Canada yacht charters offer everything from remote gunkholes to city harbors. The best time of year for yacht charter in Canada is from May to September.
Canada boasts cruising grounds on three different coasts: the Atlantic, the Pacific, and the Great Lakes. Atlantic cruising in northern latitudes is known for its cold water and frequently rough weather, but the warmth of the locals and beauty of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Prince Edward Island make the adventure worthwhile. Newfoundland offers up rugged terrain and weather for those willing to cover some ocean miles. And although they are not technically part of Canada, the French islands of St. Pierre and Miquelon hang off the south coast of Newfoundland, offering an authentic taste of French island culture well west of Brittany.
On the Pacific coast, British Columbia is known as a cruising mecca. There are bareboat and crewed charter options available out of Sidney and Victoria on Vancouver Island.
The Canadian Great Lakes offer fresh water cruising and a variety of shoreside options, from the big city of Toronto to the quiet of the Thousand Islands and the Bay of Quinte. Both bareboat and crewed charters are available out of Toronto, and several remote harbors are within normal cruising range. Charters are also available in the Thousand Islands. Further east, Montreal and Quebec City are both accessible from the St. Lawrence River, a 600 mile nautical superhighway that connects Lake Ontario to the Atlantic Ocean.
There are lots of destinations to explore in the islands of the Pacific Northwest. From the southern Sun Juan Islands to the northern end of Desolation Sound is about 160 miles, with countless islands and miles of coastline in between. These waters include the San Juans, the Canadian Gulf Islands, Victoria, Vancouver, and Princess Louisa Inlet. Strong currents and significant tidal ranges make tide and chart tables a must. And be sure to invest in a recent cruising guide to get the local flavor as well as some safety information.
There are many good chartering companies in these islands and boats book up fast. If you’re thinking of chartering here, you should start planning an August adventure by February of that year—even earlier if you want your choice of vessels.
If you have guests who come late or need to leave early, they can take advantage of the extensive ferry network that connects various towns. Or send them home via one of the many float planes, which will add the bonus of a thrilling aerial view.
One Week – San Juan Islands
Day 1: Anacortes to Lopez Island
Just 12 short miles from Anacortes is Spencer Spit State Park, with 130 acres of great hiking. Good anchoring nearby.
Day 2: Lopez to Friday Harbor, San Juan Island
A bustling little town with great restaurants and galleries, Friday Harbor has guest dockage for over 100 yachts.
Day 3: Friday to Roche Harbor, San Juan Island
Head down around the southern tip of San Juan Island and out into Haro Strait where you might spot a pod of orcas. You may even find some wind to set sail, before cutting through Mosquito Pass to picturesque Roche Harbor.
Day 4: Exploring Roche
Take an extra day to hike the area, visit the sculpture park or maybe even take in a little outdoor theater on a summer’s evening. Don’t miss the sunset flag ceremony.
Day 5: Roche to Rosario Resort, Orcas Island
Grab one of the moorings outside the mansion and take a tour. Make sure you call ahead to check times for the organ concert that is not to be missed. Afterward, stroll around the beautiful grounds where deer wander freely.
Day 6: Rosario to Deception Pass
Transit south to a narrow pass between Whidbey and Fidalgo islands. At times other than slack tide, this can be a wild ride with ripping currents like a river. Anchor or dock at Cornet Bay.
Day 7: Anacortes
After returning the boat in Anacortes, explore the many galleries, marine stores and restaurants that serve up good local seafood.
Two Weeks – San Juan & Gulf Islands to Desolation Sound
Day 1: Anacortes to Friday Harbor, San Juan Island
If you’re checked out near noon, you’ll be able to reach Friday Harbor for dinner. Call ahead to secure a spot at the dock.
Day 2: Friday to Victoria, B.C.
Cross Haro Strait into Canada. Make sure you secure a permit to take the charter boat out of the country and check into Canadian Customs. Secure a dock in front of the majestic Empress Hotel.
Day 3: Victoria, B.C.
The food, the museum, the bagpipers and the shopping – there’s so much to do. Take a day to explore this European style capital.
Day 4: Victoria to Sidney Island
Head north up the Haro Strait which will give you another chance to look for orcas and grab a mooring at Sidney Island Marine Park. A mile-long loop makes a nice walk through a dense forest.
Day 5: Sidney Island to Nanaimo
This will be a long day so plan ahead as you go north to Nanaimo, a busy town with all sorts of yacht provisioning and excellent restaurants.
Day 6: Nanaimo to Egmont
Plan on an early departure across the Straits of Georgia to Egmont. Dock at the government float or the marina and then hike to Sechelt rapids where the current can run 14 knots.
Day 7: Egmont to Chatterbox Falls
Head up Jervis Inlet to Chatterbox Falls where the hardy (or crazy) can take a bracing dip in one of the pools beneath the 120-foot falls.
Day 8: Transit to Cortes Bay
You’ll have nearly 70 miles to cover today to make good progress north, so get an early start. Good anchoring can be found east of the Seattle Yacht Club outstation.
Day 9: Cortes to Prideaux Haven
Explore this area that has lots of oysters on the warm beaches. It’s one of the prettiest spots in Desolation Sound.
Day 10: Prideaux to Pender Harbor
Pender is on the Sunshine Coast and has ample anchorage as well as a fuel dock. Enjoy the local pubs and shopping.
Day 11: Pender to Telegraph Harbor
Cross the Georgia Strait to Telegraph where resorts host pig-roast barbeques.
Day 12: Prevost
Ideal day at leisure with a short transit (16 miles) to Prevost and its beautiful sunsets.
Day 13: Prevost to Roche Harbor
Clear U.S. Customs at Roche and take a slip at the beautiful marina. Have a camera handy for the spectacular scenery and the sunset flag ceremony.
Day 14: Roche to Anacortes
Wind your way through Harney Channel and Obstruction Pass back to Anacortes.