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Plans and Priorities

When we really started planning this summer’s journey a few months ago we had developed a firm goal of sailing around Vancouver Island. In the past, when Michael and I sailed as a couple, our destinations were our main priority. We set out to reach a certain place and got used to sailing our boats with each other as we went along.

This time around, we’d only been underway a handful of days when we quickly realized that our hierarchy of priorities for the next six weeks or so, our shakedown period, was no longer topped by our destination but a very different set of priorities:

1. Getting used to sailing for long periods and managing the boat while taking care of our two young children
2. Testing Wondertime’s systems, getting the boat organized and ready for offshore sailing
3. Getting used to living together 24/7 in our small space with limited resources (i.e. water, power, internet and cell phones)
4. Visiting with friends and family along the way
5. Finally, visiting some really cool northwest places before we point our bow south

Early on, we wondered if our plan to go around Vancouver Island was too ambitious. Would we just feel rushed? Would the girls get tired of being on the go day after day? (Would I?) Would we get tired of motoring mile after mile? Would we not get the chance to really have enough time as we wanted exploring our favorite places? It’s approximately 800 miles around the island and in order to reach Barkley Sound and be ready to head south by Labor Day (when we are picking up our extra crew) there would be little time for dilly dallying.

We tossed our options around, trying to figure out how to mesh our personal cruising style (spending more time in fewer places), our limitations (being able to travel only a few hours each day at this point with our restless little ones) with our dream of circumnavigating Vancouver Island. Even at Sucia Island we still were on the fence. Could we do it? We set up a general route with how many days we’d like to spend at each stop. We thought about what we really wanted to see but haven’t yet (the west coast of the island). One option was simply to head out the Strait of Juan de Fuca directly for Barkley Sound and spend a month exploring that enormous area as well as Tofino and Hot Springs Cove just north of there.

We spent three full days kicking around Sucia Island. The girls absolutely loved it there. Woods to run through, sandy beaches to dig our toes in, amazing sandstone sculptures to marvel at and climb on: the perfect island playground. Yesterday, we motored through glassy seas across the border to Canada and checked in at Sidney, B.C. Here we are enjoying Wondertime’s first foreign port, visiting with dear friends we met on our way to Mexico nine years ago and installing the shiny new mast tangs we finally found at a rigging shop here.

We’ll stay until our boat jobs are done, some fresh food is aboard, and the wind stops howling in from the west end of the straits. Then we’ll head west to Barkley Sound for six weeks of Northwest cruising paradise.


  1. Jason says:

    Great call. If we had six weeks to kill, Barkley Sound (and Hot Springs Cove!) is exactly where we’d spend that time. What a great spot. Enjoy!

    s/v hello world

  2. Hi guys,

    We are planning to leave Thursday evening for a trip to Barkely Sound. Weather and boat permitting, we plan to be in Ucluelet on Sunday evening and then spending at least a week exploring the Broken Island Group. Let us know if our paths are going to cross. Would be lovely to see you up there.

    Plan to hit Victoria and Friday Harbor on the way back.

    Fair winds and following seas to you.


  3. Nita Bell says:

    So happy for you guys and a little envious. What a great adventure! Love reading your posts.

  4. Shelly says:

    That’s what sailing is all about… changing plans and making plans. Circumnavigating Van Island is an incredible trip but Barkley and Clayoquot Sounds are wonderful and will give you a great taste of the west coast. See you when you arrive in Ukee.

  5. Kyra says:

    One thing I’ve learned, which I’m sure you already know – flexibility is key. Don’t they say sailors’ plans are made of rubber? We just got back from Barkley Sound (We live in Victoria) – It’s fabulous there, you’ll love it Maybe we’ll meet up on the way south (we’re heading south first week of September or so). Cheers, Kyra S.V. Nyon