Frequently Asked Questions
Have a look at the questions and answers below to get more insight and inspirations.
Despite Captain George Vancouver infamously naming this area “Desolation Sound” while exploring it in 1792, today it is renowned for its natural beauty, abundant wildlife and many opportunities for recreation. Desolation Sound Marine Provincial Park, one of the most spectacular boating destinations in British Columbia, lies just to the east of Cortes Island. With three additional marine provincial parks, Desolation Sound with its abundance of islets, bays and coves is an ideal place to explore by sailboat. The bays in Desolation Sound can have waters with temperatures reaching 20 degrees Celsius in the summertime, making this area the warmest part of the Pacific Ocean north of Baja California. Desolation Sound is therefore the most pleasurable and interesting location for boating and sailing in BC.
July and August are the warmest months, when the weather is stable, and when one can easily go for a swim in the many bays and coves. These months are also the busiest and we’ll be sharing anchorages with other like-minded boaters. The fringe months can also be very pleasant to be on the water, with September having lakes still warm from the summer heat, and with June offering much quieter anchorages. April and May are great months to really feel like an explorer while sharing the area’s natural serenity with only a handful of other adventurous boaters. These months, with September, are also a great time to obtain your sailing certificates, ahead of your bareboat charter in the summer season, or once you’ve caught the sailing bug in the summer and wish to pursue your sailing dream.
Both Tours and Courses are based on experiencing sailing. Tours focus on experiencing the natural aspects of this area through sailing and obtaining customized sailing instructions at your desired pace and level. Courses are based on Sail Canada’s structured programs and this national organization’s tests and recognized certifications. Sailing Tours offer a higher level of service in terms of food, they can be private, and you will be provided with complete bedding and towels. During a live-aboard Sail Canada Course you are a part of the crew and share in all the sailing duties to really experience life at sea. On an overnight tour or course you will be provided with your own private cabin to share with your partner or friend, but others might join you for the trip in the second private cabin if the tour or course is not private. For live-aboard courses you will be asked to provide your own sleeping bag and towels, while we will be providing sheets and pillows.
Our time during the day in a Sail Canada course is spent mostly on the training as there are many curriculum items that need to be covered for certification. For the 5-Day Basic Cruising or Crew course, this includes a minimum of 30 hours of instructions (Please have a look at the Sail Canada links on the course pages that explain each Standard in detail). Additionally, you will be receiving a Sail Canada textbook ahead of the course and will be asked to read the theoretical parts or the “ashore knowledge” chapters before we meet, on which there will be a written 2-hour test on the last day of the course. Once on the boat we will cover these theoretical parts combined with the practical aspects of sailing. The evaluation of your practical “afloat skills” will be done by the instructor as we sail and learn throughout the course. Successful completion of the Basic Cruising course also provides the candidate with the optional PCOC certification.
If you do not require Sail Canada/PCOC certification or this level of instruction, and instead want more time to casually enjoy and learn how to sail, then the Sailing Tour format is an option. Sailing Tours are also focused around an “instructional sailing trip” where you will have ample hands-on experience and where we’ll cover many of the items in the Basic Cruising course, but you will receive the training at your desired pace with no pressure of a final test or specific certification. The sailing lessons can be tailored more to the needs and the requirements of the group or individual.
As skipper and instructor, I will be the only person joining you. My wife Ania is responsible for the ashore logistics and will be provisioning the boat with the food we will enjoy. On non-private tours and courses other guests and students may join for a maximum of four people besides myself. We keep our group small for maximum enjoyment and for the effectiveness of courses.
On overnight trips, we will sleep at anchor in safe and protected bays or docked at a marina as planned in the trip itinerary. The sailboat has two private double-cabins each with one double bed. You will be provided with your own private double cabin to share with your partner or friend, or by yourself if you booked a single cabin just for you. The skipper will sleep in the aft cabin if vacant or in the salon if both private cabins are booked.
Our sailboat, for the duration of our trip, is a self-sufficient craft which carries limited fresh-water and energy resources that we will learn to use in an efficient manner. On the 5-day and 7-day overnight tours and courses, we will stop overnight at a marina with hot-shower facilities on the second or third day of the trip. If required, you will be able to take a warm shower on the boat while being very efficient with the water usage.
Our sailboat has two washrooms or heads. The sink has pressurized fresh water, which can be warmed if required for an occasional quick shower. The toilet relies on sea-water for flushing and is designed to accept only human waste. Waste bins and onetime-use bio-degradable baggies will be provided to dispose of used toilet paper and hygiene products.
All our tours and courses normally start and end on Cortes Island. Optionally, for private overnight tours and private live-aboard courses, we can pickup our guests/participants and start/end the trip from Quadra Island, located a 10-minute ferry ride from Campbell River, for a fee of $150 CAD/person. The pickup/drop-off location on Quadra Island will be at the Heriot Bay Inn docks (https://heriotbayinn.com/). Our single-day tours and daytime courses depart and end at Cortes Island unless a special arrangement was made with us ahead of time.
Yes, there are USB outlets located in the salon for charging small items such as phones and cameras, and we can also provide AC power for small appliances such as laptops if required.
The food and provisioning that you can expect on the tours and courses is largely vegan and vegetarian based. Breakfasts will have a choice of sweet or savory options, including vegan choices but also an option of eggs and cheese. For lunches we’ll have soups, salads and sandwiches, and snacks. Dinners will be meatless but very creative and hearty vegan-based meals, sometimes with seafood.
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We would be happy to discuss other options.