our trips involve making brief passages that can occasionally get rough enough to elicit this unfortunate gastronomic state. We recommend you speak with your doctor or pharmacist regarding appropriate motion sickness medication. In our experience for mild queasiness, the acupressure wrist bands, ginger tea or crystallized ginger (which we have on board), and staying above decks can be of great help. The good news is that after we’ve finished a rough passage, the seasickness disappears!

6. Are children welcome on your charters?

Absolutely! We love having children on board. It can be a hugely educational experience for them. There are many activities to keep them occupied, and enough new and exiting experiences to keep them talking about their trip for a long time. We do, however, prefer that if your child is younger that 10 that the guest list is filled by your party alone.

7. What is a “crewed” charter?

It’s a cruise that includes a captain and crew/chef who take care of all shipboard duties including safe navigation, local knowledge of choice attractions, and meals and cleaning. You can do as much or as little as you like. We are at your service!

8. Do I need to be in good shape?

No. The level of activity varies depending on the trip. However, anyone who can get in and out of the dingy and go for short walks will do fine. We have had mobility-impaired guests having wonderful cruises with us without ever leaving the boat! There are many beautiful things to see right from the cabin and deck!

9. What do your trips include?

All onboard meals, including select wines with most dinners. On some trips you will cover one dinner ashore. Your heated cabin includes a bed made with sheets, pillows, comforters, and blankets. Towels, cloths, shampoo, and soap are also complimentary. You are welcome to use the inflatable, kayak, and all fishing, crabbing, and shrimping gear. If you prefer to overnight at a place with moorage fees, you are responsible for them, as well as any fishing licenses, and most off boat tours.

10. How often do we get off the boat?

We try to have at least one shoreside exploration per day. In the Great Bear we typically take the dingy up a pristine river and go for a short walk, or explore a remote beach, or abandoned native village. In the San Juans and Gulf Islands many forest trails, beaches, and country roads await the happy wanderer.

11. What can I expect to learn?

Opportunities for education abound. Your skipper is a trained naturalist, and enjoys pointing out a special plant, and its traditional uses, or identifying an animal and explaining its habits. Loccal history and native culture are other subjects you'll learn about. The captain also enjoys teaching sailing to anyone interested. Our trips in the Great Bear and the Inside Passage incorporate Native guides who will lead you through abandoned village sites, and enthrall with tales of battles, ancient customs, and the history of the once mighty Kwakwak’wakw. Or take part in a traditional open fire salmon bake and learn of the rich past of the Heiltsuk. The boat makes a great platform for seminars and workshops. We also offer instructor-led cruises in subjects such as meditation, photography, and whale observation. Please see charter options. If you are an instructor interested in leading an art cruise feel free to contact us.

12. What areas do you charter in?

Our scheduled tours focus in the San Juans late September through July, with one trip up the Inside Passage/Southern Great Bear Rainforest in early August, mid August to mid September in the Northern Great Bear Rainforest of the northern B.C. coast, and one trip down the Inside Passage/Southern Great Bear Rainforest in mid September. Please see our schedule. Any time you don’t see a scheduled trip the boat is open and available, so don’t hesitate to inquire.

13. What if I'm a solo traveler who prefers my own stateroom?

All of our rooms are double occupancy (View ship schematic), and allow for a maximum of six guests. If you prefer a private stateroom we will try to accommodate you. There will be an additional 50% fee if the tour is otherwise full.

14. Can you take more than six passengers?

By Coast Guard regulation, we can take up to six guests. On our instructional cruises, and with workshops and seminars, we can bring an instructor in addition to the six guests.

15. Do I need to know how to sail?

No. The captain and crew are perfectly capable of taking care of all sailing. However, you are welcome to participate at any time for your own enjoyment. The captain is a former sailing instructor, and would love to help you with your sailing skills. By the end of the trip you may just be ready for the America’s Cup!

 

 

 

 

E-mail: charters@emeraldislesailing.com

 

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Photos © Emerald Isle Sailing Charters or © Ian McAllister. All rights reserved.

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